Forty-Seven Days

Sam turned his one good ear towards the woman, “Run that by me again, miss."

It was a crowded day and rather noisy for the Museum of Modern Art. A group of school children was moving by, so Genevieve had to lean in close to the security guard for him to hear. “It’s the one down at the end!”

Sam stared off into the ether and Genevieve wasn’t sure if he’d heard her this time either. She began again, “I said it’s...”

“I heard you,” Sam said, suddenly coming back to the moment, “I ain’t deaf.” He still didn’t move from his place along the wall.

She was a New Yorker and fairly accustomed to rudeness but Genevieve reddened and raised her hands at her sides.


The old guard gave a slight whine and looked at his watch.

"All right, it’s gettin’ on my lunch break anyway. It’s right by the cafeteria you say, right?”

She nodded and maneuvered her way down the hall. The line for the cafeteria was long and it stretched out past the sign that read “The Last Works of Henri Matisse.” On the wall near the cash registers was a painted cut-out of a sailboat. She went up to it and held up a catalog.

Sam squinted at the catalog and then at the painting and then back at the catalog again. “You the artist?” he asked.

Genevieve Habert reddened for the second time, “No, but...”

“I can’t imagine we’d make that kind of mistake here. See, we can’t be responsible for the printers, miss. ‘Sides, how do you know what’s up and what’s down?”

It was December 4, 1961, and Henri Matisse’s “Le Bateau” had been hanging upside down for forty-seven days and not a single soul, including Matisse’s own son, had noticed.

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