Art can come from the most unlikely of places, and from the most unlikely of people.Scott McLampshade
At the thrift store, Marie got an old lamp with a vintage gold finish. The lampshade was mostly purple and beige, with large roses of red and white scattered throughout. Green stems stretched around in every direction, giving the entire thing the look of flowers and ivy growing up the side of an old brick building. In the 60’s, the lamp would have been beautiful to all who saw it, but today it looked like the wallpaper in a house that had been condemned with asbestos, mold and bad structural damage.
She stopped at a fabric supply store on the way home and grabbed styrene, glue and some new scissors with a sharp blade, and drove home giddy with excitement. The last time she treated herself to anything was years ago before she graduated from high school. She chose not to go to college and instead worked in the deli of a local grocer, learning about different types of meats and cuts.
While at the deli, Marie used her off time to figure out what she was really passionate about. In school, she tried cheerleading but was too small to be a spotter and was too scared of being dropped to be a flyer, so she quit after a few practices. She liked her art classes, but she hated everything she made, throwing it away immediately. One of the last activities that she tried to find passion in was reading, but she had a hard time focusing on the letters because they always seemed to move or be organized in nonsensical ways.
After years of feeling lost, she finally found her hobby when an annoying customer came into the Deli and screamed at her. The customer was upset with the cut of the meat that he got, insisting that it was shaved and not sliced, even though she remembered slicing it for her. She even brought a slice of meat to the customer after cutting a piece off and the customer said it was good. The way he lost his mind, screaming for no reason, made her retract to her happy place which was in elementary school, doing arts and crafts.
The second she finished work, she went to get the lamp, knowing that it would take her mind away from her bad day at work. The woman behind the counter at the fabric supply store even told her how to properly take a drum shade from its wire frame and add a new one with different fabric. She helped measure the frame as well because that can be a bit tricky with a drum shade and offered to help measure and cut the new fabric, but Marie left it in her car and politely declined.
Marie got in her car and drove home with all of the new supplies that she purchased. She went inside quickly, carrying her new supplies and material, and cut the old fabric away from the lamp. The wire frame was thin and bent a little as she was pulling some of the fabric away, but she bent it back into place without affecting the integrity of the structure. She measured the exact dimensions that she needed from new material and laid it on the kitchen table that she was using as a work bench.
She flipped the material over and wiped it with a damp washcloth, then scraped away any of the impurities that remained. Once the surface was completely dried, she added the styrene to the center, leaving about half an inch of the material on the bottom and top, trimmed the material to be aligned with the styrene on the right side, and left extra hanging over the left.
Reaching into the bag from the supply store, she grabbed the brand-new bottle of glue from the bottom and opened it, applying a thin layer to the left side of new material. She walked to a drawer in her kitchen and pulled out a little clip that she puts around important bills and then wrapped the lamp shade into a cylindrical shape, clamping the left and right ends together.
The wire frame from the old lamp was an imperfect circle, but Marie placed it into the top of the cylinder and shaped it as well as she could, wrapped the top end of the material over it, tucking it under the frame and gluing it in place. She then took another smaller wire and placed it in the bottom of the lamp, doing the same thing that she had just done to the top.
With the most care that she gently lowered the undried new lamp shade on the body of the lamp, and it hung delicately over the bulb. She took it to the desk next to her reading chair and plugged it in. The bulb flickered on, then held its shine, lighting up the entire room with a reddish-pink glow that made the boring white walls look like the setting sun. She sat in her chair and picked up the book that was sitting next to her and opened to the most recent page that she had read.
The light turned the yellowed pages a strange orange that felt soothing to her eyes as she read about proper sewing technique, machines and designs that ranged from Betsy Ross’s American Flag to Coco Chanel’s first pieces of clothing. The designs inspired her to improve her skills, but she was still proud of her work. The lamp next to her was still shining it’s reddish hue and brought a smile to her face.
Marie set her book down on the arm of the chair and walked to the kitchen to the small sewing kit in the corner of her room and pulled out a black thread and needle. She unplugged the lamp and set it in her lamp as she sewed her name into the new lampshade so that none of her future guests would ever question if it was hers or someone else’s. Gently, in a cursive writing style, she stitched in “Marie Gein.”
She looked to the kitchen table at the leftover materials that hung over one of the chairs that were around it. It was beautiful, covered in unique patterns and colors that Marie never expected to get her hands on. She stood up and walked up, sitting in the chair next to the material, staring at the hole that was left from her cutting some out for the lampshade and smiled.
Inside the hole was a collection of organs, from kidney’s the heart. She left the entire body of the man from the deli intact, except for the skin she took from his stomach and the wound in his neck that was so deep that it almost decapitated him. His skin had tattoos all over and he was an unpleasant entity in the world, so when Marie thought about what her hobby could be, she knew at that second; she’d take undesirables out of the world and turn them into something that people could be proud of, such as art or a waterproof cover for her book.
The man screamed at her for no reason, and that was enough for her to make his the next in her growing line of human art. His head would join the other six that were mounted on her wall, the rest of his skin would be turned into either part of a sofa or a sheet for her bed and his organs would be thrown into a meat grinder at work and sold to the undesirables that she couldn’t get to after her shift.
With a smile, she dismantled the body, inch by inch, finger by finger, and stored it away to repurpose it. She decided to make the skin a bedsheet, put the organs in a lunch box to bring to work tomorrow and used the bones as the beginnings of a throne that she planned to build for herself and victims. Recently, she got a polaroid camera and knew that she could turn her house into an art gallery, featuring the dead sitting on a throne of bones, showing that humans can only survive from the atrocities of those that came before.
Picture after picture, Marie waved them clear, nailing them to her wall, thinking of how the world would see her and envy her when she was ready to show them her magnum opus. She would sell tickets to her home and allow anyone who came by to admire her work. Still smiling, Marie took off all of her clothes and sat back in her reading chair, also made from the rough, leathery feel of old skin, and laughed to herself as she rubbed her clitoris with one of the deceased customer’s fingers.