ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: The Writer, His Wife, and their Afterlife
Book One, Part Two, Chapter 32: Easter Morning Miracle
Easter morning. The shop is open. I head straight to the oil. The night did not deceive me.
I go up to the woman behind the counter. It’s Nancy, the shop’s owner. “Who painted the Russian man-in-the-moon oil?” I ask her.
She looks confused by my question. I point to the oil.
“Oh, you mean the chocolate cake?”
Chocolate cake? What’s Nancy talking about? “No, the man in the moon.”
She comes out from behind the counter. We stand before the oil. “That’s an image of a chocolate cake with a slice cut from it,” she says. “See its title?”
For the first time, I notice the label next to the oil: Have More Cake. I look at the oil again. A chocolate cake? Finally, my perception shifts. What I saw as Ernie’s head resting against a crescent moon is a chocolate cake, missing one slice, on a white plate. What I saw as Ernie’s features are dark crumbs left from slicing the cake. Ernie’s fur hat? It’s the devil’s food interior.
Nancy finally sees what I see.
“That’s amazing,” she says. “I can’t wait to tell all this to Beth, the artist.”
I take down the painting, framed in wood. It’s heavier than I thought it would be. Beth’s strokes are heavy too. She’s knifed on the browns and reds of the chocolate icing. Its price is also heavy, for me: six-fifty. With tax, it would cost almost seven hundred dollars.
I don’t have to own it. To have seen it, my Russian Ernie resting against a crescent moon, is an Easter miracle. Ernie has risen and come back to me — through this work of art.