Day 50—Nikki’s Room
Nikolas led Leonard into his room. “Well, here we are,” Nikolas said, dropping his book bag carelessly on the ground and flopping onto his bed. “You wanted to see my room, and you have seen it. Anything else?”
“Nah.” Leonard sat down on the edge of Nikolas’ bed. “Did you do all those drawings yourself?” he asked, staring in awe at the panoramic mural spanning most of three walls.
Nikolas propped himself up on one elbow. “Yeah. Just whenever I felt like it, you know? Add to it, fix a few spots here and there…”he trailed off, staring thoughtfully at the artwork on the walls.
“Is that what you did for the mural on the outside wall of the weight room?” Leonard asked.
Nikolas frowned. “You’ve never seen the mural?”
“No,” Leonard admitted. “I don’t know why, most people have seen it.”
Nikolas thought for a moment, lying on his back. “I think I know why,” he said after a minute. “It’s because you take racquet sports, which doesn’t involve going down to the track. And you weren’t here the past three years, so you never would have passed it.”
Both boys lapsed into silence.
“So then…what does it look like?” Leonard finally asked.
Nikolas tucked his arms under his head and thought. “Okay,” he said at last. “Think of a blank, white space.”
It’s all in one entire color scheme: Blues, blacks, whites and yellows. It was a bit of a challenge, being the only four colors I’d allowed myself to use. I couldn’t mix them, but I could make different hues, saturations, values, whatever.
Now, think of the blank white space. I didn’t have a ladder, so the most I could do was paint on what I could reach and hope that one day, a student with a ladder would add onto it. So I did.
All I did was let myself go. I painted a primeval forest. Picture dark values, big ferns, leafy deciduous trees. And then there were the forest people and strange animals. People thought I was on drugs or something for ages after I was done, that’s how weird it was. It was all in blue and yellow and black and white. You’d have to see it to believe it.
There was water, too, in that painting, with bright, bejeweled fish and sea people conforming and dancing to the ways of the water. It was gorgeous, ninety-nine percent of the people who saw it agreed. It won awards, drew interest from the news. They couldn’t believe that a sixteen-year-old could do something so magnificent.
Then, apparently a psych doctor came to see what the hype was about. He had a nephew, apparently, who had told him about some super-trippy mural that a junior at his school had done for his final project. Apparently, he saw something that no one else did, and requested that I come talk to him for some examination. I complied, mostly because I didn’t know what the hell was going on.
The whispers started then. People started saying that I was seriously demented. No one could do something that psychedelic, that trippy, without having some serious issues with life. It took months of hard work to quash down. It’s just an urban myth now. There are whispers, but a lot of people think that I left the school. It’s not like a lot of people knew that I did it, anyway.
“What makes you say that?” Leonard asked, curiosity piqued by Nikolas’ story.
“It was a junior-year project. Something of that magnitude could be potentially sabotaged by another art student who wanted the top honors. It was an ambitious project,” Nikolas shrugged. “Only a few teachers knew, and a few of my best friends.”
“Wouldn’t they figure it out eventually, though?” Leonard pressed. “These kids are stupid. They know how to sniff out a truth.”
“Probably some of them have figured it out,” Nikolas responded indifferently. “They probably don’t care, or don’t believe in the myth, though. I’m not crazy. Besides, I don’t look anything like I did in junior year.”
“Really?” Leonard said unbelievingly. “Pics, or it’s not true.”
Nikolas sighed. “Go to my bookshelf,” he instructed, closing his eyes. “There’s a book at the very left end of the second to top shelf that says twenty-ten to twenty-eleven. That’s last year’s yearbook.” Leonard removed the book from the shelf, immediately sitting down again and flipping through the book to find Nikolas’ name.
“Whoa!” he said in surprise. “You really don’t look anything like it.”
“Let’s see,” Nikolas counted. “I pierced my ears, three times. Pierced my bellybutton, once, grew my hair out, and changed my entire wardrobe.”
“Yeah, but you still have the same skin tone,” Leonard interjected. Nikolas shrugged. “A lot of people are freakishly pale. I’m just one in a couple million.”
“True.” Leonard resumed flipping through Nikolas’ yearbook.
Tomorrow, he decided, he would go take a look at Nikolas’ mural. He was curious to see what made it so “trippy” as Nikolas had so delicately put it.