MICROSTORIES AND POETICS  BY  ARTHUR BRUZZONE

A B O U T
C O N T A C T
H O M E
P R O F I L E

Justice Roberts

The British Overseas Office had assigned Justice Roberts to the British Protectorate of Tonga, an island kingdom located in the South Pacific. He was a volunteer in the Peace Corps. Word had reached the Justice that he did some painting. When not in court, he was a private artist. So, he arranged an afternoon tea in order for them to meet and view his work.

He expected that his paintings would reflect his conservative, genteel manner -- stable and defined brush strokes, and traditional subjects like scapes and floral arrangements.

When he arrived at his seaside villa, he was first introduced to Mrs. Roberts.  She was indifferent to her husband's enthusiasm.

They went inside where he was shown earlier works. These held no surprises.

But his more recent work completed was disturbing. They depicted bizarre shapes, tortured subjects, and a confusion of color and mood.

We returned to the veranda, joining his wife who was quietly crocheting. She did not look up from her work.

The Justice asked him to wait while he brought out more canvases. These last paintings created new confusion. Each was an exotic, highly sensual treatment of Tongan women.

Mrs. Roberts became visibly agitated. Without glancing from her work, she said, "Painting does the Justice so much good despite their inferior quality. "

Her words stabbed him. His enthusiasm fell abruptly. He grew silent.

It was time to leave and it was late. He thanked the Justice for the meeting and started down the walkway.  

Midway down the path, he turned once more towards the house. A comment he had made earlier flashed through my mind. “I feel so young now. If only I could relive my life with the freedom I have discovered through my paintings."

His comment chilled me as him headed back to his village through the bush  Like a warning.