Artful Dodger

Years ago Rachel was working as a sales associate at a fine art gallery on the upper east side. Rachel was formally trained at university to understand the intricacies of the art world and combined with her natural instincts she was a masterful deal-closer. In her short time at the gallery she had earned some good coin in commission sales.

Long before things went sour Rachel was suspicious of her boss, Mr Arthur Wrangler. She had observed his strange ways and noted some exceedingly non-linear transactions. From outside his office Rachel frequently overheard yelling. Blame it on the fractious atmosphere but Rachel began hoarding. For one thing she made a copy of the gallery’s contact list, because as she liked to say, “In New York City who you know is gold.”

When the middle-aged visibly agitated man stopped by and insisted on meeting with Mr. Wrangler Rachel settled him in the foyer and went to find her boss.
“Get him out of here!” Arthur Wrangler flipped out. “I don’t’ care what you have to say! Lie! Tell him I’ve gone to Cuba! One way trip!”
Rachel did as she was told but as she escorted the distraught and tearful man to the front door she absorbed unsettling insight on the terroristic methods employed by Mr. Wrangler.

One morning the gallery was closed, literally. The heavy glass and brass front doors were chained and padlocked and Rachel was out of a job. Rachel confidently deployed that contact list but what she found out was contacts are only useful if they want you. That the gallery was run by a thuggish maniac was not her fault but the scandal of the demise of the gallery stained everyone connected, and impeded securing another job.

But Rachel, despite her charming and brilliant bombast, grew up humble and it was easy enough to scale back her dreams, if only temporarily, and accept a cashier’s position at her neighborhood bookstore.

Just so happened, pure coincidence, an Artemis Wrangler had an account at this bookstore, and it was unfortunate that she should be in such a pissy mood when she dropped in. Artemis recklessly displayed her impatience, drummed her fingers on the counter and exhaled audibly, as Rachel finished positioning the pile of books into a shopping bag. Artemis, like an insect cruising the jaws of a Venus fly trap, had no idea the danger she was in. Especially when Rachel learned this was the wife of her ex-boss, Mr. Arthur Wrangler. Rachel merely smiled and sweetly told the crabby crustacean to, “Have a lovely day!”
The night of my birthday Rachel hosted me and some friends at a sushi place recently opened on Spring Street.
I never questioned how she could afford this indulgence. Towards the end of the evening, over bowls of flaming ice cream, Rachel whispered to me behind her long slim hand, “When I pay the bill be sure and call me Artemis!”