They were known as The Two Gustavs. Friends since toddlerhood. Both enquiring minds. Each year they and their families would holiday together. What was guaranteed? Laughter; late nights; sleeping under stars; wanderings; and paints, crayons, pencils, charcoal and stacks of paper. As they grew older, canvases were also packed.
A tradition had developed over the years. Each March (they thought, as children, it was a funny name for a month. Rather like calling a month Walk, or Waddle, or Wander) they would take it in turns to create a portrait. The sitter always chose the setting and the costume. After that, Painter G was given free rein. This had been going on for 21 years. Now the story behind Portrait #22 was, as is said, something else again.
There was no problem about the chair. Sitter G knew he'd use The Special. As a child he'd slide his hands along the polished wooden curves. So beautiful he'd found them - giddily beautiful. Could he tell that to anyone? To his friend he could. That a chair's curve could be faintable.
For a portrait, this particular Gustav would throw on any old garment. Old garment equalled history, story, life. For some reason or other, this year was to be different. And this year became The Year of the Colour War.
More often than not, colours are busy being colours. On rare occasions they have what we call a holiday, a vacation, a well-earned break. On this particular day, zinnwaldite phone was taking a holiday(z-phone is the colour name given to describe the American Telephone & Telegraph Co’s phones of the 1960s – zinnwaldite takes its name from Zinnwald in Germany…but that’s another story) and overheard a conversation. There was no eavesdropping. Sometimes people just happen to speak passionately. This was a Gustav/Gustav chat. A jacket was required for the portrait. A jacket was to be made. Sitter Gustav felt like a change from old. Zinnwaldite phone’s ears pricked up. Ego ablaze, it thought: The jacket could be in MY colour! This, without a thought of Sitter G’s colouring mind you.
No one seems to remember how salmon berry heard about the jacket, but heard about it, it did. Zinnwaldite phone then heard about salmon berry thinking it would be the colour. This is so often how wars start you know. The hearing of certain things.
It wasn’t a war of a hundred years. This Gustav was a procrastinator of sorts; however given a push he made important decisions within a day or two. Which made the colour war rather brief. It seems some form of energy took hold. Of the colours. Even those colours beyond Earth joined in the battle – oh how they wanted the prize, the victory, the jacket.
This was a war where each colour was its own army. Each army consisted of one soldier. You can only imagine the scene. Thankfully there wasn’t enough space on Earth for them to battle in the one place – so to the skies they took. In pitched battle, with every participant prepared to fight to the death. Which in itself is rather funny. Death would mean no jacket! However ego often knocks out logic.
The list of the critically injured included: green room, blackmail, blue blood, brown sugar, shrinking violet, yellow flag, pink gin, white collar, grey matter, purple heart, tan bed, cream horn, orange stick, Silver Age (which, by the way thought it was a shoe in simply because it was with capitals), gold beater, sapphire wing, olive drab, rainbow trout, burgundy pitch, Scarlett Johansson (again with the capitals, although the double 't' was an issue from the beginning). Both zinnwaldite phone and salmon berry sustained quite horrific injuries.
An odd thing happened during the war. Certain colours would notice one particular colour couldn’t be seen at all. Anywhere. Red jacket. With a toxic mix of envy and condescension red jacket had been nicknamed Zenny. Zenny wasn’t interested in battle. Zenny. Zenny. You guessed it. Bespoke tailors worked with such care with the fabric. There was something about the fabric. It’s just that they could never put their fingers on it.
Even though the boots weren’t seen in the portrait, they too had a story. Zenny thought that some coming together would be of benefit to the warriors all. After consulting with red jacket, the angel involved in bootmaking paid a visit to 88 Jeremy Street. John Lobb Ltd. Now it has to be admitted a little hypnosis was involved. A little magic if you will. For how could they have worked with such minute pieces of leather? Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of them. Each a square.
The boots, in all but one particular light, appeared boot black. Shiny as a diamond sea. Once, during a session, Painter G thought he saw, what he later called The Divine Patchwork. Such a name for a pair of boots!