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 Andrew I. Glueck 

 The Kiss 

Andrew I. Glueck - left his reporting job in Chicago to teach English in a village in Czechoslovakia. He wanted to capture in writing the effect of the political changes on ordinary people. But during a lesson about American foods, he showed his students how to make popcorn and this lead to starting a popcorn company, Hopi Popi.

Andrew tries to find time to write while spending time with his family and pop corn making.

Although he has had numerous articles published as a reporter, "The Kiss" is his first published work of fiction. (And his sweet and savoury mixed pop corn is to die for...Ed.


He was pulled away from her by the security guards, each looping an arm through his elbows like flesh and blood arm cuffs.  He did not resist. There was no violence in his action so why should he follow it up with anything but complete compliance? Had she complied at least for a second? Had he chosen the right woman?

He had criteria.


Not knock down dead attractive, though that excited him.


The main criteria:

She must be short enough so that he could tower over her as in the picture. The picture they all came to see in Vienna; the man in the mosaic robe injecting the beautiful woman with a celestial kiss.


The next criteria was that she was open to it, if just for a second. His goal was to make eye contact and communicate his act would be tender, that he would enrapture her, if just for a moment.


There were other specific criteria scribbled in his artist’s sketchbook, but those criteria had disappeared in the act.


He had been there for at least three hours and both the Sikh and the Austrian lady with the bun were watching him, talking in their walkie talkies. His palms were sweaty.


In the end it was a scent, maybe not even hers, perhaps a collective one emitted by the crowd angling to get a glance of what they’d been told was significant. Whatever its origin, it released the courage to commit the act. For the first time in his life he let his inspiration take action that could be considered immoral.


In the end, he did not come to her from above. His original idea that his act should imitate art struck him as reductionist, not to mention impractical given his modest height. Standing on the wooden bench with the pensive and fatigued sitters would have set off the walkie talkies and preempted the event. It also would have looked absurd, emphasizing his small stature, as if a squirrel got up on its hind legs trying to leap over a fence.


He used to think that in the painting the woman was enraptured by the tender strength of the towering embrace. But now he had come to see the kiss as the man’s expression of power. He was a magician levitating his assistant, hypnotized while he manipulated her for the entertainment of all. How come this had not occurred to him before. It was not the kiss of two people in love. It was her as an object, the same dominating theme of all of Western Art, in this case sprinkled with mosaic to mark it as art. Stereotypical themes dressed in decoration. A Viennese cake. Everything he hated from where he grew up.


Just before the kiss, he had taken a final look at the man. His neck stretched out like a snail emerging from its shell to suck something out of her. Was he going to recreate this vile male fantasy? He did not know, nor did he care when the scent triggered perhaps the same impulse as in the man in the painting.


She was older than him. Maybe that’s why she accepted it, if just for an instant. Well dressed with black boots up to her knees, the kind of boots that made her look good when she was young and so she had bought another pair because they continued to serve their purpose. A long shiny zipper like a snake scaling the back of the boots. Thin women are threatening to him in one way, voluptuous women in another. The voluptuous were even more inaccessible because of their breasts. He would never be equal to them. Thin and tall with a confident stance and cheekbones holding lips that were voluptuous were the second most intimidating, so he usually dated someone either a bit overweight, short, and breasty or someone tall and leggy with thin lips. 


She was tall and thin with full lips. If he was going to go through with this, it had to be a step up.


He had only hoped that his scent had attracted her too and that she understood. Understood the context, the motive, and why her and not just anyone else. Was there a her and no one else? He thought so. He really did. Following the scent, the senses took over.  He clutched her hand to prod her into stillness and planted the kiss. He was hypnotized a split second by the irises; of the big blue eyes through the sleek, fashionable glasses. Yes, glasses. That demonstrated he was not slavishly aping this horrid painting. She was real. And the lips in their suppleness had given something back, not a kiss, but an acknowledgement that this was welcome, a slight trembling forward. That his hand had grabbed her around her arm in a forceful, but gentle way. That he had a right to this. It was ephemeral.


There was commotion immediately afterwards. The garble of the walkie talkies increasing in frequency. She had been whisked off. At that moment, she probably was unaware there had been any feeling, and would deny it to herself forever. What had she thought during that split second? A nanosecond, that no one could capture, gone to the universe, it would only be interpreted in the slow vehicle of art by him, when what he wanted was her perspective, forever lost.


The guards did not know what to do with him. He had not broken any law, even though in Vienna there were probably plenty on the books for every case imaginable. But kissing under The Kiss? How could that be categorized? There was a collective soundless sigh when they let go of his arms and he proved harmless.


No one caught the kiss itself on film, but dozens witnessed the aftermath and described it on social media. So this was one instance where not the picture but the words went viral. It turned out that imagining a kiss under The Kiss was a lot better than a snapshot. A simple image that did not even exist was worth a thousand words. Poetry in the Internet Age.








It was the most difficult painting he had ever not completed. He had trouble completing any, but this one seemed to always unclothe itself at night. The enormous shadow of a classic painting he no longer liked, one that followed his life, hung over his daily work. He thought about severing the reference to the original, but it was no longer possible. All good art referred to other art. Some narrowed down the reference to one work. He was yoked to one image.


It was a café where he sketched where the woman helped him. Going to a café with a sketchbook tearing out drawings of the same subject one after another definitely attracts attention. He was sketching the contours of the original. Then he tried to sketch inside it the contours of his act. Repeating the curves, but it looked absurd. Like matryoska dolls.


“The Kiss?” she asked to his incredulity.

“Yes. How did you know?”

“You’re not the first student to come in here and sketch it, but what’s on the inside?”

He didn’t know how to react, but told the truth. “That’s my kiss.”

“Looks promising. Do you know about the guy who kissed the girl underneath The Kiss last week.”

“I heard about it.”

“Was it you?”



He could not believe he had said it.

“You can’t paint something as good as him, huh.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean you must have started drawing this right after you did it.”


“And it looks like you haven’t gotten very far.”


“Do you want my advice?”


“Find a model.”

“That would ruin everything.”


“The whole point was that it was spontaneous. I chose someone special who disappeared. I have to recreate it with almost nothing to go on. A model makes me go over and over the same woman. That’s the exact opposite of the point.”

“That doesn’t make any sense. You need a model.”

“I’m very sorry, but I don’t think I need anything but my own thoughts.”

“It doesn’t seem to be working, though, does it?”

“No, it isn’t.”

“Because that’s not the way it works. You need someone. We all do.”

She paused.

“So let me be your model.”


There was an awkward silence, but he breathed deeply and knew this was the right way.

“I’ve done it before,” she said. “This neighborhood is crawling with artists.”

“A good way to make some extra money.”

“Yes, but sometimes it’s not for the money.”

“And sometimes it is.”


“But whatever it is I think I can help you.”

Again, there was an awkward silence while he squirmed in his own indecisiveness.

“I’m experienced,” she said convincingly.

And as he left he thought she had the same lips as the woman in the painting.


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