Mr Puddles by Caleb Echterling

Fiction

– ACT I: SCENE 1 –

(Michelangelo’s studio. Marble statues in various stages of completion line the walls. Apprentices and helpers scurry about with tools/canvases/paints. Lorenzo de’Medici, dressed in his finest regalia, walks in.)

MICHELANGELO
Welcome, Your Excellency. Coming to check on David’s progress? As you can see, he already has a fine head of hair.

LORENZO DE’MEDICI
(Glances quickly at giant statue.)
Yes, yes, it looks fine.
(Leans closer and whispers.)
I come with a commission of a more personal nature. Pocket-sized portraits. Fifty of them.

MICHELANGELO
(Nods.)
Ahh, something to give the grandparents, aunts and uncles at Christmastime.

LORENZO DE’MEDICI
Something like that.

MICHELANGELO
(Gestures toward chair on stage right.)
Please, have a seat on the modeling chair. Best light in the studio, you know.
(Lorenzo de’Medici hikes robe up to his waist and sits. Michelangelo cocks his head to the side.)
You have a very strange family.

LORENZO DE’MEDICI
Testa di cazzo, it’s not for my family. It’s to give out to women I wish to bed. Tight shot, right here.
(Frames his hands around his crotch.)
Give the ladies a peek at what they’re in for.

MICHELANGELO
Will that actually work?

LORENZO DE’MEDICI
I’ve been with more women than any man in Florence.

MICHELANGELO
Are you sure they’re not sleeping with you because you’d have them executed as traitors to Florence if they refused?

LORENZO DE’MEDICI
(Rubs chin. Pauses for a few seconds, then nods.)
No, I’m certain it is because of my virile manhood.

MICHELANGELO
(Shakes head, and begins sketching.)

 

– SCENE 2 –

(Michelangelo’s studio. Michelangelo paces across the floor. Every few seconds, he pauses and glances at the door. Lorenzo de’Medici enters.)

MICHELANGELO
(Bows.)
Your Excellency. I have the portraits ready for your inspection.

LORENZO DE’MEDICI
(Runs to Michelangelo, grabs the pictures, and flips through the stack. He stops on one picture, and tilts it 90 degrees. After a few seconds, he tilts his head 90 degrees in the opposite direction. He jabs the pictures into Michelangelo’s midsection.)
No, no, a thousand times no. This depiction is all wrong. Are you trying to invent Impressionism?

MICHELANGELO
What seems to be the problem, Your Excellency?

LORENZO DE’MEDICI
You have rendered Mr. Puddles all wrong. Your portraits fail to capture his heft. His girth, if you will. Signore Puddles is quite girth-y, you know.

MICHELANGELO
And who is Signore Puddles, Your Excellency?

LORENZO DE’MEDICI
The little art patron in my pants, of course.

MICHELANGELO
(Rolls eyes.)
As you know, I am one of, if not the most famous Renaissance artist, and as such Signore Puddles is rendered in a highly realistic linear perspective.
(Leans close and speaks slowly.)
Highly. Realistic. Linear. Perspective.
(Leans back.)
So your complaints are baseless. Whatever heft or girthiness Mr. Puddles has, I have captured it precisely. Now pay up.

LORENZO DE’MEDICI
(Grumbles. Tucks pictures under his arm. Throws bag of coins at Michelangelo.)
That David statue better be fucking great.

 

– SCENE 3 –

(Michelangelo’s studio. Michelangelo crafting David with a fine hammer and chisel. Lorenzo de’Medici limps in, wearing all black.)

MICHELANGELO
Your Excellency! Did the portraits have the desired romantic effect?

LORENZO DE’MEDICI
(Winces.)
Yes and no. The first lady who received one said it was the cutest fuzzy caterpillar she’d ever seen, and wondered what he looks like as a butterfly. I had her executed.

MICHELANGELO
(Nods.)
As is your wont.

LORENZO DE’MEDICI
The second lady said to call on her when Signore Puddles grows out of his larval stage. I had her banished to Pisa. Finally, the third lady wanted to see the real Signore Puddles. Then she cut him off with a knife. Must have been a spy from Venice.

MICHELANGELO
Or maybe she objected to seeing a picture of your privates.

LORENZO DE’MEDICI
I had her executed, so we’ll never know.
(Pulls a box from the folds of his robe. Hands box to Michelangelo.)
Now I must commission a memorial. For the late Signore Puddles.
(Sweeps an arm before his face in a wide arc.)
It shall be the grandest monument Florence has ever seen.

MICHELANGELO
Sounds great. I can do that, for the right price. What’s in the box?

LORENZO DE’MEDICI
It’s Signore Puddles. I fished him out of the Arno. In case you want to do a bronze casting, or something.

MICHELANGELO
(Drops the box and spasms his entire body, a la Kramer from Seinfeld.)
Agggggghhhhh. What the hell is wrong with you? I won’t touch that thing.

LORENZO DE’MEDICI
(Shrugs.)
Use it as the model for David, and we’ll call it even.

Biography
Caleb Echterling will put his left arm in, but he refuses to shake it all about. He tweets funny fiction using the highly inventive handle @CalebEchterling. You can find more of his work at www.calebechterling.com.

Image: Pixabay.com