by Art Arduous




Muk believed in the value of smart planning and clever project engineering. As a self-professed lazy man, Muk preferred to do a job just once. He knew that correcting mistakes can be morbid, dull and time-consuming. A well-laid plan is the easiest and the least expensive way to go.

On the other hand, Muk believed in Luck. He knew that the best-laid plans could go to Hell in a hand basket in a heartbeat.

That is what Muk was thinking about as his two-ton sculpture, Fortuna Rising, was lifted sixty feet in the air by a very large industrial crane. Up to this moment, Life had recently been Lucky. Except for the Ali BeeDee business, Life was gliding forward swimmingly. It was a nice change of pace, leaving trouble behind.


This installation had been a breeze. On schedule. No hassles. No problems to prick and solve. If there was a pimple, the paps outside the estate had grown in number, but local police and the private security companies were keeping order. No biggie.


Muk looked up at his sculpture swinging in the breeze. It was his first and only. Sculpture and objects were not normally in the flow of his thinking. About seven years ago, Muk had a wild hair and a vision. With bronze, steel, fiberglass and resin, he crafted this round, globe-like behemoth.


Whenever Life was going well, Muk got nervous. Just when good things started to feel good, Muk always became shadowed by cold fear and dread. He couldn't help it. He could not stop the ill wind, but he could button the collar of a warm jacket and remind himself that Fortuna is a wily one. She swings both ways. Life never stays bad.

Muk looked up at his sculpture and laughed. If the cable was to break or a fault line on the San Andreas were to hiccup, that gorgeous motherfucker would drop like a two-ton bowling ball, ping-pong between the three mansions of the estate and roll down over the best (or the worst) paparazzi in America. Fortunately, this did not happen.


Pedro, Honey Fox, Muk and Kasper and Pete, the hired Art Dogs, each held a long tether. With shouts, pulls and pushes, the crane operator eased his hand brake and kept check of the descent. Fortuna Rising was lowered and positioned upon its axis. The ground shook a bit as the heavy sculpture settled upon a sleeve of ball bearings at its foundation.

 "Zat slipped on da piston as easy as a whore during Navy Veek," laughed Kasper in his Austrian accent.

"It's in!" Pete was impressed. Blu applauded. The dogs chased each other around and around, circling the site.

Muk was impressed with himself. "It should rotate." He reached over and shoved harder than he needed to, almost losing his balance. The two-ton abstract moved lightly to the touch. Emperor Muk

"Wow." Kasper recognized the engineering of the piece.

"Brogan," stated Muk, shaking his head with admiration. He was referring to Jack Brogan, the fabricator who had engineered and built the base parts.


Amada, the Freemani maid, delivered a tray of breakfast papusas. It was emptied quickly. The rest of the afternoon was busy. Everyone had to help guide the crane down the narrow driveway. The paparazzi outside tried to make a breaking story out of it but failed miserably. The lighting to the sculpture was tested and the connections checked before the cable trenches were filled in and smoothed over. Damage to the lawn from the outriggers of the crane was prepped for the landscaper. The site was cleared and cleaned. It was a job well done.


Cosima came over and joined them. Muk was surprised to see her. Since Ali BeeDee's arrest, Muk had not seen hide nor hair of a Freemani. She slipped an arm around Muk's waist and he reciprocated. "Look at all the sweaty men!" she said, and to Blu, "And the hard-working woman!"

Cosima was a little overwhelmed as she looked at her new sculpture. She had envisioned and anticipated this addition to her home. She had imagined its scale and hoped for its beauty. Reality was now here and it was as wonderful as she had hoped for. She tried to speak her thoughts, "My father, when he commissioned Williams, Paul Williams, to design the estate and the homes, my father thought something should go here. The architect didn't think so. My father was right." She laughed. "Muk, it's wonderful!"

Muk was pleased, ecstatic actually, but he tried to keep a cool. He had learned a long time ago that the world is frightened of unbridled enthusiasm.



"I'm going to have a party," confirmed Cosima, "A big party. An unveiling. A splash. A do. And you're all invited." Everyone liked the idea. Kasper elbowed Muk and grinned. Pete rubbed his hands together. Blu started thinking of what she wanted to wear. Cosima continued, "Anybody want to join me for a drink on the terrace?"

"Ah, no!" answered Muk enthusiastically, "Thanks, but we've gotta get these mugs off the clock. We're gonna zip down to Mandrake for a pitcher, and then," he pointed to Pedro and Blu, "We're gonna come back when its dark to reposition the lights." Emperor Muk

"Splendid. Then we shall all celebrate at the party!" Cosima turned to Muk. "You are not telling me that you're taking the dogs to Mandrake..."

"Sure. They love it."

"The management does?"

"No. The dogs. Wanna join us?"

"Mandrake," muttered Pedro, rolling his eyes. He loved and hated that place. Mandrake is an art bar in Culver City, mid-town, Los Angeles. It is the watering hole of choice for the long legged gallery assistant who needs to unwind at the end of a long day. While the establishment does not discriminate against any, the vibe prefers patrons with nothing less than a Masters in Fine Arts or, at the least, the ability to discourse upon Art Issues at long length.

Blu teased Pedro, "Maybe, you'll run into Sarah!"

Pedro looked away and smiled, "Elizabeth was the funny one."

Blu giggled and poked him on the chest, "Whoo-Whoo!"


Cosima turned to Muk with authority, "I want to do the party quickly. Soon. We will have the bar and hors d'oevres up there," she pointed at the wide terrace of her mansion, "And different food stations there and there," pointing at each of her brother's homes, "And we will have little set ups here, around the sculpture." Cosima was having a ball. "We'll star-up the guest list. Fans, not friends... Landscaping is coming tomorrow to roll the new lawn. I want to make sure you invite everyone." She waved her hand to indicate the present crew.

"You got it, Lady!"



Look for the next exciting chapter of Emperor Muk!





Catch Muk on or






For the Love of Muk

Back in the Muk Again

Muk Fast Five



All Muk'd Up





All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real
persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.







© Gordy Grundy, All Rights Reserved


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