Black Velvet Simon
Saturday, July 11, 2009

Simon was unsure how to compliment Kaylee without lying. "This... This is nice... Really... Nice..." [Continued in Comments below] The original Krissy Harbek work can be seen at



Saturday, July 11, 2009 11:16 AM


Buying gifts for Simon was a pain for Kaylee. For example, while he was healing in the hospital, Kaylee bought him a cake in the shape of Serenity. Simon left most of his one slice on the plate, saying it was delicious but he was full. River, scooping up frosting from Simon's plate with her fingers, said, "Simon thinks sugar and shortening are unhealthy. Make a raw carrots and prunes cake, he'd eat it all." Tonight Simon was fussy, again -- he was hard to please because his standards were too lofty for Kaylee's tastes.

Simon was unsure how to compliment Kaylee without lying. "This... This is nice..." He held the portrait in his lap, with Kaylee beside him on the edge of his bed. "Really... Nice..."

In the portrait, Simon had a pained expression on his face. And he was glowing! Simon hated it. The painting was iconographic; he looked like a martyred saint. He took great care with his next words, truthful yet not wishing to hurt Kaylee's feelings. "It's Elegiac..." He was sincere.

Kaylee knew what 'elegy' meant -- Simon hated the painting. Now that he mentioned it, it did kind of look like a portrait a funeral home would display next to a casket. Kaylee tried to change Simon's mind. "I got the idea from Zoe. She has that classy paintin' of Wash made by Krissy Harbek. Same artist, both paintings!"

Now Simon felt bad; he hadn't been invited into Zoe's quarters to see Wash's portrait. River, who had been invited, said that was because Simon was a stuck-up art critic looking down his long nose at black velvet paintings. (What River actually said was "stick-up-the-ass critic.") Simon hoped that was not Zoe's reason. He preferred to believe that Zoe wanted privacy in her grief.

"Remember those photos I took when you were in the hospital?" Kaylee continued. "I sent those to Krissy as a reference for your portrait. You were pretty sick in those pixs. I guess I should've told her you survived the gunshot." Kaylee laughed at her own joke; Simon didn't.

Living with Kaylee was thrilling for Simon, but the downside was her nonstop enthusiasm -- she'd lost the key to turn her motor off. When he didn't share her enthusiasm, she'd be hurt, even wrathful. Often both. Simon would tactfully pretend to cherish her black velvet gift forever. A gentleman must have good manners to preserve peace.

Kaylee wondered how such a beautiful gift could go so wrong, so fast. There's no accounting for some people's sensibilities. It was time for her to make a sacrifice and dump the picture in the trash. "Let's completely forget the picture. It never happened." Kaylee put the portrait back into the box it was mailed in. Finally, Simon looked happy, so this was the right thing for her to do. She said, "I got a much better gift for you. Matches your inclinations and mine." She slides closer to him, hip to hip, puts her arm around him, and whispers in his ear, "If you get undressed, I'll make you feel very healthy... Absolutely glow in the dark great." Simon could live with that.

As Kaylee promised, the portrait went into the trash. River found it. With it as the central work of art, she arranged a satirical shrine next to her bed, with burning candles and incense sticks. Simon was quietly tolerant of being the joke. Kaylee thought River's weird sense of humor hilarious. "Bad, bad sister!" Jayne was confused. "I get ancestor worship... But sister worship brother? That's plain creepy." Kaylee still desired the painting and stole it back. For years she locked it in her private box under her bed, where she kept other small, much loved objects, e.g., heavy-duty vibrator with a burnt out motor.

Eventually, Kaylee let Simon know she had preserved Krissy Harbek's painting. They could only take a few items, but the painting was in their baggage when they emigrated, in cryogenic sleep, to old Earth. It's a warm and fuzzy tale how the crew of Serenity never split up, but that's a whole 'nother story, as Kaylee would say.

Krissy Harbek's work can be seen at

Sunday, July 12, 2009 7:28 AM


Hee, funny. :) I didn't comment before, but yes, good story.


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