When I was about 7 years old, around 1971, I lived in Hudson, IL, population about 1,000.  My family went to church with an elderly widow from the neighborhood.  Often, during summers, I’d walk to her house to visit.  She loved to play the board game “Cootie” and made great cookies.

The main thing I noticed about her house was that she had an amazing amount of artwork on her walls.  I guess, being an artistic type myself, I appreciated her adoration for art.  There were a few paintings that were pretty standard (or at least what my kid brain thought were standard), but many were quite bizarre.

The one that struck me the most was a painting right over her fireplace.  At the time, the Vietnam War (Conflict, whatever) was going on.  I kind of knew what war was; people were fighting and dying, and folks were upset about it.

The painting was horizontal, with a black background.  Across it, waving from left to right, was an American flag. The end of the flag, on the right, dripped down and became a long drop of blood.  Gripping the end of the drop, with one hand, was a dead American soldier in camos.

I never asked her specifically about the painting, but I’d often stare at it when she was off in the kitchen getting refreshments.  It was one of those “it’s scary, but it strikes my artistic soul in a profound way” sort of things.

Anybody I’ve ever told this to has no idea what I’m talking about.  I’ve imaged-searched the Internet with every keyword I can think of: nothing.

So, for now, the coolest painting I ever saw is only a 40-year-old memory.