The space was large and empty, with a wooden floor and blank white walls. There were windows all along one side, letting in light and giving the room a sense of openness.
“We do have a temporary wall that we can set up in the middle of the room to provide extra space depending on how many pictures you need to display,” Jacob Cox was explaining. “You can also pull out those four panels from the walls there to make alcoves. It can be a good space for chairs, if you want to encourage people to stay longer, or create extra hanging space.”
“I’m impressed,” said Clint. He walked along one side of the room, calculating space and doing some quick math in his head for the cost of printing. “And you’re still committed to the deal you offered on the phone?”
“Of course. It works out well timing wise. Ideally I like to have the space booked solid during this season. It gives a better image and attracts more customers. Your show would fill a spot. It’s a win, win for both of us. Of course if you want me to organize refreshments it’ll be extra but many artists arrange that for themselves.”
“Yeah. Well it’s a great space. It seems a little too good to be true.” He studied Cox but the man only smiled blandly back at him.
“What do you say? Can I sign you up?”
“I’d like to read over the contract first. Carefully.”
“A cautious man. Always wise. Hold on, I’ll grab it for you out of the office.”
Left alone, Clint looked around the gallery again. It would be perfect. It was the right size, he could just about afford to print enough photos to fill it without leaving it looking too bare or too cluttered. If he could only get rid of the nagging suspicion in the back of his head, it would be ideal.
When he had arrived here this morning he had once again asked Cox about how he had heard he was looking for a space but Cox had somehow avoided actually answering the question, instead going off on a long tangent about what a small world the art community really was.
Cox came back holding the paperwork and handed it to him.
“Feel free to have a seat and look it over. I’m going to be in the back office. Just come on in when you’ve made a decision.”
Clint sat down with the papers and started going over it. It was fairly standard and though he tried hard to find any red flags he couldn’t. Going back to the start of the contract he read it again. There was no way Cox could take his photographs, not that Clint could really understand why he’d want to. The rent for the space was clearly detailed and he saw nothing that could spring hidden costs on him. Everything seemed in order. And it bothered him.
There was the noise of traffic as the entrance door opened and the sound of heels on the wooden floor. He glanced up and smiled as he saw Nikki walking towards him.
“Hey. Am I early? We said lunch at twelve didn’t we?”
“Yes. Sorry. I’m just going over the paperwork. I won’t be much longer.”
“It’s a beautiful room. I love it! You photographs would look gorgeous in here.”
“It does seem to be exactly what I was looking for.”
“And the paperwork? How does it look?”
He frowned. “Well I’ve been over it twice already and it seems fine. I don’t see a single problem with it.”
“That’s a good thing. This space is awesome. Come on, get excited about this.”
“I would like to. But…something just doesn’t seem right.”
“Maybe that’s just your pessimism talking. You do tend to be a bit cynical about the things you want.”
Clint laughed. “Maybe you’re right.”
“Besides, if the contract is okay, then I don’t see how else there could be a hidden agenda.”
“You’re probably right. Okay. I’ll sign the contract and then we can go grab lunch.”
In the face of Nikki’s enthusiasm, Clint shook off his lingering doubts and headed into Cox’s office.