A Glibertarians Exclusive: The Painter II

by | Feb 13, 2023 | Fiction | 55 comments

A Glibertarians Exclusive:  The Painter II

Rome – 1926

“And this,” Adolf pointed out to the exhibition guest, “is the Reichstag building in Berlin.  I did the sketching when I was there last year, and finished it here in Rome.”

“Excellently done, signore Hitler,” Italy’s new dictator complimented the artist.  “You do the German people credit.”  The bombastic Italian moved on to another painting, standing before it with his hands behind his back, rocking back and forth on his heels.  “And this?”

“Schloss Charlottenburg, Duce,” Adolf replied.  “A seventeenth century palace in Berlin.”

“Beautiful.”  Benito Mussolini leaned in, examined the painting closely.  “You have an eye for detail.”

“Have you been through the section on Rome, Herr Mussolini?”

“I have.  You are gifted, signore.

“Rome gives one much to work with.”  That much was true; Adolf was increasingly a German partisan, but the architecture and history of Rome was inescapable.  If only Germany could attain the greatness of the Roman Empire, Adolf thought.  Then the other nations of the world would see something.  So far, his work had not been terribly successful – oh, Adolf had achieved no small commercial success, especially as his work improved through practice.  But the Europe-wide recognition of his vision of Germany had not yet come to pass.

There was another matter.   Adolf had, in 1923 and 1925, given exhibits in New York and Boston, and in between had traveled through that country; he saw for himself the steel industry in Pennsylvania, the manufacturing might of Detroit, and the impossibly vast sweeps of rich farmland in the upper Midwest.  He had seen the booming growth of the USA as an industrial and economic powerhouse.  The United States’ growing might was – or at least, should be – a matter of the greatest concern to any European power, including the hamstrung Weimar Republic.  America had the potential to become the next great lion of the world economy, and having seen that country for himself, Adolf could scarcely overlook that possibility.

The Americans were fractious, undisciplined, incorrigible – but somehow it worked for them.  Adolf found it difficult to resolve that seeming contradiction.

“How long have you been painting, signore Hitler?” Mussolini asked.

Adolf snapped out of his reverie.  “Since I was a boy,” he replied.  “Beginning with street scenes in Austria, where I grew up.  As you did, Duce, I served in the Great War, which delayed my work.  But after the war, thanks to the patronage of Herr Goldberg – he sadly passed away last year – I resumed my career as an artist.”

“Signore Goldberg would be proud to see all you have achieved,” Mussolini agreed.

“I hope so,” Adolf replied.

Mussolini wandered away, his small retinue following.  Adolf spent the balance of the evening talking to other viewers of his work, finally leaving the exhibit at about ten o’clock and walking alone through the darkening streets of Rome.

His studio was dark and deserted.  Adolf walked around aimlessly.  The faint noises of the street outside intruded only slightly.  He was lost on thought.

Nearby stood his largest easel.  On it was a canvas, covered with a piece of cloth.  The canvas, Adolf knew, was blank.  For all his efforts, for all his work, for all the success he had achieved, the one great masterpiece he longed for still eluded him.

He sat on a hard wooden chair for an hour, regarding the blank canvas.  Finally, he gave up.  Sleep, he told himself.  Sleep, and tomorrow will bring fresh perspective.

The next day brought no new perspective; there was too much to do.  The next few days were instead occupied with taking down the exhibition, removing the paintings back to the studio, and arranging shipping of those that had been sold.  Adolf was pleased and bemused to find that Benito Mussolini had purchased one of his paintings, a large study of the Roman Coliseum.

With that finally done, Adolf sat down for his typically Spartan supper – a bowl of vegetable soup and a boiled egg.  He ate at a small table, from which he could still see the blank canvas.

Mussolini, he mused, he would have the Roman Empire restored, with himself as Caesar, no doubt.  Why should Italy be so glorified, when the German people still suffer under the rule of Weimar?  Why, when Germany still suffers under the treaty at Versailles?

Paul von Hindenburg, the pompous, obese old Field Marshal, was now President; as far as Adolf could see the old man had done little to retrieve Germany’s status in the world of nations.

He finished eating, washed up in the studio’s tiny sink, brooded over the empty canvas for a while and then went to bed.

Adolf awoke early the next morning.  He washed and ate, then sat down to work on a painting of a street scene he had sketched in Munich the year before and was mildly annoyed when there was a knock on the studio door.  Dropping his brush, he stumped to the door and opened it, a testy look on his face.  “Jah?  What is it?”

“You are Herr Adolf Hitler?”  The caller was a portly man with dark hair, thick glasses, and a distinctly Bavarian accent.

“I am,” Adolf replied.

The man stuck out his hand.  “I am Anton Drexler,” he introduced himself.  “Chairman of the German Worker’s Party.”

“I’ve heard of you,” Adolf admitted.  “Your group attempted to seize control of Bavaria, is that not true?”

“We did.  We paid the price for that attempt.  May I come in?”

Adolf stepped back and held the door open.  “Very well.”  He led Drexler into the studio and indicated a chair.  “I have no coffee,” he apologized.  “There is tea, if you like.”

“Not necessary.”  Drexler dropped his battered hat on the narrow table Adolf used for eating and sat down.  He pulled out a pack of cigarettes and raised a questioning eyebrow.

“I have no ashtrays,” Adolf said testily.

“As you wish.”  Drexler put the cigarette pack away.  “I have come from Munich to talk to you about your work on behalf of Germany.”

The man has a bit of Mussolini’s bombast, Adolf thought.  “Ach.  So?”

“So, we would like you to put your talent to greater use.”

“To promote another putsch?”  Adolf’s face clearly displayed his distaste.

“No.”  Drexler shook his head.  “We learned many hard lessons from that attempt.  No, Herr Hitler, now we will seek the resurrection of Germany through political means.”

“I am an artist,” Adolf pointed out, “not a politician.”

“And a good portion of your art portrays your Fatherland,” Drexler pointed out.  “You do want to present Germany not as it is, but as you hope for it to be, is it not so?”

“I wish to,” Adolf admitted.  “I strive to.  It is my struggle, that much is true.”

Drexler leaned forward.  “Tell me, Herr Hitler, how may we help you in this?”


Oh, the hours I’ve spent inside the Coliseum,
Dodging lions and wastin’ time.
Oh, those mighty kings of the jungle, I could hardly stand to see ’em.
Yes, it sure has been a long, hard climb.
Train wheels runnin’ through the back of my memory,
As the daylight hours do increase,
Someday, everything is gonna be smooth like a rhapsody,
When I paint my masterpiece.

About The Author



Semi-notorious local political gadfly and general pain in the ass. I’m firmly convinced that the Earth and all its inhabitants were placed here for my personal amusement and entertainment, and I comport myself accordingly. Vote Animal/STEVE SMITH 2024!


  1. Tundra

    It is my struggle…


    This one’s shaping up nicely, Animal! Thank you.

    • juris imprudent

      Predestination? Where are our resident Calvinists?

      • SDF-7

        Out playing with our resident Hobbesians.

      • Aloysious

        Saw that right there, I did.

  2. juris imprudent

    Rayburn : [refering to Creasy to Miguel Manzano in the Agency for Federal Investigation Headquarters] A man can be an artist… in anything, food, whatever. It depends on how good he is at it.

    • The Other Kevin

      They’re taking that “This was the most amazing speech ever” talking point a little too seriously.

      • SDF-7

        They’ve won the victory over themselves… they truly love Big Diaper.

      • SDF-7

        Ugh… I hated Flashpoint when Johns first did it, hated it more when it spawned the New 52, still hated it when they did it in the animated DC movies… sucked when they tried it in the Flash TV show… and this still looks like crap. I expect Keaton is really playing Thomas Wayne if they’re holding to the Flashpoint story, it would fit with his age…

        I used to be a DC fan… and I couldn’t give less of a crap about the crap they’ve been doing.

      • LCDR_Fish

        The animated flick was a lot of fun as a standalone flick – haven’t picked up any of the books yet.

      • SDF-7

        If having Wonder Woman decapitate Mera and send the severed head to Aquaman is your thing… (I believe that’s how that whole stupid storyline went… trying to blank it… DC for me distinguished itself from Marvel by having heroes that were heroic, actually lived up to the ideals and had fun being heroes. Yes, crap could happen — but it wasn’t all “Let’s make Gotham City look like the bright spot of our universe” and it wasn’t full of “Hey, we can be Alan Moore toooo….” writers.

        Too bad more people didn’t get the point Denny O’Neill was trying to make with Az-Bats. But I’ll just keep my head canon where Emerald Twilight and hence Zero Hour and hence Infinite Crisis, etc. never f’ing happened, thank you very much.

      • UnCivilServant

        Speaking of Azrael, I finally found that audio version of Knightfall I remember from the 90s.

      • LCDR_Fish

        Not sure I recall that but I did like introducing the Wildcats characters and others. Like JLU it was nice seeing folks other than the big 7 even if only tangentially.

        Only GL book I’ve picked up so far is the first vol of GL rebirth that Van Sciver illustrated. They’re on my “eventual” list thats largely been superseded by manga, Euro and crowdfunded books.

    • The Gunslinger

      I’m not sure if it matters anymore who the nominee is. It’s already predestined which party will win. Personally, I’m inclined to not bother with voting anymore until the process is cleaned up.

      • SDF-7

        I’m pretty sure I’ll keep at it out of both lethargy and trying to keep out the really stupid perpetual propositions. Those don’t all sail through, so it isn’t completely pointless yet.

      • DrOtto

        One of our school bond props was defeated last go around. I’m still not sure how, but looking at the property tax bill, it should have lost by bigger margins than it did.

      • UnCivilServant

        What’s the proportion of Renters in your area?

      • UnCivilServant

        Or people still paying their mortgage thus having their property taxes in escrow?

      • Gustave Lytton

        Wow. Those and public safety usually pass around here. So naturally the various government entities spend their normal budgets on other things and cry poverty when it’s election time.

      • The Gunslinger

        My theory on school bond votes is, if the district can get a majority of the teachers/administrators that live inside the district limits to vote ‘yes’ then it’s going to be difficult to defeat. Certainly in low turnout elections.

      • UnCivilServant

        It doesn’t hurt that around here at least school elections are held in April, at schools instead of polling places, and only minimally announced. If not required by law, there’d be no announcement. Of course, NYSUT makes sure its members know when, where, and how to vote in these.

      • Ted S.

        And how to shout down anybody who might oppose them at school board meetings.

      • Drake

        More than half the electoral votes have been fortified for democracy, so yeah. Just a question if you want to participate in the kabuki theater or just watch.

  3. DEG

    I like it.

    And I like the song.

  4. LCDR_Fish

    Hayek – just saw your post from yesterday. I lived in Muikilteo (stationed at Everett) from 2010-2012 and loved it – although I never made it to Boeing museum. I may have a few suggestions but there are probably a lot of things that have changed in the last 10 yrs. Email me if you want.

  5. LCDR_Fish

    Zwak – saw your post on Donaldson books. I need to reexamine the Gap series. I may have only read the first one but I can’t recall. The Wagner ring cycle is such a cool concept- esp when done in SF (see also the Captain Harlock anime adaptation) – although my favorite is still the Fritz Lang silent flicks.

    • SDF-7

      I couldn’t make it through The Gap personally. Last Chronicles has honestly made it hard for me to appreciate anything after The Wounded Land — he really gave us back something broken.

      • LCDR_Fish

        Only read 1st and 2nd chronicles. Last didn’t really sound promising from some notes I’d seen.

      • Fatty Bolger

        Same here. Never had any interest in that last series.

      • Zwak says Your Husband is a Polar Bear, Skinny.

        I thought that GAP was some of the best hard sci-fi I had read. Of course, YMMV, but it didn’t, if I remember, pull its punches a la the nature of big big gov/corps, how making someone a cyborg might feel for them, it gives everyone a view and doesn’t just play melodrama with the characters, and so on. But, it has been 30 years since I read them.

      • Ted S.

        I couldn’t make it through The Gap personally.

        I could.

  6. UnCivilServant

    Strange random thought.

    I’m wondering if the capacity of college-aged perople to operate on very little sleep is actually an evolutionary adaptation for dealing with being awoken frequently by the infants they are supposed to have around that time.

    • SDF-7

      Sounds plausible to me. Tie researching it into how Climate Change has altered our sleep states and somehow pull trans-isms into it and I’d bet you could get a grant.

    • The Last American Hero

      It absolutely is. I was 32 when we had our first and 34 for the secon. Neither was a sleeper. During that time I became convinced we were biologically built to have children at a younger age.

      • Tundra

        Haha, same. I say all the time that I wish we would have started earlier and had more.

  7. SDF-7

    LCDR_Fish — you’ve got me back skimming the WWAR thread… Animal — you seriously never considered bailing on Destroyermen? That one REALLY drug things out (and I was getting very very tired of Yet Another Anachronistic Group showing up that just happened to have a Big Ass Capital Ship Or Two ™ ). I made it through it… but honestly gave Artillerymen only the one book… I just can’t bring myself to care enough to slog through it again, especially knowing that the Dominion is going to be what it is and all. Props that you could do it.

    And yes, I also slogged through American Empire. I had a Turtledove phase a while back until he just wore out his welcome on me.

    My “pop ’em like skittles” reading at the moment would be just about anything by John Hemry / Jack Campbell. Just fun books typically.

    • SDF-7

      Oh… forgot to say: “And you know I’m insane because my favorite series from him is actually JAG in Space… courtroom drama and sci-fi engineering… what’s not to love?”

    • LCDR_Fish

      I read the first couple Destroyermen on my kindle. After the real-life “The Fleet the God’s Forgot” – it had some appeal but the tech and resource level stuff is really difficult to reconcile with the threat level.

      ROB kroese’s Iron Dragon series seems like a more viable approach IMO.

      Read the Turtledove war series too – but dropped eventually.

      1632 started fine but splitting the threads into multiple series by different collaborators is a good way to lose my attention really fast. I still have a bunch of them and the anthologies – but probably not going to get back into it – although maybe if Weber does a few more.

      Joe Abercrombie’s grimdark stuff is always an instant read for me no matter how depressing.

      • UnCivilServant

        I’ve noticed that I’m less partial to grimdark storytelling these days, with a marked preference for adventure and happily ever after.

      • SDF-7

        grimdark isn’t fantasy these days is probably why.

      • R.J.

        This is an accurate statement.

  8. Gustave Lytton

    “Parkinsons strikes down rising artist”

  9. Gustave Lytton

    Elijah Schaffer always looked like an ass.

  10. The Late P Brooks

    I’m not sure if it matters anymore who the nominee is. It’s already predestined which party will win. Personally, I’m inclined to not bother with voting anymore until the process is cleaned up.

    Speaking of candidates, I couldn’t help noticing (I tried) how hard the media circus was fluffing Romney after his bold and serious admonishment of that Republican guy who has everybody’s panties so wadded up.

    I assume the Koch machine will be throwing money at him (Mitt) pretty soon.

    • The Other Kevin

      Mitt “Literally Hitler” Romney? Or is it Mitt “Binders full of Women” Romney?

      • Fatty Bolger

        I think it was Mitt “Dog Abuser” Romney. Or maybe Mitt “Put Y’all Back in Chains” Romney.

    • SDF-7

      They might as well trot out McMuffin again… just about as welcome to the grassroots.

  11. The Late P Brooks

    Mitt “Literally Hitler” Romney? Or is it Mitt “Binders full of Women” Romney?

    Yeah, that guy. The radical libertarian who wants to completely dismantle the government and let people starve in the gutter.

  12. Gender Traitor

    O/T rant: Because I order flowers for employees from time to time (and once for the funeral of a deceased relative of my own,) I get email from my florist of choice at both my work and personal e-dresses. Today I’ve received THREE emails to each e-dress from that florist just since 8 a.m. reminding me there’s still time to order for Valentine’s Day! Jeeminy criminy, give it a rest! 🤬

    • R.J.

      “Special offer! A dozen roses and The unlubricated Dildo of Consequences delivered tomorrow by 4:00 for only $59.99!”

      • Dr. Fronkensteen

        So what I’m hearing is that I should be able to get some decent flowers at a good price tomorrow.

  13. Fourscore

    Thanks Animal. Late to the party as usual but still made it. Got as far as ‘my cause’ and know it’s about to get even more exciting . I saw Germany in 1957 for the first time, was still a lot of buildings needing cleaning up.

    Good story

    • juris imprudent

      I kinda kick myself for not going to Berlin, and East Berlin, back in the day. I was there not that many years before the wall came down, and that prospect was all but unimaginable then.