1. From One Freak to AnotherA Chapter by Craig2591
Ian and Chrissy meet for the first time.
Ian took his phone out and checked the time again. The model for his latest painting was now a half an hour late. He sighed with annoyance. He didn't often use live models in his paintings. He couldn't afford them. But there was something about this particular woman that intrigued him.
His studio was on the first floor of an empty building in the old Warehouse District. There were a lot of empty buildings in the Warehouse District, a part of the city that had seen better days. There was a contractor's office next door to him, a sculptor across the street, and a used bookstore at the end of the block. Otherwise, the rest of the block was empty.
She had shown up at his studio the week before to look at his artwork. He had tried to strike up a conversation with her while she perused his artworks, but she wasn't very talkative. She seemed more taciturn than shy, and when he asked her how she had found his studio she only muttered that she had seen one of his paintings in a gallery downtown and had asked the gallery owner about him. She was dressed in torn black jeans, black work boots and a black t-shirt with the image of a motorcycle silk-screened on it in grey. Her hair was short and uncombed. She had rings in her nose and lower lip and her face was heavily made-up. But it was her tattoos that really caught his attention! She was covered in them! A beautiful copper-colored snake entwined itself around her right arm from the shoulder to the wrist. A trail of green hornets flew down her left arm from a nest on her left shoulder. She carried a motorcycle helmet with her and he guessed her to be in her mid-twenties; Ian himself was forty-five and divorced. He had a daughter around her age.
He was busy cleaning some brushes as she meandered around his studio. She was examining one of his paintings with a very critical eye when he stiffened. Inspiration had struck him!
“Don't move!” he said urgently. She turned and looked at him curiously. “I said don't move!!” he repeated as he reached for a sketch pad and a pencil. She resumed her position with a concerned look while he pulled his stool over to where he had been standing and sat down. “Just don't move!” he said again as he opened his sketch pad.
“Why? Is there a bee on me?” she asked sarcastically.
“I want to draw you! This won't take long! Please!” He started sketching. He did three quick sketches from different angles. After about fifteen minutes he said, “Okay, I'm done. You can move now.” Then he looked at her with such intensity that it startled her a little. “You have to pose for me!” he said.
“You have to pose for me. I'll pay you... although I can't afford a lot. Please!”
“I'm not taking off my clothes!” she warned.
“No, no. I want you to wear exactly what you're wearing now. It's perfect!”
She thought for several moments before she
hesitantly agreed. She told him her name was Chrissy and they set up
a time for her to return.
That had been four days ago.
He looked at his phone again. Forty minutes late!
He finally heard her motorcycle pull up outside. Seconds later she walked in without an explanation or apology for her tardiness.
“Hi!” he greeted her with a smile.
“What do you want me to do?” she asked without any fanfare. She was wearing the same black jeans, but instead of the black t-shirt she had been wearing before, she was wearing a white, wife-beater tank top over a black bra.
“You changed!” he said with dismay.
“I told you to wear the same thing!” he replied.
She shrugged. “Sorry.”
He stepped back and gave her a discerning look. “No, it's okay,” he said after a few moments, “This is actually better. It shows off your tattoos more. Now, just stand over here where you were the other day. Here, use this as a reference,” he said, holding up one of the sketches that he had drawn. She looked at the sketch and assumed the pose as best she could. “I'm going to make some adjustments,” he told her, “That means I'm going to be touching you.” She nodded without emotion. He adjusted her pose in a couple of places, stepping back each time to get a better look. When he was satisfied with her pose, he picked up an empty beer bottle, put it in her left hand and placed her hand by her hip. “Hold this,” he said.
He turned and started toward his easel when he heard her say, “Hey!” He turned to find her holding the beer bottle out in front of her and waggling it at him. “What's this?!” she asked.
He was perplexed. Surely she had seen a beer bottle before! “It's a prop,” he answered, “I want you to hold it while I paint you.”
“It's empty!” she said. She waggled it again.
He stared at her in disbelief. Was she making a joke? She looked totally serious. To his own surprise, he went to his mini refrigerator and opened it. There was one beer left. He took it out, twisted the cap off and walked over to her. He traded her the empty one for the full one.
“Better?” he asked with some annoyance.
She took a swig from it and resumed her pose. “Okay. You can go ahead now,” she replied with a dismissive gesture.
“Thank you!” he answered with a touch of irritation.
The idea for the painting had hit him like a freight train when he saw her standing there staring at one of his artworks the first day she had come to his studio. Her look was so critical, so discerning! She looked like an art critic assessing an artwork in a fine gallery, except that her tattoos, piercings and outfit were so diametric. That's how he planned on painting her - as if she were standing in one of the finer art galleries in New York or LA. It was the perfect juxtaposition for such a gritty, urban street punk kind of woman.
While he painted he tried to strike up a conversation with her, but she only responded with terse, one-word responses or shrugs. After a while, he just gave up and painted in silence.
After about an hour and a half he said, “Lets call it a day. We'll come back to it in a couple of days.” She didn't come over to look at the progress of the painting. She just nodded and started to reach for her helmet, but before she could leave, he surprised himself by asking, “Um... would you like to go get some coffee? There's a used bookstore down the block. The guy who owns it sells coffee and scones, too. ”
After a pause, she surprised him even more by saying, “Sure, but I can't stay long.”
They walked down the sidewalk in silence for several minutes. Ian had never been good at small talk, but the silence was growing uncomfortable so he made an attempt. “I guess having a studio like that is a bit of an extravagance. I could put a studio in the spare bedroom of my apartment and save a lot of money, but it's really nice to have a separate place like that to get away to so that I can create. And the rent's cheap. I should - -” He stopped suddenly. “Wait a second,” he said and walked over to the alcove of the doorway of the building they were in front of and looked down at a large, curled and dried brown leaf lying on the ground. He stepped on it. It gave a loud and satisfying crunch! He returned to where he had left her standing and said, “Sorry, that one was just too good to pass up. Where was I?” He started walking again. “Oh, yeah. I should put a sign out in front of my studio to advertise it. I could paint one myself. I am an artist after all. What do you think?”
She was looking at him with a furrowed brow. “What the hell was that all about?!” she demanded, pointing back the way they had come.
“The leaf! Were you trying to kill it or something?”
“Oh, that. I like to step on leaves. The louder they crunch, the better. It relieves tension. Like popping bubble-wrap.” She continued to look at him with total incomprehension. “Or breaking a beer bottle against a concrete wall,” he tried.
A look of understanding came over her face then. “Oh,” she nodded.
They reached the bookstore and entered. Each ordered a coffee and a scone and then they sat at a small table by the front window. Ian continued attempting to make small talk while Chrissy occasionally nodded or gave terse, one word responses. Her behavior made him a little apprehensive, but she didn't act like she wanted to leave so he kept on talking.
“... so my goal is to get into a gallery in Chicago someday. I've been sending some images with my resume to a number of galleries there for some time now, but I just get the same response - 'Thank you for your submission but we're not looking for any new artists at this time'. To get into a good gallery there you have to know someone or be connected. It doesn't matter how talented you are. But I keep hoping. Maybe my paintings will impress the right person and I'll get in, if the author is willing.”
She suddenly looked at him curiously. “What did you just say?!” she asked.
“I said I hope my paintings will impress the right person,” he answered.
“No, after that. Something about an author. What author?”
He looked embarrassed. “Oh, that. It's just my own little stupid joke. It's nothing.”
She continued staring at him with raised eyebrows. She obviously expected an explanation.
He smiled sheepishly and shrugged. “It has to do with theoretical physics,” he began, “There's a theory being put forth by a number of noted physicists that there may be other universes besides our own, and that these universes might be infinite in number. If that's true, then that means there are an infinite number of possibilities for what's inside those universes. There would be a universe just like this one with people in it just like us, except I'm a world famous artist and you're... oh... an assassin.” She looked skeptical as she listened. He wondered if she thought he was some kind of a crackpot. “Anyway, if there's an infinite number of universes, then that means that there must be one in which we aren't real, but are just a story that someone is writing. Everything that is going on in our lives is part of that story and everything that happens is at the whim of the author. In a way, that makes the author God. So I say things like 'if the author is willing' just like some people say 'if God is willing'. It's just a joke. I don't really believe our lives are being guided by an author.” He looked embarrassed.
She continued staring at him for several seconds. “You have one hell of an imagination!” she said at last, “But I have to admit, it's an interesting idea.”
“Really?!” he brightened, “You don't think I'm weird?”
“Oh, you're weird all right!” she said as she took a sip of coffee, “But it's an interesting idea.”
His face fell. He needed to learn to keep his mouth shut! “You must think I'm a freak!” he said.
She shrugged. “So? Join the club,” she replied, “From one freak to another.”
“I don't creep you out? People have a tendency to keep me at arms length once they get to know me.”
“With me it's the other way around,” she said, “I keep them at arms length.”
“Maybe I should try it your way,” he said with a wry smile, “But doesn't it get lonely?”
She shrugged. “I don't need people.” She checked her phone for the time. “I have to get going. Coming?”
“Yeah,” he said as they stood up. They were silent all the way back to his studio.
“We need to set up our next sitting,” he said when they got back to her motorcycle.
“I'll call you,” she replied as she put on her helmet.
“Do you want my number?”
“I have your card. Isn't it on that?”
Ian slapped his forehead. “Oh, yeah. I get a little addle-headed sometimes,” he smiled.
She climbed onto her motorcycle, but before she started it she looked at him and asked, “You know that crazy idea you had about a universe where we're just a story that someone is writing?”
“Well, there's something about that theory that doesn't make sense.”
“Who would read such a yawner?!” She started her motorcycle and drove off.
As she drove away, Ian smiled and thought to himself, By golly, I think she just made a joke!
© 2012 Craig2591
Not Your Usual Love Story
AboutI am a visual artist with no formal training in creative writing. I get stories knocking around my head and sometimes I write them down. I decided to join this site to share them with other writers .. more..
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