by Lord Malinov
Placing the brushes into the stream of cold water, David watched as the thick pigment infected the flow, creating a rushing column of white and blue which swirled and bubbled in the basin in a milky froth. Paint stained fingers kneaded the bristles of the wide whitened brush, splashing as the silvered band emerged from the wash of color. David rubbed at the thinner blue brushes until they resumed their former darkness and with several hard swings above the sink threw the water in pattering streaks.
He glanced back at the morning’s work, another canvas which suited him in some ways. As quickly, David looked away. It would be a while before he could see the expression coolly, before he could look at the composition and structure without feeling the burning ache that accompanied the act of creation.
A knock struck the studio door. David glanced at his watch, smearing away several drops of white paint that had fallen onto the crystal. He picked up a rag off his worktable and rubbed the glass clean. A moment’s irritation swept over him as he went to the door.
“David Bloom?” asked the young man.
“Yes, yes,” said David, walking away from the open door. The young man followed him into the studio.
“I’m Michael Braxton, from Art World. I spoke with you yesterday.”
“Yes,” said the older man. He stopped at his table and picked up a brush.
“I stopped by the gallery again on my way over here. Your work is causing quite a sensation.” David sat down in a wooden swivel chair and gestured for the young man to sit. Michael cautiously pushed some towels aside and sat down on a long bench.
“I guess my fifteen minutes are here.” David pushed his thick greying hair back, smearing a streak of blue paint along a lock.
“Rather more, I would guess. It’s been years since a show has created this much of a stir. My magazine is running a feature on the Wentworth exhibit and talk down at Caruso’s is that most of the glossies are doing something similar. You’ve struck a nerve.”
David snorted in silent disbelief and blushed slightly. He twirled the camel-hair brush in his left hand and began to stare thoughtfully at an exposed wooden beam behind the young journalist.
“Eric Hazel has dubbed your work nuevo-Rembrandt. Given his stature, I suspect the label will be in the first paragraph of a dozen articles this month.”
David laughed, smiling broadly.
“You know what they say about words,” the artist said.
“What do they say?”
“Sometimes words don’t say anything.”
“Well, I wouldn’t compare you with Rembrandt, but light seems to play an important role in your compositions.”
“Do you think so?” David asked, staring intently, almost into the dark haired young man.
Michael smiled and shrugged. He pulled a small pad from his jacket pocket and turning it open, he took out a pen.
“I think I’d be rather foolish to sit here and try and tell you what little I understand about your work. I like what you do. I find them moving and powerful and surprising in their impact. Most of the other paintings I’ve seen hanging lately strike me as fairly empty and mundane. Yours are different.”
“Well, thank you,” said David. “I just paint them.”
“My editor wants me to do some background for our article, if you don’t mind. We want to give our readers a proper perspective to approach your work from, and we believe that what’s up there,” Michael pointed with his pen toward the easel, “can only be truly appreciated by knowing what’s in there.” He looked into David’s eyes.
“You are ambitious,” said David, dropping his brush. He leaned down to pick it up. “Do you really think you can learn enough about me to make them understand? My agent can give you the particulars.”
Michael pulled a folded sheet from his breast pocket and opened it. He read for a moment.
“She did. It’s notoriously thin. You never had any training?”
“I never went to art school.”
“Everything we’ve seen is from the last three years. Did you just start painting?” Michael scribbled in his notebook as he spoke.
“No,” said David. “Twenty years.”
“So you were, about thirty when you started?”
“You never painted before then?” Michael stopped writing and looked up. David stood and walked over to the south windows.
“No. I didn’t.”
“Mr. Bloom, I’ve done some research, public records and stuff. Do you know which artist you remind me of?”
“Gauguin.” David sighed.
“Fascinating. Exactly my point. You were married when you were twenty-seven.”
“Still am, I suppose.”
“No, Karen Walker Bloom divorced you in 1989. The court presumed you were dead.”
“I was hard to get hold of.” David smiled slightly. Michael laughed.
“Yes, I would say that was true. You were an accountant, doing audits for the beef industry in Chicago.”
“That’s what they told me.”
“Pardon me?” Michael laid his notebook on the window sill and scribbled furiously.
“I have forgotten.”
“Was there a woman? I mean, another woman?”
David turned abruptly and stepped back, weaving his way into a clutter of boxes at the back of the studio. Michael followed him, curiously.
“A woman?” David said, opening one of the cardboard boxes. “Was there a woman?” He pushed the box aside and tore the tape which held another closed. “We could say that there was a woman.” Ashen faced, the man pulled out a handful of papers.
David handed one of the watercolors to the young man. A blonde woman with a radiant face. David handed him another. The same golden hair, the same beautiful smile. Michael sat down to study the portraits. David piled forty pages into his lap.
“I was maybe thirty-three when these were done. My skills were weak, but I had a vision.”
“I’ll say,” said Michael, flipping through the paintings. He blushed slightly. A nude. Another. She held her pink-tipped breasts in her delicate hands. She leaned back, lifting her full bosom. She sat, her legs slightly spread. She knelt, her back turned, her round bottom gently curved. She teased the curls of her pubis. She fingered her pussy. She rode a thick, dark cock. The paintings grew more erotic and more obscene with each page. Yet there was an unearthly radiance to the flesh, an almost sacred quality.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. Who is she?” Michael said, slightly flustered and aroused.
“Look at this,” he said, opening a book of prints to a page marked by a yellow tab. “Titian,” he said, pointing. It was the same woman, yet a painting of the Madonna. “Here,” he said, his white splotched finger aimed at one of Van Eyck’s. “And here,” David said, flipping quickly to one of Lippi’s virgins. Michael turned his head slightly and smiled. Each print portrayed the same woman, more or less.
“Who is she?” Michael asked, rising. David shook his head.
“I don’t know. I found these pictures just recently.”
“Your recent works, they’re the same, except abstracted?”
“Years have taught me to see more deeply into her.”
“Can we print some of these?” Michael held up the handful of watercolors.
“No,” said David, taking them from him. “You may not.” Michael watched the aged man gather the remaining prints into his hands, observing the way David’s eyes seemed to caress the woman’s loving image.
“I guess I understand,” he said coolly.
“And now, I must work,” David said with a sigh.
“All right. Can we resume our discussion later?”
“Perhaps,” said David. “I think that would be all right.”
He closed the door behind the youth and picked up a blank canvas. Carefully moving the morning’s painting against the wall, he dipped his brush into a mason jar of white paint.
He remembered driving, thinking about the dinner party Karen had planned, thinking about the invoices he had left in Weller’s office, thinking about the night before and thinking about the dull frown Karen had given him and then he saw the tree and the smack clatter bam.
Everything was gone. A woman, gold and brilliant, blinding in her presence, leaning over him, kissing him, her skin white as china, her piercing eyes blue and loving. He remembered the warm touch of her hands and the heat in his cock as she straddled his hips and the wet heat of her cunt as she buried him inside her soft furred lips and the kiss of her rhythm, the bounce of firm breasts, the rich gleam of excitement, the circles of nipples pressed into his mouth and the gold of her hair and the white of her skin and the red coral lips and the pearls of her smile and the azure lapis sky blue sea of her loving enchanting eyes.
And caressing the canvas, all David ever wanted was to feel that love again.