Chapter the Fourth: Parallel Corruption
Tall dark and handsome had led Sheri away from a lovely party at a gallery opening. But he was, all things considered, far from tall, and more beautiful than handsome, like a cherubim. The guy had charm though; she could give him that much credit and more. Somehow, he came off as larger than life, especially with that long, flowing coat that seemed to conceal some giant force as paradoxically as a tesseract. It was a bit odd that he hadn’t taken it off for the party, but Sheri was starting to suspect he was a bit eccentric. It certainly intrigued her; she wasn’t even tipsy and she had accepted his invitation to come to his building (he owned a whole building!) and “take a look at some of his humble works.”
Of course, Sheri was also interested in what he could do for her. Word around town was that he owned a very exclusive gallery. When she struck up a conversation, he had come back with a familiarity and warmth that was at first off-putting, but ultimately charming. She had barely had time to learn his name before he suggested the trip to his place.
“Uh, did you enjoy the party?” She asked as they rode his elevator up.
“Mm. To be perfectly honest, I was disappointed. The artist-- what was her name?”
“Uh, Sandy Bowman.”
“Ah, yes, thank you, my dear. Sandy Bowman seems to lack conviction. One cannot simply slap some paint on a canvass and call it beautiful. One has to have narrative, cause, and innovation in mind.”
“Wow, that’s really deep.”
The elevator stopped, and they got off. Tall dark and handsome had a nice place, in Sheri’s opinion. In fact, nice was an understatement. Spacious, ridiculously pricey furniture (even the lamps seemed to be expensive to her keen eyes), art everywhere, and a sense of opulence complete with gold-leafed columns.
“So Mr. artist, you talk pretty passionately. What kind of narratives, causes, and innovations have you come up with?”
“Chiaroscuro, for one,” Tall dark and handsome muttered.
“Chiaroscuro? You’re too funny!” Sheri laughed a little longer than was appropriate, but she couldn’t help herself. She wanted to impress this guy so bad. Hell, she wanted his babies, and she didn’t even like kids. A small part of her self became concerned about this, but the majority of her was so deliriously happy, she couldn’t care less. “You know that’s impossible. Unless you where alive during the Baroque period, and despite your fabulous digs reminiscent of that time in history, I think that would make you really old.”
“You couldn’t be more right.” Tall dark and handsome sighed and got a far off look in his eyes.
Trent was mildly confused. This had to be a dream of some sort that he seemed to be experiencing. Everything was out of focus and, in a lesser sense somewhat nonexistent, if he did not pay specific attention to it. Moreover, it was hard to focus on what he wanted to. In addition, he was viewing himself from outside himself, and he looked nothing like himself. He was a young, good-looking man with intense features.
He was in a bar. No, that wasn’t the right word. Dirt floors, stonewalls, the smell of waste was omnipresent (had he ever used his sense of smell in a dream before?). This was more like a tavern. In Latin America perhaps, for everyone seemed to be speaking in something that sounded like one of the romantic languages. In addition, everyone was tan, many of them with rich, curly hair like his dream own incarnation.
Trent was listening to conversation, and somehow aware of the meaning of the words, despite the language involved. “Hoy, Cellini,” someone said, and Trent knew that a friend was calling to him.
Legs that were someone else’s and yet his own moved him to his friend, a slightly inebriated, merry fellow. “What is it, Lorenzo, he heard himself say in the foreign tongue.” These were Italian names, right?
Lorenzo grabbed him familiarly, like drunken people tend to do. “Don’t you think that man looks like he could be your father or older brother?” Lorenzo pointed to a man across the room.
Trent’s dream self smiled. “You are right Lorenzo. Who is that man?”
“Eh, I don’t know his name. I hear he is a famous artist. Exiled for killing someone. You should go entice him with your beautiful and familiar face.”
“Don’t be silly, Lorenzo.” But Trent’s dream body was already floating across the room so he could introduce himself.
“Hello?” Sheri said with a bit of panicked voice. Tall dark and handsome had been Tall dark and catatonic for about 30 seconds now. He had simply been staring off into space. He did even seem to be breathing or blinking.
Slowly, Tall dark and handsome’s eyes lost their cloudiness, and their intensity came back. At long last, he said, “Sorry, my dear… I seem to have been reminiscing… what an odd episode. I was remembering my-- well, it’s not really important.”
“Thank goodness,” she said as she wrapped her arms around him and buried her head into his trapezius, as if it was the natural thing to do. “You had me scared to death.”
“He chuckled charmingly and rubbed her shoulder thoughtfully. The night is still young. Anyways, would you like to see what I’ve been working on?”
“I would be overjoyed!”
“Excellent. Come this way.” He led her around a column to an easel that stood above a drop cloth blotched with mainly scarlet and umber hues. The painting that lay on the easel seemed to likewise have this color theme. The picture Sheri saw was, to her eyes, immaculate. A study of a reclining female nude. However, from the looks of things, the painting was still in progress.
“Incredible,” she said, leaning closer. “You really do like baroque art, don’t you? And this scarlet color; such a strange quality to it. This is oil?”
“In part. I use a lot of blood as well.”
For a beat she was disconcerted. “Blood… really?”
“Yes, it’s an old technique. Blood has a quality to it… indescribable.”
“Ah, yes! I know what you mean. Have you heard about Marc Quinn? He’s a British artist that used nine pints of his own blood to create a sculpture of his head--”
“Marc Quinn is a charlatan. He and his body of work disgusts me. Blood is not a gimmick to be used in such a trite fashion. Oh his idea was intriguing at first; I’ll give him that, but his execution… and his other sculptures! Post modern--” at this point Tall dark and handsome seemed to use several non-English curses with much vehemence. Sheri swooned a little at his passion on the subject.
After his outburst, Tall dark and handsome composed himself abruptly. “I am sorry, my dear. That was most unbecoming of me.” Then, almost as an aside, he said quietly, “Perhaps I could have Mr. Quinn over for a discussion of his work some time.”
“No, that’s alright. I like a man with strong opinions.” So, what do you call this work?”
“Ah, the painting you have been viewing is called ‘death of Electra. It of course is unfinished. I’m afraid my last model didn’t last.”
“Oh, what a shame!”
“I must admit my motives for bringing you here involve more than simply showing you my art.”
“Oh?” Sheri’s heart started to pound.
“You’re beauty. Your proportions, your… everything are perfect.”
“Oh, thank you!” She gushed.
“So, I was thinking…”
“…that you will be my next model.”
Sheri paused in mid breath, blinked. “Oh? Oh… um ah, yes!”
“Excellent. Let’s get started right away.”