The Artist, 1

To abandon reason and embrace the absurd, is to find redemption.


[the house] [mausoleum]

A mist of rain as cold and penetrating as the tears of the dead hung in the air. Raymond stood on the sidewalk, thumbing a business card, nodding at the dark numbers chiseled above the door. He leaned back and took in the pale stone façade of the building. Iron grates guarded the windows, bleeding trickles of rust over the stone. Wide marble stairs curved gracefully down to the sidewalk. The surface of everything glistened with the drizzle of a spring that was unwilling (and as it seemed to Raymond, unable) to bloom. Tall granite pillars stood mute guard at either end of a wide portico. Along the steps, plants in earthen pots stood mute and leaden.

The air settled around him, seeping cold, congealing around the tungsten rods and screws holding his bones together.

At the top of the steps, both hands brushed the crease of his pants. “Am I sure I want to go through with this? He asked himself. He rang the bell.  The door opened.

[he arranges to meet her, the old woman is her “assistant” [familiar].

[the old woman]

“Yes? May I help you?” An old woman stood, a broach like a tiny silver casket pinned to her blouse. Her eyes were brittle and small in their sockets.

“Yes, I’m Raymond.”

The old woman leaned towards him and he felt the stiffness of her arm, felt her cold, hard cheek against his and smelled the antiseptic scent of her perfume – stark and sterile. For a moment he didn’t seem to be in the room. The old woman craned her neck towards his face. “Do you have an appointment, young man?”

The scent filled his mind. In another room he heard the strained whirring of an air conditioner, breathing steadily like a respirator. His knees went weak.

[the artist]

He heard footstep down the wooden stairs, light and quick like dancing. And a woman entered the parlor. She was tall, wearing a blue print dress, plain by the standards of the day. Straw colored hair, thin and brittle like a merchant’s, crowned her head. The first image, the first word, that sprang into his head was – aloof, but the word rang dull in his mind. She seemed somehow displaced and disconnected, but in no way ineffable. Her expression was completely open, completely receptive to inquiry. He felt that she was someone he could talk to. But it was her eyes that held his attention. Pale blue orbs set in a face, that but for the radiating smile would be considered careworn. Deep lines had begun to form at their corners, the price of years of seeing things that others couldn’t.


5 thoughts on “The Artist, 1

  1. Jo's Shelf Life

    Now this piece is so very different! – do you consciously experiment with different styles? It’s the kind of alteration in tone that is so noticeable in ‘Cloud Atlas’.
    I’ve yet to read the second part, but so far I’m quite taken aback at your descriptive powers. I don’t think I’ve ever read of ‘brittle’ eyes before, but it conveys so much about character as well as appearance. Exciting! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very insightful comments. This is an older piece. I think my style has changed some. And, I am all over the place! I don’t know if it’s conscious. I tend to feel that when I apply my conscious mind I end up hammering the light out of the idea and the words end up flat on the page. I don’t advocate it for every writer, but I tend to write from the unconscious.

      Like the bumper sticker says, “Words Happen”!

      But thank you, Jo for reading and sharing your thoughts. You are always welcome here.


      1. Jo's Shelf Life

        You’re very welcome. That’s why I like blog posts in general: that they might illuminate somebody’s ‘unconscious’. I guess I’m habitually nosy.

        But for now I will leave you in peace!

        Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.