The Artist, 3

The architecture of the mind is perversely corniced, ornate and intricate, and describing only death.


The young man stopped in front of a black iron gate in the middle of a thick hedge. The cobblestone of Monument Avenue continued in both directions into the distance, flanked on either side by tall antebellum houses disappearing in a mist that hung in the air, cold and unsympathetic like the tears of the dead. The hedge hid the lot from his view He compared the number on the scrap of paper in his hand with the plaque on the rain-streaked iron gate. The width of the lot, nearly three times wider than those around it, and the houses towering at either side, gave him the impression as he stepped through the gate, that he was walking into a low place, a valley of some sort. He tucked the paper in his coat pocket and pushed the gate closed.

The yard was thick with untended brush. Weeds grew up between the paving stones and bloomless dogwoods and azaleas loomed over him as he followed the path. He stepped carefully on the uneven stones, tentatively, like he was walking down a staircase in the dark, testing the ground beneath him with each step. His right leg ached with each step, the cold seeping and congealing around the tungsten rods holding his leg together.

He turned back towards the gate and realized the street and the buildings surrounding him had all but disappeared. It was colder here, the mist thicker, clinging to the air which smelled of fetid earth. He looked up and saw the house.

Wide marble stairs arced from the sidewalk glistening of a spring that was unwilling (and it seemed), unable to bloom. Granite pillars stood mute guard at the ends of a wide portico. Plants in leaden pots marked each step. Hanging above was a massive pediment, corniced and with a delicate frieze of urns and torches and bowing figures that put him in mind of Poe’s House of Usher.

At the top of the steps, he brushed the creases of his pants and straightened his jacket against his reflection in the beveled glass. He rang the bell.


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