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The Painter (2004)

The Painter

I remember so well that late autumn, in the heart of Italy, with the music surrounding us like blown leaves.  The air was cool and sweet.  The kalamata olives were ripe and rich and the sweet taste of gelato pure upon the tongue.  All these memories still come to my mind’s eye as if it were yesterday.

I remember sitting on the plaza, a breeze circling round us endlessly as we drank the steaming espressos outside the small café.  The looming landscape of Rome silhouetted behind her head was a regal sight, bringing to mind all the wonderful treasures of the Mediterranean.   I looked back at my Painter.  Perhaps I too had become as wealthy as the emperors of old, at least when I considered the wonderful talent and beauty of the woman sitting across from me.

            The rich coffee delighted our pallets and she spoke of her latest painting, finished, and on display in the Il Fiore Rosso Gallery, deep in the center of the city.   I had seen it, in an unfinished state many times.  This is perhaps shocking to other painters who never allow another soul to view their work before it is done.  But I am her muse, her inspiration, her Hunter.  I fuel her talent, for it is dark and mysterious.  I believe, in my heart, that it is the eyes.  The eyes in her paintings are so unusual, so deep.  I have only seen that ability before in the art of Rembrandt, whose skill still impresses me; the skill to so capture the soul of a person in the eyes.

            I sat back and sighed.  The critics so enjoy analyzing her art, critiquing it, molesting it, destroying its purpose with the opposing dramas of light and dark, of anger, and pain, and love.  I remember the nudes so finely drawn, with such haunted looks.  Who would ever guess that each sketch, each painting, each portrait was a fantastic transformation of what the eye had seen and places on paper and canvas. 

            Perhaps you can tell that I am deeply in love with my Painter, my amore, my amorata.  But it is her need, her desire, to see that look on another’s face, the look of pleasure, of pain, of love, and of hate, that first drove me to her side.  It has haunted me since the inception, and even today I wonder if I shall ever enjoy the chance of bringing that same desperate and haunted look to her porcelain face.

            That autumn day I had to admit to myself that her latest painting was a masterpiece.  Despite what some critics had said of her work, it wasn’t technique or talent they objected too, but the content, the passion her paintings expressed.  This time, a phenomenal portrait of a young girl, eyes closed in pain, yet with an illumination on her face of utter ecstasy.  Sitting at the café I brought it to my mind’s eye, as she excitedly told me of Jeanette Pierre La Sons’ critique of her showing for d’Art Internationale.

            I listened to her, yet I remembered back to the night when I brought little bedraggled Annette to her studio through the pouring rain.  The girl’s hair had been ravaged, soaked with dirt and drizzle, and her makeup had run in streaks down her marble cheeks.  I remember wondering whether it had been the sweet water from above, or the salty river of tears that had flowed down the sides of her face.

            My Painter’s eyes had widened as I brought the disheveled girl in, leaping up from her sketchbook and taking the girl in hand.  As they disappeared up the stairs I found my way to the bar, pouring myself a glass of Merlot.  My Painter’s studio is a huge room with floor to ceiling windows, topped with arches, only lightly framed with twenty foot long curtains.  The bedroom is in the back, up a flight of stairs that stops at the landing and entry before disappearing into the darkness above.  Time seemed to stop and I watched the water pour down the windows, dancing with the rain.

            It was not long before they came down the stairs and I congratulated myself as I saw the undisguised beauty of the girl.  She was eighteen, fresh and beautiful.  She would make a stunning model for my Painter.  They stepped down the staircase chatting and giggling, arm in arm, and I felt a wave of warmth and pleasure flow through the studio. 
Cleaned and fed, Annette’s eyes ranged over the studio, drinking in the stacked canvases, the easels draped with cloth, and the mounds of pillows in one corner, draped over and around a crimson hued French settee.  I followed her gaze as she saw a small copy of “Dying Gaul” by Epigonos, the “Exposure of Luxury” by Bronzino, and countless other small works of art that served as foundations of muse for my Painter.

            Sexuality is so different for men, compared to women, and it always amazes me that those divergences can mesh and combine in such explosive and powerful ways to create a beautiful and living thing.  Annette drank in the soft lighting, the mellow sounds of the rain, and the bright coloring of my Painter’s studio.  I saw her face flush and her breath quicken and I knew I had chosen well.

            My Painter took her by the hand and led her through the private collection on an impromptu tour, explaining each piece and its creator’s desires.    It ended in front of one painting, mounted upon the back wall in a place of honor, lit with small spot lights.  Annette’s mouth opened as she drank it in, her eyes moving over the oil and canvas like a starved soul presented with a banquet.

            “What is it?” she asked softly.

            I suppressed a chuckle, not wanting to break the spell my Painter was brushing.

            “That one is entitled Pandora’s Punishment.” My Painter told the girl.

            She stared up at the astounding painting.  Its dark billowing clouds edged the frame and in the center, the brilliantly lit image of the mythical Pandora.  Her lithe body glowed in the light, bound by the silver glint of chains.  Her tormentor, with muscles rippling, swung the whip against her bared breasts, already tinged crimson.  A golden box lay empty at her delicate feet.

            But it was the face that one was drawn too; the look upon the tortured woman’s face as she bore the punishment for unleashing the evils upon the world.  Her eyes half closed, her mouth drawn and tight, and yet there was the look of sensuality, of pleasure, drawn into it.  In the depths of one’s mind you asked yourself if the punishment she was enduring was truly punishment.

            Annette stood enraptured by the painting, her rose colored mouth open as she drank in the meaning of the painting.  Her eyes widened as she realized that Pandora was experiencing one of the released evils, and finding it desirable.  The girl turned toward my Painter.

            “Yes.  I painted it.” she said.  “It took a very long time.  And I think it has been one of my best works.” My Painter glanced at me.  “The model for that painting was brought to me by my hunter.”

            Annette’s eyes narrowed, frightened.  “Your hunter?” she asked timidly.

            My Painter laughed.  “Oh not like that, little one.  He finds my models for me.  And he creates that perfect expression on their porcelain faces, that I place into my painting.”  My Painter smiled at the girl.

            “This is my latest canvass.” My Painter said, stepping to the side and showing Annette the unfinished painting.  Annette turned and looked at the easel, seeing the dark rich reds of fabrics and the dark architecture of cathedral stone, the small illumination of candles and the wispy grey of incense.

            And in the center lay the girl across the steps of the dais, before the altar.  The demons danced round her, one holding a brilliant red candle laced with gold.  His face was dark and malevolent and the candle tipped above the girl’s naked bosom.  Blood red claws encircled her ankles and wrists, holding her still in her agony as the fiery paraffin poured from the candle down upon her breast.

            Annette’s eyes widened as she looked at the painting.  But then a look of confusion, of bewilderment effused her face and she stared at the unfinished oval of the girl’s face.

            My Painter saw it before Annette asked, smiling in her bemusement.  “Yes. I know.  It’s not finished yet.  I have completed most of it, but there still is the girl’s face.  I just need the perfect model to paint from.”

            Annette accepted this with what appeared to be complete understanding, and yet I wondered if she truly knew what was happening.

            “How do you find a model?” Annette asked softly, still marveling at the delicious erotica of the painting before her.

            My Painter sighed deeply and walked out toward the settee.  “It’s very difficult, Annette.  I have to find just the right person.”  She sat down upon the satin.  “I require a certain light and look, one that I can’t hire.  You see, I have to find someone who is willing to let the look I need cross her face.”

            Annette’s mouth opened with realization.  “The look…” she said softly.

            My Painter turned and smiled.  “The look.  Yes.  You understand, don’t you?” She turned and looked at me.  “And that is why I love my Hunter so much.  He finds models for me.  Belles who are willing to experience something of what my painting is about.  To cross that threshold where pleasure and pain and longing and desire cross and become something great.”

            Annette shook her head.  “But how?”

            My Painter smiled.  “Hunter takes them there of course, while I paint.  It is romantic, exquisite, and erotic.  It is my muse.”

            I watched as her magic worked upon the young woman before us.  I saw as Annette’s mind flashed through the images on the painting, seeing it in a new light as she imagined herself the young woman suffering at the hands of the devils.  I could sense her arousal, her depth of feeling and desire.  I knew I had chosen well.

            “C-c-can I be your model?” Annette asked in a halting voice.

            My Painter stepped back and looked at her.  “Annette?  Are you quite sure?  I mean, you are beautiful of course, and would be perfect, but do you understand what I am asking you to endure with my Hunter?”

            She looked at me seriously and the back at my Painter.  She nodded.

            My Painter smiled sweetly.  “Very well then.  Come.  We’ll talk and prepare you”.

            The two women left the studio through a side door to a small dressing room.  I finished my drink, preparing myself for the obligation ahead of me.  Perhaps you think me a lecher, or abominable, taking this young girl in such a way.  But understand, it is not this girl, or any of the others that quicken my blood, or arouse my desires.  They are beautiful yes, but they are not my Painter.  It is she I wish with all my heart to hold, to touch, bringing to her face that same look she has captured again and again with tempera on canvass.

            They emerged and Annette was dressed in a silk dressing gown.  Her shapely legs and delicate naked feet moved fluidly across the floor and I watched with admiration.  They reached the settee and my Painter lightly pushed Annette down upon the French sofa.  Annette glanced at me, across the room, and I could see the pulse in her throat quicken.

            My Painter’s deft fingers untied the knot holding the gown closed and I watched as the silk parted, baring the resplendent human body.  My eyes traced the soft curves of Annette’s breast, her abdomen, the dark triangle of hair at the cleft of her legs.  Her nipples were delicate and small, tiny specks of heart color amid a sea of marble.

            “La mia bellezza, you are beautiful.” I said softly.

            Annette rewarded me with a nervous smile.  My Painter bent down and kissed her upon the cheek.  Annette lifted her hands and allowed my Painter to wrap the dark strands of silk around each wrist.  Each hand was bound and then they were brought together, as if praying, before being linked as one.  My Painter stood and pulled Annette’s hands up over her head, tying the loose strands of the silk rope to the back of the settee.

            As a man, it is always hard to deal with and control the physical reactions of desire.  Before me was a beautiful woman, bound and open and willing for my touch and my taste.  But my heart could never be given, and so I knew that this was for Annette’s pleasure, and for my Painter’s muse.

            My Painter had taken the black strands and looped them around each leg at the knee, spreading Annette’s legs and bringing them off the settee.  The dexterous fingers of my Painter had bound the girl tightly spread open and ready for my touch.

            Annette’s face held the nervous tension of fear and longing and I realized she expected me to love her, to take her body and to use it.  I sighed and stepped to the settee as my Painter removed herself and moved to her paints.

            I sat on the end of settee and watched her tighten, her breath held deep.

“Annette, child.” I said.  “I’m not going to take my own pleasure with you.  That is not my purpose.  I dislike the most intimate sharings between two people, unless they are given in love.  My entire purpose is to bring a level of pleasure you have never dreamed of to your senses, and then allow that pleasure to cross all boundaries.  I will show a place where pain and pleasure have no meaning.  Where desire and demand are but whispers in the gale of an incoming storm.  That is my purpose.”

            Annette seemed to understand and I watched her relax.  I reached down behind the settee and removed the small glass bottle that I kept there.  I poured a small amount of the oil into my hand, warming it, and carefully spilled it across her bosom and stomach, down through her spread sex.  More oil I dribbled along her leg, until it began to seep down the sides of her body.

            It seemed like a spark of electricity when I touched her.  She jumped in shock as she felt my hands touch the smooth beauty of her belly.  I carefully rubbed in the oil, feeling it warm to my touch and motion.  I watched as Annette purred with pleasure and I slid my hands down her legs and up her thighs in circling movements.  I brought my hands back up the sides of her body, caressing her hips and then arms and shoulders.  Finally I moved my hands to the slopes of her breasts, cupping each delicate mound in my oiled palms.  I lifted my fingers, my hands circling as each nipple was delicately rubbed by soft palms.

            Annette gasped and I saw the lips of her sex ripen and the scent of her desire touched my senses.  My left hand traveled downward, through the glistening strands of her triangle, and then downward into the cleft of her sex.  As my finger slipped easily over the tip of her clitoris she pulled on her bonds, her throat allowing the soft mewing sounds of desire and pleasure to croon forward.

            I slipped a finger, and then two into her body, feeling the soft wet warmth surround it like nothing else.  It is the ultimate pleasure a man can have, experienced with a willingness and openness unlike any other.

            I began to caress her deeply, stroking the insides of her body.  My fingers danced along the walls of her well and my other hand caressed her arms, her bosom, her belly.  Slowly I felt the heat well up deep within her.  I felt her sex struggle with need and her body began to strain against the bindings.  I saw her eyes bore deep into mine as I brought her past the point where the relevance of who I was no longer held meaning.  Need became a factor more intense and inescapable than any other.

            I glanced up and saw that my Painter was ready.  Her paints were mixed and she stood near us, watching Annette intensely.  I caught the slight sent of a match lighting and then the warm cinnamon of the candle.  My hand sought the special point within a woman that brings her to the edge and I found it with Annette.  I touched her, causing her to arch her back upwards against her bonds.  Her eyes closed with intense feeling and I let my other hand take hold of the candle.

            It was nothing to bring her to the shattering edges of orgasm.  It was almost inescapable.  Her body rocked with tension as the pleasure rose and rose.  It was then that I raised the candle above her body, my hand still buried in the warm cleft of her sex.  I watched as the liquid heat fell from my hand, by my hand, splashing across the oil glistening marble of her breasts.

            Annette cried out as the heat seared her, but my movements inside her caused the sensations from the heat to combine with the pleasure and I watched as she moved to that place where pain and pleasure combine and become the same.  My Painter had moved to her easel and was painting with a fury, letting the strokes of the brush create what the eye saw.

            I continued to pour as Annette writhed and twisted under the straps.  And then it happened.  That one magical moment and I saw my Painter stop to stare.  The flooding moment came and the look of agony and pleasure crossed the bound girl’s face together as one.  My Painter gasped in amazement and furiously placed what she had seen upon the canvass.  I allowed only one more, fiery drop to fall, before placing the candle upon the floor.

            Her body was spattered with the droplets of wax, striking a contrast so much like the painting’s demon red claws that I paused momentarily.   I kept my rhythm between her legs and began to slowly let her down.  Finally as she relaxed into the exhaustion of sex, I pulled myself free of her and kissed her ever so gently upon the cheek.

            I remember standing up and looking across the girl at my Painter.

            “Did you get it?” I asked her.

            Her eyes sparkled.  “I got it.”

            I walked around the settee and looked at the painting.  Dark and foreboding, yet at the girl’s upturned face, bright light illuminated a face that understood that dark and light was the same thing.  Two sides of the same coin.  I saw the face of Annette, in agony.
And in ecstasy.

            Sitting at the wire mesh table, watching my Painter, I am bound by love.  My memories of that night long ago are no less vivid for my reliving them.  Annette had been released, fed, housed, cleaned, and paid for her modeling.  And I had gone on lusting in my heart and soul for my true love, my Painter.

            And I wonder, will I ever be allowed to bring my Painter to that point were Annette and countless others have gone?  Will I ever be allowed to satisfy not only her needs, but my own?  And who will paint us?


 

The End

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