Saturday, December 20, 2008
Youkali said she would trade me a new hat for one of my drawings. Her cousin owned a shop near a bar I liked so we had some drinks before going to get one.
I usually wore a snap brim to mute the sparks I occasionally gave off when things were going well. Knowing that I was getting one tonight, I had not worn a hat. I was only half recognized, the way one would a familiar song as heard from a distance.
Blue-gray fur and of Russian lineage, it sat, a stranger among the Pork Pies and Fedoras. I had always been superstitious and knew this outcast would bring me luck.
I tried it on as Youkali gossiped with her cousin. Two faces flushed, one with drink, one with lust.
“It’s more than I wanted to spend but no one else would ever take it which may be why it costs so much.”
Initially I was going to just offer her a piece from my portfolio. Although it had nothing to do with my choice, I had seen the price tag as I moved it out of the way while trying the hat on. I had to do something a little more special, not out of guilt but because I felt to do otherwise would cheapen my art.
We did a quick shot of Grappa out of paper cups with her cousin and then were off.
Walking down the street she took my hand. It was warm and fluttered, a bird which could not come completely to rest. She drove me home. We sat in her car for a minute.
“I will do a portrait of you.”
I was debating whether to ask her up now. Nerves won out over desire for her.
“You can do it from a picture I will give you.”
I put on some Don Byas and fell asleep.
Early in the morning I heard a noise. Only half awake I thought it was the paper-boy or the sun taking the stage.
Hours later it was time to get up. I found an envelope had been slipped under my door. Over coffee I opened it up to find an instamatic photo.
She had used the mirror on the armoire. A reversed image Youkali sitting up in bed, naked but visible only from the waist up. She knew the trick I could do, so her eyes were shut and with the look on her face it was not clear if she were coming or crying.
We met for dinner, the bar being our starting point. With the picture done we would be even, so it was unclear who would pay.
Again, a mad chorus of drinks, empty glasses lined up before us casting their shadow over tattooed cocktail napkins. It all took longer than we had realized. She could make good eggs and I had half a loaf of bread with a little life left in it.
We walked back to my place. I stopped her under a street light I was fond of. She had noticed the large envelope all night long but in a show of extreme will power had pretended not to.
She carefully pulled the picture out. She liked it as was evidenced by the care with which she handled it. I had also put the photo in the envelope which she now held in her hands.
Again she closed her eyes and kissed it. Within the beat of a heart it was floating skyward, the plastic of its surface reflecting the moon as now motionless, it took its spot hanging in heaven, a celluloid star among other abstract dreams.
- Wayne H. W Wolfson 2008
Posted by Justin Lowe at 7:37 am