Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Romances of the Past

It was half past three in the afternoon. Rita stood at the small balcony in her friend's house overlooking the Juares metro station. She savoured the warm Parisian day. The sound of happy chatter from the cafe below made her feel elated to be back in Paris. She had just returned from a trip that she would rather not think about and on returning to Paris, she headed straight to Crazy Betty's apartment. Betty had promised her that some boys would be visiting in the afternoon and they could start off the party in the evening itself.

Rita heard the bell ring. She opened it to find four boys, all full of excitement due to their first visit to Paris, happily chatting away, living in the moment. Betty, Rita and the four boys sat down to tea in the cramped apartment. Soon, the apartment was filled with the sound of happy chatter.

Rita noticed that one of them did not speak nor did he even appear to be interested. He was mostly peering out through the window, and sometimes took out a black comb to style his hair.

"Vain sonofabitch", she thought to herself.

After half an hour, the chatter died to a comfortable silence. Betty started speaking about the plans for the day.

"Can I smoke in the apartment?", the guy who had not spoken so far interrupted.

"No honey, please step on to the balcony", Betty replied.

"When did you become such a prick?", he said, with a shy smile.

"Oh no... I don't have a problem. As you can see this is a small place and my landlady - that self righteous boring nosy teetotalling old fart - is visiting tomorrow", Betty sighed.

"You do love her don't you. Well, if she is visiting tomorrow, we cannot have the party here tonight, can we?"

"That is what I have been saying Dan. Don't you ever listen?"

He was already on the balcony before she could finish.

After some more talking, everyone got up to leave. This was going to be a legendary night, they exclaimed.

"Come on Dan, Rita", Betty shouted from the door.

Just as Rita stepped towards the door, Dan grabbed her by the hand, pointed to her watch and showed five on his hand.

"Hey Betty, I have something to catch up with. Will be with you in some time, you guys carry on", Rita shouted.

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Dan stood up from the bed. Rita looked at the clock which showed half past five.

"You leaving already", she asked

"Maybe"

"Well... Betty is not going to be back any time soon, if that..."

"Are you begging me to stay"

"Not begging you mister", Rita said making a face. She reached out for a cigarette and lit it.

"You know, I have wondered if there is a Freudian interpretation to women smoking"

"Well if you are suggesting anything, it is not happening", she giggled

Dan smiled and took out a writing pad and pencil. He positioned himself on the opposite side of the bed from where he could get a view of Rita lying on the bed.

"Have you forgotten about Betty's landlady?", he asked

"Who cares. What are you doing?"

"Nothing. Just stay still"

Rita shifted her weight on to her side and placed her hand in a position to obscure her bosom.

"You got to tell me if you wanted to sketch me in the nude, you know. I have to be mentally prepared. I wish for my derriere to be given prominence"

"You shall henceforth be my muse", Dan said with finality.

Rita blew a cloud of smoke. She expected him to continue. After another puff, she said, "Oooh... am I supposed to be honoured? Where will this go?"

"Nowhere"

"So, these are the trophies for your conquests. Your trunk of love?" (wink)

"It is interesting", he interrupted as if he did not notice. "Have you noticed that the nude is actually less erotic than concealement. I have a clothing theory to evolution. The Modern Man has to go to great lengths to get women out of their clothes. He can succeed only if he has money, valour, power, personality or any combination of the above. This forced modern man to invent machines, organize labour, get into politics. On the other hand, cave man could see all the breasts he wanted. Bereft of mystery and the lack of a chase in life, the cave man just met his basic needs.

If you see the pace of progress, it took the cave man thousands of years to move from the stone age to the iron age to the bronze age. Whereas look at the rate of progress achieved by modern man. All because the latter was forbidden to see the woman in nude without any effort"

"Horse crap. Geez, I thought you were one of those strong silent types. After some time in the bed you turn into a drivel machine", she laughed

"I knew an Algerian girl who used to pose the very same way", Dan continued.

"It was my first trip to Paris. I had come here with my friend Jack... to paint. We took boarding in a tiny hostel. The bar in that hostel was run by this girl. I fell in love with the city. Jack fell in love with her. She was going to be Jack's Raging Passion."

"Ah...", she muttered softly and leaned forward.

"Stay in one fucking position", Dan commanded

"Well, if we were fucking, I would be in one position", Rita retorted.

Dan paused for her to pose.

"My first painting of a nude was an amazing experience. Somehow, tracing those sensual lines of the female form on paper, was an aesthetic experience in itself. So it was for my friend as he hurtled to Jack's Heavenly Torment"

"Tut tut... poor sick bastard"

"The girl had skin the colour of olive oil and hair as black as jet. She wore a floral patterned gown and a black blouse atop. She was the picture of calm and had an almost holy air of innocence. Jack tried his best to win her favour, but she remained faithful to her lover who had gone to Algeria for a while.

This enraged Jack. He could not fathom how that uncouth beast of a man could win the devotion of an angel. Soon Jack was going crazy. Then he remembered the experience at art school. He convinced her to pose naked for him. She charged a hefty sitting fee. He made one sketch, then a second, promised he would stop with a third and after many a sketch, was soon penniless. She refused to let him inside the bar. At the end of his wit, he took to selling the nude portraits on the streets of Pigalles. He would go back to that bar every time he made money. One day the lover returned. He discovered these paintings and thrashed Jack. He was about to knife him when the police intervened."

Dan paused. A cloud of smoke hung in suspended animation, as if waiting for Dan to end his pause.

"Jack begged for some days on the streets of Pigalles for money to buy some paper and pencils. He needed to make money. The only thing he could think of was to get to Sacre Cour where tourists paid for caricatures. After a year of that he went back to art school. He was famous there. Even now tourists come in search of the artist with the scar under his left eye."

Rita gasped. She went and embraced Dan and tenderly caressed the two inch scar under his left eye.

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(I had challenged myself to write a "clean" dirty story once. I think this fits the bill quite well . Was inspired by couple of pages in "On The Road" by Jack Kerouac)

(I also thought it would be cool if Edward Norton played the role of Dan and Salma Hayek played the role of Rita) :)



3 comments:

aniketanand said...

:)
This comes at a time when I am looking for a story for a short film. Tempted to use it!

Ramkumar R. Aiyengar said...

ah.. interesting theory there about clothing and evolution :)

Anand said...

Edward Norton has already played Dan. And Brad Pitt played Jack ;)

Verrry strong theory on the clothing but. I agree, naked doesn't quite get it done as a low-neck top.