Monday, February 24, 2014

Coffee with the Artist

I watched him as he walked into the room. Of all the people who had entered, it was clear that this copper haired creature was the most enchanting. The late afternoon sunlight gleamed and glowed in his curls as he did his best to look utterly disinterested in the entire affair. His beat up jeans contrasted sharply with the neatly pressed button down shirt he wore. The worn sneakers squeaked somewhat as he strolled through the gallery with his hands in his pockets.

So this was Johnathan Winters. If his expression was that of boredom, his eyes clearly didn't get the memo. They studied each person who crossed his path and then they reached me. I found myself pinned in place under the intensity of that gaze. Then, as briefly as it touched upon me, it was gone. In that achingly brief moment, I couldn't help the feeling of a cross between dread and anticipation, as though I had locked eyes with a predator.

I turned my attention to my drink and did my best to keep my thoughts on the task at hand. I was sent to do a write up on the opening. I felt that my job was to observe the situation, not become immersed into it. As a journalist, I felt the necessity to be detached. I turned my attention to the abstract painting that hung on the wall and sipped my water. As people buzzed about happily talking about the social events going on, I couldn't help the feeling that there was something ominous.

Every painting held some sort of darkness in them. The abstract immediately before me seemed to have the most intense qualities of this angst. I thought about what I had learned at Twinsbury University about abstract art. All of my classes seemed to run aground as I looked at this thing. While it seemed to adhere to all the classical forms, it had positively Lovecraftian feelings emanating off of it. I was caught up in trying to make sense of it when a voice coughed beside me.

I looked over to find the man himself beside me. My voice stuck in my throat as I thought to myself, 'Michael, get a grip. This is just another artist. He's like all the others.' Those cat green eyes carefully considered me. After what felt like an eternity of being studied, he said, "You're different from the others.."

"I'm from the Sun," I said lamely. His sober expression seemed to have the barest hint of amusement to it as he nodded slightly. "If you have the time, perhaps we could discuss your show?" I added. I couldn't help but notice the way he seemed to exude a mixture of charisma and menace as he smiled. I suddenly realized that this artist scared me even as I was attracted to him.

I took a hasty sip of water, spilling some on my tie. I broke eye contact to look down and brush the drops away. "You want to go have a drink?" he said, placing subtle emphasis on the word you. I looked over and realized that smile had gone back to a serious look. I thought about insisting that I didn't drink while at work. I thought about telling him that now was a bad time. At the same time, my heart hammered and I wanted to ask this infamously enigmatic man a thousand questions, first of which was if he was single.

A woman of average stature and dark hair walked over. She didn't seem terribly remarkable but her face seemed to light up with delight when Johnathan looked over at her. A silver necklace of unusual design with an intricate glyph stamped on it stood out in dramatic contrast to the elegant simplicity of her outfit. "Vivian," he said, giving her a pleasant smile that actually matched the look in his eyes as he focused his attention on her, "I will be going for a drink with Mister ..." He looked over at me expectantly.

"Michael Moore," I answered. Johnathan nodded slightly.

"Let Andrew know that I'll be back in about an hour. I expect that this interview will take a little while," he said decisively and the woman known as Vivian nodded. Johnathan turned slightly and gestured towards the door. "Lead on MacDuff," he said with a smirk. I preceded him out of the gallery and as soon as we were out of sight of the gathering, he said, "Mister Moore, I have seen you at the Public Dungeon. You have been most reluctant to get involved. I suspect that there are reasons for this."

At his mention of the fetish club, my blood went cold. I made a point of going on off days when I didn't think anyone would recognize me. It fascinated me but I genuinely feared that any involvement would bring the end of my career. During a few of the play nights I had attended, I couldn't help but yearn to be part of the affair. Fear had kept me on the sidelines, quiet and generally ignored. I was so focused on being ignored, I hadn't paid much attention to who else was there.

My hands shook slightly as I did my best to keep my attention focused on where we were walking. We crossed the street and walked into the AfterHours coffee shop. The barista was busy debating politics with her chess partner as we walked in. "Your silence on the Public Dungeon has been greatly appreciated by myself and others," Johnathan said, reaching into his pocket. He pulled out a black credit card and tapped it on the counter. The barista looked over and darted up to where he stood imperiously. "Number twelve for me," Johnathan said, looking over at myself, "And for you?"

I looked up at the board where their assorted beverages were listed. I thought about it and decided on just regular coffee served up black. "I'll take a cup of regular black," I said, reaching into my pocket. As I was in the midst of pulling out my money to pay for my coffee, I realized that Johnathan was paying for both our drinks. "I..." I started when he turned his attention back to me and said something that left me speechless.

"I have done some research on you, Mister Moore," he said pleasantly, "My associates and I would be interested in recruiting you." I stared at him open mouthed in shock for a moment when he smiled. It was not a comforting smile, though it was delightful. "While I myself am not inclined towards men," he said conversationally, turning to take his coffee from the barista, "I have an associate who is. He is actually most interested in meeting you."

"I... I don't know what you're talking about, Mister Winters," I stumbled. He handed me my coffee and frowned slightly.

"You're known on the site as AmbigiousRumors," he said, "You have professed an interest in being a service sub and you are currently a member of the public face of the organization I am in. You have been so for the last four years, joining while enrolled at Twinsbury University. You work for the Twinsbury Sun as a reporter, though your expertise is really being wasted on them."

I swallowed nervously, suddenly extremely uncomfortable as Johnathan spelled out one of my dark secrets and a fair amount of my details in blunt language. "I am offering you an opportunity to actually experience what you have been writing about in your fiction, Mister Moore," he said, "You have already proven yourself discrete."

AmbigiousRumors had been my pen name on the fetish site. I was writing stories about my alter ego's fictional adventures as a submissive to a wealthy gay man. It had gotten me a fair amount of popularity.

[...]

Well, I tried but I just can't seem to get into this. Perhaps I'll do something else later this week. Or come back to this and try again.

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