Un... the scent of spring in the air. Deux... the fresh wind coming from the sea. Troix... the birds chanting in calm symphonies. The spring and the wind and the birds did something to the lone stroller who bathed in the sun, the light cascading onto the folk like a waterfall of gold, heating their bodies, turning them red and left them flustered as a powerful lover reining you as if you were a wild stallion dashing downward a hummock. It flustered also him but not enough to have himself wishing for a company taking reins in a summer ride.
The alley was a fine place to sit and draw what- or whomever may appear; as the old lady feeding the birds with bird seed; or the feisty four-year-old bidding a challenge to her father who hurried after the little squirrel while the mother laughed and buried her oval face in two slender, milky hands.
Boulevard Leopold II was crowded, as it tends to be with such a fine weather, and all the people seemed delighted by this first warm day of this year. The park was not afar from his flat; he could see his window with the brown curtains waving in the wind right from the bench on which he sat onto in a graceful swing. It was the moment that young Michel, pulling his pencil from behind his ear with pursed lips to draw the elder lady, spotted a different motive, appearing as if the bidding for a great model was heard by the heavens and up there someone, whoever it was (maybe Aphrodite—you would never know), threw a thing out of the clouds and it has landed quite in front of him. Primo, there was a dog. And then there came a long blue leash and at its end sat a hand belonging to a man très sympathique. But nothing more than that, Michel was up to draw and not trying to catch a stallion, I already mentioned that. Michel himself has had a few very bemused years behind him; a few years of sorrow and another few years of constant immobility and atrabiliousness caused by an accident which had him lay in his bed and ponder about his yet young life for too long. It turned his brow into a wrinkled map and he shook his head to get rid of the thoughts, looking as if he tried to chase away annoying bugs flying around his head—but actually was it the same thing eventually. His left hand rested on the white, thick paper as he kept looking at the woman in her red-and-orange-flower dress; her grey hair dancing with the wind as he finally began to sketch and he totally forget about the chap with his fat dog bouncing about trying to catch the leash.
Two years ago, Michel had caused a car crash and in this car crash there he had lost a part of himself and a part of his life he cherished the most—his partner, and until this very day he had not forgiven himself for this utter stupidity he had done. He used to drink too much in fact but not this particular night, and still he did not know how it could have happened that the car had crashed—has he been tired or distracted? He could not remember, the last thing he had ever remembered was the laugh of his company and then, everything had turned into a painful, dark mist. He had awoken in a white room with swift white dolls hopping and shuffling around confusing his mind. And then, two weeks ahead, he had left this hospital even though he ought to remain there for a longer time; hiding in a building with rather odd individuals, each housing their own melancholia and history in bottles of wine, whiskey and soda water. In between the flask of water and vodka, he had tried to overcome the fear of being and stepped outside for this first time; still limping and pale, out of shape and unshaven. He didn't really care about this. And no-one saw his limp when he sat, right?
Michel tilted his head as those past two years rushed by like a fast train, arousing the hair on his neck, the skin and tickling it with demands. He had made one or two friends in this time, an unlikely nurse and a sweet butterfly—the prior tended to not visit him as often as he used to anymore and this also made Michel sad.
All the benches were occupied, only Michel's offered enough room for a fat bulldog to climb on tabouring a bark. The butt was hanging down and so was one of its hind legs; Michel thought the dog tried to say don't look so dumb and help me up, human. The young man raised a brow and picked the animal up, putting it on the wooden seat next to him; the dog panted with the tongue hanging out half a metre and wagged its tail looking extremely content. "Hello there." Purred Michel shyly, although it was only a dog and there was no need to be shy. Then he smiled gently and continued.
"Did you run away from Daddy?" He saw the leash hanging there half on the bench and half on the ground, creating a line that spoke of independence. The dog tilted its head and yapped. "You don't do that."
Michel nodded his eyes to find the other half of this pair and he saw him talking to a woman nearby, already forgetting about his dog. "But I would have done it myself if my Daddy ignored me." Admitted Michel sarcastically and then he pet the animal's white head.
The young man peeked aside to face his clumsy company. "I can draw you meanwhile. You remind me on a Cherub angel." He giggled to himself and flipped the page on his drawing pad to find a blank one and began to draw the dog, who, very vain himself (it was a he and his name was Churchill), liked the attention and the moment he was a muse for an artist. His daddy had never done that; he only had taken silly pictures of him wearing odd clothing and then he had given him a kind of sausage he didn't even like that much to make it all up, but Mr Churchill would pee in his shoes for the torture.
It was later then, as Michel had finished half of the sketch, as the dog owner had eventually found out that his dog was strolling around without him and maybe peed against cars and he had made up the worst scenario in his pretty head as he spotted the illustrious runaway on a bench with a strawberry-blonde chap. He was curious and trudged up to the bench, as he stopped and bobbed his head at Churchill, who whined and rubbed his butt against the bench in disappointment, he noticed the sketch and had Michael jump lightly on his seat as the baritone was an unexpected noise; "Are you drawing my dog?"
Michel blinked at the statue next to him, having him in a temporary shadow. "Better than cooking him."
The dog owner laughed silly (his voice reminded Michel on the quacking of a duck after it had shit on one's head in flight accompanied by a piggy snort in the end akin to an exclamation mark). "His meat isn't that good I guess." Luc, which was the name of Churchill's owner, decided to sit behind his bulldog and keep an eye on Michael who had in fact stopped sketching. "Oh," Luc knit his brows, "you don't have to stop"
"It distracts me when people watch me drawing." And he hadn't drawn in quite a while. Only Matthis had he drawn once, but that was a different story.
"Hmm," murmured Luc and turned away from his interesting sight; Churchill barked and Michel continued.
"You owe me something though," whistled Michel. "Your dog could have been rolled over by a car."
"He never runs to the busy streets because he hates people."
"Doesn't look like it."
"Well," corrected Luc himself then in the end. "Maybe most of them."
And behind the dog's head there hovered a fine face and it was now the first time that Michel could behold it with the excuse of looking at the bulldog instead—it was indeed a very fine visage as if it was drawn by a painter itself; curled lashes covered two olive eyes hopping from one tiny detail of Churchill's fur to another, and they did it so sweetly that Michel thanked the sun for shining so strong as he blushed at his own thoughts. Those lips there, under a slender nose, were narrow (a little fuller as Michel's however) and there was no sign of a stubble. Probably had he, unlike Michel, shaved his face this morning.
The young artist wiped some sweat off his forehead as he was overwhelmed by a whirl in his empty stomach. I should have eaten this morning.
And later, he disregarded this thought and ended the session. He was done and the outcome was handsome enough. Luc leant in, shoving the heavy dog upon his lap, and Michael inhaled a sweet and alluring fragrance of musk; it found its way to his nostrils, filled his nose and the sensation of the air had him sigh. "That doesn't look bad..." wiggled Luc his head in a clownish nod.
"Not bad?" Repeated Michel, now in disappointment too; now Churchill and Michel both whined in disappointment that punished Luc with a non-physical slap and the dog owner smacked his lips.
"I'm sorry if I had offended you." Snickered he and held on to his dog in defence.
"Luckily," answered Michel cockily. "Am I not easily offended." And he flipped the page again. A nurse in the orphanage he grew up once told him a tale before he went to bed (mind you the lady had a very vivid fantasy), knowing little Michel liked to draw, and she said "Mon petite, when you draw a person and you capture the sparkle in their eyes you have trapped their soul on your paper." Ever since, Michel was scared of drawing and he had tossed away each single painting he had ever done.
He had noticed that Luc, whose name he didn't know as yet, appeared to be a jokester, and so as Luc had leant back, he said (with a serious voice, but Michel was not very serious): "You know: they say that the dog looks like their owner oftentimes."
"What are you implying, inconnu?"
"Oh right, I didn't introduce myself as yet." Avoided Michel the explanation smart as he was.
But Luc, with his eyes wide, yelled: "Don't distract!"
"You two have at least the same personality."
"Now, now, don't try to save yourself, it will be in vain."
Churchill flattened his ears and yowled chewing anxiously on his leash with drool dropping on the bench.
"My name is Michel," wrinkled he his red nose, blinked his blue eyes and he even tried to smile (he wasn't good at that). "Nice to meet you."
"Ah," Luc cocked one of his brown brows and hid a sly smile behind a gate of solid attitude. "It's nice to make your acquaintance, Michel." And in this very moment, as the sun was turning orange by the time the clock changed to five minutes and twenty-one seconds over eight o'clock on Monday the fifth of May, as most people turned to their technical device of choice or leant back in their beds to read a book (and eventually sleep, make love, cook or sing Champs Elysees while showering), Michel was erasing gloomy thoughts out of his head and tried the keep as much as it was possible of Monsieur Luc's face in his memory to have him drawn properly. As he had begun a sketch and promised to finish it another time. Luc and Michel had sat on the bench for four hours and twenty-five minutes, and the littlest second of this time Michel memorised in an old fashion; he memorised Luc's cologne, and the way the skin wrinkled around the eyes when he laughed, and also that laugh was a record inside his head that reminded him on something divine from his childhood (but not on the teacher he had, who laughed at him when petite Michel was turning beet red); he felt attracted to this chap and he also felt ashamed for it—though he was supposed to not feel ashamed for his emotional responses anymore (he often retreated to a quiet place as soon as he noticed he found someone or even something to his liking).
It was also the exact same moment that he had felt a familiar feeling of a burn somewhere between his throat and stomach, a sensation of excitement like the bottle of a bubbly soda drink exploding when you have shaken it enough; this feeling took possession of Michel and he quickly trotted home to his cave, counting the hours, minutes and seconds until the doorbell would ring and someone, not of his other acquaintances in fact, stood there wanting to see the painting he had done.
It were 74 hours, thirty-three minutes and five seconds after that meeting in the park that the doorbell rang and Michel lifted his head off the finished and yet wet painting, he rushed upward and limped to the door opening it in anticipation. There was the Fool and the Fool had not brought his guard dog (which made Michel sad for some reason as he liked Churchill) he just stood there in a brown pullover and dark blue pants, his hands pushed in the pockets and his lips were twirled in a boyish yet charming manner and you could see how Michel's left eyebrow twitched in delight for a nanosecond. No-one else had seen it.
An in the zenith of happiness, Michel invited Luc inside and the chap rolled on his feet, following the order and took a look around the fancy flat; which wasn't so fancy at all—as everyone would notice it was a little dark and stuffed; here and there lay something around and no-one picked it up (Matthis would have picked it up, whatever it was assuming maybe a shirt, and folded it up with his talented hands, so quick it would have taken you aback, and put it into its right place).
"Do you want something to drink?" Asked Michel as he headed through the living room toward a room between his bedroom and the aforesaid chamber, but Luc shook his head forgetting that he walked behind Michel and so, he could not see it. "No, thank you."
Michel sat on a chair in front of his painting and Luc sat on the opposite chair not asking if his host would mind.
The painter took a second look to convince himself of the painting having the exact same features of his comely model and as he done so; he sat straight on his seat and pointed to the canvas with his bright index finger. "I am actually but," his voice turned from brave into a shrunken tune of a loud sigh. "Something is missing."
"Let me guess," Luc leant to the side, his hands between his thighs on the seat, "There is a joke coming."
"No, no," Michel whispered and the index finger moved atop of his lips as he was pondering. The sparkle was missing, Michel, the sparkle.
Was it a crime to touch a newly eclosed butterfly by the advent of merry flight or was it legitimate to have a need of caressing such beauty as it was yet untouched?
"No?" Bounced Luc on the chair, now in a confused state and he moved to have a look, astonished by the painting and he did not notice the missing sparkle and so he wondered what was wrong; twined around the canvas, almost resting upon Michel's lap with his entirety.
"Never mind, it is not important." Sulked Michel. Next time. And he faked a smile (as you remember: he wasn't good at smiling), looking at the face near to his own and that scent... that scent was still there and so he closed his eyes and he inhaled its purity with vigour, as if he could suck in the whole person and keep it like that. Meanwhile, the rest of Luc's body moved with his torso and he stood there, admiring the painting, not remembering it was him on the cloth, coloured with blue and hues of brown and white and also olive... only used for his eyes and he made a sound of admiration.
Luc did not notice the painter and how the painter stared at him wondering what it was he could say, but was there something to say in a moment like that when he was alone with a chap like that and young Michel (who wasn't even that young anymore; but he was looking young; he was in mid-thirties but you couldn't see that and with that, he was seven years and three months older than Luc) reached out to touch the arm of his company, covered by his pullover, but right as he had risen it enough to feel the fabric, he pulled it back calling himself out on it and how silly he was to do such a thing.
Luc and Michel were the total opposite concerning to their personalities. While Michael was an introvert and had felt the urge to begin a chat with anyone but himself, Luc was an extrovert who liked to talk to people about the simplest things in life and he cherished the moments when people sat around his table with empty plates and he came to fill them with a cooked meal. Michel was silent, ruminating, quietly observing and liked to investigate the things we do not even mention a gaze. And Luc stumbled across those things and kicked them away.
As his hand was still hovering above his leg, Luc twisted his body a wee and his arm accidentally touched the hand. He didn't say sorry; he found himself strangely fond of the artist and his bright hair, his facial hair was of the same colour, and the eyes reminding him on this certain kind of candy he used to eat too much of as a child. It has a weirdly good taste and made you miserable quickly. Too much candy will rot your soul and yes, this was accurate. There were wrinkles in Michel's face, but only around his eyes, and his lips were dry and not cared for, and here and there was a freckle that had Luc thinking what if I pick up a pen and follow those lines, what picture will I get?
Just the wink of eye later, Michel was poked by Luc's finger, who found a freckle on the tip of his nose, and he asked exactly the question that had formed itself in his head afore.
"What if I follow each freckle and paint a line from one to another; will it lead me to a treasure?"
And there, between the light that was caught in ten jars with water, above them was his face and Michel seemed lost as he pulled a brush out of one of these jars, handing it over to the adept. He, who took it momentarily, chortled and pushed the moist brush on the new canvas, which had a colour of cream, making Michel growl but more because the brush was cold and wet. Then he shivered and the cold ran down his spine, there, at its end, Michel twitched and gripped the brush to move it away from his face. "I'm not a good thing to paint on."
"You could use a little colour." Luc said and spread the blue oil without this intention as he tried to remove it, it amused him so much that he continued instead of stopping and Michel was trapped in a struggle of whether to free himself or to remain in this very position and have a little moment of joy with the warm and hoarse skin wiping across his face like the tongue of a dog. "Now stop it please." He dared to say, and there the hand halted and Luc apologised. "I am sorry."
Michel's eyes opened, and his bright lashes flicked, he stretched on his chair and demanded his head to be rested upon anything because it was heavy and weary, in this moment awkward silence ruled them and Michel considered several what if -events; as it was a bad thing to have a stranger in his flat and take advantage of his sympathetic person, or as if it was a bad thing to feel ashamed for this aforementioned thought. In fact it was not so but Michel's strict upbringing in this orphanage had left him sometimes quite uptight. In his adventurous past, there were only two people who had treated him right and three people who had treated him the opposite, and mistrust was often his shadow. But deep inside, he was lonely and he missed a warm body next to him when he woke up, was it only one single morning when he woke up with someone next to him, he would not regret the action that was the prelude to this moment.
He licked his lips and cringed at the taste of oil colour, there, on his lower lip and he wanted to remove it in a fit about his own idiocy and trail of thoughts. But another hand was quicker and it hesitated first but then, its thumb slowly ran across the dry skin and tried to remove it. Firstly he was not fond of the physical contact; later on he let it happen and looked down at the thumb and the rest of the limb tracing the lines of the skin as if there somewhere was indeed a hidden treasure. And maybe there was and maybe Luc wanted to find out as the colour didn't decrease on the rosy skin of Michel's narrows lips and there were many options available to his outrage fixed but to touch the lips with his own to try to have it be gone that way seemed the simplest of them all. The taste of oil paint was something he had never considered to try, but the sweet and salty flavour of the painter's skin made him rejoice and forget about the Blue.