tagRomanceLost Times

Lost Times


"All I'm saying is you should have known better, that all."

With a sigh, I nodded my head at the truth of that even though I was already tired of hearing James bitch and bemoan. It's not like this was completely my fault.

"I mean really, Allen ... what were the odd it was going to be what the girls said it was?" he continued.

"James, put a cork in it already," Steve chimed in with exactly what I had been about to say.

Looking over at him, Steve and I exchanged a quick look, and my eyes went past him to our three ladies rapidly approaching down the sidewalk. I took a moment to enjoy the sway of Marcie's hips, envying James his bedmate just a little, but my girlfriend Cathy's equally sexy hips drew my eyes back to where they normally park. The long, decorative banner above the girls flapped in the light breeze momentarily distracted me though.

~"Nude women"~

"I'm just saying, he should have fuckin' known is all," said James, his voice dropped lower as the girls walked closer.

Cathy slid in under my arm, her favorite spot in the universe.

"Is James still whining?" she asked. "Really, seriously? I don't see what you have to complain about. You're going to get to see hundreds of naked women. And your lovely lady doesn't even mind in the least if you gawk."

"Paintings! Not even fuckin' close to what I thought we were going to go do today. A fuckin' art museum? Ouff!" The breath when out of him as Marcie punched him in the ribs.

"Honey bunny, shut up or the next naked woman you see will be in a National Geographic." All of five foot nothing, the little firebrand stood toe-to-toe with the big jamook she was dating. "I'll hack your computer so the parental controls are locked forever, I'll burn your porn collection and then I'll go buy me a nice, wonderfully-warm, flannel nightgown to sleep in. Just like the ones your mom wears."

Turning my face into Cathy's hair, I chuckled. I could feel her laughing quietly next to me.

Mary Kay piped in from where she was holding Steve's hand. "Oh, I know just the place to shop for those. They have one in the loveliest shade of piglet pink."

I couldn't keep the smile off my face as I saw James actually retch, his mortal dislike for anything pink or purple a long standing joke, Mary Kay took every opportunity to make him suffer. When my eyes dropped to the soft-pink cardigan covering her breasts I knew it was a deliberate, calculated fashion choice directed at him as well.

Cathy nudged my ribs. "Eyes up, lover boy. You can look at all the tits you want when we get inside."

Smiling at her mock jealousy, I looked down her own somewhat open cleavage. "Oh, really? And what If the ones I want to see are those?"

My girlfriend squirmed a little under my arm as mention of her personal kink made her grin.

"We'll see. If you behave."

"Ah, huh," I said with a knowing look that she shared. She knew there was never going to be any chance of that happening. Me behaving? Not a chance.

Letting myself be guided by the feminine hand on my back, I walked us somewhat behind the other two couples, as we approached the front doors of the museum. Cathy knew why and gave me a look and a shake of her head. With a smile and a shrug, I let my eyes drop to the nicely-rounded, apple-bottomed asses of the two ladies in front of me. Marcie was somewhat slimmer than Mary Kay but other than that the two could pass for twin sister, from behind anyway.

Through the glass doors and into the museum, my mind kept trying to drift back to school field trips, quite possibly the last and only time I had ever been to a museum. I remember Mrs. Ferguson walking us in an ordered line through the building, while a guide made comments about what we were seeing. I remember snickering when we walked near paintings that showed people naked and the look she would give us, glasses on the end of her nose, her disapproval clear of our childish lack of appreciation of the works of master painters. Looking over at James, I know she would still give him the same look.

By each painting was a small placard, giving the name of the painter, when the painting was done, and a brief history of the controversy that had surrounded a lot of these pieces of art.

"So these are copies?" asked James after about five minutes of being lead around by Marcie.

"Some of them are," answered Cathy from her spot still under my arm. "The originals are scattered all over the world in famous museum collections. This is a traveling display that goes from city to city."

I felt her stop us and looked up to see a woman stretched out full length on a couch, arms behind her head. My eyes went to the curve of her hips, the hourglass figure. I felt my lips tug upwards in appreciation.

"I knew you would enjoy this one," she said with a grin. "Let see. Francisco de Goya's 'The Nude Maja' famous for being the first fully frontal view of a nude woman to show pubic hair. Was controversial enough the Catholic Church banned its display. The painter, Goya, never saw this painting in publicly displayed in his lifetime."

"That was controversial? It doesn't show a thing?" said James from behind me.

"Honey-bunny, this is art not a Penthouse centerfold," answered his girlfriend with a sigh.

Marcie led her grumbling boyfriend off to another section leaving me and Cathy alone. I glanced around then looked down at her. She too looked around, grinned, and causally hooked the edge of her blouse and pulled it to enough that I saw her breast, sitting in a deliciously lipstick-red, lace-edged bra cup. The angle was such that I just did make to the darker wine skin of her nipple before she covered back up.

"Okay perv, peep show's over. This way."

"Yeah, like that didn't get you wet," I said in a whisper. Trying to keep the silly grin off my face, at her blush, I let her guide me away from the full nude. She gripped my back tighter; her hand slipping into my back pocket. When her fingernail dug into my butt cheek through the denim, I did have to shift the growing bulge in my pants.

"Wow! Okay, that's some old school anima tentacle porn stuff there." James's voice carried to me and I glanced over to where he was. I used my greater weight to make Cathy turn and walk with me to where James, and an embarrassed looking Marcie, was standing. The painting in front of them was just...

"Katsushika Hokusai's "The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife" Cathy gave a low whistle, "Yeah that's some...yeah."

"Calamari anyone?" asked Steve, walking up to join us. Mary Kay popped his shoulder, and giggled herself.

"Now see, if you had told me we were coming to see stuff like this I wouldn't have made such a fuss," said James, with a snarky grin.

Cathy nudged me hard.

Looking down, I saw that she was not comfortable and I let her lead me a few feet away.

"What's the matter?" I asked, quietly.

"That painting was just disgusting." She shook her head. "Artistic, yeah, but disgusting none the less. Allen, please?"

Hiding a chuckle, I let her guide us to the next displayed painting. The Museum was not as crowded as some night clubs I've been to, but we did have to move around other couples at times. Some of the guys seemed to have the same dragged-to-this look that James did. Others seemed to be enjoying the art work, like my friend Steve was. Most probably were in the same middle-of-the-road boat I was.

"Hum, I wonder why I like this one?" said Cathy from next to me, drawing my attention to the painting that had attracted her attention.

A woman tied to a post being whipped.

** ** ** ** ** **

The smell coming from the cells was enough to turn my stomach. I lifted the edge of my sleeve to my face and breathed through the fabric, but it didn't help enough. Not nearly enough. The putrid smells of human detritus, the flotsam of humanity gathered in this stone backwash. Gathered here to rot till it washed back out to poison more of the sweet water that was normal everyday life. Would that this place was a place where the malcontents of the world were never released, more like the ones from centuries before. That anyone could long for the brutality of the Inquisition spoke greatly of the levels that humanity had fallen to.

"Here she is," said the gaoler. He rattled his big bundle of keys and chose one, seemingly at random, with which to open the round topped, iron braced, oak door. When it swung open he looked back at me and grinned, a hideous smile that held only four teeth. "Take your time, if you want."

I ignored the sexual implication and walked past the smelly man carrying my supplies. He reeked as much as his prison, a not too dissimilar smell. That miasma of unwashed flesh, corrupted by the accumulated sins they had gathered unto themselves. "Take this harlot for example," I thought as I stepped in and saw her huddled in the corner.

Then she turned to look at me, the dim light from the narrow slit highlighting her face and I saw what my master had spoken of. The face of an angel! That it was attached to the body of this common whore was a travesty of God's will. Such a face should have adorned the countenance of a queen, a princess, a saint.

And such it soon would.

"What do you want of me?" she asked.

The total lack of hope struck me. It struck me to the core of my soul. I had to wet my lips and take a deep break. "She's just a whore," I thought, "A woman of no morals."

"I...madam, am a painter. I have been asked by my teacher, my maser, to capture your likeness in pigments for a great work he has been commissioned for. Considering your lowly statue in life I would think it an honor to know that your face will be immortalized forever within a truly fabulous painting. It will be, for a cathedral ceiling in Florence, Italy."

She began to laugh at that.

"My face? On the ceiling of a church? Oh, that's rich that is." She shook her head. "I guess with it up there they won't be so quick to try and spit on it. Their own spittle would decorate their own faces if they did."

I frowned my disapprove of her words. She grinned at the look I gave her.

"Well, paint away. You have only tonight then my face won't be so pretty anymore. Not for some fair time to come at least."

While I set up my short easel and laid out my pigments, I glanced at her occasionally. Her beauty was stunning. Hair the color of sunburnt wheat, eyes that peered at me with a lambert fire gleaming in them. And her body...

I looked away and went back to my preparations.

"Does something about me disturb you? You keep looking away. Most men stare," her words were bitter.

Glancing up, I noticed the pain in her eyes first but ignored it. "I would think that would make you happy." The sneer was not far from my lips.

"Why? Why should that make me happy? To be gawked at? Stared at? To know that all of those men want to do only one thing to me, and to do it whether I want it done or not? Why would I want that?" She smiled a sad smile. "How many pious men will be coming to see me tomorrow simply because I'll be stripped to make my humiliation worse?"

Her question hit me in a place I didn't care for; it awoke in me my compassion. I wanted to feel sorry for this woman who was to be punished, even though I knew that she was deserving of that punishment. She was a whore, a common harlot, part and parcel of the sin and tragedy that was these modern times.

"I..." The words of apology and compassion were there but I could not utter them. "If you would move over here just a bit and let the light hit your face just so, please."

She did as I requested.

I laid down the underlines first, the simple sketch to give me a frame work. My eyes going to her face, following the bones, how they lay hidden there under her skin, but shaping all that I saw. The wisdom and teachings of my master guided my hands as I worked to set up the scaffold that would hold her skin.

Her beauty distracted me far too much in the process of that work.

When the basic work was finished, I began the sketch itself and there I was constantly reminded of just how angelic this woman's features were. The curve of her eyebrows, the deep blue pools that were her eyes, how they gleamed in the light, that aquiline nose. Her neck, a white pillar of soft ivory. I stopped and simply looked.

"Now that's the way men look at me, but they generally have more lust in their eyes. And their eyes tend to linger here." Her hand moved to the torn scrap of cloth; that must have at one time been a nice garment, to judge by the torn lace edging, but now barely offered her decent coverage for her body. When her hand touched her breast my eyes dropped for a moment to that soft looking mound then I quickly looked away. I felt my face blush. She had nothing under that thin cloth.

I went back to my sketch.

As I worked I would look up adding to what memory told me was there but trying not to find myself drawn in to the Gordian curse that was looking at her. Every time that happened I could feel my stomach turning to knots. It was an uncomfortable feeling and I noticed when she saw what was happening. Her face took on a sad smile. It added to her beauty I had to change what I had done to add it.

When I next looked, I noticed her looking up at the arrow-slit thin window, looking into the light that was falling on her face. That incredible smile had vanished and moments latter a single tear rolled from her eye to fall from her cheek. Again I felt the need to change what I was doing.

"Why are you crying?" I heard myself ask. The question shocked even me that I had asked it. What did I care for the tears of a whore?

"The daylight is fading, it will be night soon," she said, as if all the demons of hell were right outside the widow waiting for the sun to set. Her voice shook with fear.

"Yes it will, I have to work quickly here. It won't be the same lighting if I have to add lamp-light. If you could hold still please?" I had almost started to work again when her whole body began to shake. Twin lines of tears began to flow from her eyes and she hung her head down sobbing. "Madam?"

"I'm scared. Sorry if that ruins your picture, maybe you can find someone else for the church's ceiling." She wrapped her arms about herself and began to rock herself. I could hear a soft song, a half-mumbled child's tune coming from between her lips. When she pulled her knees up to her chest I was startled to see that she truly wore nothing beneath that shredded bit of cloth. I was horrified to see, after my eyes left that forbidden, hair-lined grotto, the dark bruising down both her inner thighs.

Setting down my pigments, I walked with hesitant steps to her side and knelt down, making sure to keep my gray hose from the matted, filthy straw underfoot.


"I don't want to be whipped. What have I ever done that deserves that? Men want me, they would take it for free if I resisted, so I ask for a few pennies. They're happy to give those, it makes them not rapists. Not like the jailors here, they give me not even a crust of bread for all their brutal pounding of my cunny. It will be night soon. They will come back to have their fun again. Like they have every night since I was brought here. Free quim being irresistible to men without coin such as themselves; I'm almost looking forward to it tonight. Let them have the fuck of me forever it they wish, so long as this night doesn't end...and the dawn come. The dawn and that whip. That cursed whip." She rocked herself faster "I'm so scared."

"Have you ever seen a whipping?" I asked why I know not.

"Yes." She nodded. "I've heard the cries of agony, seen the red bleeding lines of pain across the backs. I've seen those lines heal, the terrible scars they leave. How will I make my coin when I'm covered with scars?"

"You don't have to whore. Find other work."

She laughed at that. "I was a maid once. Cleaned houses for rich noblemen, you know why I don't do that anymore? His lordship liked my—beauty, too much. He took my maidenhead from me over a hard, wooden table in the study. Then went back for more every time I walked near him and his ladyship was not close by. Her ladyship set the dogs on me when she caught him trying to take me by my bum hole in the dining hall. T'was my screaming in pain gave it away. She blamed me, had the other servant girls chase me out the house, and turned loose her dogs."

"You couldn't find another house? Maybe one without a lust nobleman?" I asked.

"There is no such place!" she said with venom. "I tried. Every home I went to, all that they wished of me was a hole to stick their thing in. A wet place to spend their lusts. The wife of one nobleman had me beaten, by an older maid, when she found I was with her man's child. Beaten, till I dropped the baby too soon. Maybe I should have thanked her. I've been barren ever since then, that helped given the trade I'm in now."

The horror of what she was so calmly telling me broke past the wall of cultural class I've carried for so long. Here was not a lower-class woman; here was simply a woman who was afraid. I moved my hand and brushed straw off the hardwood bench that was the only bed in this foul room. I sat next to her and when she leaned over into me and began to cry, I held her. Held her to my side for hours as she sobbed herself out. Held her till the light was lost, and I had to squint to see the shadowed form next to me.

"Do something for me," she asked after a long silence.

"What do you wish from me?"

"Tomorrow when the dawn comes and they take me into the square, will you be there? For me. So that one person there will not be there to simply see me being hurt. To hear me scream, and to see me naked. I don't think you are that kind of man." She let her head lean back onto my chest.

The smell of her hair came to me, an acid blend of sweat and the filth of the cells. It was permeating up to my nose from her skin as well. There was also the hint of male sweat about her, a smell that carried with it an animal-in-rut muskiness of sex that was vile. That smell reminded me of what she had said. That the gaolers would be coming to defile her body yet again as soon as I left. Protectiveness fell over me then. I wanted to spend the night here with her in this smelly cell, in the dark, to keep her safe...but nothing I could do would protect her from the coming dawn and her adjudged punishment. A punishment that I now felt, as I held her crying next to my chest, she was not truly deserving of, but my feeling on it were not of any consequence. This woman would face the crowd, naked, be chained to the wooden post, and have to endure the bite of the whip upon her pale skin.

"I'll be there for you. I will be there for you, and I'll come for you afterwards," I told her. "I'll have your wounds tended to. They will scar, but not so bad it they are properly tended."

I lifted her chin, in the dark now I could not see her face, her eyes. The incredible beauty of her face was lost in that darkness to all but memory, till the moon cleared a cloud, and an angelic ghost-like face appeared.

"I'll be there for you. When it's over."

I don't know if it was her that kissed me or me that kissed her, but I know that kiss lasted till the grinning guards came and told me it was time to leave.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** "Oh, this one is nice." My girlfriend, Mary Kay said with a chuckle, drawing my attention away from my friend Allen who seemed to be mesmerized by a painting. I looked down at her face and smiled. When I looked up at what she was looking at, I began to laugh.

"Yeah that's Leda and the Swan by Ruben."

"The whole kissing a swan thing is weird, but I like it because he didn't make her skinny. A lot of these nude girls make me want to go make them a sandwich or something."

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