tagNovels and NovellasNaked Portraits Pt. 05

Naked Portraits Pt. 05


Chapter 32 Mystery Client

The sound of Meka Okuda's squeaky office chair made my fillings ache.

"You ever considered oiling that thing?" I complained.

"Oiling what thing?" Meka asked absently as she worked on a drawing in her sketch book.

The digital clock on a shelf near the door said that it was twenty minutes to noon, Li Hong would be here any moment. Almost against my will, I reached into my bag to feel the thick envelope of cash Meka had given me a couple of hour ago. One thousand five hundred dollars in twenties had such a unique feel and weight.

"That's the tenth time you felt up that money, "Meka said not looking up from her sketching. "Why don't you just rub it against your body and get it over with already."

I pealed two twenties from the envelope, held one in each hand and rubbed the bills over my shirt covered nipples and gasped with passion.

Meka looked up from her drawing with a frown. "You fucking lolo weirdo," she said. Her cell rang, she looked at the incoming number then flipped it opened. "This is Meka, talk to me." A couple minutes later she shut her phone and said, "Deirdre Kaahumanu Smith will be my second tonight."

"Super Goth girl?" I blurted out.

"I've heard her called less flattering things," Meka said with a laugh.

"It's the way she dresses sometimes," I said, "over the top even for a Goth."

What I knew about Deirdre Kaahumanu Smith filtered through my brain. The girl was of Hawaiian and Caucasian mix. Her features classic Hawaiian yet her skin was ghostly white giving her a very exotic look, plus she was tall, at five-eight, maybe more and the chick was one hundred percent pure militant lesbian.

We joke in the painting department, that a person's body piercings is a gauge to one's lack of artistic talent. In other words, the greater the amount of piercings the more you sucked. But Deirdre the goth lesbian is a rare exception to the rule. Her photo portrait work is outstanding, although her subject matter, mainly other goth lesbians, has become a bit repetitive.

A knock came at the door. Meka got up and opened it. Standing outside Meka's studio was an extremely beautiful Asian girl at five foot six inches tall. Her hair cut short like a boys. She wore a clinging cream colored top with short sleeves, jeans and black running shoes. Her figure was tight and athletic. It was of course the famous Li Hong.

"David didn't come with you?" Meka asked. I heard the pang of disappointment in her voice.

You like this David guy, I immediately thought.

"He gave no indication he was coming," Li said.

Meka allowed Li to step in, and then closed the door behind her. It took all my will power not to gush like a wide eyed celebrity worshiping fan. After Don Ho and Brother Iz, Li Hong was the most recognizable celebrity in the islands. Meka introduced me.

"This is Gwen Yoshimura my assistant."

"Hi," Li said with a smile just for me it seemed.

A dorky smile of my own spread across my face. I wanted to tell her how awesome she was and if she could sign a picture of her that I didn't have. Fortunately, Meka pushed me aside before I started babbling like an idiot.

"Please sit and we'll talk about the shoot." Meka said.

Li nodded and sat on Meka's small loveseat sofa. The loveseat was the same size as the one in my studio, but that's where all similarities stopped. My loveseat was a ratty rundown piece of shit I got from Goodwill. Meka's on the other hand, was made of dark brown suede, plush and surely free of bugs. I sat next to Li and Meka sat across from us in her squeaky office chair.

"So what's your vision?" Li Hong asked Meka directly.

"I see you standing on a diving board in a white evening dress," Meka said all business. "You dive fully dressed. I take photos of you on the way down and more as you climbing out looking sexy in the wet garment. I photograph you taking off the dress then shoot you diving again in the nude."

"Where do we do this?" Li asked.

"Don't know yet," Meka said, "I'm waiting for David to tell me. Do you own a white evening dress?" Before Li could answer Meka waved her hands. "Never mind, it would only get ruined. We'll buy one for the shoot." Meka handed me a credit card. "You and Gwen can get one later." Meka fetched her sketchbook, shooed me from the loveseat, and then sat next to Li. Li tapped the armrest next to her indicating I should sit there so I could see too. Meka's thumbnail sketches of the photo poses were elegant and to the point. The sketches were very good; the chick certainly can draw.

"When did you do these?" Li asked impressed by the drawings too.

"Today" Meka said. Just then Meka's cell rang. "It's David," she announced and took the call. After listening and nodding for a few seconds she said goodby and shut her phone. "We have a location for the shoot. A pool at a community college not far from here. The place will be cleared of people for the shoot at five today."

"Can I see some of your photos?" Li asked as she closed the sketch book. Meka nodded went to a shelf full of books and pulled down a large photo album. For the next few minutes Li and I looked at Meka's work. The woman certainly had a knack for quirky portraiture.

"I like that one," I said looking at a color photo of a pretty Asian girl in a black sleeveless dress. She held a smoldering cigarette in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other. The expression on the girls face was somewhere between a smile and a frown. Her black hair, pinned up but just barely for much of it spilled out around the edges. As pretty and quirky as the model was, it was the odd surreal element of the planet Jupiter with a field of stars dominating the background that held my attention.

"I never got her name," Meka said. "She was from Tokyo I think. I met her at a grad mixer thrown by the Astronomy department. The background is a mural in a hallway. That was the only shot I took of her."

Li turned the page and the next photo was a sexy picture of Meka wearing just a white dress shirt standing facing forward, her dark nipples just barely visible through the material of the shirt.

"I like it, very sexy," Li said.

I suppressed a smile as Meka blush.

The Next photo was of two Asian women posing in some kind of dressing room, a long mirror with lights above it dominated the background. The women looked right at the camera, one sat in a plain plastic chair, the other sat on the edge of the makeup counter under the mirror. Both women were topless wearing just dark blue bikini bottoms; their faces were painted white in kabuki style, lips deep red, eyes made up in blue, green and black giving them a strange avian look. Their long jet black hair was too perfect and had to be wigs. The one seated held a smoldering cigarette in her right hand.

"It's the Kabuki Sisters!" Li exclaimed.

"You know them?" Meka asked.

"I don't know them personally," Li said. "They perform at an upscale club I go to sometimes. Their act is freaky."

"They're a strange pair no doubt about that," Meka said but didn't elaborate further. The topless Kabuki sisters were the last photo in the book.

"David said that you've do a lot of work for him. Do you have some of that to show?"

"Sorry, all that stuff is private. I don't even have copies for myself," Meka said with an edge of irritation. Meka got up, put the photo album away, and then went to stand in front of a strange piece of art hanging on her wall. The piece consisted of a verity of keys glued down in a circular spiral pattern. "Sally from sculpture did this. It's titled Keeping Secrets." Meka reached up and ran her fingers over the keys.

Li looked at me wondering what this was all about. I shrugged for I had no idea.

Meka went to the door, turned the lock, then she walked to her desk, cleared off some of the clutter, crawled onto the top of it and gingerly stood up. She reached for a high shelf mounted to the hollow tile wall above the desk and gripped a clunky ceramic bowel sitting on an old fashion wooden file box with a lock on it, she moved the bowl aside, and then pulled down the box. After getting down off her desk with the file box, Meka went back to the collage of keys made by Sally and plucked a specific key free from the hundreds of swirling keys in the piece. With the selected key, she unlocked the big old brass lock. Inside the file box was a large white envelope that Meka handed to Li.

Intrigued, Li sat at Meka's desk causing the old office chair to scream in squeaky protest. My face twisted at the awful sound and I decided to make it my personal mission to oil the fucking chair. As Li opened the envelope, I noticed that Meka's face was tight with emotion. Li pulled out what looked like a stack of eight by ten photos. From where I sat on the leather loveseat I couldn't see what the photos were. I desperately wanted to, but Meka hadn't invited me to look, so I reluctantly stayed where I was.

"If you make me look half as good, I'd be more than happy," Li said.

The compliment made Meka smile. Li held out a photo and it was a full frontal nude of Meka with head cocked to one side, the same dress shirt she wore in the photo Li and I had seen earlier was slung over her right shoulder. Her other arm rested at her side and she stood with one foot forward in a classic contrapposto pose, ala Michelangelo's David. Meka's mass of wavy hair had it's own agenda, cascading down her shoulders almost covering her right breast. Her pubic hair was a full, black, lusty triangle.

"This is my favorite," Li said holding out another photo of Meka on her knees, fully nude, looking out with a serious expression on her face. An old bulky camera hung around her neck from a strap. The old camera rested snugly between her full breasts.

"I picked up the camera at an appliance repair store on a whim a couple of years back," Meka said.

"Yeah, it's the camera that's the most interesting thing in the shot," I said. Then and there, I decided I wanted to do a nude painting of my new best friend.

Li handed me the stack of photos and since Meka didn't snatched them away, I went through them. They were all nudes of Meka.

"I love this one," I said and held out a color photo of Meka standing nude in a staircase painted to look like a jungle. I knew that staircase well for it was the infamous eastern staircase here at the art department totally covered with murals dating back to the seventies when the art building was first built. "You're a damned good photographer," I stated.

"And a damned good model," Li added.

"I'm just glad I bikini trimmed that week," Meka said.

I laughed understanding exactly where she was coming from.

"You two go get the white dress," Meka said. She handed Li and I a clipping from a fashion magazine. "Get something as close to this as you can. You guys know where the community college pool is?" Li and I nodded. "Good. Keep your phones on you, I'll call if there are any changes. See you at the pool."

Chapter 33 Li Hong and an Unexpected Turn

Li Hong and I drove to the Ala Moana Shopping Center in Li's golden bronze sport's car. I don't know much about cars and all I could tell was that it was expensive. We hit all the fancy boutiques looking for a dress like the one in the clipping Meka gave us, but each store was a bust. Three hours later, in near desperation, we staggered into Sears. The moment Li stepped out of the dressing room I knew we had a hit. The dress was long-sleeved, floor length and clung in all the right places showing off her tight athletic figure. I held the clipping up to compare.

"We have a winner," I said.

"How do I look?" Li asked doing a pirouette.

"Great," I said and meant it, for the girl had a surprisingly respectable bust line. So much for the flat chested athletic stereotype, I mused.

Li insisted on paying for the dress.

Outside Sears, my stomach rumble.

"Since you payed for the dress, Meka's paying for lunch," I said holding up Meka's credit card. We headed for the food court and made a beeline to Panda Express for fast Chinese food. I got the orange chicken with beef lo mien and a soda, Li ordered the twice-cooked pork, shrimp fried rice and bottled water. We sat in the big restaurant common area to consume our unhealthy but oh so delicious lunch.

"Who's this David Meka keeps talking about?" I finally had to ask.

"David Tanaka? He's the guy who set this all up," Li said around a mouth full of shrimp fried rice.

"You think he and Meka might have a thing?" I asked remembering Meka's disappointed look that the David guy hadn't come along.

"I've only met Meka in the last couple of weeks." Li informed me with a shrug.

"Why are you doing this?" I asked, and then immediately regretted it for this was just the kind of thing Meka didn't want me doing with her paying customers. "Never mind. That is none of my business," and stuffed my mouth full of orange chicken to keep myself from talking.

Li went quiet as I nervously chewed my lunch. Because of my big mouth, Meka may have just lost a client and I was surely out of a job. Unexpectedly, a gaggle of teenage girls were at the table asking for Li's autograph. Li smiled sweetly at them as she acquiesced. She even posed with a couple of the girls for cell phone photos.

"Sorry for being so nosy," I said after the fans had cleared out.

Li held my eyes for several seconds making me feel uncomfortable. Finally she spoke.

"My whole life I've had this good girl image. Good student, good athlete, good citizen. She laughed. "I think I've shook the hand of every world leader on the planet even that dick in North Korea. I grew tired of my nice girl image; I wanted to punch it in the face. A professional surfing friend of mine did a nude spread in a man's Magazine. She was a lot like me and the nude thing changed her life. I called her and she hooked me up with David Tanaka." Li gave me a sad odd smile.

"I thought this Tanaka guy would be all over a celebrity like me getting naked and stuff. But he wasn't. He asked me some very direct questions about my motivations and I flatly told him that I wanted to rock my parents boat. You see, my parents are Born Again Christians and key members of the Honolulu Chinese Christian Ministry. David gave me a stern look, and then politely told me to go away and do some growing up. It took a year and a half ... but I did." She paused and contemplated a piece of shrimp at the end of her plastic fork. "Now I'm doing this because I'm an exhibitionist and get off on showing the world my exquisite physique." She smiled and then laughed. "It thrilling and a little bit dirty. Anyway, that was honest enough motivation for David. He went out and found Meka so here I am."

I thought of my new naked portraits. Li was right on, getting naked is a thrill to and I so desperately wanted to show them to somebody other than my friends. Li seemed a perfect person to share them with. "Come on, eat up," I said, "I want to show you some art."

After the meal, we headed back to campus to my studio.

After the cluttered but neat appearance of Meka Okuda's studio, I was embarrassed by the chaotic messiness of mine, but Li didn't seem to notice and only had eyes for my two Shelly nudes."These are fantastic," she said and I could tell she meant it.

"It's like what you said about the photo shoot tonight," I told her. "I love these paintings because I'm naked. I get a rush when others look at them." I went to a corner of my studio and pulled out a third painting. I had worked on it in a near frenzy on the night I had my sleazy exorcism with Hawk and Matt.

"My God Gwen ... they're beautiful," Li said.

"I see these two in my dreams," I told her.

The painting was of redheaded Venus and the short haired version of me. Both figures were naked standing side by side facing forward. I had stressed the height difference between the figures Venus being six inches taller. Since the figures were from my dreams I gave the painting a surreal bent ala the Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte. The two women stood in a forest inspired by the Iao Valley rain forest. The spaces between the trees alternated day and night. Hidden in one of the night areas was my wooden forest goddess barely defined by faint green lines hinting at glow in the dark paint.

"You're the first person to see this," I said with heartfelt emotion.

"Did you use to have short hair at one time?"

"No. Like I said, I only see her in my dreams."

"You look good with short hair," Li said. Our eyes met and an unexpected tension filled my little studio. At that moment my cell rang and I pulled it it from the front pocket of my jeans. It was Meka.

"Got a dress I hope?" Meka asked getting to the point.

"At Sears and Roebuck no less," I said.

"That should have saved me a few bucks and nobody says Roebuck anymore, lolo."

I laughed. "Li paid for the dress so you paid for lunch."

"Sweet Holy Mother! I've seen you eat girl!"

"Fuck you," I said.

"Same to you, see you tonight." Meka ended the call.

I turned to face Li to continue our conversation and the crazy chick covered my mouth with a kiss! My eyes stayed wide open and I made a muffled sound of protest, and then seconds later, my eyes fluttered closed as I gave in to the unexpected. Neither of us used our hands, our bodies barely touching. As I spiraled down into the kiss, I thought, this chick is a hell of a kisser. When the kiss ended my eyes slowly blinked open to find Li looking at me with a serious expression.

"I'm going home to freshen up ... You wanna come?" she asked with a hitch in her voice. She seem as overwhelmed as I by the suddenness of ... whatever this was.

"No, I can't" I said as panic set in. "I have things to buy for Meka before the stores close." The excuse was as lame as it sounded.

"Okay," Li said. "See you at the pool then?" The girl left without another word.

"Holy shit," I whispered. Rebelling against her family's religious conservatism wasn't the only issue in Li Hong's life ... apparently.

Chapter 34 Poolside

Hours later, in Hawk's borrowed white Ford Bronco, he was stuck in tonight grading papers, I arrived at the pool at the same moment Li pulled into the parking lot in her sports car. She stepped out of her car looking good in jeans, a light green puffy sleeve top and sneakers. I wore black slacks and a black t-shirt as was Meka's request.

"Hey," Li said cheerfully, but I could sense an edge of nervousness in her tone. At first I thought that the nervousness had to do with the impromptu kiss earlier, but that proved untrue when she said. "I liked kissing you." She didn't wait for a response and walked passed me into the building.

I'm not a lesbian! I felt like clarifying but didn't and simply followed her inside the building. The swimming pool lights were the only lights on at the moment giving the place an eerie blue-green glow. This is so cool I thought with a smile of excitement.

Meka's electronically enhanced voice boomed at us from everywhere.

"Come up to announcer's booth in the stands."

At poolside, Li and I turned and saw Meka waving at us from behind the glass of the announcer's booth at the top of the stands. We climbed the stairs and entered the booth. We found Meka talking to a good looking Asian guy with salt and pepper hair in a black polo shirt, black shorts and Birkenstock sandals. The guy looked familiar. I tasked my brain trying to remember were I knew him from, but came up with nothing. Three were three other people in the booth too.

Meka introduced Li and me to everyone. The older Asian guy was the mysterious David Tanaka. Next was Brian, the spotlight operator, a youngish local boy in black board shorts and a plain black t-shirt. The guy was cute in that local, carefree surfer kind of way. The makeup person was a skinny haole guy named Cole who wore black Versace Jeans, a long sleeved, black shirt buttoned up at the neck and at the cuffs. His blond hair was perfectly sculpted.

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