Letter to the Artist Ch. 01by1rndm1©
It's a slow start, but do give it time. It's my first submission to lit and I just want to thank the Guild for everything, especially cedar_needle for putting up with my crazies. And to JG for making me realize a lot of things.
Edited by meathead96
It was just after sunset when Jac Carlson arrived at her now empty West Hollywood loft. She had purchased a new loft downtown just yesterday and already she was moved in. She didn't like staying in one place for too long.
She had cut her appearance short at the premier of yet another summer blockbuster. A few press photos and some polite backstage conversations, and then she was done for the day. Many would say that it was the perfect and successful life for a young woman such as herself, but Jac, quite frankly, did not care.
She really had no reason to be in this loft, but somehow she felt the need to walk through the empty and hollow space. She wanted to feel like a stranger or a ghost, but she felt nothing passing through the shadows of the loft that she had once owned.
Jac eventually found herself in the spacious walk-in closet of the bedroom. It was there that she noticed a drawer that was slight ajar and she could not help but close it.
The drawer, however, would not close. She tried again and again, but the drawer simply would not close. She pulled the drawer out of its shell to see the cause of the problem.
Jac found a book wedged within the shell of the drawer. She removed the book and realized it was a book she received twelve years ago. The cover was gone, but she knew exactly what it was. 'Atlas Shrugged' by Ayn Rand. She remembered how she loved that book, but now, she couldn't even summon any sort of feeling or attachment to it.
She flipped through the pages and a piece of glossy paper fell out. It was torn from some picture magazine and she found something scribbled on the bottom.
I hope you find what you are looking for.
Jac read it repeatedly. It was in her father's writing. She had no idea what he was talking about. With the glossy paper forgotten, she tried to recall her father.
She remembered their enormous house. It was the house that her father had designed and constructed with his bare hands. It was an empty house, having only a father and child to occupy its massive space.
Once, when she was five, she was photographed in the kitchen with her father by 'Vogue' and being the topic of discussion by women neighbors when the issue came out.
At the age of ten, she was already part of dinner events and parties just for belonging in that house. Parties that included an Academy Award winning director, a multibillion dollar business mogul and a few international heads of state here and there.
She hated being from that house. She fought everything and challenged everything it stood for. She hated being offered things without due basis. Like the time she got offered an academic spot at Andover just by simply being the child of money or that time she was offered an internship with Teen Vogue.
She hated it with a passion. She hated being the epitome of what she hated most. But in the end, no matter how hard she fought, she lost that battle. She was handed everything and given everything.
She remembered both the envy and accolades being from that house. She was expected and assumed to be perfect. And she was. She had to be because it was what was expected. She stopped fighting and stopped living all the same.
It had been twelve years since the day she gave up her fight to live. Twelve years since she last felt any drop of emotion. Not once did she feel an ounce of excitement, lust or love towards the men she took in her six years at Princeton. Not even the simple bond of friendship.
She had many suitors and so called boyfriends during those years. They all easily showered her with affection, as if it was a simple act of breathing or blinking. She was never able to reciprocate anything. She never evoked any sort of emotional want, lust or love, which were so common for women her age and for the men in her life. She simply felt nothing.
The women she knew talked of kisses and sex as if they were the most pleasurable acts on Earth. She tried kissing many times, but it only resulted in disappointment. She felt nothing. She concluded that sex was all the same. Terse, boring and unemotional. Since then, she never bothered with the idle thoughts of pleasure. It was a foreign word to her.
Jac disposed of her memories and looked at her father's writing again. It was there that she saw the picture on the torn page. It was a large scale installation in an empty warehouse of bleached white paper pieced together to form the most uniform matter. Suddenly, she felt a pang of jealousy.
Her heart began to race at the sudden pour of emotions. It was so simple yet so powerful at the same time. It was as if the art work forced her to see a truthful, yet ugly, fact. It was like being bludgeoned in the chest with an axe, beating her inside until she felt the truth.
She suddenly remembered what she hardened herself against twelve years ago, her love for art. More specifically, photography. She forced herself to forget about that love. She willed herself to forget. But the picture she held made her remember. It suddenly made her feel again.
She frantically looked through the paper to place a name on the art, but only found an address. She ran like a mad woman to the twenty four hour Kinko's across her building. The workers looked at her like she was a woman possessed when she asked for a pen and paper. She didn't care. She needed to show her passion and emotion without censor.
I don't know who you are, but I am in love with your work.
I envy the simple materials you use.
I envy how you touch them and make them yours.
I envy that you give them all of you
and that they have all of you.
I hope one day I will see all of you through them.
Then I will be happy.
Then I will be content.
Do not reply, I beg of you.
It will only shatter my being.
It was high noon in Warsaw with a clear summer day and Jerzy Gorszewski sat silently in the middle of his cold and empty studio. He held a hand written letter in his hands with a postmark from Los Angeles.
Jerzy read it once more and felt a quiet passion emanating from the simple letter. He could not help but smile at the sender's honesty. He stared at the signature that orchestrated the letter.
He immediately did his own research on the signature, thankful for the first time that his assistant purchased a laptop for his use. He found that it belonged to the daughter of the renowned architect Philip Carlson. She was a female editor in her own right, with numerous articles published under Sartorial Press. He also found numerous photos of the associate editor among socialites at high profile events.
But it was not her social status the piqued his interest. Rather, it was the way her eyes were void of emotions. In her letter she was passionate in a fragile surrender, but in her photos she was simply detached with a frightening cold intensity.
The contradiction made him all the more curious. He could easily contact her and speak with her over the phone or simply send her an email. Somehow, he felt the need to get to her on a personal level and calling or replying would not satisfy him one bit.
Jerzy proceeded to read a few of her articles and could not help but laugh. She was ridiculing her subjects with biting sarcasm without them realizing it. She had a way with words, Jerzy noted.
In all of his thirty years, the women and men he encountered were usually shallow and untruthful. Simply put, they were afraid of him. Not because of his brute appearance, but because of his silence. People never really knew what he thought in his head and that was what frightened them.
The women he saw in the past were equally deceitful. They showed a brave façade, marveled at his work, but they never really understood him or his work. The women who sought after him, he realized, only sought after his status as an artist. As one of the few elite modern day Polish artists to reach international acclaim, they said what they thought he wanted to hear and what he would find appealing.
It was not a misconception that he liked his women brave. He did like his women strong and brave. But this woman, this Jac Carlson, was a breath of fresh air. She said what she thought, without regard of how weak and vulnerable he would view her. She professed her greed and envy as if he belonged to her. But her honesty only made him see her as the one brave soul he had been looking for.
Jerzy stepped out of his dark studio and could not help but squint under the bright summer sun. He sought out a pay phone, for his presently absent assistant was his only form of communication with the rest of the world. He found a dilapidated phone booth just outside of his studio. He dialed a number with an international code and waited for a reply. He knew the time difference would not matter.
A raspy voice, clearly awoken from slumber, answered. "George?"
Jerzy heard the man address him with his Anglo-Saxon equivalent and smiled. He used that name publicly, reserving his given name Jerzy only to his most trusted friends. "I will do it," Jerzy said quietly without hesitation.
There was a stunned pause before the man could reply, "Ok." Jerzy ended the call with that acknowledgment.
He returned to his studio and tore out a blank page from his sketch book. He finished the letter in no time. He would bait and test her envy and greed with his letter.
Jerzy worked nonstop for the next seven straight days. He did not sleep or eat. He was much too driven to stop. He finished his massive installation made of pure glass. It was his test for her. It was all for her.
Jonathan Marshall was beyond himself. The Rowan Gallery, along with every prestigious gallery throughout the country, had been trying to book an exhibit with the elusive George Gorszewski.
And a three am call from the artist ended it all. At first he thought he was dreaming when he first heard the distinct, yet ambiguous accent. He knew Jerzy to be an educated man and rumored to speak seven languages.
Sleep was now impossible for the ambitious curator. It seemed getting his assistant to prepare the much needed paperwork and calling his friends for bragging rights were the two things that would calm Jonathan Marshall. He had three months of grueling preparations before Jerzy Gorszewski would show for the first time in the U.S.
Jac was deep in thought when she breezed inside the decadent art deco lobby of her building. She was heading straight to the elevator without care to anything or anyone.
Jac was snapped from her trance and whipped her head around toward the voice. She saw the front desk attendant. "Yes?"
"The postman left this," the young man pushed forward a bundle of envelopes across the marble counter top. He suddenly felt nervous. The look she gave him made him want to question everything he did. "He said he couldn't put anymore envelopes in your box."
Jac looked at the mound of mail on the table. She had been purposely avoiding her mailbox for the past two weeks and now here it was. "Right." She approached the table and gathered her mail. "Thanks." She said curtly and headed up to her loft.
She wanted to be rid of the mail. She didn't care. The moment she reached her loft, she headed straight to the kitchen and dumped all of her mail in the trash bin.
But it seemed the 'Fates' wanted to mock her show of weakness. Atop the pile in the bin, she saw something with foreign writing in red ink. Her heart sank and rose at the same time.
She fished the envelope with the Warsaw postmark out of the bin and tore it open. There, in the middle of her kitchen, she read the letter... note.
This is not a reply. Do not flatter yourself, writer.
I will collect on your greed.
Jac shuddered out of disbelief, anger and excitement. Never had she been addressed in such a demeaning manner, a commanding manner. The way he called her writer made her feel dirty like some used whore.
She stormed out of the kitchen, through the spacious living area with a delicious view of the city and into her home office. She fired open her MAC and angrily typed the name Jerzy Gorszewski. She realized he used George Gorszewski publicly. As to why he would use his real name with her, she had no clue. She found his website and was about to fire off an angry email when she saw his newly posted creation.
It was a massive glass installation. It somehow reminded her of giant shards of ice pieced together and fighting each other for control. The piece was strong and powerful, but fragile at the same time. She read the description. Writer was the name of his piece.
Jac closed her laptop as if she saw a haunting ghost. She was suddenly terrified of Jerzy Gorszewski. His statement to collect was no longer empty. Somehow he saw through her and knew then and there that he would conquer her. She sent another letter and trembled at the fact. Jac Carlson finally met her match.
You have already broken me. Through me.
I can not allow it.
I will not allow it.
Jerzy received her second letter a week later and it pleased him greatly. Again, she was honest, but not as fragile as the first. She was pleading to him, despite her command. He did not return her letter. Instead he communicated in the most tortuous manner through his work.
And so weeks turned into months and his obsession with Jac only grew stronger. He knew it was unhealthy, but he could not stop thinking about the possibility of their first meeting. Would she make him smile? What would he say to her, better yet, what would he do with her? Would her lips be as delicious as he imagined?
The thought of her lips on his made his breath quicken. He had been looking at her photo for the past month and her cold and icy demeanor only made him want her more. He now looked at her first letter and read it for the millionth time.
I envy how you touch them and make them yours.
He then imagined his calloused hands caressing her soft body from the swell of her breasts to the curve of her bottom and into her warm and wet folds. Jerzy grunted at his thoughts. He knew he needed to get her out of his system, but, somehow, he could not imagine being rid of her.
He called Jonathan again.
"George, my man! Have you decided on a title for your show?" Jonathan cheerily answered.
"Yes I have."
Ana Walker watched her boss in amazement. To intern with Sartorial Press was a dream come true, but to be assigned to Jac Carlson, her modern day hero, was heaven.
"Have you finished your tasks?" Jac asked her young and eager intern as she wrote her current article. She stared at her screen with a hollow gaze as her fingers typed mindlessly on their own.
"Yes," Ana nodded.
"You may leave for the day."
Ana was about to leave Jac to work on her article like a programmed machine, when she remembered an important question for her boss. Ana still couldn't quite grasp how the woman could write passionate articles and reviews while looking like a programmed robot.
"Oh! I almost forgot. I was wondering if you know where I can find a picture, a self portrait even, of that Polish artist George Gorszewski? Karl down in photo told me you are the one to see. He says you specialize on the esoteric."
The sudden stillness of her boss' fingers and the silence that stood before them made Ana's heart lurch in fear. Somehow, Ana saw a momentary flash of fear and weakness... fragility from her boss. Jac Carlson was many things, but fragile was not one of them.
The mention of Jerzy's name threw Jac's focus off. She realized that she had addressed him as Jerzy and not George like everyone one else in the world. She had not heard from him in nearly two months. Jerzy, or anything related to him did not belong in anything that was Sartorial Press related. Jac calmed her senses and looked up from her work.
"No Ana. The man is a recluse. He refuses to be photographed. Even with his work, he is particular about whom to show," Jac answered, trying to be as detached as possible and returned to her work.
"Alright," Ana shrugged and turned to leave. "Well if you haven't already, you should check out his new stuff. He's posted about seven or eight new installations. A new one each week. He's crazy! They're odd, but interesting nonetheless." She looked to Jac and it seemed that her boss was frozen in time. Ana, dumbfounded, exited her boss' office in silence.
Jac browsed his website and looked through his newly posted creations. Ana was right; he did them each in a week's time. She knew what they were about when she read the titles. Broken Through, Shattered and Allowed were three of them. He was taking from her without consent.
In his contact page, she pressed the button to compose an email. She needed immediate action and sending a hand written letter would not do. She needed instant gratification.
This needs to stop. This needs to stop now.
Jac sent the email and felt a feeling of uneasiness wash through her being. Regardless, she ignored the feeling and returned to her article. It was ready for submission when Jac pressed the delete button and destroyed her nearly finished article. She would start a new one.
Jerzy was pounding away with his hammer when his assistant interrupted him.
"George, you have an email from a Jac Carlson of Sartorial Press," his young assistant said with laptop at hand.
Jerzy rushed over to his assistant. "Did you read it?" he asked, almost angry at the thought of his letter being read by another. His assistant shook his head.
Jerzy then took the laptop in a possessive manner and retreated to his office to read her email. He wanted to laugh at her valiant attempt. Again he would not reply to her. He would push her more, almost to a breaking point.
"Jac, darling," Greta Vanderwoods began. "The article you sent me last night, it was great... but I'm afraid it is way out of our demographic. Our readers will not be able to understand it. It's practically ready for Harper's or Times. Just rework it and have it in by the end of the day." Greta left as quickly as she came inside her associate editor's office.
Jac nodded and watched the chief editor leave her office. Jac was angry. Not at her editor, but with herself. She knew the reason for her momentary slip up. She wrote passionately and truthfully last night because of one man. Jerzy Gorszewski.
Apathy was one of two things that kept Jac sane in her hollow world; apathy and her love for Jerzy Gorszewski's work. His work gave her hope that the world was not as empty and hollow as she saw forth. But he was shattering her cold and listless reality.
She needed to nip this personally. Jac visited his web site and eyed the contact number listed. Her hands shook as she dialed his number.
It was eight o'clock in the evening when Jerzy received the international call. He knew it was not Jonathan Marshall for he instructed the curator never to contact him. There was a high possibility that it was Jac Carlson.