Portrait of An Artist

Portrait of An Artist

Max Griffin

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 Peter’s an artist, but even his success can’t blot out the physical pain he has to endure. He’s sinking into despair and there’s nothing his lover, Aaron, can do except watch. But then a strange legacy from a distant Uncle on a far-off planet changes everything. As Peter pieces together the mystery behind the painting and the journal, he also uncovers a passionate love story that crosses boundaries, time and space. 

 
PUBLISHED BY: loveyoudivine Alterotica
ISBN: 978-1-60054-386-9
PUBLICATION DATE: 2009
WORD COUNT: 56000
SEXUAL CONTENT RATING: 1
EBOOK READER RATING:
CATEGORIES: ManLove, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Erotica
KEYWORDS: science fiction, future, futuristic, gay, romance, art, m/m, men, male, love, loveyoudivine, erotic, erotica, homosexual, sf, sci fi, queer, Max Griffen, s
 

EBOOKS BY loveyoudivine Alterotica

EBOOKS BY Max Griffin

 
EXCERPT
COPYRIGHT Max Griffin/2009

 He woke in the middle of the night and unglued reluctant eyelids. Moonlight and shadow greeted him. He struggled to sit up and knocked his cane from its resting place.  It clattered against the end table and a photograph tumbled to the floor where its crystal frame shattered into a million glittering pieces.  


         Aaron's sweet features smiled up at him from the scattered shards.  Peter's face was there too, still youthful and surrounded by dreadlocks of chestnut hair.  In the photo, Peter stood on two legs that were still strong, and Aaron's arm rested on his shoulder. Their faces shined with joy that hadn't yet met sorrow.  He sighed and thought about the gray that now streaked his shoulder-length curls and the pain lines that scoured his face.   

         Reluctant fingers picked up the photo. His eyes glistened as he thought of Aaron, who, though Peter's age, still enjoyed the vigor of the youth in the photo. Wisps of blond hair floated about his head like a halo, and his broad shoulders and narrow hips sang of an athleticism that Praxiteles would have loved to immortalize.  He shuddered as unwanted memories cascaded through his mind and splashed against the lonely shoals of his heart.  Aaron's sweaty body above him, their passions merged in an erotic pas de deux.  Aaron's merry smile in the morning when they woke together.  Aaron's hurt when Peter stalked out of their condo that last time.  Peter's own anger and resentment remained buried deep in his core, where it bubbled like magma. 

         Their separation had torn a hole in Peter's heart. Fuck him. Who needs him, anyway? He held his head in his hands and fought back tears.  From the counter in the kitchen, an amber bottle of pills called.  He hobbled through the darkness and his fingers quivered as he unscrewed the lid and stuffed a white capsule in his mouth.  He sighed and wished it would ease the pain in his soul.  He would settle instead for a brief surcease from the misery that plagued his leg.

         Muffled harmonics plummeted against his ears from the composer in the adjoining loft.  High notes bored through the ducts and the deep bass rumbled in the walls.  The middle tones, though, were too feeble to penetrate the soundproofing.  A deep ache clenched at his bladder and he groped for his cane. 

         The painting loomed over him, begging him for affirmation.  The colors slithered after him in the faint lunar illumination as he lumbered to the bathroom, harassed by the dull burr from his brace. The forms haunted his mind even as his body expelled the foul-smelling fluid that pained him.  He returned to the studio.  His still life accused him with shallow abstractions while the dusty painting screamed in anguish.  Light.  He needed light to see with.

         He flipped a switch and winced when the solid state imitation of sunlight flooded the studio.  His bones ached and his skin crawled with greasy sweat and crusty paint. The brace gripped at him and its tendrils dug into his nerves like wasps. He grasped his cane and hastened across the studio to where the harsh lights washed across the pastel shades of his painting and transformed it to a sallow pastiche of academic maunderings.  But the other painting!  Its violent gobs of color compelled his gaze. 

         His hand trembled as he picked up a brush and stroked dust away.  His breath quickened when the arid puddles of oil assumed a new sheen and the shapes they formed twisted at his mind.  He leaned close and saw that the varnish was still clear.  With a soft, flannel rag and painstaking fingers he removed the grime from the surface, inch by inch.  The moon sank below the urban horizon, and the composer next door silenced his synthesizer, but Peter worked on.  The sun rose, and birds sang outside his window, but Peter stayed focused on the fraction of the painting's surface underneath his rag. 

         At last he finished.  He stepped back and examined the result.  His analytical mind at once saw the clumsy technique.  Paint coiled in hopeless blobs, so that the surface rose and fell in chaotic hills and valleys that bore no relation to the overall composition.  The shapes twisted from random swirls to crude geometric figures.  It was as though Euclid had drawn by manipulating a child's Spirograph using his tongue.

         He recalled Cantwell's words in his uncle's basement.  The painting was, indeed, hideous.  Disappointment huddled in a dismal corner of his soul.  Like the pain in his leg, it was a familiar companion.

         He tossed his rag aside and yawned.  When his gaze fell on the pristine perfection of his just completed still life, a smile tugged at his lips and satisfaction with his mastery of craft swelled in him.  He was an artist, not some amateur hack producing crap that tasteless snobs called "folk art." 

         His glance turned once more on the canvas from Helios.  That was when the flowers trapped inside the artist's tangled creation bloomed and filled the room with glory.  In that instant, their beauty took his breath away.

         He collapsed to his sofa and stared in wonder. Nothing about the painting had changed.  It was still an inept clump of colors and contorted shapes.  What changed was that Peter looked deeper into the images and saw with the artist's tormented eyes.  Bumbling, incompetent, graceless: yes, the painting was all those things.  But the painter had found beauty in a bouquet of flowers and had poured his soul onto this canvas, in the anguished hope that others might know the same joy he felt.  Peter wept, for the painting's very imperfections amplified the tragic magnificence of its creator's vision.

         His eyes roamed over his studio.  The carnations that he had painted yesterday still stood in their vase, now wilted from the heat of the morning sun.  His still life glowed, like a pure and delicate theorem, filled with form and color and no meaning. 

         Next to him, on the table, rested the leather notebook Cantwell had delivered yesterday.  It creaked when he opened it.  An inscription inside, written in an ancient Spenserian hand, read, "This journal is for my brilliant nephew, Peter.  Within, I spin the tales of my many journeys off-world in search of beauty and truth.  Contrary to the poet's wisdom, I have rarely found these two in the same urn, for often truth is filled with sorrow while beauty brings but frivolous joy.  For the diversion of his muse, I commend to him the narratives within."

         A faded ribbon marked a page in the journal.  Peter opened the book and a tattered photograph fell into his lap.  He picked it up with two fingers and peered at a handsome couple standing before a corrugated building.  Wind whipped at her long skirts and lifted his blond hair in a golden halo, while auburn braids framed her face. They gazed upon one another with smiles that glowed with the serenity of a Klimt portrait. An endless smudge of carnations covered the ground, as though a fantasy of van Gogh had come to life.  What appeared to be a large badger with purple fur nuzzled at the woman's hand.  He flipped it over and found the words, "Caitlin, Adam, Sebastian, January, 2359, Spirit Lake, New Iowa, Helios."

 

 
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