Thursday, March 8, 2018 blog post #275

Antony (Part 2 of 2 Parts)

Today we conclude Mark Wildyr’s story about Antony. You’ll recall that an artist, Greg, by name, met a handsome powwow dancer named Antony at the Indian Village on the Expo New Mexico grounds in Albuquerque. We left Greg preparing to leave the fairgrounds after promising Tony three sketches Greg had made of him. He intended to take them to his studio for completion and return to the powwow tomorrow. Just to be safe, Greg gave Tony one of his business cards. Now let’s see what comes next.

Courtesy of CCO Creative Commons
By Mark Wildyr

I canceled a Saturday night dinner date with a friend in order to start converting the three pencil sketches Tony had selected—plus one he’d hesitated over before choosing another—into ink drawings on watercolor paper. After adding a few dabs of subtle colored highlights, I signed the pieces before pinning them to the white chalkboard wall in my studio.
The next morning, I intended to sleep late but was drawn into the studio by the need to begin my first oil painting of the appetizing Antony… the view of him standing nearly naked as he spoke to two friends before the powwow started yesterday afternoon. By the time I completed the transfer of the sketch to canvas, the powwow was well underway. Too engrossed in my work to leave, I further delayed my departure. As Tony’s beautiful head and face emerged in layers and layers of paint on that canvas, I was too inspired by my subject to stop painting. Before I realized it, the powwow was history. Fighting a tinge of regret, I kept at my canvas until I noticed my numbed fingers no longer responded precisely to my will. And a perfect model demands a perfect rendition, right?
After a shower, I donned a robe and ate my first meal of the day, a bowl of oatmeal, a slice of turkey bacon, and 2 percent milk. Then I stared at the television as waves of recrimination consumed me. I’d missed the chance to see Tony again, talk with him, interact with him. Be with the most handsome man I’d ever seen. Would I ever encounter him again? Perhaps at another powwow at the Indian Village. Did he live in Albuquerque? In New Mexico? Questions clogged my brain, each one a censure for failing to go to the powwow this afternoon as I promised.

I was considering going to bed—although I knew sleep would come hard—when the front doorbell pulled me out of my recliner. Because of the late hour, I punched a button and asked who was there. My heart fluttered a couple of times when my door answered:
“Tony. Tony Abó”
Still in my robe, I cinched the garment tighter and opened the door to be skewered by those obsidian orbs he used so effectively. Conscious or unconscious? Probably unconscious. Just his way of viewing the world.
I stepped aside and waved him in. “Hi. Surprised to see you.”
“The mountain didn’t come to Mohammad….” he said, humor brightening his handsome features. “Thought you were coming to the powwow this afternoon.”
“I got busy working on those sketches and let time get away from me.”
“Hope it’s not too late for me to show up on your doorstep.”
“No, I was just relaxing in front of the tube before turning in.”
“Intended to come earlier, but I went to the Forty-nine, and time got away from me, too. Forty-nine, that’s—”
“That’s the after-powwow party out on the desert where anything and everything goes.”
“Not just after a powwow. Any excuse is good for a Forty-nine. But yeah, that’s essentially it.”
I took another look at him as he preceded me into the living room. He didn’t appear to be inebriated… which is the usual state and often the intent of such a party. “The sketches are in the studio.” I brushed past him and led the way to the big room on the east side of the house where I did my work.
He momentarily forgot the sketches and walked straight to the easel to examine his image on the canvas. “Hey, man. That’s good. Really good. Do I really look like that?”
I pulled up a comparable photo on my phone and handed it to him. “You tell me.”
He glanced at the photo and compared it to the canvas. After a moment, he turned to me and smiled. “You know, I look at myself in the mirror every morning, but I’m not sure I really see myself.” He waved a hand. “Well, I see myself, but—”
“I know. You see the image, but you don’t really examine the image.”
“You are one handsome man,” I said.
That flustered him. “Thanks. Uh… did you have a chance to finish the sketches?”
“Right over here.” I led him to the pen and ink drawings on the whiteboard wall.
“Wow!” he exclaimed. “Those are great! And you signed them.”
“I sign all the work that goes out of here. And I did the fourth one you hesitated over. Thought you might want to give it to your girl.” I felt my brow furrow. “Or your wife.”
He turned and unleashed a smile on me. “No wife.”
“How about a girl?”
Tony pursed his lips. “No girl, either.”
“I don’t believe it. You oughta have them swarming all over you.”
“Oh, they swarm,” he said with no apparent arrogance. “But I don’t always respond.”
“So no girlfriend?”
“Been a few. But not right now.”
My left eyebrow reached for my hairline as I took the plunge. “Boyfriend?”
“Not at the moment.”
I went hyper. My eyesight sharpened; the smell of oil paint and turpentine flooded my nostrils. I heard the grandfather clock ticking in the distant living room. The taste of my now-digested oatmeal lingered on my tongue, the silken robe caressed my thighs. My words managed to squeeze past the lump in my throat. “But there have been some?”
He did that eye-piercing thing before answering. “Two.”
When I lose my head, I tend to babble. “They must be dead. Or crazy. Only way they would have left you.”
He laughed at my frown. “Fortunes of war. No, really. Fortunes of war. One of them was my co-pilot. Flew a few sorties against the bad guys over in the Middle East. Once, we got hit and were losing power. Wasn’t sure we’d make it back to base. All of a sudden, he blurted out he wasn’t afraid to die, but he was sorry he had to do it before he got me.”
“Got you?”
“That’s what I said. Got me? He admitted he’d been thinking about it ever since we teamed up.”
“And what happened?”
“We limped back okay, got us a room in town, and made it so he could die in peace the next time.”
“Was he the first?”
Tony shook his head, sending more of those invisible pheromones my way. Like I needed more. I was about to bust a gut as it was.
“And the first?”
“I was still in high school. We lived on a ranch at the time. This cowhand a couple of years older than me was the town’s stud. Had women all over him all the time. One day, we were working fence lines, and I noted his… condition. He caught me looking and mumbled something about a new girl in town. Without thinking, I told him I could take care of it for him. Didn’t know what I was talking about, just felt moved to say it.”
“And he let you, I take it.”
“Yeah. For the next two years. By the time I figured out he was just using me, not making a buddy out of me—except for his convenience—he’d enrolled in the army. Like I say, fortunes of war.”
I gulped again and said the first thing I could think of to delay him. “Can I offer you a drink?”
“You got a beer?”
As we started for the den, he paused and looked back. “Greg?”
“Don’t let me forget those ink drawings when I leave in the morning.”
My knees nearly dumped me on the floor.

Looks as if Greg and Tony got together despite Greg’s risky behavior. I hope you found the story as interesting as I did. I wonder if Mark’s figured out that I’m revealing the conclusion of his story a week before he does. Don’t anyone tell him. Thanks, Mark, for sharing your story with us.

And now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. And keep on submitting your work to publishers and agents. You have something to say… so say it.

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See you next week.


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