Saturday, November 1, 2014

Episode 02 | It was a bluff

The Nirvana Lounge crowned the highest and most luxurious commercial condominium, in the heart of Vice City's compact yet boisterous financial district. Banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions occupied several floors of the building, as well as offices of lawyers, IT teams and some luxury brands. Taking the elevators was all that was needed for those privileged professionals to start celebrating profits and bonuses. For some, the Lounge was a pleasant stop on their way to the helicopters that landed atop. 

I had thought having it exclusively for myself and my guest was a splendid idea. I was guessing he would be impressed and even intimidated with the absolutely chic and expensive decor. In shades of black, white and grey -- I had chosen to wear those colors myself, so that I was somewhat camouflaged -- pieces of contemporary design furniture and antiques had been chosen and placed to stand out each, yet make a group statement of affluent elegance. Exactly like their sophisticated clientele would. But as settled, there were no other customers, and the single barman, who would wait on my guest and me.

It was a vast room with high windows opening onto three different sides of the city that, seen from the heights, looked deceivingly orderly. There were no walls nor glass partitions dividing the areas. Instead, precious sculptures and vases topped black marble pedestals, dotting the ambient like landmarks in a calcined garden where only art had survived. Rather minimal. Perhaps too, since its emptiness turned out creepy and I was becoming agitated.

Or was it the handsome barman that was making me self-conscious? I couldn't help but check him out every time I glanced over to the entrance door. Obviously, Gabriel is in town because, like hundreds or maybe thousands of young men that arrive here every year, he wants to be an actor. They have all got the looks, the physique, but meager talents might turn them into models instead. Or even a rent boy like Angelo, depending on what their skills and aspirations are, I suppose.

Here I am, already slowly sinking into reminiscing about Angelo, my ex-boyfriend, and the ten years I have spent in this wreck of a city, eagerly waiting for my past to arrive. 

He is so late -- but I don't care. I am a survivor, and I am used at holding off my anxiety attacks.

My first solo exhibition in an internationally acclaimed museum is opening tomorrow night. My detractors like to stress the fact that Dan Charmand, the almighty director of Vice's Contemporary Art Museum, is my personal friend. That should be the only reason why I was offered this opportunity, states the jealous bunch. I am Dan's boy, they say, or even Dan's toy. But as my artistic mentor, he truly seems to think my work has matured enough. And since I should be getting invitations for the Bienalle of Venice and the Documenta in Kassel soon, he intends to be the first one to have shown my paintings properly -- in a dark room, where he thinks they belong. 

It's a major occasion and a great privilege to have this opportunity. And I'm hoping to be a new man by tomorrow night. Less saddened, less tormented. 

Overnight. Starting this afternoon.

This afternoon should be a milestone of forgetfulness -- or forgiveness. 

And suddenly, there he was! I thought I had braced myself for that moment, a preparation that had lasted twenty years.

But I hadn't. My hands were shaking. I had begun to sweat.


He had never been a tall man. Neither short. 'Average' is how Catherine would have nailed him. His intellect, his tastes, his opinions -- they were all average, according to my mother.

I was thirteen years old the last time I had seen him. He had been one head taller than me. Two decades later, it was the opposite. He looked so small.

My father.

"Ciao Carlo, buon giorno." The hand I held out for him was trembling, and cold. He didn't seem to notice, or care, in our brief handshake. I stretched out my arm, and so did he, and we kept the distance, each in his own trench. "Io sono Laurent." In a moment, I had decided formality would be my shield.

"Of course you are!" He spoke French with a heavy, joyous Italian accent that tasted to breezy summer days spent at delicious meals and long conversations. Days that had never happened. "And you still speak Italian!"

"Just a few words I recall from my childhood..." I was uncertain how to proceed. "Would you have recognized me, Carlo?" To my dismay, my voice trembled each time I pronounced his name. Ultimately, I sounded just like the teenager he had abandoned.

"After me, you're the best looking man in this restaurant. You had to be my son!" Carlo was in a lighthearted mood, seemingly unaware of my nervousness. 

"The restaurant is empty, Carlo."

"It was a joke... Won't you laugh?" Annoyed, Carlo seemed to focus his eyes on me for the first time. "Apart from that, you're on the local newspapers, son. Big pictures. They seem to love your face more than your paintings."

"Is that a criticism to my works, Carlo?" My voice again trembled, this time with anger. "Or is it another bad joke?"

"It's a compliment, son. Have you grown up to be just like your mother... beautiful and elegant, but too serious? No sense of humour at all? Or are you trying to start an argument? Because if you invited me for that, I might as well leave right now."

"I'm sorry. I apologize." I took another deep breath. "I'm glad you have arrived, Carlo."

"And I apologize for being late." He paused, as if choosing his next words. "I'm happy to be here, Laurent."

I knew it was a bluff. He wore a brown suit of Italian cut, smaller at the waist so that his shoulders seemed larger. A lavender colored shirt worn without a tie enhanced his naturally tanned complexion. Discreet like my father usually was, he still stood out as the only splash of color against the monotone background.  Unlike the rags I had seen him wear throughout my childhood in the tropics, and the late hippie casual garb from my teenage years in rural France, his costume looked shiny new and expensive. Elegant and formal like I had never seen him before, my father had clearly dressed for the occasion, denoting our reunion was important for him, too.

Carlo wouldn't have flown all the way from Italy to simply turn his back on me after a few seconds, and return to his hermitage in the mountains. 

You are twenty years late, I thought, and I'm certainly not letting you leave, not again, not tonight! -- but I didn't say it.

Author's note: having been imported from a former version of the story, some of the comments below are dated previous to this post. Once the plot has not been altered, just the pagination, I am keeping them since they are very dear and precious to me.


  1. It seemed to be a rocky start for the father and son. Thankfully the bartender is keeping an eye out for Laurent. :)

    1. thanks for reading :)

      there are going to be many rocks on Laurent's path, too many perhaps... but he can handle them -- he has survived for 33 years now!

      and yes, Gabriel is taking good care of father and son, especially son, I guess :)

  2. It's nice to see Laurent is giving Carlo the opportunity to apologize and make up for lost time and I'm hoping whatever he hears won't turn him away. But they seem to be falling into a somewhat comfortable setting to speak freely finally.

    1. thank you for reading and commenting, Daijahv!

      Laurent just wants to understand why his father has left 20 years ago -- at least he says so, but he might be searching for atonement and revenge...

      the thing is... on the other side there is Carlo, who is no contender. He won't fall easily into provocations, and Laurent might be disarmed.

  3. I just started to read a couple of days ago. After follow you on tumblr and see your posts on TSR, finally decided to read and I'm in love if your story. I can't wait to devour all chapters. Thanks for your dedication and amazing pictures!

    1. Thank you for your feedback, it is so important to me -- thank you for reading and commenting, Fabio!

      Yours is a beautiful name, and I actually thought of naming one of my characters Fabio -- but he looked more like Fabrizio when I made him... He'll be soon joining the plot, and perhaps you know him already from tumblr :)

      I hope you enjoy the story! My dedication and the pictures are to my readers :)


  4. I love the story so far especially the reunion between Laurent and Carlo! I wonder what it is that Carlo has to say. Can't for the next chapter!

    1. thank you for reading and commenting, Sara! It's so important to me.

      I'm so glad you like the story!

      I'm planning 'the last canvas' to be a series of conversations and re-unions between Laurent and important people in his life, so that the story can move forward and backwards in time...

      I hope you'll continue enjoying 'the last canvas'!

  5. Hey there! :) I remember this story from TSR, it's great to see you on your own blog! Will be eagerly reading from the beginning ...

    1. Hello again spladoum! So wonderful to meet you here!

      I'm thankful to TSR for having given me the start for this novel, but from the beginning the gay storyline, the age of the characters and the plot were intended for a mature audience and a different format of story telling, and that's why I've moved it to here.

      This is also a more complete experience, with more and bigger pictures, a notebook where I share the background to the story, and we can also listen to a soundtrack :)

      Welcome, thank you for being here!

  6. Welcome aboard, dear LKSimmer :)

    His reunion with Carlo is the start of a very surprising journey for Laurent, that will forever change the understanding of his own story and how he regards the people involved in it.

    By the end of this night, Laurent might not find the peace and atonement he is seeking for, but he will be a different man!

    I hope you'll enjoy what you read in the next days!

    Thank you for commenting!

    1. the comment above was originally posted as a reply to the comment below by LateKnightSimmer, that has somehow not been imported by Blogger. Quoting:

      Hello, andante zen! :)
      I followed your link from the Sims3 forum site. My user name on the forum is NewtotheSims, but I'm better known by my Blogger name LateKnightSimmer.
      I'm intrigued as to what Carlos has to say to Laurent, and especially curious about what has kept them apart for the past twenty years. I loved hearing Laurent's thoughts about Gabriel. :)
      Will be reading more as the days go on.

  7. This is a very interesting story so far. I must say you're pictures are so incredibly different, but so perfectly fitting to your story. :) Also, I don't think I've ever seen a story in Vice City. Fresh-Prince would be proud! Everything looks absolutely amazing and I can't wait to see everything unfold in this beautiful looking city!

    1. I did share a few screenshots from 'the last canvas' with Fresh-Prince on his FB page, and I placed a link to his site on the character's biographies page -- but I don't think he has ever checked my blog :)

      It was only when I discovered FP's Vice City that the story took shape in my mind -- and most of Book One takes place in different Vice Cities I have customized to become sceneries for 'the last canvas', including the Île du Blanchomme, imaginarily located in the Indian Ocean, that you might visit if you continue reading the story -- 'the last canvas' is a time and space travel in the characters' minds, you'll see!

      Thank you so much for your comment, lovesstorms, and for appreciating the story and the pictures -- every once in a while I am reediting the pictures or adding new ones to past chapters; this is as much fun as writing the story!


  8. Wow nice first chapter. It really did pull me in and I love the screenshots. They were nicely edited too! Thanks for sharing on the community! I'm off to read more chapters!

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting +Kristen DaRay!

      I confess I have rewritten Chapter One a few times until this revised edition, trying to hook the readers while introducing the plot and a few characters of Book One of "the last canvas". I am glad you are willing to read more!

      And thank you for noticing the pictures, too. I have edited them to better suit Laurent's fierce attachment to the past, that is partially demonstrated in this chapter, and that underlines his drive to elucidate his own family story ...



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