Monday, November 3, 2014

Episode 15 | Brotherhood

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Those were days of being happily lazy.

In the first hours of the afternoon, when the heat was greatest, we took a nap, right on the floor of the master bedroom, that Herr Weissmann, having studied, investigated and experienced the island before building, had placed at the breeziest corner of the house.

We had been excitedly talking about the plans for the house all day long, and I think so much excitement had drained our energy. We feel asleep on the floor, side by side as we had been conversing, where I dreamed...

Dreamed the apparition.

But it was not a remembrance from that morning.

It was a new apparition. Or the same apparition, but more clear, and closer.

And in my sleep, I was not so scared.

Because I was able to distinguish that at the center of the pool of light stood a boy, beautiful like a cherub.

And suddenly, as the apparition took features of something closer to a revelation, my feelings in relation to it radically changed. I felt it soothing me. It was a pacifying experience, as the fear in my heart ceased.

I woke up feeling untroubled, to discover it was about time for our 'movie session'.

The sunset was one of our few daily appointments, and I knew Armand did not want to miss it, so I woke him up with a gentle whistle. Just like I used to, in Paris, when we had shared the same bedroom, but the alarm clock wouldn't wake him. 

"Oh, mon cher Carlo!" Armand always woke up in a good mood, looking restored and refreshed. "I missed you so much! I missed everything about you... Even your snoring." He laughed. "Yes, you were snoring when you fell asleep this afternoon." I was embarrassed, and astonished, for Armand had never commented on that before. Had he always been too polite to do so? "And this whistle... I missed it so much!"

"I missed it too, Armand. I haven't done it in such a long time! But now let's go down to the beach..." I sprang to my feet, and offered a hand to my friend. "Nothing can stop that sun from leaving us..."

I was an only child. My parents had died in a boat accident, when I was two years old only. I had been raised by my grandfather, who was already a widower at the time. I guess this somehow explains why I've always been a loner, or "reclusive", to use the art critic's term. Don't you think so, Laurent?

And Armand had also been an only child... Well, in face of the new events that had recently unfolded in his life, he had actually just been brought up as an only child, unaware of his half sister's existence. But the effect was just the same. He too, was somewhat a loner, and though cherishing his privacy, just like me he longed for a special company.

Our brotherhood, always so strong over the years, had grown stronger and deeper in the couple of the days spent in that paradise to the point of redemption -- redemption of all past suffering, all past expectations and frustrations. Or so I thought.

At the Île du Blanchomme, it finally seemed like I was living in that here and now the zen master would talk about, where there was me and Armand as the only witnesses to the sun, the moon, and the stars.

"Carlo... Mi scusi..." My voice reverberated across the lounge like a crash, and though I was sorry to interrupt my father's narration and drag him from the past, where he was so happily dwelling, my intention was to help him feel at ease. Was he trying to make a confession? "To make a long story short..." He had brought up the subject of my sexuality in the first place... As an introduction?, I was inclined to think. I guessed I had finally figured out the point in his telling me stories about his closest friend, when in my mind we should be talking about ourselves and trying to reestablish connections. 

Suddenly, I could devise a quite unexpected link between my father and me. "Were you and Armand lovers?"

"Gentlemen, may I interrupt you?" Another crash, to which both Carlo and I startled. It was Gabriel, my crush, the angel who doubled as a barman in that lounge perched high in the sky. "The chef wishes to inform you that our salad buffet has just been served."

"Si, che buono! Let's get something to eat, Laurent. I've been talking about starving in that abandoned factory some 30 years ago, then recalling Armand's delicious exotic meals, and it has made me actually hungry! Aren't you hungry, son? We can continue later!" And Carlo stood up at once, following Gabriel ahead of me. He made some comment about the restaurant.

"Your English is very good, sir." I overheard the barman compliment my father.  I didn't know of my father, but I hated getting that compliment, since it denounced I was clearly a foreign. But hadn't I been born a foreigner? My French had the relaxed accent from the islands, making me sound foreign in France. And I had never striven to lose my French accent speaking English. Carlo was fluent, despite his British pronunciation being tinted with a heavy Italian accent, making it sound either funny or charming.

From following his career through Art publications, I knew he had lived in London for quite some time, and that's where he probably got his English from. But I had never learned why my father had left home. One day, when I was thirteen years old, I came back from school and did not find him is his atelier as usual, where the last canvas he had been working on still displayed some fresh paint. Nor was he to be found anywhere else in the house. I was intrigued, but not necessarily alarmed at first.

Nor was Catherine to be seen -- she had gone somewhere to give an interview to some journalist about her latest novel. When she returned, I asked where my dad was. "Gone." she answered, without any trace of emotion. "Forever." she added, while already flipping through a new book she had just bought. "WHAT?!?" I had screamed. "WHY???" But Catherine hadn't answered me.

Much later, she had once said something intriguing about Carlo's mysterious departure. "It was more than time he left. He never belonged here. He had to go live his own kind of life, which did not include us." It had never made any sense, but now... His 'own kind of life'? Was Armand de Montbelle the reason why my father had left? Had they been lovers? Were they lovers still, and now? 

I had always struggled with that "WHY?" And I had wanted, needed an answer. Maybe I was trying to interpret and shape Carlo's narration into that answer I longed for. Perhaps I was forcing it into an answer that could also fit my own private, personal questions, like those about my sexuality and commitment issues. As if my father was the source to all my problems.

"Sir... Won't you have something to eat, sir?" I startled as I heard Gabriel's question addressed at me, and realized I had followed my father up to the buffet, completely unaware. "The meal was specially prepared for you and your guest..." he added, lowering his voice so that my father would not hear him. "Is there any problem, sir? Is anything not according to your expectations?" I realized the handsome barman still wouldn't call me Laurent. With that 'sir', was he implying I was too old for him?

"Oh no, everything is just perfect." I assured him. "So perfect." I couldn't have dreamed of a hunkier waiter, I thought. And I realized my father had already served himself, and taken a table without waiting for me. Was Carlo avoiding me now? Running away from my question? Had I been indiscreet?  Not polite enough? How polite should I be with my own father? Should I respect him -- or could I? "I'd like to meet the chef later, and personally thank him. And in advance I'm thanking you, Gabriel." I tried my best, most charming smile, though I was feeling tormented with the story my father had just started telling me. "For being here on your free day... Thank you for helping. It means so much to me!"

"I'm glad you like everything, sir." He made a funny gesture, which seemed to include himself in that 'everything'. "And I'm so happy to help..." He had a lovely smile, if a bit fake, like it was too beautiful to be true. "I'll invite the chef to come to the dining room before he leaves."

And I'll invite you to my atelier, Gabriel.-- I thought. Such a beauty deserved to be honored. In my paintings -- and in my bed.

next episode

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. Carlo quickly avoided the question about his sexuality but finally it seems Laurent is putting two and two together. Unless like him I'm jumping to conclusions too :P But I don't think so. Carlo and Armand seem very close together though Carlo in his retelling has yet to come to the point he realized Armand's affections. But soon I think he will.

    Catherine seemed ok with leaving Laurent in the dark about the reasons Carlo left but a little angry at the same time. I hope when he did break the news about his leaving it wasn't after she caught him cheating or something. I never understand why people can't just say it up front instead of "moving on" before actually moving on.

    1. thank you for commenting Daijavh, it is really precious to me.

      I would say that there are many variations of putting two and two together, and Laurent might not have considered all options.

      Catherine has indeed left Laurent in the dark about the reasons why Carlo left, but Carlo doesn't seem too eager either in telling them himself. How can he jump onto food like that when he hasn't met his son for 20 years? I'm sure Laurent is starving, but it is another kind of nourishment that he is in need.

  2. The photos of Carlo and Armand at sunset are just gorgeous! It figures that right when Laurent asks Carlo a pointed question, they get interrupted by dinner. Gabriel is quite the handsome guy. Laurent has great taste. :D

    1. The light on the Île du Blanchomme is very beautiful, almost transcendental, maybe because the air is so clear, the horizon so vast, and the light flows freely about, unbound... it's a lovely wrap up for such a beautiful friendship!

      Laurent loves beauty. That's why he chose to be a painter. And he loves male beauty, particularly -- and that's why in his first exhibition he shows male models portraits only...

      And recently Laurent has been quite lucky with handsome guys, though me might not always think of himself as handsome. Gabriel is surely Laurent's type, and it's actually nice that in such a tense situation he can have Gabriel's beauty to entertain and soothe him :)

  3. I think this must be about where I stopped reading because I wasn't on the site regularly anymore. So everything I read now will be new to me! I'm so excited :D

    1. Then I hope you'll enjoy what you read!

      Thank you for reading and commenting, spladoum!

  4. Armand and Carlo are so cute hanging out together. LOL. I like those pictures when they're taking a nap on Armand's floor. :) Whoa what was that thing Carlo saw? o.O Haha, when he saw it at first I was like maybe his meditating brought him to a different level of consciousness or something, and he saw one of the Ile du Blanchomme's spirits. XD

    Aww, I hope Carlo isn't upset because Laurent asked him about his sexuality. I wonder if Carlo knows about Laurent's sexuality. It didn't seem like he did from the way Laurent was talking. Even though Carlo left, I am happy that he is here now opening up so much of his story to Laurent.

    1. Armand and Carlo have really missed one another -- and this now is extra time for their friendship, since they parted without the prospect of ever seeing one another again, because their lives was taking different courses after the École.

      Their exchange has always been deep and sincere, coming from their souls, and it still enrichens both. It is a lovely friendship indeed.

      Carlo is not an experienced meditator, and he has never had the guidance of a true master, so he might be going into the "siddhis" -- which are are spiritual, magical, supranormal, paranormal, or supernatural powers acquired through a spiritual practice -- I hope he does not get stuck nor lost there, since they are not important and are just a step to be overcome.

      I think Carlo is aware of Laurent's sexuality, for they have mentioned -- though a bit superficially and with some embarrassement -- at the beginning of their meeting, about Laurent's lovers and models being shown in portraits at the exhibition... But to Laurent, Carlo's possible liason with Armand comes as a true surprise, since he has only known his father engaged in a relationship with Catherine, his mother...

      Carlo seems to be a peaceful man, at ease with many things in the present, though he was perplexed about these same things in his youth. I don't think he minds Laurent asking him, though I'm not sure he might answer :)

      Both Laurent and Carlo are aware of the precious second chance they are being given with this reunion, and they shall not waste it with superficial chit chat.

      Thank you for reading 'the last canvas' and commenting, LKSimmer!


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