Monday, December 8, 2014

Episode 57 | Interlude 1.2

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I had spent so much time in the queue looking at that guy's back that I immediately recognized him, even though the airport toilet was nearly dark. Just then did I notice that, without realizing where my mind had been, I had already judged the nape of his neck and haircut as sexy, matching his breathy voice. A well-cut suit with an outstanding fabric made that arrogant asshole look also elegant, and his broad shoulders and cinched waist put me in a state of alert, guessing a great body in disguise.

Upon approaching him at the sink, I realized that he was also beautiful. Not just handsome, not ordinarily pretty. A male beauty indeed, with a sort of exotic perfection that not even the flickering green emergency light could diminish.

Though seemingly too young for my standard of good intentions, in his early twenties, the guy had a prodigious beauty that aroused my desire. I had always regarded a classical face higher than a sculpted body -- but the executive seemed to have both. I was not into bathroom encounters, yet exceptions were to be raised. And that day especially, I thought I deserved to claim revenge on life.

During the period I kept coming to Vice City from 2008 until 2009, I had had a strange involvement with Gabriel, the handsome and helpful waiter from Nirvana Lounge. At first purely sexual, the frequency and length of my subsequent stays in the city had gotten us into a more steady relationship. I happily followed his career launch, as he had gotten small roles in several films, and though his dream was the movies, he was working as a supporting role in a television series.

But despite the good intentions -- that I now hardly ever cultivated towards guys --, we had never taken on that relationship, nor ourselves as a couple. I knew Gabriel kept having sex with whom and whenever he wanted. And I had the same freedom to go to bed with the guys I felt like -- mostly Darren, my best friend in Samsara Heights, that had provided me with my first threesome when I was twenty four, and with whom I had over the years kept the benefit of having sex. But when I was in Vice City, Gabriel preferred my hotel room to his own tiny kitchenette, and the restaurants that I took him to were much more appealing than the staff cafeterias he usually ate at. We were together everyday when I was in town.

I had no expectations nor did I fool myself about Gabriel who, despite the angel's face and name of an archangel, was anything but angelic. After Angelo, looks and names wouldn't deceive me anymore.

During those first months, when my scandalous exhibition had turned me into a local diva, and since during the year that followed I had remained being an object of desire in bars, nightclubs and restaurants that we went to together, Gabriel thought it was interesting to be seen by my side. And to apparently 'own' me. My notoriety turned me into his most valuable possession. But when in early 2010 he had found a theatrical producer who was not only able to promote and support him, but was also younger and more fun -- and definitely more famous that I had ever been, Gabriel had dumped me. 

Even though knowing that the angel was not much more than a social and professional climber, using his great physique and good looks as his wings, my fall was still hard, and I was hurt -- and it still was hurting, in fact, for our final conversation had taken place that same morning. 

I was surprised when he had knocked at the door of my room. But then, he had been coming so often to the hotel to stay with me that he wouldn't even be announced anymore. Each time I met him, he would be impersonating some new character -- that once, he had squeezed his powerful body into tight black shorts and a dark tank-top a few numbers smaller than his. As a finishing touch, he wore menacing bracelets and buskins where thorns could be spotted, all in contrast to his beautiful golden hair cut in a Chanel like fashion, that made him look somewhat feminine and younger. The overall impression was of an underground, wicked Lolito -- and I was not impressed, nor interested.

Finally, it was all over between us -- even the casual sex we still had sometimes after he had dumped me --, when I did not agree to participate in a threesome with his new partner. "We want to make a 'manger-a-trois' with you." had been his ridiculous invitation. Not only did Gabriel sound stupid when he tried to speak French -- mistaking 'ménage' for 'manger' made me burst laughing for a whole minute or more, and for once he lost his seductive pose. 

"Do you want us to cook together, is that it?" I replied, and continued laughing. He just left, feeling humiliated yet not knowing quite why, and since he hadn't mentioned paying the money that he owed ​​me, I decided not to ever charge him.

"I was being a prick and I know it!" I heard the beautiful guy's husky voice next to me, and I landed back at the sink. "I'm sorry."

The bathroom was not empty, and in there were other passengers who had been in the queue as well. But the guy directed his apologies at me.

"It's ok..." I did not want to say anything else. "Be kind to unkind people; they are the ones who need it most"... I recalled the practice, but I wasn't in the mood to be nice to a stranger in the bathroom of a chaotic airport, nor was I any longer considering heading to the closest stall to have a quickie with him. Having concentrated on my breathing during the time I had queued, I had controlled my anger, and I did not want to fuel it again -- nor any lust. 

I was about to walk away when I noticed that he was still talking to me.

"It was like a bad joke. I should have flown last night, but yesterday the delivery of a painting at my place was delayed, since it did not fit in the elevator. It had to be hoisted today, but the blackout made it thoroughly impossible." The executive gave a beautiful, ironic smile. "I really wanted to see the painting on my wall, but I waited for nothing... You know, it was a gift I gave myself in advance, for the contract I would sign today... but if the contract is not signed, I will probably have to return the painting... and the wall on which it will hang too, haha!" The young businessman laughed with sincere sorrow, and despite my previous antipathy, I could understand and sympathize with his distress and anguish. "And I still had to go down  fifty floors by stairs!" He puffed.

"Wow, this painting must be very important to you!" I was definitely curious. A fancy new car, a huge television, a wine's shipment... that was the kind of stuff that seemed to be important for a guy like him, or even for most wealthy people... But a painting? Art? That was really off the curve... and yet, right up my alley.

"I have always wanted to own a Gerhard Richter, and only now could I afford one... He is a German painter..." I think he mistook my astonishment  for a certain imbecility, and he tried to justify his extraordinary attachment to the painting. "He is fairly well known... But it doesn't matter!" He finally exclaimed, giving up explaining it to me, as if it were something I could not understand.

His dismissal had been a bit rude, I thought, and I was quite baffled. "Richter!" I finally reacted. "You got a Richter!" I was stunned indeed. The guy seemed to be elegant and have good taste, at least his appearance told so, but now that I was aware of his taste for Art, I was even more impressed. Delighted. And such a painting from the contemporary master, big enough not to fit into an elevator, should have cost a fortune!

And there was something else. While the guy was telling me how he had found the painting and how he had acquired it, seemingly excited to find another mortal who knew and liked Gerhard Richter, I could take a good look at him. 

Even in the dark, his beautiful blue eyes shone with childlike joy. He had a tanned skin almost like an Hindu's, the features were of a classical statue, though his mouth fullness was more to Angelina Jolie's. It was as if the most disparate aesthetic sources had converged to create a result of intense beauty.

"You're an actor, aren't you?" The daydreaming that his beauty had inspired was interrupted when I heard that question which was so common and I so often had been asked in Vice City, having been through town in Gabriel's artsy company.

"No. I am a visual artist." I answered, blasé and indignant.

"Sure! That's why you knew Richter!" He looked at me more closely. "I know you! You did an exhibition here in town... At Vice's Contemporary Art Museum, wasn't it? That 'Dark Room' show..."

Ooops... The 'Dark Room' had been an strategy of Dan Charmand to draw public to the show. As the floor of the room was already black, he also had the walls and ceiling painted black. My naked self-portraits, all faceless but very explicit, and the forty five male models portrayed by me, each one depicting only a face, lent my exhibition "the claustrophobic, electric atmosphere of a Dark Room in a gay club. A great sexual tension permeates the air, as if at any moment we would be assaulted by some of the beautiful, lustful men that face us with intensity and insistence from the portraits by young D' Allegro." A single critic had used that bombastic analogy, but from then on 'Dark Room' was how people had referred to my show. They were stimulated by Dan himself at the press releases, since that nickname was attracting a larger audience. And even more so after the scandal when two guys had tried to shoot a video in the museum, having sex with the black aluminum sculpture that was my life-size naked self-portrait.

 "Laurent D' Allegro." I took the chance to introduce myself. "Did you visit my show?"

For some people, through the 'Dark Room' -- who still recalled that my exhibition was originally called 'Portraiting Dorian G'? -- I had become a scandalous celebrity; for others, like Fabrizio, a media aberration. Would he have recalled the embarrassing detail added by Dan, when he decided to place my self-portrait with an erection -- the last canvas I had reluctantly delivered at the museum -- right at the top of the stairs, so as to be the first painting that visitors met? It was shocking, and I did not quite like Charmand's choice, but I had to submit to his will. For some time, it had been quite common to see photos of my anatomical details, front and rear, on several internet sites.

I realized how the executive guy tensed and grew cold toward me -- probably considering me grotesque and distasteful.

"No, I have not had..." and I was sure he would say 'interest', "... the time."

Though already impeccable, he suddenly turned to the mirror to straighten his tie and the suit. It was his pass to leave. "I think I'll go back to the counter to see if there is any new information!" He apologized,  while already walking away. "I cannot believe I'm still stuck here! A blackout of this magnitude right today! I cannot believe my bad luck..."

I was hurt with the indifference and coldness with which he suddenly treated me, from the moment when he had identified me as the notorious 'Dark Room' artist, as opposed to my own interest, that had just awakened towards that gorgeous man whose supreme object of desire was a painting by Gerhard Richter. Or I guess I was just trying to save my image and reverse the damage. Maybe also sincerely trying to help the executive who again seemed to sink in the hard economic mishaps -- whatsoever, I was led to appeal to my spiritual guides.

"If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worryingIf you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying?" As the young executive looked at me puzzled, and in that airport bathroom such wise sentence sounded like cheap self-help, I tried to clarify it to him. "It's Shantideva,  an eighth century Buddhist master" I observed with concern as the hunky guy raised his eyebrows, yet I continued "who has said it... It's part of a book, A Guide to the Bodhisattva 's Way of Life... the Dalai Lama often quotes it..." I seemed to set a trap to myself in my own explanations, getting lost into further complicated clarifications. "You've already heard of the Dalai Lama, haven't you?"

His expression was blank, indicating he hadn't. "I'm sure this is an interesting Way of Life, whatever it is... But now I really need to take care of my own life." He simply dismissed me. "Thanks for the chat, Laurent. And have a nice trip!"

And so I watched that impressive man leave without even telling me his name. But I also thought, and I was relieved -- no more gorgeous men for me! I had just gotten kicked by one that morning, and I was already interested in another? No, enough from the roller coaster!

But we would meet again at the magazine stand. The situation at the entire airport was chaotic. The vending machines had stopped functioning and there were long queues to buy cold food and warm drinks. People were angry, confused, and frustrated when their phones and computers had stopped working and they could not recharge them. There was no music, the TVs weren't working, and the speakers would only repeat the same emergency warnings. Added to an atmosphere of irritation, boredom and lethargy spread among the passengers waiting to embark like a contagious disease.

At least I had the beautiful executive to entertain me. His profile was absolutely perfect, perhaps the most beautiful I had ever met in my personal and professional life. 

I was even considering starting a new conversation with him, to talk him into posing for me... I always pictured just the faces of my models, being my own the only nudity I explored. But ever since the 'Dark Room', my art had been classified in its entirety as adult erotica. "Noses, mouths, chins... the young D'Allegro seems to display them with the same intense sexual charge that he paints his own intimate parts" Art critics seemed to enjoy going wild in their reviews about my art. And the elegant executive did not seem very interested in my infamous fame.

It was actually one of my current grievances with Dan, and one of the reasons for asking him not to renew the series of workshops at the Museum for 2010. I needed some time away from Vice City to clean my personal image. That had been another difficult conversation from that stay in Vice City, Dan and then Gabriel. The blackout seemed to come to crown it all.

"What's the name of the self-help manual that you mentioned?" I could hardly believe it when the guy approached me again. His sensual voice seemed to hit my bowels directly, and as I faced his beauty again, I was dominated by goose bumps.

"Hum, I think this is not the kind of book they sell in an airport," I tried to collect myself, realizing I was being  given a precious second chance. "But we can have a look... it's not quite a self-help manual..." I knew it was useless to search for it, but I grabbed the opportunity to enjoy his company a bit longer.

"Thank you for helping... By the way, my name is Fabrizio Caprice. Sorry, I forgot to introduce myself earlier." I almost sighed at his charming smile directed at me. His handshake, like I was expected, was firm and manly -- but not as brisk as his other attitudes were, and I felt his hand had lingered in mine a bit longer than usual, as if enjoying the contact. There had been a slight electric shock, too.

After all, my invocation of the Buddhist masters had given Fabrizio a better impression of me,  superimposed to that of the sensationalist artist. And, like me, he had liked my 'profile', and within the boredom and chaos that paralyzed the airport, someone to talk to about Gerhard Richter and the art market did not seem a bad option. In fact, he had been as surprised as I upon finding someone with that kind of interest in an ordinary encounter -- because among his friends, his involvement with art was looked upon rather as another game or an extravagance.

"You know, it was the most sensible advice I've heard in a long time... but it also seems a bit defeatist, don't you think?" he inquired.

I had heard His Holiness the Dalai Lama's explanations about Shantideva's sentence a few times, and I explained it to Fabrizio the best way I could. But we did not have much time to talk because, half an hour later, we were called to the counter. The situation had normalized and we would finally embark.

And again we parted -- he didn't have to wait for the first class call, while I queued for the economy. But after all, we were on the same flight to Samsara Heights, on the West coast. I was thrilled with the perspective of seeing him again at our destination.

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