Monday, December 2, 2013

Jacques Masterpiece, Part Four

An hour came and went, and with it the rise of a portrait of the couple was created. Jacques invited them over from where they’d been perched on the edge of the fountain, allowing them to see the rough portrait he’d created, the canvas still drying in the dying Parisian dusk.

“Oh my, this is good!” The woman gasped, clapping her hands over mouth in amazement. “Henry, isn’t this good?”
“Better than I thought it’d be,” Henry agreed, stroking his beard.
“If the two of you would like to go to dinner, I will remain here and finish with a few touch ups. Give me an hour, perhaps two, and you will have a finished creation.” Jacques said kindly, setting the canvas back on his easel.
“How much is it going to be?” Henry asked shrewdly, looking slightly askance at Jacques, who merely gave an off-putting grin.
“One Franc, per person.” Jacques said, holding up one slender finger.
“That’s amazing!” The woman gasped, looking at Henry with imploring eyes. “Please Henry, buy the painting.”
“Why so cheap? The materials alone had to cost you at least forty Francs.” Henry pressed, reaching for his wallet either way.
“The knowledge that my art will hang in someone’s home is payment enough for me.” Jacques lied, smiling as he listened to his mother laugh wildly.
“Alright,” The man said, pulling two Francs from his wallet and passing them into Jacques skeletal fist.
“You won’t be disappointed Henry, not one bit.” Jacques said, pocketing the money. “Now shoo! Off to dinner for you while I finish my work!”
The woman laughed as she tugged on Henry’s hand. “Come on Henry, let’s go to that little bistro on the corner!”
Laughing, Henry allowed himself to be tugged along by his wife, leaving himself wide open for Jacques probing fingers to fish out the hotel key card from his back pocket. Slipping it into his sleeve, Jacques waved goodbye to the two, smiling a grin of black gums and crooked yellow teeth. Turning, he sat down upon his stool and began humming a nameless sonata to himself, touching up the painting with dips and dabs of his various brushes, enjoying the scenic view of Paris, the warm summer day slowly fading into a warm summer dusk as an hour slowly became two, and then three.
Jacques smiled when he noticed the two stumbling back towards him, obviously drunk. The woman was leaning heavily on Henry, one strap of her dress slipping down her arm as she laughed at one of his jokes. Henry himself had a faint blush over his face as he continued talking, stumbling ever closer to Jacques and his easel. Folding his hands over his lap after he adjusted his worn tie, Jacques smiled at the two in the dim light of the warm summer’s eve.
“Look honey, the painter!” The woman said, giggling as she pointed.
“I see you two enjoyed your meal,” Jacques dryly commented as he listened to Mother rant about the sins of such debauched behavior, “though I would caution you against wandering the streets of a foreign city after drinking so much.”
“Oh you sound like the stupid waiter,” Henry waved off Jacques warning, dragging his wife around to look at the portrait of the two sitting on the edge of the fountain, “this is our honeymoon, we need to enjoy it!”
“Oh my, congratulations!” Jacques clapped his hands, urging Mother to calm down and let him handle the two of them on his own terms. “Coming to gay ole Paris for your honeymoon, eh?”
“Yeah, we figured we’d see what all the fuss is about,” Henry said as his wife oohed and aahed over the painting, “truth be told I don’t see what the big deal is.”
“I like to think we have a rather lustrous beauty about us, like a refined pearl ready to be set into a silver ring,” Jacques said, moving off his stool, motioning for the wife to take a seat, which she readily did. Looking to Henry, who was giving him a peculiar look, Jacques merely smiled what he hoped, came across as heartfelt.
Henry gave a soft snort, shaking his head. Looking up at Jacques, he crossed his arms while shaking his head. “I don’t see the supposed charm myself… guess it’s lost on someone like me.”
Jacques smiled, turning to Henry. “Perhaps it is…” he mused as he turned to look at the wobbly wife on the stool. Not looking past his own painting, Jacques strode over to it and lifted it from the easel, before turning to Henry, offering it to him. “Here, as a wedding gift.”
“Oh we couldn’t…” The wife began before Henry silenced her, looking at Jacques with an unreadable expression.
“So you’re just giving this to us free? No strings?” He slurred, eyeing Jacques cautiously.
Jacques bowed once more, portrait held up as he knelt down upon one knee. “I insist… think of it as a welcoming gift from France. Besides, you already paid me two francs, remember?”
“…bout time this place paid off,” Henry muttered, taking the portrait from Jacques thin, long fingers. “Was about to say us saving you in the War was a waste of time from what I’ve seen the past few days.”
 Tear! Rip! Cut his eyes out, shatter his bones and crush his fingers! Mother screamed, causing Jacques to wince visibly.
Henry, however, didn’t notice as he gathered his wife in one arm and the painting in another. Looking to Jacques, he smiled and began stumbling back to Le Madison, the hotel they were staying at perhaps three blocks away.
Jacques smiled as he folded his arms behind his back, one hand sliding over the bulge where the keycard was tucked, the other hand gliding over the long knife he had sheathed on his bony wrist.
Jacques turned to regard his stool and empty easel, the tray of dirty brushes and tubes of oil paint. Scooping the paints up in one arm, the brushes and easel (folded up) in the other, he moved to a public trashcan, dumping the lot away with one mighty heave. Straightening his tie once more, Jacques pulled a pocket watch from his coat.
“Ten till seven… hmmm…?” Jacques looked up at the darkening sky. “Best make my purchases before I go home.”
 “No, I don’t know where I lost it!” Henry said as his wife pushed open the hotel door, stumbling drunkenly across the entryway to the light switch, bringing a low luminescence to the cozy hotel suite. Dropping the portrait next to the cabinet below the flat screen wall mounted television, she reached up and pulled the scrunchie from her hair, releasing her hair with a contented sigh.
Turning to look back at Henry, she gave him a shrewd glare. “You know they’re going to charge us for that keycard, right?”
“I know!” He growled, waving his hand in the air as he stripped off his shirt and moved into the bathroom, his voice echoing slightly in the tile room. “Just fucking drop it, okay?”
She held up her hands in defeat before walking over to the phone, plopping down into the chair in front of a menu. Looking over the selection of drinks, Henry’s wife picked up the receiver and dialed zero, waiting for the concierge to answer on the other line. She waited for a moment before pressing the receiver down a few times.
“Huh… it’s dead? How can that be?” She asked aloud, just as the sound of a shower echoed through the hotel room. “Man, I really need a drink! I don’t want to lose my buzz.”
Padding across the room towards the bathroom, she saw the steaming shower stall, occupied by the ruddy skinned body of her husband, before delving into his abandoned pants for his cell phone. Smiling like the proverbial cat eating a canary, she tiptoed out of the room and dialed the number to the hotel proper.
“Concierge desk, ‘ow may I help you?” A stately voice answered, his slight Parisian accent making his English seem all the more elegant.
“Mikael, is that you?” She asked with a smile into the phone, placing one fist on her hip.
“Madam Josie! ‘ow may I ‘elp you theez evening? Are you and Monsieur Henry looking for another round of drinks?” Mikael asked, a lofty smile in his voice.
“Another round?” Josie repeated, before shaking her head and nodding. “Yes, a round of drinks for Henry and I. I’d like a vodka martini, nice and dry, while Henry would like a glass of aged bourbon.”
“Zees I can do for you,” Mikael said with a light laugh, “shall I just charge eet to your room like I did earlier?”
“Mikael, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Henry and I have been out all day.” Josie said her voice full of doubt. “You’re not confusing us for someone else and charging us for other patron’s drinks, are you?”
Mikael gasped on the other side of the phone. “Mademoiselle, I would never do such a thing! But I will make certain that zees is not ‘appening.”
“Good, because we’d hate to not come here again in a few years over something as silly as mixed room orders,” Josie smiled, wedging the phone between her cheek and shoulder, “just try and have the drinks up here as soon as you can, alright?”
“Zees I can do.” Mikael agreed over the line. “I shall see you soon, mon ami.”
“Thank you Mikael,” Josie said fondly before hanging up the phone. Turning from the small desk, Josie made her way towards the luxurious king sized bed, smiling at the two little chocolate mints left on the respective pillows. Reaching behind herself to begin unzipping her dress, Josie smiled wickedly as she thought of a way to surprise Henry before the drinks arrived.
Unhooking her bra and shedding her panties, Josie moved to the bathroom with a silent grace that belied her drunken haze. Turning the corner, she raised an eyebrow at her husband laying spread out in the large bathtub, eyes closed as he rested in an inclined position as water ran into the tub.
“Oh you naughty boy, getting in the tub without me,” Josie purred as she padded closer, sitting on the edge of the tub, trailing a finger along the leg slung over the side suggestively, “lucky for you, I like naughty boys. Scoot over and I’ll show you how much.”
Henry didn’t budge his face placid as if asleep. Josie scrunched up her face… she didn’t like to be ignored, and didn’t like the thought of Henry passing out so early in the evening before she had a chance to use him. Reaching down into the rising water, she flicked some at his face before pulling her hand back in surprise.
The water was ice cold.
In fact, looking down, she could see hundreds of ice cubes floating in the water.
A strong grip formed on her shoulder as a wide hand covered the front of her face, a foul smelling cloth covering her nose and mouth. Thrashing about, wildly pumping her fists and kicking her legs, she beat at her attacker with the vigor of a candle slowly burning out; strong at first, but weakening by the moment.
Going slack in the strong arms of her assailant, the world went dark as her eyelids grew too heavy for her to keep open.
Mikael straightened his vest as he walked down the hall, a tray with two drinks held aloft in his palm on a small tray. The couple staying in room 407 had been very kind with tips and ordered room service often enough to have them request a specific server. Mikael knew he would be getting many more calls tonight as the couple celebrated their recent marriage. Stopping in front of the door, he adjusted his outfit once more before reaching forward and rapping his knuckles on the hard white wood.
Silence reigned in the hall for a few moments before the door unlocked from the other side, revealing a gaunt man with paint smudges on his face, reds and blues.
Unnerved for a moment, Mikael missed what the man said at first, forcing Mikael to stop his beating heart. “I’m sorry?”
“You’re here with the drinks, yes?” The man said in accented English. His teeth and breath were foul, but his eyes glittered with an otherworldly light that made him almost seem radiant.
“Um, yes. Yes, I am.” Mikael replied, faltering only for a moment.
“I’ll take them,” the strange man said, reaching out and grabbing the tray with a steady hand, his other hand snaking out with a fistful of Francs. “This is for your troubles, and to ensure we get a bottle of your finest red wine, preferably something dry. Very dry if possible.”
“We…have a wide selection of wine Monsieur; perhaps you should look into our selection first?” Mikael didn’t want to show up with a bottle of their finest only to discover the man was not willing to pay for it.   
The man pulled out a wad of bills, easily a few thousand Francs. “You may have that, just bring the bottle and keep the rest as a tip. We are busy in here and will need a fine wine to complement our… entertainment.”
Mikael shuddered at the thought of this bizarre man being involved with the beautiful woman that Josie was. Still, this would cover the bottle of wine and grant a marvelous tip… “I’ll have it up within the hour. Will you want that chilled?”
“But of course!” The man laughed, ducking back into the darkness of the room and closing the door, the locks clicking together as they turned to secure the passageway.
Mikael turned and walked away, counting his tip, “That couple, they are good people. Who am I to judge their preferences, no?”

No comments:

Post a Comment