Once upon a time (Part I)...

She pauses mid stride to light her cigarette, her stubby, grime encrusted fingers coming up to frame the flame from the wind. She takes a generous drag of the little white stick and grimaces as if she knows that indeed, it is poison to her very existence but she shrugs as if that, like all other things is out of her control. Her eyes come up in a vague appraisal of her surroundings and they meet mine, staring out unflinchingly at her from the second floor of the three story walk-up on Serenity Avenue.

For a second she freezes, recognition giving way to a nasty scowl. Her other hand comes up. She has given me the middle finger. I don’t miss a beat. I return the greeting. She blinks rapidly. I smile because I know it is the last thing she would expect from me. Then, like we used to, we both drag the finger to our lips; our silent code from the streets. Unlike her, I have been able to leave. She has not been as lucky. Her throne has been reduced to no more than a patch on 14th Street, stripped of the glamour and power she once had. Her hand drops and she moves on. Dear old Clara.

“It is ready” his voice comes from behind me like a wisp of smoke. In the stuffiness of the studio, the air is thick with fumes emanating from paint drying on canvas. It makes my head swim.

I struggle to focus on the huge painting he has presented before me, partially hidden by a swatch of cotton. It is of the famous disney fairy tale character with a twist. Her face is not the typical pale skinned princess of old. It is of another. Mine.

“That is wrong,” I say to him, pointing to me as the courtesan. He has stepped back to regard his work, hesitant, almost begging for my approval.

“That is wrong.” I repeat, “She is wrong. She is not saying what she is supposed to say”

“What is she to say?” his words are a whisper, soft and fearful. I smile because I have expected him to ask me that question in the very same way. This is not the first time, I have come to the studio on Serenity and this is not the first time, I have been dissatisfied with his portrayal of me.

“Look at her,” I tell him, “That is no princess. That is a whore.”

“I have painted her as you asked. Rani, as Sleeping Beauty.” He has come behind me, his breathing raising the soft hairs on my neck. I ignore the shivers. I need him to pay attention to what I am saying.

“Well, she looks like a slut, which I am not.” I turn around to face him “At least, that part of me is not included in this painting.” I move closer, tickled by the sight of his Adam’s apple bobbing uncontrollably in his throat. “Her breasts are wrong. She is a temptress, a promise of pleasures unfathomable to the mind” I take his hand and place it on my breast.

His breathing quickens.

“What do you feel?” I ask of him.
He squeezes. I smack his hand.

“What do you feel?” I ask again. I move into him, standing up to whisper in his ear

“Soft.”

“And?”

“Full”

“And?”

“Warm”

I move away from him. “That is what you are to paint. Fix her tits. If I wanted to do porn, I’d be my sister.”

He does not move. He appears frozen. His hand remains mid air, where my breast would have been. I look at his body. At least one part of him is not frozen and its rising heat is evident against his jeans.

I motion for the table on which his cans of paints sit opened, the smell of varnish slowly spreading to the rest of the room. There are cans of red and blue. I reach for his belt.

“I did say that I wanted hues of purple on the painting.”

It takes only minutes. Expecting any more from him would have been foolish on my part. Still, I allow myself to linger, coated in sweat and paint, allowing the throbbing wetness between my legs to subside. He traces circles on my skin with a finger.

“Where will it hang?” he asks of me.

“I don’t know.” I reply, “It’s not for me. It’s for him. I don’t care what he does with it.”

His lips replace his finger. My belly button is his starting point. My body knows where he is headed. I close my eyes and slip away for a minute.

It is ironic that I lie here, just feet away from the Hotel Phoenixia where only days before, the web of lust and deceit was ripped apart. The earth is yet to settle from the uprising. Jack has left me just as I knew he would. He belongs to Nina. Sadiya is yet to take my calls. I do not expect her to. I know her like I know my own skin; maybe more so because we do have the same skin.

I am thinking with devilish glee what sort of havoc this painting is going to cause when it arrives at the house of whom it is intended when suddenly I realize that Majid has stopped his motions…his touch.

I open my eyes just in time to see his left hand rise up and swoop down to plunge the palette knife into my chest. I am shocked more than anything else. I open my mouth to ask him why but my words become blood, hot, red and metallic. Gasping, I look from the object protruding from the bleeding wound to his face.

He is calm. And then I know. I know as my life pours from me across his table of spilled paints. I know now why my calls have not been taken or returned. It is not possible to return calls to one who has ceased to exist.

From the corner of my eye, I see the image of myself in oil on linen canvas; me, Rani, as Sleeping Beauty.

I don’t fight the end. I lay back and bleed the red for my purple.

39 Comments:

  1. Allied said...
    First!!!!
    Rinsola said...
    ALLIED THIS IS JUST NOT FAIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. Nywayz, I'M FIRST wether u like it or not. FIRST AT LAST!!!!!!!!!!!
    Rinsola said...
    I'm 1st and 3rd. I stayed awake just to be first!, I'ld read when i wake up (lol)
    Allied said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Allied said...
    Oh mine...

    "Make the bitch bleed" from boorishmale...

    and bleed she did... Wow, catwalq i wondered why you named her Rani - Queen, "She is a temptress, a promise of pleasures unfathomable to the mind”

    hmmm.. so many things come to mind. but i will wait for Carlang's Part
    Marin said...
    Very ice and interesting to have written it from the perspective of the victim.Well done Catwalq.
    Shubby Doo said...
    Naming her 'rani'...nice touch... but kai this woman was damned 4rm the start abi?...'Well, she looks like a slut, which I am not...at least, that part of me is not included in this painting'

    Beautiful ending...finally a chance for peace of mind...'I don’t fight the end. I lay back and bleed the red for my purple'... Serenity indeed!

    hmmmm...i'm starting to think that clara is the conductor of this whole orchestra
    Standtall said...
    Did she die? Did she die? i want her to live and see the mercy of God
    Nwanyi Ocha said...
    top 10! - gone to read
    Nwanyi Ocha said...
    Whooooooaaaaaaa!!! didnt see that coming at all!

    if theses are the puppets... who is the puppet master?
    Naijaxpress said...
    The plot thickens....I cannot even try to guess what is next. Just read the next writer's (Carlang's) blog and he is also bloody talented, so can't wait. Majid the painter is interesting. Is he the same as the big tall guy with the leather jacket that smelt of the animal it was made of? The guy who talks like a wise guy from NY? There are so many angles this story can take. My hat is off to you guys as always. Keep the stories coming. Can't wait for Carlang and Overwhelmed.
    Tininu said...
    i think this has been the best sooo far...
    Pink-satin said...
    catwalq has posted!!am offf to read!!i made top 15
    Mz. Dee said...
    14th!!!!!!!! Still in the top 15 lol.
    The story is rather intense and the detailed descriptions just made it a whole lot better.
    Most vivid of all the posts so far.
    Rinsola said...
    Now i'm awake..... Catwalq, great job, WAOH!!!!!!!!!
    NigerianDramaQueen said...
    You write with a mix of ease and sophistication, that would make one think you have been doing this for years.
    You were able to grab my attention without an overtly complex plot or amateurish verboseness.
    My favorite line: 'I lay back and bleed the red for my purple'
    *Loves it!
    Afrobabe said...
    cool...all coming together...imagine being given the finger b4 a knife is stuck in u......

    Carlannnnnnnnnnngggg...I am waiting...
    naijalines said...
    Interesting links. Smooth. vivid.
    Kiibaati said...
    Another twist, delightfully done!
    OluwaDee said...
    9cly written Ms catwalq.
    bumight said...
    this is beautiful...and u write in the present also.
    sub-conscious said...
    omg.. dis is crazzzzzzzzzyyyyyyyyy!!!
    Atutupoyoyo said...
    Inspired. Beautiful. Art is not just the backdrop it is the metaphor for a murder. You use vivid descriptions to emphasize the richness of the muderous collage and then you maintain the parallel with a perfect ending.

    "I lay back and bleed the red for my purple" The sentence should make no sense but yet it is as haunting and captivating as the oil painting.

    Bravo Cat. This is my favourite thus far.
    Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...
    Perfect point of view and smooth narration...

    Last year or so... I read a post from a blogger temmytayo... it was titled 'love me if you dare'... I don't completely who or what the post was about right now... but it's a line that has never EVEr left my head cos it says everything and nothing at the same time. 'I lay back and bleed the red for my purple' is the second line where I've had this feeling in my almost 2 years of blogging... catwalq you are a STAR!
    tee said...
    fantastic writing. very fluid and sure of itself :)

    x
    Toluwa Lase said...
    WOW...very interesting ending...best soo far!
    Naapali said...
    I know catwalq wrote this. Not simply because it says so along with the title but because it reads like catwalq. As everyone before me has commented the closing line is bloody good!

    I must say it was rather confusing reading prior to Carlang's post helping to provide some context. Main reason for this was it introduced many characters and concepts without any contextual placement, and the references were unknown. Perhaps it would have been better if Carlang's post had preceded it. My main point of confusion was thinking the back characters (Nina, Sadiya and Majid) were linked to the angry twin from the previous story. Especially since Rani refers to Sadiya as her twin, and Rani is subsequently bled as requested by the previous stories protagonist. Majid in this story bears no semblance to the leather coat wearing wise guy from Boorish's tale, Sadiya and Rani seem unlikely to have grown up in this neighborhood, Rani (as far as we know) is not married to a geriatric bastard and one cannot fathom why Sadiya would have her killed (if Sadiya had her killed as may be implied).

    I remain rather puzzled.
    Mommy said...
    I read with awe. * I wish I could write the way you all do* sob sob
    You're good Catwalq...You are good!
    Parakeet said...
    I suppose what I like most about this series is not so much the suspense embedded in the storyline but the graphic decription of both the characters and events.
    LG said...
    hmmm?
    so well written!!!
    catwalk rocks!!!
    guerreiranigeriana said...
    absolutely loved this piece!!!....loved that it was written from the perspective of the murdered...the ending was...i don't even know what words to use...catwalq, you leave me speechless...
    N.I.M.M.O said...
    This time difference thing sef. I can never be first here. LOL.

    I actually read Carlang first but I was still awed at the turn of events in both stories. The combination of Carlang and Catwalq is a heady one I must say.

    The observations by the Doc Naapali are valid however - I checked. Is there an editor for this series? I thot Doc was it. Right?
    Ms Sula said...
    The plot thickens...

    The imagery is breathtaking... The details of the description are so precise, one feels like an invisible being in the room...

    But what Majid seems to have forgotten is that (dear Old) Clara is an unwilling witness...

    Then again, why?

    Y'all are good!!
    Baroque said...
    i read this in the morning & was number 8 now i dunno anymore...after
    catwalq was acting like she was confoozed she had to go & kill someone...is
    the 6" scar face with satanic grimace also a painter or he has the painter
    on his payroll...i hope Carlang kills someone else...i want BLOOD!...lovely
    piece from the eye of the dying
    Naapali said...
    @ All
    - these stories are interwoven sometimes, but mainly connected only by location on 14th and Serenity. They are best seen as stand alone works that may allude to or reference other works.

    @ NIMMO
    - the posts are edited only by the writers themselves.

    - I have been doing my own summaries to help me with keeping track of happenings and identifying any connections. A map of the landscape so to speak. As explained on my blog, my main reason for doing it is pure self interest. I don't feature until late in the game and want to maintain the integrity of the stories/themes developed.
    Smaragd said...
    Catwalq, i'll give this story "sehr, sehr gut"!

    i love the twists!

    U have added murder (by a lover) to the already interesting ingredients!

    good job guys.

    I am so fed up of this word verification!!!
    Yessie said...
    GREAT job!!!
    Ekoakete said...
    Wow! Lovely writing Catwalq. absolutely fabulous. Didn't see the attack coming..
    Rayo said...
    Such imagery...damn I have some serious competition

Post a Comment




 

Original Blogger Template | Modified by Blogger-Whore | Distributed by eBlog Templates