Until he came upon her art, he’d trudged through endless galleries of undesire, stood in the
powder-white rooms, crabwalked across the hardwood, sucked on cheese cubes amid the babbling. Fuck
Manhattan. What did Mick Jagger ever see in this town?
Her work bloomed on the walls of the redeemed slaughterhouse, translucent boys and girls, gaunt,
naked, and sweet, perched on the gunwales of their white boat, tumbling
into the greeny water, luminosity of skin, muscles, bones, blood
coursing, purple organs spasming. He could be certain of
her desire, because it was the same as his: to invade what was beautiful and consume its heart.
Soon after he came upon the art, he came upon the artist, pulling on a bottle of chablis at the
coldcut table. She was the artist, he supposed,
because nobody that ugly could have gotten in without being the artist. Up close, he could see that her fine mustache became, in the upper
registers, nose bristles. She was ragged enough that, even though she was the artist, people stood
twenty feet off from her, which was how she seemed to prefer it.
So his intimate approach gave her pause.
In exchange for his name, he learned that:
She didn’t have a car. She didn’t have cab fare. She didn’t have bus fare. She didn’t have a
way home. Or any inclination to look for one, until the security guard finally locked them both out
of the building with their empty green bottle at 2 AM Sunday morning.
He gave her a ride.
The pieces continued falling together in New Jersey, beginning with the decrepitude of her
Paramus home, the mildewed siding, the moldering studio, the crud, grime, scale and litter on the
walls, floors, worksurfaces. Old old old cornflakes in a bowl.
The artist put him on a stepladder above it all, and the artist directed the desire at him, the
desire like his own. By touch, the artist studied the groove in his forearm running from elbow to
wrist, learned it in a quarter of a second using the dirty forefinger with the crusted nails and the
ancient blackening paint, laid down in the whorls of her skin.
The artist suspended his arm in air, where it remained, and she sketched it and gave it color.
The artist showed him his own arm.
He was thrilled at being taken down, possessed, consumed by such an appetite.
The artist, the stooping artist, with the stink on her of ancient inspiration endured alone,
blithely repugnant, came at him again. Unbuttoned his shirt. The fabric sprang back from his
twitching muscles. The artist took him again, and showed him the result, there on her sketchpad.
The artist became greedy, which was the same as inspired, and undid his belt and his fly. His
pants fell and the artist yanked down his shorts, which he kicked into the corner full of caked
and crumpled paint tubes and rancid banana peels. He stood in the midst of desire, which illuminated
the place, while the artist took more of him and put it on paper, and showed him. But it still
remained for the artist to approach with the stained peeling
fingers, grasping, clawing at his skin — his skin now appearing to
her, he would tell himself,
translucent, white, too, like the paintings, and with the purple heart beneath. It remained for him
to feel the artist’s stiff greasy hair on his neck, his chest, his gut, to feel her lips on his
nipples, to feel the woman’s shark-tongue, to smell her foul breath, which made him, the object of
desire, by contrast, that much sweeter. It remained for him to struggle to pull the artist off, to
fall back with his ass in the damp old underwear and moldy paper towels on the floor, to wind his
hands in the artist’s hair and yank as hard as he could to learn if the woman’s hunger was strong,
and to find that it was, to understand that it was stronger than he was, so that when the ravenous
sour desperate mouth found his cock and stretched and moaned and sucked and got it all the way down,
the mouth would need for him to come worse than he needed to come. It remained for him to forget
what awaited him at the end of all this and to think only of feeding her hunger. It remained for
him to writhe on the floor nourishing her desire, stronger than his own.
It remained for him to let go white hot long broad and sweet, after which it would be as hard as
a motherfucker to look at the place or the unlovely virtuoso standing over him at her easel — no
longer aware of him — painting, content. But after he’d unclenched his eyes and dressed, he would
not neglect to take what he’d come for: the newly-made art.