Twenty-first Century Cristo, a short story by StevenHunley. Date added: 2011-05-06. Times viewed: 2015.
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- Intro: A man describes his lover's house
Twenty-first Century Cristo
Now I’m in her hideout and she’s gone to the store and I told her I’d probably write about the place, you know, a description. But I want it to be different. I’ll do it all objective-like.
Like I wasn’t here last night. Like I don’t know a thing about what happened at dinner after she sat on my lap. Objective as the devil, that’s what I’ll be. Like a detective describing the scene of a crime, a crime of passion. What exactly is a crime of passion anyway?
I know what a crime is. It’s something you get away with if you’re successful. Makes you all warm in the stomach. Passion is sort of the same. Like you’ve just got away with something you didn’t quite deserve. That’s how I feel now. So I guess it was a crime of passion. I’m going to describe it just like Sherlock Holmes or I should say, just like Conan Doyle.
I take off my deer-stalker hat and look around. Upon close examination I notice immediately the house belongs to a woman, an artist.
On the walls are copies of a Degas and a Klindt and two original acrylics of Magdalena Carmen Frida Calderon. The Fridas are signed by the woman in question. So D.H. Lawrence and Diego Rivera had something in common after all. They both had Fridas.
Her CDs are stacked neatly---all girly stuff. Yes, definitely the home of a woman.
Natalie Cole, Annie Lennox, Josh Groban, never trust a guy named Josh, they may be “joshing” you. Amy Winehouse and Billie Holliday too. My sincere apologies to Lady Day for saying she sang girly-stuff. Lady, please don’t slap me when I get to heaven.
In the corner there’s a carefully placed red love-seat. It looks quite comfortable. It has soft-to-the-touch, almost velvet-like cushions. Tossed carelessly across one arm is a slate-blue angora sweater, size small. This smacks of a preference of someone’s sensuous sense of touch.
At the foot of the seat beneath that is a pair of vintage black high-heels, size six and one-half. The fabric is lacy. It shows a lot, but not everything. From these two clues I deduce that the woman has class. From now on, I will refer to her as The Woman.
“Elementary,” I said, in the Sign of the Four.
I immediately want to meet The Woman who lives here.
I have to think, so I pull some tobacco out of my red-velvet Persian slipper and start puffing on my Meerschaum. Don’t assume I’m a dandy and smoke the best. As I said in The Sign of the Four:
'I have been guilty of several monographs. They are all upon technical
subjects. Here, for example, is one "Upon the Distinction between the
Ashes of the Various Tobaccos". In it I enumerate a hundred and forty
forms of cigar, cigarette, and pipe tobacco, with coloured plates
illustrating the difference in the ash. It is a point which is continually
turning up in criminal trials, and which is sometimes of supreme
importance as a clue. If you can say definitely, for example, that some
murder had been done by a man who was smoking an Indian lunkah, it
obviously narrows your field of search. To the trained eye there is as
much difference between the black ash of a Trichinopoly and the white
fluff of bird's-eye as there is between a cabbage and a potato.'
Me, I smoke black shag. I light up and continue to scan the room. I carefully note:
A Tiffany lamp in the corner.
A bookcase filled with books from Faulkner to phrase-books, Italian. Then a stack of art-books eighteen inches high. Then something quite singular.
It’s a sculpture.
The figure of a girl-child life-sized, sitting on a chair next to the books, all made of brown paper. Another original work.
My powers of deductive reasoning tell me this woman is an original, a reflection of all women, yet a rare singularity.
Let’s see. What have we got so far? An artist, a student, an original, one woman in size petite. Well read, creative, maybe short, maybe tall, but the combination of the small sweater and the high-heels leads me to believe that’s The Woman is short. Oh, and The Woman in question is also good-smelling. Her sweater carries her scent. One must observe using all the senses.
But enough of the objective detective. Romance refuses to be left out.
Wasn’t Edmond Dantes sent to prison for a crime of passion too? For loving a woman, wasn’t it? And the jealously of Danglars. Same as me. We share the same crime, the same guilt. We are in love with a beautiful woman.
Let’s toss the detective viewpoint and get real subjective for a change. Let’s talk about what I know for sure and dump this pretend speculation.
Like fine-wine this woman is mature, valuable and rare. I also argue that she tastes good, that there’s a sweetness about her that can’t be denied. She’s my equal and capable of putting me in my place and straightening me out when needed. Sometimes I need straightening ou
She’s got a mind, so when she talks I listen. Her hesitations speak as much as most women’s sentences. She speaks the language of love, the only one in which I am completely fluent.
No wonder she’s turned my head.
No doubt I’m captivated and a prisoner of love.
No question that’s why I’m right here, right now, sharing serious moments with her.
And why not?
She’s making a bench out of corks for her paper-girl to sit on. Found art. Recycled art.
She never wastes a thing. Not a word or an emotion or a moment. Not a breath. No emotion that shows on your face or in your voice escapes her notice.
In the morning, after I toss the cork from last-night’s champagne into her basket of corks, she feeds me hot buttered-oatmeal with apples and cinnamon. Coffee from Java. I’ve always wanted to call my coffee Java. She adds hazel-nut creamer. She spoils me with breakfast spiced with intelligent conversation. Then whole-grain toast with weed butter.
Strong coffee and strong butter give you the buzz that the day requires.
Her recipe for femininity is:
One part girl
One part woman
One part pure inspiration
Add a measure of spontaneity shaken, not stirred, a la Bond, James Bond.
When you get treated by a woman like this it makes you feel so affectionate, like you want to do her right there on the dining room table.
When you hear a pretty girl like her, who smells this good say,
You get an emotional erection that lasts you all day. Sort of lifts your spirits.
So I admit to the crime of passion and that it was pre-meditated. I’m guilty as sin. I’m ready to be condemned to the Chateaux d’If in Marseille harbor, am more than prepared to be thrown into a cell like Edmond Dantes, and dig my way into the old man’s cell next door with a only a spoon for a tool. I’m quite ready to exchange my body for his, sew myself into his death-bag and be tossed into the cold waters like so much Euro-trash.
But I’m also ready to rip my way out and re-invent myself into the twenty-first century Count of Monte Christo, and return to this crime scene and sweep this woman off her tiny feet.
And remember, I was not alone in committing this crime. She was, in fact, the first.
She stole my heart months ago.
I am convinced we should share the punishment and serve out our time together.
Yes, I understand that I should not mock Holmes and Watson and that Conan Doyle fans have a reason to be upset. All the singers and artists too. To those people I deeply apologize but then again, art begets art and,
"True, I have raped history, but it has produced some beautiful offspring."
— Alexandre Dumas
And after all is said and done:
Mastery of language affords one remarkable opportunities."
— Alexandre Dumas
I know what you are all thinking, it’s:
I would escape if I could.
But reading is hard when the window is so narrow. Why, it’s hardly the width of a man.
So, the end.
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