Still Life

sleeping cat nam

   “QUITE REMARKABLE!” My tutor, bored by retirement ran art classes, and fell over himself praising my latest piece. He removed his glasses, and looked at me dead on, brushing a grey-black curl from his forehead. “You have a real talent Dimitri. I can see you don’t believe it, but trust me. I’ve been in this field for decades and every so often, a rarity such as yourself comes along, with potential to do great things. Great things!” He finished talking with vigour and looked again at the drawing in his hands. “This piece right here, I could sell for five grand, if you give me time to find a buyer. How does that sound? Sounds pretty dam good doesn’t it?”

“Nobody ever believed in me before Mr. Muir, your words mean a lot. If you can find a buyer I’ll give you fifteen percent of the sale price.” Mr. Muir was about to butt in. “It is only fair!”

His face lit up. “Well ok then. Let’s shake on it!” His rough paint-marked-hand gripped tightly, as if to assert his dominance.

Within days Mr. Muir called me. “Dimitri? You’re not going to believe this. Someone bought your drawing for £3000! If you want to grab a coffee I’ll give you your share. I still have it in an envelope. Haven’t managed to make it to the bank -long pause- are you there?”

“Yes! I’m lost for words. Three thousand pounds?! Wow!”

“By the way, I have a proposition for you. Someone wants to commision a drawing of their cat. Before you scoff, I know it’s a bit kooky, but they are offering £800. I know it’s not three grand, but it’s not pocket money. What do you think? I can arrange it before we have coffee…”

I didn’t like his urgency. “No way! I don’t like drawing people…or cats.”

Choosing words carefully Mr. Muir replied, “Ok, you got me! I already arranged it for tommorow night, at the college studio. Come on! Eight hundred! Do it once, if you hate it, you know that’s not for you.”

I had flashbacks of what happened last time I drew a living thing. Maybe I could control myself?

Feeling pressured I responded. “Fine! This one time only!”

“Fantastic! Great, I’m so pleased Dimitri!” Another 15% pleased.

The next night, several thousand richer, I sat on a wooden chair in the studio, while Maximus the pedigree persian cat squirmed around in its basket, that had been transformed into a Roman era throne by the owner. All I had to do was draw while Mr. Muir engaged Claire elsewhere in the art department.

After some rough outlining I was ready to tackle Maximus. But the dam thing wouldn’t sit still, attempting to abdicate at every opportunity.

Rage built up in me. I thought I could control it.

I snapped along with my HB3 pencil.

Hearing a commotion, Mr. Muir left Claire to finish her tea and entered the studio. Everything seemed normal. Dimitri was sketching away.

“What was that noise?”

I stopped. “It wouldn’t just lie down..”

Mr. Muir came closer. Maximus looked peacefully asleep. “Eh? What do you mean?” Mr. Muir stroked Maximus. Still warm. A good sign. But it seemed a bit stiff, unresponsive. On closer inspection…the king was dead!

“Why is it dead?”

“I tried to warn you. I can only draw still life,” I replied calmly.

Mr. Muir with his head in his hands, shook his head. ‘There goes fifteen percent..How the hell can I rescue this situation?’ And he thought; Claire would ruin Dimitri’s reputation before it had been established. Which got him thinking. If Dimitri could do it to a cat…

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