Sloan, in her spiteful mind, thinks it’s my fault she married Gerard. If that’s the case, then I guess I can also take credit in jumpstarting her burgeoning career as “Fetish Vixen.”
See, I recall—quite vividly recall—the day in question:
I arrive home. Sloan is bound naked to a chair. Gerard is painting her this way—inside the orange sailboat with, yes, the hatchet going through it. “You okay?” I ask.
“Oh, I’m fine,” she says. “Gerard said I’d very pleasant features.”
I turn to Gerard. “Is that right?” I say. “Art?”
He looks up from his easel and says, very seriously, “Why yes—Art.”
“Do you have a problem with me expressing myself?” Sloan asks.
I think about it. “I suppose not,” I say. “We do what we can.”
“How much longer, Gerard?” Sloan is getting cold.
“I’m afraid there are no sweaters in Art,” is what he tells her.
I remember, then, certain things about the sailboat/hatchet painting. “Listen,” I say, “you aren’t going to cum or bleed on her, are you?”
Gerard, this time without looking up from his easel, says to me, in so many words, that, in “Art,” guarantees are as good as sweaters.
He was right. And I left rather worried, not knowing that Gerard and Sloan would soon be married and living together, which—for me, especially—was good news. It meant no more bottles of paint, no more brushes, no more canvases, and no more of those resplendent splotches of dried-up excrement.
The courtship, however, lasted only seven months. And though that was the last I saw of Gerard, Sloan kept in touch with him moderately—which, knowing her, was probably a quick cup of coffee, something here and there.
Still, that was two years and one ex-husband ago.
At least that’s what Sloan had heard—through one of her “reliable” sources, no doubt. “Not only that,” she said, “but he now has a daughter. Alabama. I think.”
Sloan wasn’t so sure about the name.
“Looks like he saved his sperm for a different kind of art,” I said.
Sloan was appalled by such an observation.
“Isn’t it funny,” I said. “Our conversations, as sporadic as they are, tend to always revolve around Gerard? In fact, I’ve often thought of him as being the glue holding our relationship together all these years.”
“God, I know,” she said. “Except it isn’t funny. It’s sad. It’s very sad. It isn’t funny at all.”
It was nice talking to Sloan. Really. And it was nice hearing about Gerard. It was nice to know that such a strange and fascinating fellow, someone now missing from our lives, could live on in our hearts through rumor and hearsay. Though, in a way, it’s terrible having to be left with so many unanswered questions.
Like, did Gerard really remarry?
I doubt it. Only Sloan would marry a guy like him.
And his kid—Alabama, is it?—that was too much.
And what about the painting he sold? Was it the orange sailboat with the hatchet going through it? If so, what did he get for it? Couldn’t have been much. I mean, it was rather abysmal. (But why criticize?)
Also, does Gerard still ejaculate on his masterpieces, his immortality?
That, to me, is the real question.
And maybe he does. Who knows?
As for me, I don’t paint—but if I did, I’d probably masturbate on some of my stuff, too. Then again, writing mystery novels (what I’ve taken up since those early, claustrophobic days of not having a stereo) is similar, more or less, to Gerard’s painting methods: just milking one off—all sticky and strange and hardening the surfaces once more. Ending it, as Sloan and I had our phone conversation, like this.