For Art's Sake
Published by: eXtasy Books
Author : Kai Lu-Salnikova
Word Count :9025
Publication Date :2013-02-21
Series : #
Heat Level :
- Product Code: 978-1-77111-499-8
You can't help with whom you fall in love; the heart's not that easy.
Beautiful, 22 year old Amelia Fontaine tries to balance college, modeling, work at a dead-end job, and her dreams in Hollywood, but can't seem to meet every demand, especially when the weight of her lovelife is thrown onto the scale. Will a seemingly too-good-to-be-true job advertisement —pinned to a coffee shop bulletin board—help her begin to make demands of her own?
It was just a plain, black and white letter-sized ad tacked onto the coffee shop bulletin board—Amelia stopped there almost every day after work or school to buy a nonfat cafe latte and to engage in a harmless flirtation with the owner—next to a plethora of flyers for concerts, fitness clubs, and missing pets. Sometimes the sugar and creamer table was so crowded with such flyers that one couldn’t find the sugar and creamer anymore, but with her steaming latte in her hand, Amelia was glad this time that she didn’t see the sugar first. The ad wouldn’t have stood out except for the fact that it was tacked to the wall and the word Models was written in bold, black print across the top. Below it, tiny in comparison, were the words wanted for artist, $200 per day. Lower still were little tear-off tabs listing the advertiser’s telephone number. That was all. No name, email address, or specifics. Amelia saw that no one had torn off any tabs yet, and, somewhat shamefacedly, she slyly pulled the ad off the corkboard, folded it in half and slipped it into her purse.
Normally such a cryptic, nondescript ad wouldn’t even capture her notice, but it was so ambiguous—and Amelia was at that moment so unambiguously strapped for funds—that despite all the red flags her years of experience put up, she found herself dialing the number a few minutes after six in the evening, walking the few hundred yards home from the coffee house. In choosing to do so she experienced one of the shorter, more fascinating conversations of her young life.
“Hello?” a mild, male voice answered after four rings.
“Hi, yes, I’m calling about your ad.”
“Yes, the one from the coffee shop in KoTo—models wanted for artist.”
“Oh yes, I only just put out the one flyer today. I was downtown for business and stopped at The Coffee Cove on my way back.” The voice paused for a moment, as if considering, then added, “Come to my studio at one twenty five Robertson Boulevard, Beverly Hills, between Olympic and Pico. Is nine o’clock tomorrow morning okay for you?”
Amelia was taken aback slightly, and looked at her cell phone as if it had unexpectedly nibbled her earlobe.
“I… um… oh…”
“Too early?” the voice continued without emotion, in a flowing, slightly melodic tone that had a curiously hypnotizing effect on her.
“No—no…” Amelia stammered, a bit flustered. “I mean, nine is good, I just thought…”
“Don’t you want to know any information about me? I mean, my name, height, weight, hair color, age, and all that?”
“Would you not like more information about me?” the voice countered, the tone unerringly calm and reassuring, almost like audible silk.
“Well… Yes,” Amelia confessed.
“Good. We can talk about it tomorrow morning at nine, then, face to face. If I can use you, I will. If you can use me, you should. If we can’t use each other, we turn around, and no harm done, correct?”
“I—I guess—I mean, I suppose so. But, the… I was wondering, will there be other models there?”
“I don’t even think you’ll be there, let alone anyone else,” replied the temperate voice in a lighthearted tone, though the speaker didn’t sound as if he was actually smiling.
“Huh? Uh, I mean, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that. To sound so rude, I mean. I just don’t understand.”
“People answer my ads all the time,” the voice explained suavely, polite but not quite familiar, “but when I tell them about my studio and my art over the phone they usually hang up quickly. The two hundred dollars a day—they think it’s a trick, or some kind of bizarre sex thing, or pornography, or some other crazy scam. Their loss. So, I’ve stopped being specific in my ads or over the telephone, and ask people to come to my studio to see for themselves what it’s all about. The few people who have actually worked with me have never complained about their experience. Most of them have come back to work with me again and again.”
What is it all about? Amelia burned to ask aloud.
“Do you prefer male models, or female models?” she asked rather pointlessly instead, nibbling her lip nervously. “Your ad has so little to say.”
“I take both, but that’s irrelevant. Are you a model?” the voice replied, with a precise patience and smoothness that intertwined incongruously with Amelia’s clumsy stammering. “And, are you a professional?”
“I… Yes, I am. Both.”
“And so am I,” the voice rejoindered mildly. “A professional, I mean—who works only with other professionals. You see? I trust your honesty and good faith, so now you must trust me if we are to be successful. I’ll see you tomorrow at nine, if you’ll actually come. One twenty five Robertson.”
“I will,” Amelia began, intrigued and a little scared, but the man on the other end had already hung up. She put her nearly wallet-sized cell phone in her purse, breathed a lungful of cold, night air, and wondered if she was crazy to actually want to go. Her latte had gone cold, she realized.
If you’ll actually go…
She laughed quietly at herself, gave a dollar to a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk, and, after a moment, gave him her latte, too.
“I’ll find a way to make it taste better,” the smiling derelict had reassured her when she informed him it was cold. Taking a glance back a few strides later she saw him removing a small bottle from his grease-stained military parka.
At least you’re honest, she thought, walking into the foyer of her apartment building.
One twenty five Robertson Boulevard, she repeated to herself silently as the 1930s-vintage steel elevator doors closed around her and brought her to her third floor apartment. She decided to study and go to bed early, in order to make her appointment on time.
But she couldn’t study, and she couldn’t sleep, either.
All that night, lying naked on her fold-down bed in the dark, she found thousands of reasons why she shouldn’t go swimming intermittently through her thoughts, even though she had already called Cyril only minutes after speaking with the mysterious stranger to ask for the next morning off. Perhaps this artist was some sort of pervert, or predator… Maybe he was a kidnapper, or psycho, a million times worse than tiny little Cyril and his bad toupees.