Potholes and Magic Carpets
Best Book Bit:
Two middle-aged men who reeked of money that Martin had never seen before, joined him over by the food table as he munched contentedly on a large, mixed plate of nibbles. They ignored him, considering him to be unworthy of their interest from glancing at his casual, non-designer clothes. They were well used to making such shallow judgements on people. One of the men was pointing to the portrait of Sofia. Martin’s ears naturally pricked up. He wanted to hear what they had to say about it. As they started to talk, Martin became increasingly aghast the more he heard come out of their mouths.
‘Do you see this painting of the gorgeous redhead? I’m seriously thinking of buying it, Gustave. It would look splendid in the boudoir of my Mayfair home,’ the Armani-suited, sour-faced, thin Frenchman told his more attractive male companion. The man’s accent sounded comically French to Martin, although that might’ve been because the guitarist had stupidly been drinking on an empty stomach and was tipsy.
‘Good choice, Pierre. I reckon the value will greatly appreciate. The artist has really made her come to life on the canvas. Odd, considering the artist is as gay as Christmas, ha! He’s really brought out her wonderful alabaster skin tones. Her fabulous breasts don’t need much bringing out, do they?’ Gustave grinned lasciviously, licking his lips, partly due to the garlic mayonnaise trickling grossly from the side of his mouth, partly out of lust.
Martin had taken an instant dislike to the two foreigners, mostly because of their ostentatious display of wealth. Pompous disgusting fools!
It suddenly struck him that he might have been slightly too hasty in pushing his girlfriend into posing nude for their friend. It meant vile letches like the two men next to him could now make suggestive comments about her naked body. Maybe he’d not thought it through properly, but it was now far too late for him to rectify the situation. As much as he hated to hear what the two men were saying, he continued to strain his ears while they continued to discuss the portrait and sitter.
‘Oh, I can vouch that her breasts are indeed fabulous, and so is the rest of her fine package. I had those delicious breasts in my hands quite recently, as a matter of fact,’ said Pierre, causing Martin’s blood to freeze mid-bite of his cocktail sausage.
Stifling a huge desire to choke on the flaky pastry, he listened to the men more intently, at the same time trying to hide his alarm from the couple. He swallowed some of his warm wine to wash down the sausage roll. He desperately needed to hear what the Frenchman was saying about the love of his life. The room was spinning from what Martin had already heard him utter in his exaggerated French accent.
‘I actually met the girl who sat for that portrait at a nightclub in town about three weeks ago,’ Pierre continued in between elegantly sipping his wine. ‘She was somewhat tipsy and threw herself at me, eventually demanding I take her back to my house. The girl wouldn’t take no for an answer. She sadly couldn’t stay the night, yet remained long enough for me to get to know her very intimately indeed. We’ve arranged to meet again this Saturday at mine. We didn’t have the time or the inclination to speak much at our last encounter. I want to get to know her better as she’s just my type of woman and far more wild than she looks in this beautiful, yet rather demure painting. I can’t wait for Saturday to come around.’
Martin swayed as nausea flooded his body. His brow broke into a cold sweat of fear, disbelief and disgust. So, was this why Sofia had lately been so preoccupied, telling him she was visiting one of her Croydon girlfriends more often than she ever used to? According to Sofia, she was supposedly spending the next Saturday visiting her mother. Up until a couple of months ago, she would spend Saturday evenings with him at whichever venue his band was playing. The reason why she was no longer keen to accompany him to the gig had now become crystal clear after eavesdropping on the two men. Whether she was ill or not, Sofia had several important questions that he urgently needed her to answer. Without a word to a preoccupied Tom who was too wrapped up in his event to notice his departure, Martin staggered out of the gallery, his brain boiling in tortured turmoil with his clammy hands clenched into tight fists.