It was my week to drive, we were late, and, technically, I was drunk. The Dodge wove between lanes and we were still an easy fifteen minutes from the Tyler parking lot, then another five-or-so to the painting studios.

TylerArt3

“You okay?” Ron asked. He had to be drunk, too, having just dropped me off from a long Friday night three hours ago.

“Yeah, sure.”

“Kinda fast. They don’t care if I’m late.”

“My guy does. We have a model, and he locks the door.”

“Oh.”

“Fuckin ‘oh’ and we made the light.”

I grabbed my box of paints, brushes and the rest of the crap and a couple tablets. “Later, Ron. Lock the car.”

I pushed in through the building entry, charged the stairs, dropped a goddam tablet, went down after it, back up the stairs, down the hall and to the studio.

The studio is generally as quiet as a church when there’s a model. Inhibition may play as large a role as respect—but it’s quiet. I pressed the door latch softly, hoping, begging that it wasn’t locked. It wasn’t. I entered and tip-toed between crowded tables, grad students and easels with my supplies sticking out both sides like a tinker’s cart. The model, a blond young woman, my age, stood naked with a plant on an elevated platform in the center of the studio. There, in the far corner, a space. I turned sideways to squeeze in and my cargo exploded! Jars, metal boxes, about a thousand pencils, tablets splayed, and a chair toppled. All eyes on me, including the model’s.

From across the room, the professor said, “Beautiful, isn’t she?”

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