January 1, 2012 Fiction






The Deceitful Artist



Evelyn Adams



The Deceitful Artist

Things became quite clear for Rose when she found the messages online. Three cards in his underwear drawer followed. Then a red silk handkerchief, scented with a flowery perfume that turned her stomach. It must have been hers; the lover must have given it to him, some inside joke carved out of time between coitus. It did not smell like Rose. Since childhood she had avoided perfumes smelling of flowers since her name was Rose. Red silk wasn’t “him” and it didn’t belong to Rose. Such soft fabrics annoyed her, who threw pots for a living. Having burned herself countless times on fired items and the kiln itself, soft things were wasted on her nerveless tips.
Somehow this lack of feeling did not affect her ability to create, to coax the right shapes and curves out of lumps of clay. She was grabbing a lot of attention with the sensual lines, the pronounced lips and the new staining approaches she developed. Two write ups last week and just yesterday, the call for her third show, this one at Bern’s, by far the biggest space she had been asked to fill. It was a validation of all her hard work, but also presented another opportunity. It gave her the perfect environment to do something about her cheating husband.

After a couple of weeks, she had to prepare THE piece. The show was approaching. The clay went on her wheel like it always does. The warm brown lump was wet from water dribbled from fingertips. She inevitably got mud on her cheek, or her forehead, and most certainly her elbow. She brought the clay up in a round column, her hands leaving roads as wide as her fingers. Sweet chocolate milk mud spilled over the top finger, down the rest to meet the wheel and restart the ride.
This piece is important, she thought.
This piece is special.
The mud flowed off the wheel, hit her legs and the tips of her toes. A baptism of water and minerals.
A new technique, she thought to herself. She pressed, and made THE piece wider, thicker. At this point, she brought out the powder Sherry Dousette gave her.

“$20.” She was not a gypsy or a psychic. Rose’s sister Marie had recommended Sherry as a possible showcase for her pottery. Sherry had a small bookstore next to her meditation studio. Rose had felt silly having spilled the story to her, but she felt raw and welcomed. Now the topic was revenge and Sherry had a plan for her. Every plan has a price to put it in motion.
“And what will happen?” she looked at the grey grains in the small bag.
“Justice will be served. Karma!” Sherry was folding the $20 and putting it in a small lockbox behind the counter. She said, her voice muffled and distracted.
“And what exactly does that mean?” Rose was nervous.
“For each action, there is an equal reaction. He will get just the right punishment for his crime. That is the nature of things. It’s a circle. You’ll see.” She patted Rose’s hands where they rested on the counter, the powder hidden by her powerful fingers. She looked into Rose’s eyes and they stood there for some time.
“Ok.” Rose said, breaking the spell. She left Sherry taking inventory of her magic crystals and dream catchers.

She sprinkled the silvery grains over the spinning piece. The raw piece became slightly dusted with it, and gave off a glow. If thunked with her hand, the body of the pot would feel solid like flesh, heavy and warm with the lingering aura of her molding directive.
It was ready for fire. And for battle.

“The new pieces look great!” He lingered in the door frame to the garage she had converted to her studio. She looked up startled at the sound of his voice. She straightened at the waist, having been bent over one of the smaller bowls she was glazing. She looked him dead in the eye. This was hard, now that she knew. She paused and her eyes began to water, then she looked away.
“Yes, I’m happy with them.”
“Everything ok?” She wanted to go to him. She wanted everything all better and she didn’t want him to be cheating on her. She knew she had been distant, the sex was less often, but he seemed stressed with work. They had history, chemistry. Now, all the magic was gone.
“Yes honey. How was the conference?” She wiped her hands on the apron she always wore when working and headed towards him. He sat in one of the chairs she had rescued from the Salvation Army. He always teased her because she was a lover of orphaned things, chairs missing their set, random coffee cups, found keys and dropped pens.
“Oh you know, the usual. Bunch of suits jerking off to their own voices. I did rope in 2 new clients. The only thing is they are both in St. Louis, so it’s going to mean more travel for me.” He was picking imaginary lint off his sweater as he spoke but when he made his joke he looked up, and gave her the eyes.
“More hotels.” She said with a smirk he missed as his eyes were caught, siren song to THE piece. She had fired it this morning and it was resting with a couple other things she had removed from the kiln.
“Afraid so. You sure everything is ok?’ He looked back at her and saw her hands shaking. How inconvenient for a potter, she thought.
“Yes, honey.” She forced herself to produce a natural smile. She thought of what a terrible hit man she would make, and the thought made her chuckle, giving her smile that touch of authenticity to soothe his nerves.
“I love that piece over there, how did you get it that color?” He stood up to wander over to THE piece, leaving his fingers just short of touching the still warm vessel. “Has Sam made sure to protect your rights when it comes to the new staining method?”
“Yes honey, no worries.” He bent down to look closely, made a hmmf noise and turned around yawning. She started to hear a hum.
“Ok, I’m off to have a scotch. Time is the show?” He turned his back to her, getting ready to leave her space.
“7. Can you help me move the pieces? When its time?” The hum was distracting her.
“Certainly, my fair flower…”
And off he went to have his scotch.

She ran frantically around the shop. She couldn’t find THE piece. Dressed up in an impossible dress, she grabbed great handfuls of the girlie fabric and dashed out to the kiln area. THE piece was nowhere to be found.
“Where are you?!?”
She smacked her hand over her mouth to quiet her breath. The pot. She must find the pot before her husband found her.
“ I know you are back here. I deserve an explanation!!”
The show had not gone well.

“ Well, I told Rose, the key is advertising. She needs to get her face out there. Sell herself.”
“It is hard. Pottery is not like paintings. They really play 2nd fiddle, don’t they?”
“ Well, according to my bank account? They aren’t even in the band!” Laughter erupted from the small group of men. Rose felt his hand on the small of her back and her blood boiled. She excused herself.
Often he would downplay her job, especially in front of people. She wondered why she used to think it was adorable, how he had to put her down to soothe his pride. Now she found it infuriating. She pulled her weight. She paid bills.
“ I mean you can’t live these days on an artists salary. She is very lucky to have me out there, priming the pump, bringing home the bacon. Allows her to have her cute little shop and oven. And the pieces are brilliant, did you see that new piece? The one that glows lavender…” And this is when she snapped. The combination of his condescending summary of her career and mentioning of THE piece she had created to punish his indiscretions pushed her over the edge. She slammed her wine glass on the table where wilting cheese and ridiculous cucumber sandwiches had seen better hours. She whirled around in her dress up shoes and lost her shit.
“ IT’S A KILN! NOT AN OVEN! YOU JACKASS!” The whole room was deathly silent. Finally, one of the men standing with her husband couldn’t take it any longer.
“Which piece is the glowing lavender one? I don’t see it here Rose.” Conversations started again and panic rose in Rose’s stomach. Where WAS the piece?? She ran to the coat room, her husband still open-mouthed and trying to regain his composure. Rose had her coat and purse, was out the door and in a cab. She had forgotten the most important thing.

Finally, Rose heard the humming she had started to associate with being in the presence of THE piece. She turned and there it was, on the butcher block table where she swore it had not been moments before. She ran over to the table and as she was about to put her hands on it, her husband appeared.
“Rose, what in the name of all FUCK was that??” The humming got louder. She loathed him and his excessive crass language. Especially since a good FUCK is what got them rooted to this nasty spot in the course of their life together. At least, she hoped it had been good.
“That was fucking humiliating! And to run out like that, what the hell is going on?”
“I know Luke.” She thought she saw a small flinch.
“Know what? What are you talking about?” He did not blink. A flash of red caught Rose’s eyes from within the pot. The silk handkerchief. She had not put it there. But she slowly reached her fingers down to grab it, unconsciously avoiding contact with the sides of the pot. She pinched it between two fingers, locked eyes with her husband and slowly brought the silk out, like a rabbit from the magician’s hat. And there was magic in the air, so Rose appreciated this skittering thought. She dropped it on the table and he looked down. The color slowly drained from his face.
“I don’t know what that is.” He aimed for incredulous but overshot and sounded shrill.
“I’ve also seen the messages, Luke.” This reduced him, made him the size he would be in a rear view mirror. “And I think you re a piece of shit.” Her words were the biscuit from Alice in Wonderland and he grew again, rage coloring his face red. He reached over and grabbed her wrist. The humming grew louder.
“I did it to SPARE you.” He jerked her towards him, but the table interfered and she fell backwards out of his grasp. He turned to go around the table and she found a hand on either side of THE piece. She turned to face him. He looked confused and didn’t watch where he was going. He swayed and destiny landed him at her feet. She raised the pot over her head and the humming grew so loud, she thought her head would explode.
“It’s coming around, honey.”





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