an anachronism, the brooding artist's demimonde? Near the rue Princesse they had opened a gallery cum souvenir shop which featured fuzzy off-color Monets next to his acrylics, no doubt,
plus beared African drums and the occasional miniature gargoyle from Notre Dame the Great Artist had carved at breakfast with a pocket knife.
"Tourists love us.The Parisians, of course"-- she blushed--"are amused, though not without a certain admiration . . ." The Chateaubriand
arrived on a bone-white plate, smug and absolute in its fragrant crust, a black plug steaming like the heart plucked from the chest of a worthy enemy; one touch with her fork sent pink juices streaming.
"Admiration for what?"Wine, a bloody Pinot Noir, brought color to her cheeks."Why, the aplomb with which we've managed to support our Art"--meaning he'd convinced
her to pose nude for his appalling canvases, faintly futuristic landscapes strewn with carwrecks and bodies being chewed
by rabid cocker spaniels."I'd like to come by the studio," I ventured, "and see the new stuff." "Yes, if you wish . . ."A delicate rebuff
before the warning: "He dresses all in black now.Me, he drapes in blues and carmine-- and even though I think it's kinda cute, in company I tend toward more muted shades."
She paused and had the grace to drop her eyes.She did look ravishing, spookily insubstantial, a lipstick ghost on tissue, or as if one stood on a fifth-floor terrace
peering through a fringe of rain at Paris' dreaming chimney pots, each sooty issue wobbling skyward in an ecstatic oracular spiral.
"And he never thinks of food.I wish I didn't have to plead with him to eat. . . ."Fruit and cheese appeared, arrayed on leaf-green dishes.