So…I have had a story in my head for some time now. I have it all written in there. Really. I can see it and hear it and feel it from start to finish. Maybe that is it? Maybe I have it complete in my head so don’t feel the need to finish putting it “on paper”? I do run into that. But I really want to finish it. Maybe the truth is that it just sucks and I am trying subconsciously to save myself from complete and utter humiliation? I have killed more than one story for that reason. I don’t know.
So…I will post what I have written so far, the part that has made it “to paper.” I want to know some things. I want to know, of course, if it sucks. Be honest and save the world from another badly written, badly conceived bit of babble. Whether or not it sucks, I really would like to know your feelings on the main character. I want to know what sense of him comes through. DO you get a sense of him? What gives you that sense? *laughs* Part of that question is inspired by my son’s English class. They are learning about characterization and I used this story in progress (more or less) as an example of things that start to give you a sense of a character. But mostly I just want to see what I have written through the eyes of the reader, to get a sense of whether what I am attempting to do is actually working. I’m usually afraid to actually ask that of anyone but ‘he who points out things’ because he has a way of making “it sucks oak root” sound positive. I do love him for that.
So… (yes, I say that a lot) here is what I have so far. Please feel free to be honest. Please also feel free to tell me why I should or shouldn’t just watch hockey and forget about writing.
Crime Scene (working title)
“So you’re a photographer?” she asked, leaning closer to him. Up until this point her interest had been more polite than anything else. He knew that. It was always the way. It was why he always found a way to introduce that into the conversation.
“Yes,” he replied with a smile. “You may have seen some of my work. I’ve had several showings at the gallery down the street.”
She tipped her head slightly to one side. Her dark red hair brushed her bare shoulder, and he noticed how it almost shimmered in the slightly dim light of the bar. Natural? Yes, it had to be. Her skin had that creamy pearlescence that only belonged to red heads born from nature and not from a bottle. Beautiful skin. Smooth, flawless skin. He could almost feel its softness on his fingertips.
“Maybe,” she replied. “What type of photos were they?”
He smiled. He doubted she even knew there was a gallery down the street. “An assortment. I like to take pictures of beautiful things. Sometimes they are things that others don’t realize are beautiful—until they see them through my lens, and my eyes.”
He made a “picture frame” with his fingers and held them up in front of her. “You have perfect bone structure for the camera. Has anyone ever told you that?” It was a line, but it was true. Her features were sharp, clearly defined. The right lighting would cast them into a spectacular display of angles and planes. She would be stunning in black and white. Though the dark, rich redness of her hair would be lost. Black and white and red… Stark contrasts. Yes…
She laughed, a giggling sort of laugh that irritated his ears. “Do you really think so?”
He noticed a slight blush had crept into the white of her skin. He preferred it pale.
“Yes,” he responded, lowering his hands. “I would love to photograph you sometime.”
“Oh, I’d love to pose for you!” she blurted out excitedly.
Sometimes it was easy…
He looked at his watch. It was early, for a Friday night in the city. “I have someone coming over to the studio in an hour. But if you like, I’ll call and cancel.” He smiled and leaned closer to her and whispered in a conspiratal voice, “I’d much rather shoot you. I am inspired.”
She giggled again. He hoped she wouldn’t do that while he was photographing her. It wouldn’t suit the pose he had in mind.
“Do you say that to every girl you pick up?” she asked as she laid her hand upon his forearm, her fingers playing with the sleeve of his shirt.
He could see it in her eyes, in the way she looked at him from under her lashes. She would let him do more than just photograph her, if he wanted to.
Did he want to?
“Only when I am sincerely inspired.” He looked into her eyes. Cerulean blue.
Did he want to? Oh, yes.
* * *
“Are these yours?” She was looking at the array of framed photos that greeted the eyes as soon as they walked through the door to his apartment.
He nodded. “They are some of my earlier work.” He watched her as she examined each one. They were mostly candid shots of street people, captured in the act of creating accidental beauty. The one of the old bum rummaging though a trash bin, holding a half-wrapped part of a discarded sandwich in one hand, the other hand reaching down to offer a piece to a pathetically thin cat was his favorite of the time. The thought of two of life’s forgotten sharing a scavenged meal was poignant. She passed by it with barely a glance. He could see…was it disappointment?...in her eyes when she looked up at him. There was no glamour in those photos, no beautiful women in artistic poses. Doubtless that was what she had been expecting.
He took her hand and smiled reassuringly. “As I said, those are my earlier work.” He led her through the living room toward the back of the apartment. She looked around and he could see indecision in her body language. He could almost read her thoughts. On one hand, he said he would photograph her, that he was inspired by her. But on the other hand, what sort of picture would he take? She wasn’t a street person. Did she want to put out if he wasn’t really that good a photographer? He could feel her looking him over, deciding whether or not he was worth having sex with for nothing.
“These are more recent,” he commented as they came upon another display of photos. He heard her sharp intake of breath.
These were different. But then, so was he. “Do you like these better?”
He did. Especially the one of the pretty young blonde girl. She had been what, 16? Or had it been 17? It didn’t matter since she never reached 18. The person who had raped her and stabbed her and left her body lying on a doorstep in a back alley had seen to that. But even in death she was beautiful. Her face was unmarred, its innocence and sweetness would never fade, held captive forever by his camera.
“They look like crime scene photos,” she said quietly as she moved slowly from one to the other.
He nodded. “They are. It pays the rent and lets me pursue the more creative aspects of my art.”
She touched the face of the young girl. “She is beautiful. She must have been even more beautiful when she was alive.”
That annoyed him. It was his lens that had given her everlasting beauty, his eye.
“She was not as beautiful as you.” It was not a lie.
She continued to stare at the photo, wrapping her arms around herself as if she felt a chill.
He put his hand on her shoulder. Her skin was soft, so soft. “Let’s go into the studio and I’ll show you my latest work.”
She smiled up at him, and he thought he could almost see relief in her eyes. “When we came in and I saw it was your apartment, I wondered if you really had a studio or if that had just been a pickup line.”
He smiled and opened the door. He bowed slightly and gestured inside the room with a sweep of his arm. “As you see, I really have a studio.”
The room was about the size of a large bedroom—a similarity that was reinforced by the presence of a large, elegant bed.
She giggled. “You have a bed in your studio? Is that for before or after the photo session?”
He laughed with her. “Actually, it is for during. I find it is often an ideal setting for some of my shots.”
She looked around the room. “You said your most recent work was in here. I don’t see any photos on the wall.”
He shook his head. “I don’t display them. Not yet. They are still too much a part of me.” He doubted she would understand that. No one would quite understand it…yet. Someday…
He crossed the room and opened a drawer in a small desk. “Come here,” he said as he took out a portfolio.
The photos inside were, in some cases, even more shocking than the crime scene photos. They were all of beautiful women, all obviously dead, and all had just as obviously been sexually assaulted.
He watched her closely as she looked at each one. “They are all staged. Unlike the other photos, they are all models and the scenes posed.”
Her release of breath was audible. “Thank God!” she exclaimed, placing her hand over her heart. “I was beginning to wonder…”
Wonder what? If he were some sort of freak? A serial killer?
He laughed. “Trust me. If they were real, you’d have heard about them on the news.”
She nodded and shuddered. “I’m sure. All over the front page of every newspaper.”
He replaced the portfolio in the drawer. “I will admit they are rather…dark. But there is beauty in darkness as well as light.” He leaned back against the desk and smiled reassuringly. “So, still want to pose for me?”
She smiled and stepped closer to him. “Of course.” She ran her fingers down his chest and over his stomach, then tugged lightly on his belt. “I wouldn’t want to waste your inspiration.”
No…he wouldn’t want that either.
He slipped his arms around her waist and pulled her closer. “Do you trust me? To pose you perfectly, so that the camera will capture every bit of the beauty that I see?”
She leaned forward and brushed her lips slowly over his. “You’re the boss,” she whispered.
He returned her kiss. Her lips were soft, as soft as her skin. But there would be enough time later. For now… He straightened up and pushed her gently away. “Then stay right here for a moment. I’ll be right back.”
He went into a small room that functioned as a closet and prop room. After a few moments, he returned carrying a dress. He held it up to her. “This will be perfect,” he said with satisfaction. It was white silk, cut on deceptively simple lines. Pure and simple.
“Why don’t you change into this while I get a few more things.”
By the time he re-emerged, she was standing next to the bed wearing the dress. He stood and stared for a moment. “Perfect,” he breathed finally.
She beamed and turned around. “It is such a beautiful dress,” she ran her hands down her sides. “I love silk; it feels so wonderful, so sensual.”
He smiled and held out a dark red rose.