A backdrop of thick, grey cloud cast a dark shadow over the run-down building and Oliver shivered, checking the address scrawled in his notebook. It was right. He gingerly pushed open the peeling wooden door, afraid it would fall off its hinges but wasn’t prepared for the splendour within. His eyes trailed up the grand, wooden staircase, following the smooth curves until they fell onto the ruby red gown. He couldn’t help but linger on the creamy flesh of slim leg through the split . . . a long split . . . past the knee . . . up to her thigh.
“You found it then?” Her sultry voice swathed Oliver in silk. He gazed up to her sun-kissed face, unable to speak. “Come,” she offered extending a delicate hand.
Oliver climbed the thick carpeted stairs, unable to avert his gaze from her sapphire eyes. He found himself in a bedroom, where sunlight flooded through floor to ceiling windows, casting a natural glow on her beautiful skin, making artificial lighting redundant. She draped herself across the billowing, snowy white covers of the bed. Fumbling with equipment, Oliver’s hands trembled.
“Everything OK?” she asked in a breathy voice.
“Yeah, good, just getting ready. You said these photos are for someone special?”
“ Yes. Aren’t all photos special?” she purred.
“Of course. Shall we begin?” Oliver immersed himself in his art which was easy when the muse was so beautiful. He didn’t imagine her penetrating stare, her flirtatious manner, teasing him, drawing him in. He was helpless, like a moth seeking the light. She was the light he fell into with heart, body and soul.
It took time for sleep to slip away. He tried to adjust to his surroundings but it was dark. Footsteps lingered close. He smiled. A beam of light shone through the door before it burst open. Oliver shielded his eyes from the intrusion.
“OK, Romeo, get your things and clear off,” the gruff voice said. Oliver found himself naked, lying on a shabby mattress in a squat.
“But I was with a woman. Where is she? Where am I?”
“Yeah, I know the type of woman you were with, do anything for a fix, steals your wallet. You’re in a condemned building, trespassing I might add.”
“But the staircase, the windows,” blustered Oliver, pulling on his trousers, “the bed.”
“Must have been some trip,” the guard replied, watching Oliver pick up his camera and bag.” You’re lucky she never stole that.”
“Trip? I wasn’t on anything! I was invited here for a photo shoot.” Full of exasperation, Oliver glanced round, seeing discarded needles, rusty teaspoons, a rat scurrying into a dark corner. He shuddered, feeling the cold as the hairs on the back of his neck bristled.
“Yeah, I’m sure she was a supermodel,” he offered, dripping with sarcasm.
“She was more than that, a classic beauty! She lived here.” The stairs creaked with every step, no carpet and Oliver was careful to avoid holes. Once outside, Oliver looked back at the building, just as it was when he arrived. His head ached, his mouth felt full of sawdust. The guard walked away. Oliver ran over the events. He wasn’t drugged. He’d taken nothing, only her, repeatedly. He could smell her perfume, see the contours of her body, the gentle curls of platinum hair tumbling across her eyes, so easy to love, to photograph.
“No! wait!” Oliver shouted, running through puddles. “I have proof.” The guard stopped as Oliver reached for his camera. “Look! I’m not lying!”
“I’m sure whatever went on in there was mind blowing but you’re this close to me calling the police.”
“No, look.” Oliver stared through the viewfinder, scrolling through the photos as the guard looked on impatiently. Every frame showed the same thing, an empty room with a stained, threadbare mattress. “I don’t understand. She was there. She was real!”
Hollowness engulfed Oliver. He knew it happened, could still feel her touch on his skin, the heat of her body. He trudged away, hearing her wispy voice behind him. He spun round, but was alone, her breathless laugh echoing in his mind, never to leave him.
Written for Jeff Tsuruoka's Mid Week Blues Buster over at The Tsuruoka Files.
Here's the 80's tune by Peter Godwin.