Framed

By Patterson, Carol | Hecate, May 31, 1989 | Go to article overview

Framed


Patterson, Carol, Hecate


It was all his fault. Why did he want me to do it, when I'm only seventeen and he's an old man of forty, maybe more even. He's an artist, so what! I've seen him doing really ordinary things. Like putting out the garbage, buying milk at the store, toothpaste at the twenty-four hour pharmacy where I work. What's so special? Shouldn't he be crazy, throw wild parties, dress in weird clothes, live with two women and drink, if he's a real artist? You never see anyone at his place, and it's big, right on the cliffs above the water. Big enough for a real cool scene, if he didn't take up so much room with his painting gear. And no essentials, like a spa bath or a wave pool, not even a good sound system. All he's got is a cheap tranny spattered with pink paint. Says the view's enough, across the water to the bays and cliffs. But the view's free, he's got no franchise on it, and we don't all go spaz and become artists because of the view. We're straight dudes. Mow the lawns, commute to town nine to five, like my Dad, he even works back nights. My family's respectable, two kids, myself and Wayne, a new brick house, Commodore in the garage, a little Mazda for Mum. She works too, at the local Doctor's reception, earning extra so's she can give us kids everything we want, and that's why we're respectable. We look good, got the right gear, we do the right things. But I'm so frightened Mum'Il find out!

Why did he pick on me? I know I've got a smooth tan, my hair's blond and I don't need makeup, just a smudge of violet eyeshadow to highlight my eyes. I keep trim at badminton, aerobics; I love the beach, who wouldn't, living right here on the bay. In summer I get into my bikini, step across the road, through the she-oaks, down to the sand. I slip off my bikini top, can't stand strapmarks! Brush my hair out and twirl `it up into a knot, and have a sunbake. Then I take off my sunnies and my watch and go for a swim. But you know what, I'm sure he was watching me, up in the she-oaks. Someone was there, I heard someone. I can't stand old men perving on me, and nothing would have happened if the Council had cleared away those she-oaks, like Dad wanted them to, they're so dark and old and ugly. I can't stand the feel of their needles on my skin!

So when the artist guy came into the pharmacy where I work, and asked for toothpaste and I said"What brand, sir?" and he answered "Kolynos," I knew some weird thing was happening. "Is that Greek, sir?" I said, and Sylvie my boss said, "I'm sorry, that brand was discontinued in the sixties." He hadn't cleaned his teeth since the sixties! And I had to show him the whole range, no kidding, he wanted a brand without fluoride, couldn't make up his mind, chose Colgate in the end, then asked me to model for him. You might think I was disgusted but honestly, I didn't know what he meant. I looked around at girls on packets smiling, posing, I thought, well, something like that. Anyway, he offered me eight dollars an hour, cash in hand, so it was a straight commercial transaction, really, all above board. And I decided to put the money towards a Stuart Membery jacket.

The first time at his place, it was okay, I suppose. I had to sit sideways on this bench, right by the big window that looks across the bay. Completely private, wow, no-one could see me. He shook my hair across my shoulder, stretched out my leg, had a good look at me, and finally started to draw. It was warm enough with the heater on, a sunny morning, but boring! I looked around to check out the sound system, there's this tranny on the floor, I stretched out my foot to jab it on and "What the hell are you doing," he snapped. Well no-one talks to me like that, not even an artist, so "OK," I said, "Finito. Time I moved on." "Fine," he said, didn't seem to mind, left the studio so's I could get dressed and I almost told him to forget the modelling. …

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