Tourists often get their pictures taken at the cheaper attractions, standing behind silly pictures painted on tall boards, with their heads showing through holes. This apparently gave Emma the idea of pulling off a higher-brow version of this. She has been sending Drin cell phone pictures imitating famous paintings, at various stages of her journey, and sending him very annoying hints as to what the original was.
“Get your culture vulture on,” Emma says on the phone, laughing, when he speaks to her.
Well, she is bored.
But time away at the conference is good for her, she speaks a little bit slower than she has been, she’s more relaxed, she’s talking about things besides work. Talking about the food. Insisting that she is eating paella, or Basque food originally from the Pyrenees, in the middle of Kentucky. He wouldn’t be surprised to find that she really is, given her mad research skills.
The pictures are totally devastating, of course.
He’s delighted, and saves them up on his computer, going through them on breaks, and laughing again as he replies with jokes on the wild side-trips in research he finds when he tries to figure out what they are.
She doesn’t get a new painting done every night, but she does every time she hits a new hotel on the trip.
At first she does the easy ones, classic Spanish painters, with her face always laughing. There’s entries such as Somebody imitating La maja vestida, with a comment that her lonesome little hotel room is bloody hot, and maybe she should send him the matching picture of her in matching desnuda mode.
He replies in text mode that Somebody is a very cruel woman, tormenting a poor working stiff who’s been at the computer for too long already–stiff being the relevant word.
He can hear how she will laugh when she reads it, she’ll know he’s afraid to hear her laugh on the line.
And she does. She leaves him a voicemail instead.
It’s quite a marvelous voice, gurgling up through the scale, and ending with wheezy breathless noises, not at all girly, robust as all hell. He saves the message, and replays it every once in a while.
The night he explained he had to send Dance along instead of himself, she does Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith beheading Holofernes, with a toy teddy bear as the maid helping Judith, a very fake plastic sword, and a cabbage for the head, with a scarf like that in the painting bunched on the hotel bed. But she’s laughing, and threatening to send him the Klimt version of Judith instead. He understands that when he finds the picture online. It looks quite…intense. Judith is a long tall woman, one breast showing, hugging the sad dark head to her hip with an orgasmic expression.
Of course Gentileschi is not a Spanish artist is at all, and he says so. She texts him back that she would prefer a different head anyway. Which makes him laugh out loud in a very elegant restaurant.
When Dance shows up, she sends Drin their version of the Rokeby Venus, although she’s wearing some kind of nude bodystocking whose sleeves give her away, and not actually nude as in the painting, a cheat that he calls her on–and Dance is grinning too much to be convincing as a very small Cupid with the mirror. He looks wicked enough, that’s for sure.
The next night is even worse — Henry Fuseli’s The Nightmare. Emma sprawls dramatically on the carefully-draped hotel bed, her hair spread out on the folds as best as they can manage. Dance crouches, hovering over her supine form — never mind how, it looks like he’s perched atop her, but that can’t be right — and looking totally deranged and evil, frowning thunderously to hide the smirk that threatens. They’ve gooped his hair up into evil little horns.
It’s Dance’s voice on the message with that one. He speaks clearly and crisply, clearly used to bad cell phone connections. “I’d jump you, but you’re not here. Can I have her instead?” And from the background, that laugh.
He actually leaves a voicemail that time, risking that they’ll pick up. “Sure–remember to take off the body stocking first. Don’t forget to send pictures. Love, D” And he gives them a laugh.
And the last one they stop to send him, their last night, is a version of Manet’s Olympia that would probably amuse the sarcastic artist a lot.
Behind the bed, Dance is holding a pile of bright-colored bras in an open suitcase, with a bra cup in his mouth and a wild look on his face, and he seems to be nude–not at all like the black maid with her flowers, but it’s clear what they meant–but the hotel room behind is remarkably similar. Emma must have seen it first thing, and planned to make use of it.
Emma lies half-sitting up, nude, on the rumpled bed with a black ribbon on her neck, a condom pinned in her hair, a dildo loose in her front hand, and her ankles most elegantly crossed, her deadly black stiletto reception heels dangling on her feet. Her most imperial gaze is aimed at the camera, with her other hand curled down in her crotch, clearly busy entertaining herself. “Yes?” she says on the voicemail that came with it. In her most French accent. It still sounds Aussie to the French, she says, but really, he can’t tell–and she knows what it does to his libido. “Victorine Meurent here, fuck off, I’m busy putting on henna or something.” And she laughs that laugh.
“Gaaaaaahhh,” Drin says, and hastily flips it off of his screen, blinking. He shakes his head. It doesn’t help. His eyes have been scalded. “Yaaaahhh,” he says, squeezing his head. “You are in such deeeeep poo–” he says out loud. His text alarm chimes again, and it’s Dance.
“Went well,” is all it says. But Drin can imagine that it went very well indeed.
Author’s note: More collaboration, and definitely much the better for it!
me=Nagasvoice, and GreenJudy, Kiyakotari, Stella_Omega and numaari