PASSION 4 PROSE or P4P! A fun laid back short story, and article Blog , the home for the author Chris Wilson, and a home for those who prepared to , or like to think differently and exercise their mind
“Ladies and Gentlemen; we are now reaching the high point of our tour, We see before us the Mona Lisa, and the worlds most famous smile”
Roberto Fabianoe, a senior museum guide at the Louvre in Paris, imperiously gazed at his lunchtime entourage . Then he swept a magisterial arm and his omnipotent gaze towards the painting of the Mona Lisa.
“We can clearly see the triangular centering of the subject, the surrounding geometry caught in the captured light around her. We also see the carefully chosen landscape so delicately portrayed behind her, but all this is nothing compared to her smile. Some art historians say that she is Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, a Florentine Silk Merchant, and close friend of the Artist, other sat that underneath the surface painting she is actually a man. So it is we have a puzzle.
Who do we think she is, and what is she thinking?
What secrets lie within her eyes, if she could speak what would she say, and what message rests within her hands?”
Roberto held his pose, looked at the group that had been assigned to his charge, and inwardly began to smile.
Like adoring acolytes they seemed to pay homage towards him, and by their wide-eyed adulation he knew that he held them in the palm of his hands.
Roberto had no affection or regard for the painting. The lady with the smile, if she was a lady, could have been no more than a box of dirty old cabbages, so long as it brought in the punters, but his position and reputation as an art and museum expert, gave him a more than adequate remuneration. He also enjoyed his commanding position, as well as certain pleasures with the ladies in his charge, so he was loath to put such pleasures and privileges to one side.
He frowned slightly. Towards the back of the group a gentleman wearing a black beret was not paying attention. Was the gentlemen part of the group he wondered, had he paid, or was he just a drifter. Roberto shrugged his shoulders, as he didn’t really care.
The money from one more tour ticket wasn’t of any concern to him. Roberto was making enough money to be indifferent to such a detail, and so long as he made enough money from both this job and share money from his family owned vinyards to balance his exotic fun filled lifestyle, balancing the museum’s books was of no interest to him.
Life was sweet, life was simple, and he stepped back quietly, so the group could engage with that boring if famous smile.
Standing alone at the rear of the tour group, Arthur Rigby, aged fourty two, genetically bow legged,and a life long if reluctant bachelor, smiled quietly. He had been on such a tour many times in the past, and now thanked God that such days were now at an end. Shy by nature, to a point where some people called him nigh on treclusice, he’d been bullied at school, due to his lack of social awareness, and and had built a sheild round hinself so as too avoid any more pain. Life had broken through though when he had turned twenty. He’d seen a picture of the Mona Lisa, he had tried a grand Cru burgendy, and such joys lead to Paris and the subtly lit banks of the Seine
It was by the Seine that he met a beautiful French student called Françoise, and within a week of their meeting she held hin close to her side. Adjusting his soft black beret he began to remember, as he often remembered, a memorable spring and summer of so many years ago.
He had been looking across the river when she’d apologised for bumping into him, but he had barely heard her words.
He’d only seen her smile, her face, and her figure; while even if she had noticed him, would have seen a bow legged, shy, shabbily dressed Englishman with a rolled up umbrella; and a newspaper tucked underneath his arm
Yet she had come to love him, and from then on his life was never quite the same.
She gave him the beret, a smart black beret, so he could dream of being a Frenchman.
He thought their love would last forever, he was wrong.
She was young, she needed excitement, fresh air and freedom to go where life might take her, but he was older, and more cautious, and his mind, unwilling or unable to join her, sadly watched as she began to drift away.
He wanted to go with her, to be with her on as her life blossomed and flourished, but unlike Françoise, his beautiful firebird, he had no song, no wings, and little or no experience; so, sadly, she had left him, and had quietly flown away.
Yet nobody could take away his memories, and as he looked back at the famous painting, the Mona Lisa smiled silently in return.
He grinned, and lifted his beret towards her. Trapped on a canvas and within the layers of encrusted oil paint, she seemed to understand him.
Maybe she felt trapped, and maybe she felt as lonely as he did, but he could walk away and carry on living, while all should do as to stare blindly across the room
He stepped back slightly, tired of the group now; but then a voice fell upon his ear she felt a tug on his arm
“Excuse, me Sir, can I ask you to move?
Surprised and slightly amused by the quiet yet insistent voice behind him, he almost invited to her repeat her question, but he remained silent, turned round, and moved to one side, quickly, not quite knowing who or what hat he would see. He looked, he smiled, and a woman of about his age smiled back towards him.
He looked at her more closely, and he wanted to find out more.
Emily Roberts sat on her well-worn portable Artists stool and surveyed a familiar scene before her.
Once she had been a student at the Sorbonne, and she had copied the Mona Lisa many times before as part of her artistic development but now, ten years on, she was a keen cartoonist , and the scene that she saw before her, gave her much inspiration and joy.
The painting wasthe focal point for he drawing, but she was more concerned about the characters of all those that looked on with such admiration. She positioned her paper carefully, picked up her pencils and began to draw.
It was all very easy to begin with, for the guide was talking, and all she could do was smile.
He was like some magnificently plumed bird of Paradise and he played his tour group beautifully but beyond such attributes’ nature and life had been cruel. His extravagant rhetoric and theatrical gestures couldn’t hide his double chin, and spindly little legs groaned beneath his oversized belly.
As he talked about the painting she drew faster, caught up in the thrill of the chase, but then he stopped talking so, shifting her focus of attention, she began to study and draw the tour group with almost loving care.
She had a wicked sense of humour though, a sharp eye, an inqusitive mind, and ,having studied humanity with intense care yet profound irreverrance , a taste for the ridiculous, so she soon began to smile.
“You’ll never get married if you keep on laughing at people!” Her father, a proud Welsh Sheep Farmer, had often told her. “And with your knack of reading and getting right into them, you’ll be an single until you die!”
He was right, she wasn’t married yet, and sadly, for medical reasons, she couldn’t have any children, but in her twenties there had always been suitors, and even in her early thirtes there had always been a man by her side. That was eight years ago, and her personal life was quieter now, but as she looked at the tour group before her, she rembered her father herding the sheep into the feeding pens, and , in her eyes such a herd was standing before her now
Clearly they had been doing the cultural rounds, and half submerged in an incessant tide of culture and information too many facts and images were crammed into their minds. They wanted to be standing in front of the Mona Lisa, to see her smile, and to know of her history, but they were a tired herd of sheep and, with a sudden rush of sympathy, all Emily wanted to do was to gently herd them towards the nearest and quietest,sweet smelling, bed of hay.
She had a job to do though, and her rent was overdue; so pencil in hand so she carried on drawing.
There was one thing that puzzled her though. There was one gentleman standing at the back of the group who seemed to stand on his own. She looked at the painting, and at the gentleman again. From where she was sitting she could see him smile. A grin followed the smile, but then then the grin faded, and somehow, pouring out from body, a deep sadness oured up and over his shoulders, and then fell upon as if it were a shroud
She wondered why.
One smile lay in the foreground, while one smile lay towards the rear. Both seemed to be speaking to the other, and both quietly enigmatic in style.
She had the guide and the tour group nearly completed, so she focused on the solitary gentleman
Small, short, lightly built and slightly bow legged, he stood there, an umbrella in one hand and a folded newspaper in the other. He was round shouldered, and his coat, soft and battered over a long time, snuggled up to him before falling quietly below his knees.
She wanted him to be English, as he reminded her of home, but then why was he was wearing a neat black beret, and why, did he seem to be so rooted to the spot, and so totally alone?
She felt a sudden surge of nostalgia, never had she felt so far from home. In her mind the two of them were like two uprooted saplings They had turned to into fully grown trees now, whose heavy boughs and extensive branches maybe held many memories, yet their roots had dug into foreign soil.
She had her memories, some sad, some happy, and some tucked out of sight and mind forever, and often, of any evening time, in her Montmatre apartment ,such memories, like ghostly figures from a distant lifetime, often came drifting back to revisit her.
Yet such ghosts were not here now, and the gentlemen who stood before her seemed interesting.
She frowned, for the gentleman moved back towards her. She hadn’t finished, and suddenly he was blocking her view. She hesitated and thought for a moment, if only she could get him to move to one side.
She leant forward slightly and gently tugged his sleeve.
“Excuse me Sir, can I please ask you to move?”
Arthur looked down at a young lady, with an artist’s sketchpad
She looked up at him and smiled, and a welcoming sparkle danced within her eyes. This was a look and a smile worth returning, and he realised that they belonged to someone he wanted to know.
He turned to look at her drawing before her, but instead he looked at her rich tumbling hair, her sparkling eyes, her ever-increasing smile, and her slight and very attractive figure.
She caught his gaze, he blushed; embarrassed at being caught staring , but she laughed and turned her picture towards him. He looked at it, and saw his bandy-legged transformation,and he began laughing. He listened to, and enjoyed her laughter as she responded to him. Maybe, just maybe, in some corner of a foreign field that, might forever, be England, something might have just begun,