by Adam Kluger
It's weird. The business of meeting a muse.
The artist known as Dreck didn't expect much when he started an online correspondence with a mystery woman named Cricket who posted no photographs online. It was intriguing to carry on "swiper dialogue" without having the foggiest idea of what another person looks like. They chatted online for a couple of weeks until they decided to meet for coffee outside the Cooper Hewitt.
She didn't look like what he expected.
Her face was unusual. Different. Primal. Her body was athletic except for an adorable pot belly.
He didn't think much when she grabbed him on the street and forced a long, French kiss. She was Polynesian. From some Island near Bora Bora that was hard to pronounce. Her skin was tawny and smooth. Her face was broad and dignified. Her voice was a high pitch squeal and she was hard of hearing in one ear so she spoke louder than normal as she grabbed Dreck's hand and dragged him into the park where she proceeded to deliver a non-stop monologue about her family, her history, her island, her ex, and her personal tragedies only to stop on occasion to ask Dreck the typical first date questions which he answered bemusedly as he was led through the park on a sunny, Spring day by this diminutive dynamo with long straight black hair all the way down to her magnificent derriere. Dreck was hooked by that derriere. He knew that he had to sketch and paint Cricket at some point. She talked and talked while he thought about her butt. He was hooked.
She had theories and stories and she talked a mile a minute and Dreck really didn't know what had hit him until she had to say goodbye, and she laughed excitedly over and over. She was pleased by Dreck. It wasn't long thereafter that she called Dreck and told him that he was just like his photo. She asked him if he liked that hello kiss. He did. And then she made plans for them to get together again, which they did. Somehow she knew intuitively about Dreck's deep sadness, money and career woes, and general state of anxiety. She came over and cooked dinner. Made soup out of old chicken bones and brought healthy lettuce and vegetables and she cleaned the kitchen and Dreck's studio while he worked on the computer trying to hustle money. It wasn't long before they became intimate. She would come by and walk around the apartment nude giving Dreck advice and orders to land a new client before she would let him kiss and caress her soft, naked body. She treated him like a king and soon he started calling her Island Queen. Which made her laugh uncontrollably. She would also cry when Dreck made fun of her loud voice. He calmed her down and then they retired to the bed where he would hold her in his arms, kiss her shoulder and push his hard-on against that magical booty. She would fall asleep this way a number of times and they both felt calm and at peace.
It wasn't long before Dreck started taking photos of his Island Queen and started creating paintings of her. She was so beautiful and exotic. He tried to block out the constant chatter that came along with her cool veneer, warm soft body, and inscrutable beauty. She was a mystery in many ways and Dreck was just happy that she had found him. That they had found each other.
"You know I am in love with you Dreck, don't you? You have won my heart...do you love me?"
Dreck was not in love with her and told her, "I love being with you but I am not in love with you. I am too stressed out about all my problems and issues to fall in love with anybody." She said she understood...and started texting other friends on her phone while Dreck took a shower. And so as life happens, they went back to texting each other on occasion. Things had cooled down. She still would send beautiful notes of encouragement to Dreck that warmed his heart. She had become a trusted confidant, this wild woman from the jungles. As he studied his photographs and started to carve out some line drawings with charcoal on paper he would smudge the charcoal to create shadows and soft accents to her muscular and voluptuous curves. Strong and invincible, soft, and feminine. Sketch after sketch and painting after painting undulated on the canvas, charcoal, watercolor, acrylic, pastels, and oils. Each new image felt to Dreck like making love. Some new aspects of Cricket's personality would shine through each rendering. Creating art had never been so easy or satisfying.
There was something that was growing inside of Dreck. An appreciation for Cricket. He started to miss her but she had gotten busy and was not able to come to visit...days and weeks passed into months and then one day, Dreck heard a familiar knock on his door...and a loud high-pitched voice in the hallway.
"Yoo-hoo...yoo--hoo...Dreck, open up...put some clothes on!" It was Cricket. She had come to visit. She didn't want to come in she was just in the neighborhood and just wanted to say, "Hi hi hi.... how is my Dreck, my worried king..how is my brilliant artist who loves my ass so much that he always wants to touch and kiss it and photograph it and make painting of me?"
Dreck smiled and told her to wait for a moment...he came back and handed her a small painting of her in the nude.
She screamed with excitement. "I love it, I love it, I love it...may I have it?"
"Of course, my Island Queen-- it is for you."
"I will hang it in my cottage. You are so talented thank you, thank you, thank you..."
She had to go but they promised to get together soon and before long she was back in his studio, cleaning, cooking, and treating Dreck like a King. She was uninhibited and very creative in bed and knew just what Dreck liked. She would tease him and tell him if he wanted to experience the ecstasy that he would need to land some new art clients and clean his studio better and not be so worried all the time. He promised all that because he could not resist her exotic and sensual charms. She was a part mystical priestess and caramel-skinned concubine with a heart of gold and a mind that was as brilliant as one of the diamonds mined on her little island. The best part was laying in bed together. She was like a wild animal covered in sweat and female musk when they made love, but after a shower, she was like a dew-covered orchid. Her femininity and wildness permeated the bed. Dreck was falling in love and she told him how to say it in her native tongue and he would whisper Aloha au iā 'oe in her ear over and over until she went to sleep. Dreck could not remember being so happy. He fell asleep pressed against her and only woke up later from the sound of typing on Cricket's iPhone.
"Who are you texting with at 3 in the morning?"
"Oh, just a friend he is very stressed out about a business matter...I think you would like him."
"What kind of friend is he?"
"I wanted to tell you about him...his name is Kadunga...I started dating him and a musician named Ezekiel when you broken up with me..."
"When did I break up with you?"
"Remember when I told you I was in love with you and you told me that you weren't in love with me and couldn't love anyone...well, I didn't feel like waiting for you so I started dating Kadunga and Ezekiel."
"By dating, you mean sleeping with?"
"Yes, I am in relationship with both of them....neither one care about the other one"
"This is all a joke right?"
"No-- here look for yourself..this is Kadunga and this is Ezekiel."
With an unpleasant feeling that slowly covered his entire being, Dreck looked at her iPhone at one older guy sitting naked with a guitar on his lap and another wild-eyed, bald guy with a crazy smile. Dreck didn't know what to think or say...and then he looked closer at her phone and saw that she had labeled his name as "anxious artist" in her phone. As she tried to explain that it was entirely Dreck's fault, he started getting more and more pissed off...but then he looked at Cricket's gorgeous naked body in his bed and sighed and kissed her and said..."all right, I've dated plenty of women in my life...I would be a hypocrite to judge you for dating other guys...I just don't like having to share my island queen with anybody else...I just don't want to hear about them anymore...that would only get me angry."
Silently, Cricket kissed him... looked into his eyes, and then gently grabbed Dreck's manhood under the covers and proceeded to show him that he would always be her king.
And so life got more and more complicated and Cricket's visits were more infrequent.
Dreck started working on an article for an online underground music and arts magazine he edited called the Pop World Press. He was copyediting an interview about a new photo book on John Lennon and Yoko Ono in New York City during the early '70s after the Beatles had broken up. In the photos, John looked peaceful and happy with Yoko by his side as they walked around the Village. The photographer described the couple as unassuming, down to earth, and very nice. They had found happiness in New York and with each other. A love that was even stronger than being part of the world's most famous band. Dreck moved on to another article about a gorgeous Japanese model who was a muse to a number of famous artists including photographer Robert Frank. She was going to write a book herself about what it was like to sit for and inspire artistic geniuses and what the artists were really like aside from the final product. She thought it might help fans of the artist appreciate the work even more. Aside from writing about art and music, Dreck was one of the leaders of a splinter group of anti-artists in New York who believed in the Dadaists, Marcel Duchamp, and Emmanuel Kant's theory that there is no objective standard of beauty. That the aesthetic interaction between the art object and the viewer of the art was primary and peculiar to each individual the same way Carl Jung argued against Freud's universal dream symbols or archetypes. Dreck was just happy to create art that made his heart sing. He used art to channel his sadness into something resonant and interesting, at least that's what his art bio claimed. Dreck and his art world friends did not believe in the hypocritical gallery system, art market, or the bogus subculture that surrounded the art world. Dreck liked the art world because it was a place for individuals to rebel against societal norms and express themselves freely. But the art world con-game wasn't cool --it was an elaborate, thirsty cabal involving untalented influence peddlers propping up unworthy artists, claiming they were the next big thing for the purpose of the commoditization of art. Dreck's art world friend Manfred Gogol insisted time and again that the system was what it was but it was still all worth it because of all the incredibly hot women that hung out at all the art parties. Gogol was no dummy. Not only was he a great artist but he had a sense of humor and style and was as close to a grassroots art world celebrity as anyone Dreck had ever met. It was Gogol that gave Dreck his art world moniker--after he was asked "what do you think of my sketches?"
Gogol laughed and replied in a dismissive, faux English accent, "That's the worst art I have ever seen...did you draw that in third grade...it's absolutely bloody awful and embarrassing ...in a word, it's Dreck!"
Dreck looked at his large collection of twenty Cricket-inspired nudes and damned if he didn't think to himself, I really don't want to sell any of these but they all look pretty saleable.
But right at that same moment, the thing that started to bother Dreck quite a bit was the perfunctory and emotionally detached texts he kept getting back from Cricket every time he asked when he would be able to worship his Island Queen in their bed. She no longer responded right away and oftentimes when she did respond she would say she was with a friend in the country or away for the week. It started to dawn on Dreck over the span of days, weeks, and now almost a month that Cricket had put him into the friend zone. She no longer would sext him late at night or answer his phone calls. Suddenly, Dreck felt a state of panic. He had grown to expect that Cricket was always going to be a part of his life, a muse, a friend, and a lover. She was slowly and subtly disengaging from him in the tenor of her texts.
[Queen...I miss you...I can't sleep without you in my arms, when will you come back to me I miss you so much]
A few days later the return text read...
[Hey Dreck- hope you had a good week!!!... I'm exhausted..going to sleep]
That did it. Dreck had been begging her for a month to call him or come see him and every time it was a tone-deaf "happy" reply. It was time to confront her...
[I'm done Cricket...you haven't had the decency to call me when I ask and your texts all feel like I am a platonic friend. I'm not. I love you and I want to be with you but I feel like you have been blowing me off and acting shady]
[I have not been blowing you off!!]
[I get that you are dating two other guys and maybe it has gotten more serious with one or both of them and that's why you have been so standoffish but I don't like it and I don't respect the way you have been communicating with me]
[You told me you didn't want to know about the two other guys ]
[I don't ...I really only care about us...but are they the reason why you haven't called me back?]
[They are both inextricably a part of my life now]
[Great, hope you are happy with them, maybe one day you will realize you lost a true friend, a lover, and much more]
[I don't like the way you are treating me in this text I'm going to sleep]
Dreck waited a while. His whole body was shaking. His whole world seemed to be falling apart. He didn't want to break it off with Cricket but he couldn't stand the feeling of being marginalized after she had treated him like her King. He realized she had every right to do whatever she wanted and he suddenly sensed that she no longer wanted Dreck and all his moodiness and problems. He looked at all of the paintings and wanted to throw them down the incinerator, he wanted to punch the wall and he almost did but instead, he decided to try one last thing after he settled down a bit.
[Island Queen, I free you now completely with only love and gratitude. Thank you for healing me and opening a door in my heart that I thought was closed. Thank you for inspiring me and loving me. Aloha au iā 'oe. I free you now completely and wish you the best always with the hope you will one day decide to come back to me because I never ever want to be without you again]
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