Another Kind of Art
Catherine had learned that no case is too small to be significant. Sometimes a case which seemed rather minor left a mark on her soul. Yet, it was always a surprise. As she stood on her balcony that Saturday afternoon, she didn’t realize it was about to happen again.
Suddenly, the pureness of her peace was broken by a shrill sound— the ringing phone. She stared at the clear sky through the French doors while she answered. The voice of Alberto, an almost unknown neighbor asking some help for a friend, brought little anxiety to her soul. It wouldn’t be the first nor the last time that her gentle heart made her the target of people’s requests, and it was surely a good time, since Vincent was deep in the earth, working hard for his world. She smiled with pride for a moment.
“Since you are a lawyer, I thought you could help.”
“It is a fact that tattoo businesses can spread sickness…” Catherine replied on hearing the details of the case.
“I have known Ron for years. It has to be a lie,” Alberto responded.
“Then, it will be easy. I’ll meet him tomorrow.”
She found Ron’s place easily, but she looked at the paper that she had written the address on, searching for some mistake. The place she had found wasn’t a little dark store with careless paintings on dirty windows; rather, it seemed like a little hospital. When she entered, she found a cold room, and a soft tinkling sound welcomed her.
After crossing some nylon curtains, she saw the shape of a man behind the last one. He stopped her before she could enter.
“Please, wait a minute. I’m finishing here.”
“May I come in?” she asked, already advancing.
“Don’t, please!” His voice was stronger, as if he had turned to her, and she froze.
The paintings on the wall called her attention. They weren’t difficult ones, but neither were they without meaning: there was power in the fish and gentleness in the dragons, and she found herself impressed by the artist’s skill to give life to such little symbols.
She was so engrossed in the mermaid’s eyes that she didn’t notice the sudden appearance of the men; she turned toward them just as they squeezed each other’s hand, smiling. One of them (the one with a piece of cotton covering his arm) departed from the store.
“Here,” she came to the remaining one, who turned his kind eyes to greet her. “I’m Catherine Chandler. Are you Ronald Jones?”
“Oh, yes. Please, call me Ron.”
She had an opportunity to examine him. He was a tall man, a little older than she. His smile was bright and serene. He seemed righteous, an impression which was confirmed when he spoke.
“I’m sorry I kept you waiting. To tattoo could be considered as some kind of surgical procedure, it would be dangerous to my client to let you be close and speak while I’m working under his skin.”
“That’s very thoughtful of you.”
“I don’t think so. It’s just being careful.”
He was already guiding her toward the first spare room, where there were some comfortable seats.
“Alberto told me he called you. I am very grateful to you for coming,” Ron said while she took a seat.
She didn’t know how to respond, so she went straight to the point. “It seems that you have been accused of spreading hepatitis.”
“My instruments are disinfected and the environment is as hygienic as it can be. Yet, there is always some possibility, even in hospitals.”
“I know we have just met, but we haven’t too much time left. If you aren’t guilty, why is this man… Donald… accusing you?”
Ron lowered his gaze for a moment, but then he raised it and looked straight into Catherine’s eyes. “It’s difficult for me to talk about it…”
“Try, please. To help you, I need to know the truth.”
With a sigh, Ron straightened his body. “It’s rather simple. John Donald and I were great friends. Then Joana came to our lives. We swore to be faithful to our friendship. It was easier for me, since she chose me.” Ron sighed and continued. “Joana was a moody woman; our relationship didn’t deserve the sacrifice of a friendship. John has seen our breakup as a further betrayal, and he doesn’t have the strength to fight for us anymore. He is attacking me where it hurts me the most: in my art.”
“Your art…” she repeated.
He looked at her again, this time with a smile. “I wanted to be a surgeon. It was my dream. But I couldn’t afford to study. I also wanted to be painter. I think I have found a way to mix both.”
“It’s a sometimes a despised one,” she stated carefully.
It was going to be difficult, since many upper class people thought of
tattoos as a risky and pointless display of uncouthness, and the health
authorities looked at it with suspicious eyes. Yet…
“He won’t win,” she assured Ron Wednesday morning, seeing him low-spirited.
“He won’t enclose me in a cell, but he has already won…. the people who know about this case won’t go to my store.”
She knew that was true enough.
“Yet, my hurt is rather more about… my bad sense… his betrayal…”
It was a very quick trial. The plaintiff had a weak case, with little
and only circumstantial evidence. It was an easy win for Ron. Yet, it
lasted long enough to make Catherine feel pity for both… and for the
former friendship that once must have been as strong as their fresh hate
“John had sad eyes, yet when he stared at his ex-friend they were full of wrath and… nostalgia,” Catherine said.
“Hurt souls keep hurting others,” Vincent answered.
He had found again his place beside her, and looked to the stars. She could feel, through their bond, how their hearts fed on their renewed closeness, so ably that they didn’t need to touch to feel peace, contentment… fullness.
“I learned to not despise Ron’s art. He expresses his feelings on another people’s skin, and if it embraces some risk…”
“What kind of art doesn’t?”
She looked at Vincent, smiling. As always, he had read her mind… or rather her feelings.
“Ron made something for you.”
His look didn’t show any distress, just expectancy. He knew she wouldn’t betray his existence; he just wondered evenly how Ron could have made anything for someone he didn’t… couldn’t have met. Catherine smiled.
“It’s here.” She caressed her right hip.
There wasn’t any package. Vincent’s head tilted to one side, questioning.
“Maybe you should uncover it.”
He opened his mouth, his forehead frowning for just a moment, struggling to find the words. They were simple ones.
“Are you sure?” he asked.
She assented, the breath tangling in her throat. Without farther query, Vincent kneeled. His clawed, furred hands raised her dress slowly, caressing her skin without touching it, melting all the way and more, trying to ignore the trembling of her body. A moan went trapped in his chest, as he revealed the lovely underwear, which he struggled to not see, to her hip… where shone in new colors a blue V.
“Catherine…” His voice trembled in awe, with as much horror before her profaned skin as primitive pride before… his mark.
His words enclosed in his chest, his hands trembling over her skin. He leaned to kiss the single letter, the mark of her claim, and felt her electric shiver under his own skin.
“Would you accept this gift, Vincent?”
His eyes said everything.