The first words from story three from my forthcoming collection, Autumn in the Abyss. Mere days away.
Those words have a foundation in history, spoken by Michelangelo...when? Let me jog my memory. Yes, this is another story influenced by something said or experienced with Alessandra. I believe it was when we saw Michelangelo's sculpture of Moses in one of the many churches in Rome--700? something like that (Alessandra will correct me on all of this later, but you get the gist). Such awe-inspiring detail. She told me a story of his frustration in not finding his way into the work. Or...well, something like that. The gist, yeah, the gist.
I was not much into sculpture until I got to see so much of it in Rome. It's Everywhere! Viewing the work of Michelangelo, the Moses above, or more so for me, Gian Lorenzo Bernini--oh, such wonder! Such Beauty! Especially at the Borghese Gallery/Galleria Borghese. Apollo and Daphne, The Rape of Proserpina...then elsewhere, The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. Many more, absolutely stunning work. I learned to love sculpture the more I got to know about it. An appreciation bloomed and now I seek it out.
Which means, yes, of course a story would eventually incorporate a sculptor. That's when I got to learn about Samuel Nisi...and Mr. Liu made his second appearance, fleshing out more of his purpose. I don't remember him being a part of the original idea, yet his presence was mandatory in taking the story where it needed to go. A curious addition, his presence always one to inspire some wild imagery and more as the forces of the universe, whatever they may be--gods, aliens, alien gods; more so, those whose intent is in keeping balance in the universe--dictate his path. Why? A curious question to be answered at some point. I've had an inkling of an origin story for Mr. Liu that would completely blow perceptions to smithereens--hey, I like that band...er... Anyway, it's as if his appearance unleashes something in my head that can only be called wild--that word again--and surreal...and in this case, cosmic.
This is not your familiar horror, for sure. I don't do that. (Yet if it seems as though I am doing that--dealing with something more traditional--wait for the reveal. You'll see that in the next story.)
Anyway, here's a bit from inside the story, a touch of Mr. Liu before Mr. Liu makes an appearance. A touch of Samuel Nisi, the driven sculptor.
A new client by the name of Mr. Liu had requested a decidedly atypical commission, one whose ambiguity intrigued Samuel. It was simple, direct, the essence relayed in measured lines, as if Mr. Liu was a man of few words, yet knew exactly what he wanted… yet what he wanted, because of the vagueness of the details, inspired. Mr. Liu would send Samuel a large block of marble, “the rarest Carrara marble,” he’d said, and it would be up to Samuel to “find whatever strange, lost soul was buried within the marble. Find what lives and breathes there and to bring it to the surface.” That was all, no specifics, yet the money Mr. Liu was willing to spend, as well as how it touched a nerve within Samuel— more so, because of the latter— moved this to the top of his “to-do” list.
He had his latest girlfriend, Claire, one in a long line of art lovers who, once spending any amount of time with him, would realize that art was his lover and she was there as a vessel of his occasional physical passion or verbal abuse, research Mr. Liu, with minimal results. The phrase, “wealthy Chinese gentleman,” seemed prevalent in search results, yet no source for his wealth was to be gleaned. Only one badly lit black and white photo, his features indistinct, though a trace of something Samuel thought of as world weariness and deep knowledge reflected in his eyes. He was an enigma, making an enigmatic proposition: to find the enigma within the marble.
Fine by Samuel: open to interpretation. Yet the act of putting the hammer to the chisel and the chisel to the marble inspired nothing but frustration. His muse was on vacation, something he’d never experienced before. Which surprised him even more, since the huge block of marble that had been delivered a week ago filled him with anticipation.
Most of the time, he worked with marble that featured, ever so slightly, the promise of smooth finality. This one had only the promise on display. Besides a perfectly flat foundation, the whole of what amazed him was the smooth, curved body, as if another sculptor had sheared off the edges, delineating an oval shape, and stopped, backed away, probably because he could not find the soul of this wondrous rock, either. When Samuel stroked it, placed his cheek to it in getting to know it— a ritual he’d undertaken with all blocks of marble— the sensations he felt were all wrong. Colder. Alien, he thought.
Yet when he circled it, looking for an opening, a way in— for inspiration— every step forward led to two steps back, and more contemplation. Where to begin? Though he’d worked marble hundreds of times without issue, something of the difference here gave him reason to pause. But these sensations only urged him onward: he would not give in. He would listen with his hands, his anxious soul; he would listen or force it to talk to him, damn it!
When it goes off the rails, it's pure descriptive madness.
Here's a pic of The Rape of Proserpina. Phenomenal is a starting point. Breathless! You would not know that was not two people embraced in some sort of battle or passion if I did not tell you, would you? Look at the fingers digging into the thigh. Just wow!