(2016-06-22) Body of Art
Body of Art
Summary: Chris Powell is running late for art-class, where he meets Tanya, who happens to have a connection to him via the same hobby…
Date: 2016-06-22
Related: None
NPCs: Annette (Tanya's mother), Kendra & David (art teachers)
Scene Runner: N/A
Social/Plot: Social

Fade in…

Almost midnight, near the Borough of Manhattan Community College. Tanya parks a recent-model Brabus in the parking lot, and, Baudelaire on her right shoulder, she hurries into the campus and to the art department, where her mother was working. She wasn't really unknown in the art class, since now and then Annette needs a ride home, or Tanya pops by to drop something off, or whatever else. As such, she manages to slip into the room and stand near the back, offering a wave to the husband and wife team who ran the class. They smiled at her and waved back, then got back to their teaching.

Easels line the room in a loose circle, with charcoals being the medium of choice that night. Men and women of varying ages and ethnicities and concentrations of X-Gene factor sit, peeking around the easels at the model on the dais, then going back to their newsprint. The model is a woman nearing sixty, blonde, with laugh-lines around her eyes and mouth, and she's completely nude, a silk bathrobe draped over the back of a metal folding chair nearby. It's a life-study class, and she's the model.

Every few minutes, the teachers would call a change, and there'd be the sound of newsprint being ripped followed by the scuffle as they were set aside, then the model changes positions. Sometimes she'd sit this way, sometimes that, sometimes she'd twist this way, sometimes she'd bend that way., and the teachers would go around, offering murmured praise or instructions, guidance or tips, but always encouraging. Art should inspire, both the creator and the audience, and a new creator was oft-times the easiest to turn away from art.

The door bursts open — sort of. The opening part is rushed, but it does not swing open all the way, held in check by a man's hand. The hand is soon followed by a young man's head: roundish, but with a pronounced chin, high cheekbones and pouting lips. He has brown hair cut very short, and peers into the art classroom with an almost guilty expression on his face.

Guilt… turns to defeat.

"Damn-it," he exclaims while butting his head against the side of the door. Once. Twice. Thrice… Keeping his forehead pressed against the painted wood, he opens one eye rather cautiously, and looks over at Tanya. "This isn't going to look good on my report-card, is it?" he asks her with raised eyebrows.

"Like I know?" murmurs Tanya with a smile, staying comparatively quieter. "I ain't a student here; tonight I'm just a chauffeur. Go take it up with the teachers." She nods to the couple in question, who, after a silent collaboration, split off. James headed toward the door while Kendra stayed behind to deal with the students. The others, naturally, looked toward the source of the disturbance, though Kendra got people focused on the model and their easels again.

"Now Chris," said the man, his smile patient and his tone soft, "why don't you take a seat, and we'll discuss it later." He half-turns, to motion with his left hand toward the easels, specifically the handful of empty ones, set up for late-comers just like Chris. "We still have a half-hour left if you'd like to practice your composition. That's been your biggest struggle, I know, but I think you really are getting better with it."

Powell's mouth contorts into a half-frown, half-mouth shrug and he gives a plaintive bob of his eyebrows to Tanya before heading inside. Quietly, the athletic-looking young man takes his seat and begins setting up his work. To the teachers he offers a nod.

In moments, he has a half-completed drawing of the same woman posing right now… except that it looks rather like it had been created by a drunk Picasso, if he had been drawing blindfolded. Powell looks at the model, and then at his easel, and steals a glance back at Tanya.

Without a word, he tears the original drawing off the easel and prepares to sketch a new one. The young man pauses briefly to take a deep breath through his nostrils, letting his eyes fall closed, and releases the breath through his lips.

Then he gets to drawing.

Kendra and James walk around the class for the next half-hour, offering more tips and guidance, keeping the model in a pose for longer periods of time. Tanya stayed at the back, watching with some mild interest. Art was never her "thing"; she likes to think she "gets" it well enough, though she prefers the more concrete, objective things in life. An engine works well or it doesn't, and if it doesn't, there's a solvable problem at the core of it. Art, being subjective by nature, is something she never really had the mentality for.

She's shaken from her reverie by the class ending, the sound of papers being torn and collected, implements replaced into artist's tool boxes — which always strikes her as amusing, since many are similar in design to the sort of tool box she'd use — and the model stepping down from the dais. Tanya pushes off from the wall and steps over to her as she slips her baby-blue bathrobe on.

"Hey, ma," says Tanya, smiling as she slips her right arm around the older woman, who's taller than her by a few inches. Next to one another, the similarities are clearer — the cheekbones, particularly, the jaw. "Got what I's lookin' for."

After returning the hug, the older woman says, "I'm glad. Give me a few minutes to change, then I'll be ready." Her voice has a similar timbre as Tanya, though the Bronx in it is much less pronounced. It's still clear the woman spent many years there, but she's must less — indecipherable — at times, than her daughter.

When the half-hour is over, Chris Powell leans back from his art-work and stares at it with a critical eye. While it is an improvement on his previous attempts, it looks somewhat 'rushed' (understandably). To demonstrate how he feels about it, he bows his head forward and raises his hand to pinch the bridge of his nose between his forefinger and thumb.

Then he massages his eyes, and looks back up.

While packing up, he happens to glance back over at Tanya and… her mother? Instantly his cheeks colour just a little, and he glances down at the magazine (an art magazine — not porn) in his backpack.

It is the same model on the cover. Bobbing his eyebrows, he packs up and walks over to the teachers — Kendra and James — as well as the mother and daughter.

"Apologies," the young fellow explains. "There was a break-in where I work. I had to extend my shift until the police finished taking statements."

The blonde rubs Tanya's back with her left hand for a moment, then slips off, padding to the far corner of the room and the hall that branches away from it. Tanya herself, meanwhile, slips her hands into the back pockets of her jeans, idly strolling around a bit as the others pack up and leave, chattering amongst themselves. The teachers both smile at the young man, and Kendra says, "It's alright, Chris. It's not like you've made a habit of this. If you get the chance, if this happens again, give us a call — but if not, it's alright."

"Man, takes me back…" murmurs Tanya to no one in particular. "Been forever since I's a student, but some sh — some stuff don't leave ya." She looks around with a wide grin on her face, thinking back to her own days as a student. Not that the Bronx's community college was anywhere near as fancy as this one, but still.

Powell hikes his backpack up over his left shoulder a bit more (as it was slipping down) and nods his head to Kendra. He looks grateful. He doesn't go into anymore detail about his work or reason for being late, but judging from the uniform slightly visible under his jacket, and the pager, flashlight, and (empty) holster on his belt, one might surmise he is in private security.

Glancing aside at Tanya, he smiles — a little wearily — holding onto the straps of his backpack with both hands, in different places. "Yeah, art is… something my mom has always liked. I kind'a wanted to try something different. Your mom's a great model. Has she always done this…?"

He slightly leans his head to the side as he says the word 'this', with rising inflection as though inquiring about the woman's name.

"Modelin'? Kind'a," Tanya say with a casual shrug of both shoulders, making Baudelaire have to shift himself in his perch. "Long time; likes givin' back to the community, and she went'a college here back'n the day, so…"

Realizing the conversation is shifting, the teachers quietly take their leave. Tanya takes a half-step to her right to raise her right hand in farewell, and her eyes fall on the backpack—and the issue of Natural Canvas magazine poking out of it. She naturally recognizes the cover, and it makes her grin. "Anyways," she say as she shifts her attention back on him, "my name's Tanya, and Annette — the model — she's my ma." With that she holds out her right hand for a firm and strong handshake, though not bone-crushingly so. And yes, that grin still stays on her face. Not exactly one to hide her emotions, she.

Powell takes the woman's hand in a firm grasp, and smiles at her. "Pleasure," he remarks as he goes back to holding onto his backpack (which seems slightly determined to fall off his shoulder no matter what he does). "Chris," he adds with a reverse-nod lifting his chin briefly.

Glancing at the cat and back to Tanya, he inquires: "What's its name? Mom and Dad keep some cats — I was more of a 'dog person' until my job made it a bit difficult to be home a lot. Cats're… more self-sufficient."

"You'd think that," Tanya says affectionately, glancing up with a fond smile at the cat. "He's a Havana Brown, though, an' he's whatever the opposite'a self-sufficient is. I got'a take him everywhere, or he gets sad. Used'a be able'a leave him with my landlord, but that was then." After giving Baudelaire a quick scritching with her right hand, she turns her attention back to Chris.

"Anyways, you're a' 'artiste', huh? Bet y'like body art, too. Seem like the type," she says, grinning anew. She isn't above using certain things if she can. What's an accidental peek into a fun and relatively harmless part of someone's life if not to use, after all?

Grateful for the excuse to put his backpack down, Chris does — shrugging his shoulders and smirking a little. He pulls up the sleeve of his shirt to display a decent tattoo of a black bird of prey (in flight) on his left shoulder.

Then he shrugs again.

"Can't say it's all that impressive, not compared to the art you've got goin' on here… Nice work. I got others, but they're only available for viewing by appointment." The smirk widens a bit, and he glances again at Baudelaire briefly, before shifting his attention back to the cat's human.

"Where'dya get yours done?"

"Here'n there," replies Tanya with a shrug of her own, her left shoulder lifting briefly. "The left sleeve's started at my first body-mod convention, then I had it touched up later. The others, an' some'a the piercings, were by a couple'a artists I know. The mural — that took a while. Almost six months." She glances past him to where her mother was emerging from the hall, dressed in a simple green blouse, Capris, and low-topped sneakers.

Looking back to Chris, Tanya canted her head to her left, one of her cheeky expressions coming to her face. "Shame that I got'a make a' 'ppointment, though, since you seen mine." She clucks her tongue in a teasingly disappointed manner, then turns to look at her mother.

Powell looks over some of the tattoos on his new friend and lets out a low whistle. "Yeah, I can imagine," he affirms — referring to the length of time some of the body-art took to complete. The next chuckle to pass his lips is slightly more embarrassed. Reaching back with one hand to rub the back of his neck, he offers a mouth-shrug and a muted grin.

"Heh, no one's seen those tats," he tells her as he lowers his arm to his side. "So what do you do — when you're not getting some awesome body-art, and being chauffeur to the model I've been trying to draw the last couple o' weeks?"

"Actually, I'm a mechanic, by trade," Tanya says, then reaches into her left hip pocket, and pulls out a small, silver-colored card case. Slipping a card from it, she goes to hand it to him, then slips the case into her pocket again. "And don't think I didn't notice y'dodgin' my question. Guess we'll have to fig're it out sometime."

She looks up as her mother approaches, and the older woman says, "Ah, you're — Chris, right? I have a good memory for names. I forget — were you the one with the issue with composition, or with perspective?" The model by dint of being literally in the middle of everything, usually does overhear such things, and she doesn't want to rudely grab her daughter and flee. A bit of decency goes a long way.

Chris blushes at the mention of dodging Tanya's question — the 'appointment' he claimed was necessary to see his other tattoos — and opens his mouth to answer…

When the model — Annette, Tanya's striking mother — approaches. Chris lets out a breath and looks rather relieved as he pauses to clear his throat and try to 'will away' the colour in his cheeks.

"Uhh, both!" he replies to Annette. "Definitely both. I'm not… really much of an artist; I like to tinker — build things." Taking the business card from Tanya, he looks it over and his face brightens. "I… reckon I might stop by," says he, waving the card a bit between his fore- and middle- fingers. "Gotta car I'm tryin' to do up… don't get much time for it, though." He motions toward Tanya with the card and looks at Annette.

"Tanya's pretty cool, ma'am."

"Well," says Tanya with a smile as she slips her hands in her back pockets again, "bring that card in and ask f'r me, I'll give y'ten percent off a tune-up, an' that includes a' oil change and tire check. Anythin' else, we see from there, okay?"

"And I," says her mother as she rests her left hand on Tanya's right shoulder, "I thank you. I think she's — pretty cool, too." Tanya rolls her eyes, but it's more an affectation, belied as such by the grin on her lips. "I'm afraid I must steal my daughter, now," she continues, then extends her hand to Chris. "But I'm sure we'll see each other again; the next class is scheduled for — Thursday or Friday? I'm good with names, not dates."

"S'true," Tanya says with something of a friendly-needling tone. "My pop 'members their anniversary'n stuff more'n she does."

Annette gave a short, soft laugh, then says, "It's true. On the other hand, it means I'm surprised every year, and I learned my in-laws' names rather quickly."

With rather good timing, Powell's pager on his belt beeps at him, and he lifts one hand as if to say, 'one moment', while reaching for the pager with his other. After glancing at it, his lips form a thin line, and he lets out a breath from his nostrils.

"Go figure," he mutters to himself. "They want me back in. Guess it's late-night take-out again… on the go." The young man utters a short, rueful chuckle and puts the pager back on his belt once more. "Story of my life." Smiling firstly at Annette and then at Tanya, the fellow bobs his eyebrows and picks up his backpack once more.

"Was a real pleasure meeting you both," he tells them. To Annette he nods and adds: "Yup. Next Friday. I… promise? I'll do better with the art next time." He grins, particularly at the rising inflection he put on the word 'promise', turning it into a less-than-confident question. Then to Tanya he remarks:

"Catch you soon Tanya — Baudelaire. Great talking to you." He pulls out his cellphone and heaves a sigh while dialling. "Alright… it's me. I'm on my way…" And off he goes.

"…no rest for the wicked."


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