That’s not art. Fair enough it was an original idea, but where was the delivery? In theory anyone could’ve done it. I watched them clambering over each other to support his claims, as though he was the new messiah or something—it got too much when someone mistakenly referred to him as the head of the committee.
“I’m sorry but I have to stop you there—Tim isn’t the head of the committee,” I said, “but whilst I’m already speaking, let me take this opportunity to share my view on the topic of Tim’s performance art. My main concern is about how it is in danger of negating the years of hard work, which some of us have invested into the rendering of fine art. I don’t think we should attach too much importance to such throw-away forms, as they’re no doubt little more than passing phases of post modernism.”
“Thanks for joining us Audrey,” Tim said, with that insolent look on his face—sometimes I wonder if someone’s planted him here for some kind of prank. “I take your point, but I feel that the real worth of my art, which sets it apart from would-be imitators, is the degree of creativity and originality required in the conception of the idea itself, as well as in the mindfulness with which I execute and capture the final realization of the concept.”
“Yes Tim, but a trained monkey could pass—”
“Audrey, if you’d please just let me finish—thank you.” He grinned at the rest of the group. “Whilst I understand, that maybe a monkey could achieve something that may resemble some of my finished outcomes; I have to say that the areas where the monkey’s idea would lack sophistication, in terms of conception and execution, would be the areas that would reveal the art as the creation of an imposer.”
The way that the rest of the group nodded their heads at each other, disrupted my thoughts with anger. “As much as I’d like to indulge you in these matters Tim, I don’t quite have time, as I have a painting to finish after lunch—a one that requires a considerable amount of deliberation and expertise.”
“That’s perfectly fine Audrey. As always, your comments are especially valued, but I’d hate to think that we were holding you back from more important matters.”
I felt myself blush with embarrassment, or fury, as I watched him go on to dismiss the rest of the group for dinner, as if he was their headmaster.
“Audrey that was something else—you could’ve cut the tension with a knife!” Jodie said, appearing at my shoulder.
“Yes, well I don’t like the way things are going here—I think someone has to take a stand.”
“Everybody thinks Tim’s really cool—it’s good to give the place a youthful injection isn’t it? And besides, we think he likes you,” Jodie said, lifting her hand to her mouth.
“Really? I mean—come on Jodie, don’t be silly—what would I want to do with a little boy like that?”
Jodie looked like she’d seen a ghost behind me. I felt hands on my shoulders, shooting coldness through my spine.
“And who would that little boy be?”
I looked up and it was Tim, beaming that big white smile at me.
“I-I don’t think it’s any of your business frankly,” I said, gathering my position. “And you need to learn some manners, instead of creeping around behind ladies like that.”
He moved around to my side, and I could feel him pressing against my arm. “I’m sorry Audrey; I didn’t mean to frighten you—”
“Oh don’t flatter yourself Tim.” I became aware of him readjusting himself, squashing into my arm, but I didn’t want to move—that would be like giving in. “I don’t know what your motives are for trying to wind me up, but I want you to know that I won’t be falling for it.” I was distracted by the movement on my arm, and I looked down in confusion. It was his penis, creeping up against my blouse. I felt a shot of what felt like sickness—maybe excitement. I remembered to finish what I’d started: “So just… be careful who you pick a fight with…”
He squeezed my shoulder and I looked up again; his face was serious. “I didn’t mean to upset you Audrey.” His cock was fully erect now; I could make out the head, emerging over my shoulder. “Good afternoon ladies.”
I took a deep breath and watched him move away with confident ease, gesturing towards the girls on the next table. It took a while for what had just happened to sink in. Was he trying to humiliate me?
“I told you he liked you,” Jodie whispered, “he’s hot—you should go for it!”
“Don’t be silly,” I told her, “he’s using his charm to try and pull the wool over our eyes—what, with all his silly performance art, it’s like The Emperor’s New Clothes or something!”
Jodie looked around like a little mouse. “Stef was in late last night; she walked past his studio and looked in—said he had a TV on, playing pornographic films. She looked closer and saw that it was Tim, in the film!”
“No!” I gasped, moving closer.
“I’m telling you Audrey, ask her—she says he was there, on a chair, with a big erection—stroking himself! Don’t tell her I told you, but she said that she was bewitched by his naked body on the screen and the sight of him masturbating. Even though she won’t admit it, I think she was playing with herself—”
“Jodie! Don’t talk about Stef like that—it’s highly disrespectful,” I said, twisting with jealousy. “Imagine if that rumor got out!”
“It already has; apparently he heard her and turned around—that’s when she screamed and Betty saw her running out of his door.”
“What—Betty saw her?”
“That’s right, Stef ran right past her, buttoning her pants up in the corridor.”
“What a load of cobblers!” I told her. How could such nonsense be possible, and everyone just carry on today as if it had never happened, and without consulting me? It just didn’t add up. What would he be doing leaving his door open like that, enticing Stef into his room—she was far too old for him, and not even that pretty.
As the day went on I couldn’t get it out of my head, and Betty had even confirmed what she saw. It was driving me mad and I didn’t know why—I suppose I just felt that it was my duty to get to the bottom of the matter, and besides, I had lots of work to finish for the upcoming exhibition. I decided to stay behind and work late.
For a while it seemed like I was the only one there, and I was getting tired, so I packed my things up and left them on my desk while I went to the bathroom. On my return, I noticed a messy painting on top of my things. It looked like something a child would do with painted hand prints, only these weren’t hand prints. I picked it up and turned it sideways, trying to work it out. The style pointed to one person—Tim. I felt a flutter of excitement, and then anger; what gave him the right to sneak in here unannounced, leaving this crap on my desk?
When I got to his room the door was closed, but I could see a light on. I gave a light knock and waited, but there was no reply. The fact that my heart was speeding up gave me a sense of danger, but what was I afraid of? It wasn’t me who was in the wrong; I was the adult in all of this. With a click the door was open and I pushed it to a slit, searching the interior with a squinted eye. I recoiled, and then pushed the door open further—he was naked! His torso was covered in green and red paint—the same colors he’d left on my desk, and he was rolling different body parts on to a sprawling canvas. For a moment I was overcome with guilt; that I was trespassing inside his private world, but then I thought about Stef and how it must’ve been true. I watched his tanned body as he worked, rolling his forearm into the paint, and then carefully pressing it down, his muscles flexing under the bronze of his back. He was like a work of art in himself; physical perfection of the human form. After a while I couldn’t remember what I was there for—I felt like a naughty school girl again, but I couldn’t help myself. Longing to believe that he knew I was there, I tried to imagine how he’d call me in, pull my dress over my shoulders and paint me with his hard flesh.
Then it happened. I was standing on my tip toes, trying to see if he had any underwear on, hoping for a glimpse of his buttocks, when he started touching himself, and playing with his crotch. I couldn’t believe it! In no time at all it had extended into view and was waving around as he milked it to life. The sight of the foreskin slipping back over the purple head, made me close my eyes against the temptation—this was wrong, and if I allowed myself to go any further, I’d be lowering myself to Stef’s level. I found myself awash with desires I’d left behind in my youth, and as they raced around my panties I found them hard to contain—like the most exquisite form of nostalgia. As I watched him roll his erection into the paint it was almost too much; the backs of his thighs tightening down to his calves as the paint oozed underneath it. I knew I wouldn’t be able to stand back and watch for much longer, so I quietly pulled the door closed and gathered my belongings.