In other news, water is wet.
As the blog name suggests, “But it’s a dry heat.” By comparison to the deep South, this is true. Except we’re edging up on our so-called monsoon season, which is New Mexico for “if we’re lucky, three inches of rain will fall in about a month.” The season announces itself with blithering heat and slight bit of humidity. The problem is that many of us still rely on evaporative cooling, i.e., the swamp cooler. Basically, a metal box that pushes wet air into the house. Works great in bone dry climes; add even a touch of humidity, and it’s not even an improvement over a fan.
It’s too damn hot to do anything but work on my current WIP, a romantic space opera. But I am writing, and as proof, I give you, an excerpt. Along with an appallingly bad sketch. This, kiddies, is what happens when artists who can’t draw people draw people without using a reference photo. Setup: Kelly, mild-mannered bookstore owner attends the gallery opening of Eric, an artist and escaped convict from another universe. Although, Kelly isn’t aware of the latter. (Unedited, in the raw.)
****Lost in Paradise, WIP, excerpt****
The first painting looked like a photo from the Hubble telescope: a huge Jupiter-like planet, against a backdrop of nebulas in brilliant purples and reds, thousands of stars glittering in the blackness of space. The next illustrated a busy spaceport, ships of various sizes and configurations landing and leaving, a vast glittering city stretching out beyond. That same city seemed to be depicted in the next painting, the viewer looking out from a tall balcony. The last painting, at first glance, looked like an ordinary landscape. A wooden bridge crossed a narrow stream. Beyond, she could see a deer peering out from the tree line.
She squinted and moved in closer, realizing that the deer had an extra set of horns, set halfway between its eyes and the end of its black muzzle. The deer’s coat, dappled by sunlight, was the usual tan, but its legs and haunches were striped. Then she noticed the trees. Their bark was smooth and white like an aspen, but with dark gray patches in a pattern that reminded her of a giraffe’s. A smaller tree, a bush really, covered with crimson flowers, its leaves deepest purple, grew in clumps along the stream. The bridge itself was a small masterpiece, the wooden balusters carved into the shape of vines that wrapped around the top rail. In the foreground, what Kelly had initially mistaken for a dragonfly turned out to be a winged reptile, a small beetle caught in its front paws.
“What do you think?” Kelly jumped at the voice. Eric stood behind her, a little to her right. He laughed. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.”
She turned, taking an moment to stare at him, noting, not with a little pleasure, the absence of Cindy. “You clean up good,” she said, hearing her voice crack. To her amusement, he blushed.
“I meant the painting, but thank you.”
She turned and studied it in silence. “It makes me sad.”
She licked her lips, struggling to find the right words. The great irony of owning a bookstore, being an avid reader, was that she could never seem to find the right words to express her thoughts. So she said the first thing that came to mind. “It’s the most beautiful place I’ll never see.”
Turning, she found him staring at the painting with an expression that could only describe as utter desolation. “I’m sorry.” Before she could stop herself, she took a step back, nudging her shoulder against his chest. “I meant it as a compliment.”
Attention still on the painting, he smiled. “I took it as such. I’m really glad you like it.” He shifted slightly, and put his arms around her, his hands together near her waist. Kelly leaned back into his heat, her hands around his forearms and sighed, realizing that she had lost the battle, possibly even the entire war. She could feel the warm weight of his face touch the side of her head. Together, they stood in silence, staring at the painting.
And then his past comes back to haunt them both. The course of true love never runs smoothly…