Loris stepped into his living room. On the wall, behind the low-slung black leather couch was a large painting. Looking at it, he felt the usual pang of regret and, yes, longing for the artist. Miriam was a gamine bottle blond with a good heart overrun by the python spirits of a troubled past. They had worked together in the early 90's at a trattoria in downtown Detroit, a place owned by a dodgy goombah who specialized in stitching up black swingers juiced into the city government. Somewhere along the line, she had decided that if you can't be loved, you should at least be feared and the fear might turn into love. It's was all fucked up, Loris could see that now, but back then he let her rage against the machine of existence because he knew when she had burned off the bile, she could be a very naughty kitten between the sheets.
She trained as a photographer at some posh art college out East but her real talent was painting. Her style was a mash-up of Rothko and Rockwell.
"I don't know why I painted this."
"I like it. You should do more work like it. You paint good."
"What are you trying to say?"
"Good. It's yours if you want it. Get it out of here before I throw it away."
Loris was ashamed at how quickly his infatuation had turned to pity. He was in no position to offer her succor and comfort. He had his own wounds to lick."I can't be your lifeboat," he remembered telling her during the last bout of heavy weather.
She was his first and last American woman.
3 January 2015