The Pigtown Chronicles: Chapter 3.4 – Creative Block

After Parker had slapped him around back at their apartment, Samuel had spent a few minutes brooding a bit about it, and then packed a bag so he could stay overnight in his studio. It was over between them, unofficially at this point, but he wasn’t stupid enough to wait for a brute like that to come back and break the news to him. He doubted that Parker even remembered where his studio was, he’d only taken him there once, early in their relationship, so Samuel could do a study of him for a piece he’d never bothered to finish. He should have known then he was just an uninteresting piece of meat, and ditched him. He’d wait a night or two, and then go back and settle things with some back up if it got violent again. In any case, he had work to do anyway–if he could just figure out what the work was supposed to be.

There were few things worse to Samuel than a creative block. Later that day, hunched over the desk in his studio, he crumpled up another piece of paper with some worthless sketch on it, tossed it with the others all around him, and then sat back in the chair. The space around him was a mess, not that it wasn’t in some perpetual state of chaos on any other day. Some days though, the mess verged on claustrophobic–abandoned models, canvas, old unfinished work, all of it looming over him, taunting him. None of it was good enough. None of it was what he’d wanted to say, and now, even worse, he had someone who wanted to say something through him, and he couldn’t begin to fathom what it was.

He went to the window and was a bit dismayed to realize it was evening, the summer light already golden on the sides of the buildings. Hours had passed, and he hadn’t anything to even show for it, not even the memory of the time passing. The room was too tight, he needed to get out for a bit, and walk. He bundled up in his coat and slipped down to the sidewalk, not really sure where he was heading, but it was better than whatever he might do in that stale room. 

It was a weeknight, and the crowds were much diminished from what they were on a Friday or Saturday evening. Fewer normies coming in from the suburbs, more regulars in their leather and rubber milling from club to club and alley to alley, partaking in whatever pleasures they might find. He spent a while spying from the sidewalk at the mouths of alleys, a favorite pastime of his, an opportunity to watch flesh work in person. There was still too much light though, and so not much in the way of action, so it didn’t hold his interest for long. He ended up passing Depot, and on a whim, turned around and went inside. Perhaps Rod was there. This was all his fault, he rationalized in the moment. His money had sapped his creative spirit, just like he’d known it would. Until he was free of his patron, he was suddenly certain he wouldn’t make anything again.

He found a couple of bouncers milling by the bar, chatting. The bar hadn’t been open for very long and the floor and nooks didn’t require constant patrolling yet. “Hey, is your boss here? Up in the VIP room?” he said to one of them.

“What?”

“Rod, your boss. Is he here?”

“Do you have an invitation?”

Samuel rolled his eyes, exaggerated it enough to make sure the bouncer knew that what he was about to do ought to be wholly unnecessary, turned around, spotted one of the cameras and gave a wave. The bouncer received something on his earpiece, and shrugged. “Go on up, he’s expecting you, apparently.”

Samuel did not want to be expected. That alone was almost enough to send him back out onto the sidewalk. Instead, he took a drink from the lower bar, and headed up to the VIP lounge, fully planning on throwing it in his face this time. The lounge was nearly the same as when he’d been there nearly two weeks earlier–the same bartender, Rod sitting on the same barstool, perhaps not the same folks having sex among the cushions, but interchangable ones all the same. He resolved to throw the drink before Rod could even get out a word, but the sight of his eyes was enough to stall him, and when Rod pulled out another stool for him, told him to sit, have a chat, he found that same sense of camaraderie overwhelm his good, volatile sense. He sat, and when Rod asked how he was, he was honest about everything–from his artist’s block to financial struggles and recent fight with Parker. Rod was a good listener. Never interrupting, asking good questions but never trying to lead him to a given conclusion. When Samuel had exhausted himself, Rod took a sip from his drink, placed a hand on Samuel’s knee, and said, “I’m glad you confided in me, I really do understand, you know. We are not so different really, I knew that from the moment I saw your art hanging in that gallery. What you’re missing is the correct medium, I believe.”

“What?”

“You have these ideas, yes? And yet, as soon as they are committed to paper, they seem flat and empty. The problem is not the idea, but the paper.”

“I always sketch on paper.”

“You always have sketched on paper before.”

Samuel narrowed his eyes at him, “What are you saying, really?”

Rod looked over at the undulating men on the cushions, who for the extent of their conversation, had not ceased their activities with one another, not even for a drink. Samuel followed his gaze, but as he swung his head, he felt the sharp headache that had struck him that night in the club, right before he’d seen what he’d seen there, something he hadn’t even dared try and sketch, something he hadn’t told Rod about even. But there, on the cushions was something inhuman. A writhing mass of flesh, raw and pure and ripe. The distinctions between their bodies had dissolved away, face became cock became ass became chest. There was no distinction between or within any body, and when he blinked, it snapped back, and once again, he was looking at the men, at the sex, but he couldn’t unsee that either. He couldn’t be convinced that the vision was less real than the image his mind was showing him now.

“You saw?”

“I…did you?”

“Oh, all the time. It’s all I see these days. But then, the struggle has never been seeing it myself, but getting others to see it too. You’re the first. That’s why I have no worries about you, Samuel. I want you to take all the time in the world. You’ll create exactly what you need to, soon enough, and if you ever need a sympathetic ear, you will always find me here.”

“Can…I see it again?”

“Whenever you want.”

Samuel waited, expecting Rod to do something to make it work, but his patron just took another sip of his drink. He looked back at the bodies there, focused, unfocused, cocked his head, but couldn’t seem to slip behind the veil again. “It’s not working.”

“Then you don’t really want to see it again. That’s alright, I know it takes time, and courage.”

He had another drink. He wanted to talk to Rod further, but didn’t know what questions to ask yet. The orgy behind him unnerved him now, and eventually, he bid Rod a good evening, and went down to the club floor again. He stood at the edge of the dance floor, now busier than it had been when he’d walked in, watched those bodies crush and squeeze and float and drool against one another, but while it was another mass of bodies, it was nothing like the mass of flesh upstairs. A young body peeled its way free and spun off towards him, into him really, and looked up at him, stary and drugged and hungry.

He looked up, and saw that Rod had left the stool, and was staring down at him from the VIP lounge above. He nodded to him, and Samuel understood, somehow, that this man was a gift to him. So he took him away to his studio. He was out of his mind on drugs or Pigtown itself, pliable and soft and eager. Samuel thought about sex, but decided against it. He stripped the man down, threw him on the mattress he kept in his studio for naps and long nights, and dug into his body, smelling and tasting, bending and scraping and kneading. The man passed out before too long, and Samuel studied the curve of the man’s back, before taking a marker from his desk, and drawing a line along the man’s spine, feeling a strange shudder through him. The wrong medium, Rod had said. Another line. A shape. The same thing he had struggled to sketch for days flowed right from his hands onto the man’s back. He sketched for hours, across the young man’s whole body, but it still wasn’t enough. He thought of the flesh again, the raw flesh. He pressed against the man’s rib cage, and felt it bend with his pressure, and he was so surprised, he fell back, and it snapped back into place. Samuel didn’t touch him after that, just stared at the man, at the marks he’d scrawled across his body, threw a blanket over him and left him there. He knew, somehow, he would be gone by morning–but Samuel couldn’t be here. He was afraid, not of what the young man might do when he saw the marks. Afraid of what he himself might do, if he touched the man again. He threw on his coat, and headed back out into the night.

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