The Devil's Playground
The Devil’s Playground
By Neil A. Edwards
The artist’s brush glissaded around the palette – smaller than a ﬁngerprint, ﬁner than a rat’s tail – meekly seeking the desired hue. Perhaps another artist might have settled for the carnelian blush that stained the model’s twisted cheek, but for this portrait, it was an oﬀence to the rendering of truth he was trying to convey and didn’t sit well on the canvas. Nor did the model sit well upon the lumpen bed, for she ﬁdgeted incessantly, an impatient child, biting ﬁngernails, cracking toes, and voicing her discomfort with military regularity.
“It’s not the nicest of rooms, is it?” she squawked, with the same squalid indelicacy of a magpie stealing a nest. It was for such base observations that a preference for painting from still photographs courted increasing favour with artists. Though the argument against their use was mounting daily, the models in them did not poison the air with their toxic boredom.
“Your leg,” he said , “you’ve moved it again.”
“It’s getting stiﬀ.”
“Please refrain from moving it. You shall upend the eﬀect I’m after.”
“It’s not the most ﬂattering of poses you’ve got me in,” she moaned, ﬂexing her chalk-white leg before returning it to its position on the bed. “I don’t know what you want people to think. It’s positively indecent.”
Upon her shoulder the artist saw a mark. In the dim light he couldn’t tell whether it was a birthmark, a tattoo - given as a promise