The Music

Chapter 6: Knockin’ on the Dragon’s Door

Story by Ray

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Malcolm no longer saw the canvas in front of his open eyes. He had been staring at it for too long. He thought about painting a pear, and just as soon thought of putting a bullet through his head.

It couldn’t be done; abstractions needed fuel.

“So,” Kurt said. “Which one are you giving up on?”

“It doesn’t have to be a choice, you know.”

“One or the other,” Kurt insisted. “Trust me. I would know.”

Malcolm tried once more to see the canvas. He lifted his brush to make a mark—just one mark. Any mark at all, and it would be abstract, and he could be done with it. He could unlock the door and apologize to Susan. It could be over. On that one positive mark, he could stop painting forever.

His hand ghosted by the stretched linen.

Not even a mark. Malcolm disparaged the canvas! “What a worthless canvas you are!” he shouted at it! He shouted it in every language he knew. He shouted in Spanish, hearing his father’s accent creep its way onto his tongue. He shouted in French, hoping to claim some of Ruben’s abstractions: to use them. He shouted in broken Italian and even more broken Portuguese, telling his canvas that it was no good, and that it could go straight to hell along with his brush.

But then, Malcolm wasn’t holding a brush, nor was he looking at a canvas. He was holding a syringe—he was looking at his future.

“You’re worthless,” Kurt said. He spoke it in plain English: there was nothing between the lines. “Final chance, Malcolm.”

“Fine then!” Mal screamed, and with every inch of his being he thrust the needle forward! Crying out in sheer torment, he kicked the canvas onto the ground and fell right on top of it, abstractions already racing through his retina.

Mal could give up on his fiancé. His art fucking needed him.

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