My short story “Visions” is now available in the Dark Opus Press anthology entitled, “In Poe’s Shadow.”

Hello all!

My short story ‘Visions’ was purchased and acquired for the anthology by Dark Opus Press entitled, “In Poe’s Shadow,” a collection of stories written by terrific authors all putting their own spin on a classic Poe tale. 

The anthology is available through Amazon.com for $11.95.  You can purchase a copy for yourself HERE.

Mine is an amalgamation of two of Edgar Allen Poe’s classic tales: “The Oval Portrait” & “Bon-Bon.”

Here is an excerpt from my story, enjoy!!

 

“Visions”

 by Neil Kloster

 

                No man or woman alive could claim that Frederic Le’Charmine’s work was not only exquisite, but that his paintings were positively lifelike.  The talented artisan came to the city of Paris during the summer months in search of something that he described only as, “picturesque visions of the flesh,” women so beautiful that they were the only ones that he desired to paint.  So much so, that at his latest unveiling, he professed aloud that he had plucked out his eyes from their sockets with the sharp wooden end of his painters brush.  Naturally, upon hearing such a claim, especially from one who hath painted such visually stunning works of art, a person would consider that their hearing had failed them immensely.  But alas, the statement proved true, as Le’Charmine revealed to a small crowd of curious onlookers that underneath his jaded green spectacles – with side glasses to protect his sunken hulls from the influence of light – that his eyes no longer occupied their usual vacancy within his skull. 

            Gasps of horrified shock rose from their lips as they stared at the man, who only moments ago stood in front his masterful depiction of a lovely young woman, and commented so brilliantly about the detail to her golden locks as if his sight still were marvelously intact.  

            When asked about his extremely brash and gruesome act of self-mutilation, the painter explained himself calmly to the crowd that, “I needn’t eyes to see true beauty, but only my fingers to stroke the brush.  These optics – you all fear are indispensable – yet through my work, do I not convince you that my vision is even more penetrating than your own?”   

            Rows of applause echoed in the air as fans, onlookers and critics alike all applauded and cheered for Le’Charmine: the stranger with no eyes, yet whose hand and brush saw more than even a thousand eyes could even begin to attempt.

            The air of his story lay thick with mystery and intrigue, there was no doubt, and yet there was no comparison, Le’Charmine’s work greatly surpassed any artist whose work even dared attempt to gain stage in the galleries that season, or gain any recognition or status at all during those warm summer months.  He was, in fact, the only artist that lived on the lips of critics and art lovers alike.

Like wildfire, rumors broke and ran wild about the mysterious painter:  Who was he?  Where did he come from?  What school of study did he subscribe to and perhaps the most entertained inquiry of them all, how did he continue to capture his subjects’ loveliness so vividly without sight?   

            One night, as Le’Charmine sat reclusively, engorging himself on wine at the Weingut Cobenzl, he quickly became one of many entertained by the harmonic vocals of the tavern owner’s lovely young daughter, Eliza.  Her youthful voice radiated a sound so lovely that it ensnared the often barbarous and ruthless drunkards of the night, and lulled them into a soft purring trance of calm esthetic peace.  Large brutish men sat like playful kittens, pining over the angelic barmaid that swooned past them singing her delightful tune.

            That night, Le’Charmine needn’t see the face of the woman, whose voice lured him in not unlike the mythical sirens of old, to know that she was truly one worthy of his brush and that he must hastily, make her acquaintance.

            He rose from his table and – be it true that he could not see – found her amongst his own personal darkness and met her charming voice with his own.  The two lingering melodies met and found each other like beacons among the darkness, bringing each of them closer together, interwoven beautifully.   

            Patrons that night of the Weingut Cobenzl sat astonished.  Not only did this mysterious stranger possess the astonishing ability to give his paintings life without sight, a miracle reserved by none other than God himself.  But by Jove, his voice resonated throughout the air with notes written by angels, delivered through his lips and sung into life like none other before him. 

           The scene was euphoric. 

           She found herself tethered to him, his song; the very leash that linked them both together.  Upon the culmination of their serenade, Le’Charmine and the beautiful Eliza took their bows in front of a very appreciative, if not slightly inebriated jury of clamoring onlookers.

            It was not until later that both Le’Charmine and the lovely Eliza disappeared from the main stage of the taverns nightly festivities.  They sat together.  Le’Charmine offered Eliza a goblet of wine and begged her to accompany him for the rest of the evening, “Mademoiselle, you must drink with me.  For how would such an act be taken for you to deny your own father’s vintage merlot in his own tavern?”

            She took the goblet in between her delicate fingers and held it to her pursed rose-colored lips, pretending to sip, then placed the goblet back in front of Le’Charmine as she replied, “There.  Now we will never know, will we?”

            They both laughed.    

            Eliza leaned further.  Le’Charmine could feel her weight resting on the opposite end of the table, “So tell me painter, how does one capture such elegant beauty, if you cannot even see the goblet that still sits filled, resting at your fingertips?”

            Le’Charmine grinned and replied, “What makes you believe that I know not that the goblet is still filled?”  He snatched it up with such speed that Eliza almost forgot that the man had no eyes to see.  He put it to his nose, sniffed then drank the rest of Eliza’s merlot down in one smooth sip.

            Eliza basked wildly in awe and applauded while Le’Charmine shouted for another bottle.

            “Bartender!” he cried, “Barolo; your very best bottle for myself and my enchanting guest!”

            The bartender sauntered over, carrying a bottle of Barolo cradled in his arm, wrapped in a dark vermillion cloth. 

            “Father!” Eliza cried, “You must meet Monsieur Frederic Le’Charmine.  He is the man who created those breathtaking works of art.  Monsieur Frederic, allow me to introduce you to Andre Martan, my father and owner of the Weingut Cobenzl.” 

            “Ah, the painter!” Andre said, “Welcome to my tavern monsieur.  A true pleasure.”   

            Le’Charmine rose from his seat, bowed and said, “Monsieur, please the pleasure is all mine; allow me to formally introduce myself.  As your lovely daughter has already unveiled, my name is Frederic Le’Charmine, but in regards to my profession, she is too kind.  I am only a mere painter.  One who is only inspired by beauty,” he then looked over to Eliza and nodded, “but does not create it.”

            “So humble, isn’t he papa?” Eliza said.

            “Quite so, quite so.  Monsieur, I have seen your talent first hand and be it that I am no critic, yet I confess that none other could paint such breathtaking visions the way that you have managed to capture.”

            “You flatter me monsieur.”    

            Andre then took the bottle of Barolo out from the cradle of his arm and handed it to Le’Charmine.         

            “Come; let us drink to your celebrity!  I understand that rumors of your paintings are reaching far across France.  You would do me the honor of accepting this bottle as a token of my friendship as we toast to your success, no?”

            Le’Charmine smiled, but held up his hand.

            “Monsieur Martan, your flattery and your hospitality know no bounds, yet I must refuse your all too gracious offer.”

            Andre’s face grew long and Eliza’s eyes widened with maddening surprise.

            “Monsieur?” Andre inquired.

            “I can only accept your gracious gift and your generosity only on the agreement that you allow me the opportunity to capture your daughter’s radiance on the cloth of my canvas.”

            Eliza sighed and put a hand to her chest, “Monsieur, I-I would be honored!”

            “As would I!” Andre proclaimed proudly and then finally handed Le’Charmine the bottle of Barolo.  “Come; let us drink upon this merry occasion!”

            They uncorked the bottle of Barolo and poured the dark vermillion wine into three glass goblets and clinked them together as Andre toasted, “Here’s to you Frederic Le’Charmine.  To your marvelous works to date,” and then looked over to Eliza, “and to your even more marvelous works to come!”   

            Eliza blushed as Andre and Le’Charmine tapped their goblets against her own with a resonating clink and proceeded to sip.        

            “Tomorrow,” Le’Charmine said, “I will come back and if I am able to even capture only a small amount of your ravishing daughters beauty on canvas, then I will finally consider my existence as a painter a success.”  

…Read the rest in “In Poe’s Shadow,” from Dark Opus Press.  Available Here.

 

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