As she stepped out of the tube at the photographer’s studio there was a crush of paparazzi, all jostling each other for a chance to get that one great shot that would catapult them into the stratosphere and guarantee them an income for life. She had become so blasé about them by now she automatically smiled and waved as she pressed through the crowd and into the studio. Good thing she had the foresight to dress to the nines. The paparazzi would love to capture a photo of her in an unflattering light!
She was warmly greeted by the photographer’s PA, a robust woman with too much makeup and too much work. She bustled Kara into the makeup room, gave some instructions to the makeup technicians, offered Kara a cappuccino, and bustled off to carry out her myriad of duties. Within moments Kara was settled comfortably in a chair, sipping a hot cappuccino while her hair was being curled, sprayed, and rearranged to suit the photographer’s direction. A dresser came, pulling a rack of designer clothes for her to choose from, and another brought in a case of jewelry. Makeup was removed and reapplied, and hair was sprayed in place.
The hustle and bustle of the studio always intrigued her because it reminded her of her own creative process. The photographer was pacing around, checking lighting, giving instructions on where props should be and what lighting was needed. She respected her fellow artists, and Carlos Diego Ramierez was, indeed, an artist. His work commanded attention and many influential people had sat in this very studio for him to work his magic. It was said he never took a bad photograph of anyone and always managed to find that inner spark from even the most stone-faced subject.
When she had been visually transformed she was led to a chair near the center of the room where the Carlos planned to shoot the photographs. As she approached, Carlos stood back, admiring her from a distance. He began to clap in appreciation and others joined in the applause. She blushed slightly from this praise and Carlos, grasping her hands in his, kissed both her cheeks and told her how amazing she looked. He led her to the chair in the center of the stage area and she sat down while technicians rearranged her gown and moved lights. Carlos checked his light metres and a technician loaded his cameras. He still used the old technique of film for his work, something very rare in this day and age, but he said it gave his photographs more depth than any digital format could.
With loaded cameras Carlos started chatting with Kara, in his calm, quiet way that always managed to put every subject at ease. As they chatted, he snapped away, walking around, crouching down, motioning for movement of lights, and always chatting. They talked about her gallery showing the night before and shared anecdotes of who had been there, what was said, and other tidbits of conversation as he continued taking photos. Always this sort of conversation relaxed Kara and she always found herself enjoying the moment.
As a technician loaded cameras, and someone changed the jewelry she was wearing, Carlos glanced over at Kara and said, “Your paintings… they were remarkable! I was transfixed. You know I always love your work, bella, but these paintings were, somehow, different, more compelling, more intense. They held my focus like none have before.”
He turned his full attention on her and began to take more photos. As he moved in for a close-up shot he whispered: “I saw them.” He continued moving, snapping photos as her face reacted to his statement.
“Pardon me,” she asked, hesitantly, not sure she had heard him correctly.
His camera lens captured her face and showed him clearly that she was uneasy with his comment. “I saw the images, within the painting,” he replied, quietly, capturing the brief shocked look on her beautiful face.
She recovered her composure quickly and laughed: “Oh, yes, well my paintings have been known to have some unusual images within them. I guess it depends on who look’s at them.” She hoped she had covered her uneasiness over his statement.
“You know what I mean,” Carlos said, almost barely above a whisper this time. “I saw those scenes! Never before have I seen such scenes in your work! They were disturbing, angry, violent… real!”
She was staring at Carlos, watching his face as he described what he saw in her paintings. First the man in the gallery had seen them, and now she discovered that Carlos had seen them too. At first this reality made her nervous and she wanted to change the subject, but something made her remain quiet while Carlos talked.
“I have not seen such suffering, such destruction, in many years, Bella,” he said as he watched her face for reaction. “Those images are the nightmares of men who have seen battle, not of beautiful women painters. They are images of pain, suffering, death. “
Kara was staring intently at Carlos’ face too, as intently as he was observing her. “It is just something that happens when I paint,” she responded, trying to keep her voice normal and light. “I never know what will surface when I am painting. It’s a creative process that just happens. Probably something I saw in a movie once or on the news.” She hoped her explanation would ease the tension that was hovering over them now.
“Yes. Perhaps you are right, Bella,” Carlos said suddenly, looking away from her gaze. “No doubt something you saw in a movie.” He snapped a few more photos and then declared he was finished for the day. He reached for her hand as he always did and, bending low over her hand, he kissed it gently, all the while maintaining eye contact with her. “Bella mia, you are as enchanting as ever, and more beguiling each time we meet. Thank you for the joy of photographing you. “
She reached out to hug him as she always did, and kissed both sides of his face. “Carlos, it is always a pleasure to work with such an amazingly creative genius as yourself. It was truly an honor to be able to sit for you today.”
She gratefully retired behind the screen to change into her own clothes and prepared to take her leave. The conversation had been unsettling but then, creative people can be intense, she told herself, and often over-exaggerated things for effect. That was all this was, just a heart-felt reaction to the images. She shouldn’t read so much into all this, she thought with a tiny laugh. Just the unpredictable creative process, that’s all.
After thanking all the technicians who worked on her she went to bid goodbye to Carlos. They hugged and kissed again and just as she was turning to leave Carlos grabbed her hands. He held them tightly in his and stared deep into her eyes.
“Bella mia, what I saw in those paintings… they are vision. Trust me, Bella, you must be careful. If you need me, just call. Here is my personal number. I will always be there for you, mia cara, but you must be careful who you trust. Things are not always as they seem.”
Kara was stunned by these words. “What do you mean, Carlos? They are just paintings, nothing more. I told you, probably a result of things I saw in movies or read.”
“No, Bella, they are far more than that,” Carlos said. “They are an omen of things to come.”
She wanted to ask him what he meant but his PA appeared with messages to be dealt with and he kissed Kara and disappeared into his office, shutting the door behind him. She thought about knocking on the door but decided against it. After standing there for a moment, uneasy and unsure of what had just happened, she gathered her belongings and headed for her appointment. The whole conversation seemed surreal to her, and once again she attempted to shrug it off as the reactions of highly creative minds.
She walked slowly to the door, placed her palm on the encoder and entered the tube. Inside she paused before entering the co-ordinates for the magazine office. This whole image-in-the-painting thing was becoming more of a mystery since last night, she thought. She decided to give Carlos a call later that night to see if he could shed more light on his comments.
She entered the co-ordinates and was quickly transported to her next destination. When the tube opened, however, she was shocked to discover she was back at the restaurant! “What the hell is going on today,” she muttered under her breath. She was certain she had coded the right co-ordinates! Re-entering the sequence, she held her breath as she was transported again. When the tube opened she was relieved to find the magazine office. She must have absent-mindedly put in the wrong code, she thought. All this talk of images in her work was making her distracted.
She entered the magazine office. The monitors on the wall showed the latest copy of their magazine. Kara stood still, in shock. On every monitor in the room, glaring at her in bright red letters, was the headline: Annihilation.
© 2008 Tallulah