Those were days of being happily lazy.
In the mid hours of the afternoon, the blazing light and scorching heat at peak, we searched refuge indoors and took a nap, right on the floor of the master bedroom. Herr Weissmann having studied, investigated, and experienced the island before building, had placed it to his own benefit at the breeziest corner of the house.
Gushes of wind had the palm leaves rattling softly. Their long fingers every once in a while reached inside the house, groping for nothing. The curtains on the corners of the room danced their own colorful choreography. And because the house was suspended, very little or practically no sand invaded it.
We had been enthusiastically talking about the restoration plans, and I guess so much excitement with a future we could only dream of drained our energy. We feel asleep side by side, as we had been conversing. My last vision were Armand's knees, right before my eyes, and next I found myself dreaming...
Dreaming the apparition.
Not simply a remembrance from the morning -- it was a new apparition. Or, the same apparition reappearing. But more clear, and closer.
In my slumber, I was not as scared.
Because I was able to distinguish that at the center of the pool of light serenely stood a boy, beautiful like a cherub. The image flickered, radiating an astonishing brilliance, and though it did not have any substance, I could somehow feel its presence to be benign -- when apparitions are called visitations, and ghosts become angels.
It being a five or six years old boy of great beauty made the apparition take features of something closer to a revelation, changing my feelings in relation to it radically. I felt it soothed me. As the fear in my heart quietened, the vision became a pacifying experience, one that I could hold and concentrate on, like in some of the meditation techniques Armand had taught me.
But I was not meditating. I was sleeping - and that realization forced me out of my dreams.
I awoke feeling untroubled, to discover it was about time for our movie session.
The sunset was one of the few daily appointments, apart from our meals, that I knew Armand did not want to miss. Gently, I woke him up just like I used to, in Paris, when we had shared the same bedroom, and the alarm clock wouldn't wake him. I gave a whistle that began low and soft, increasingly becoming a cascade of sounds that reminded a bird chirping. My way of bringing to wherever I was the magic of the mornings in the Apennines.
"Oh, mon cher Carlo!" Armand usually woke up in a good mood, looking restored and refreshed. In the tropics, it had not been any different. Except that he looked at me with tears in his eyes. "I missed you so much! I missed everything about you... Even your snoring." He laughed at my look of consternation. "Yes, you were snoring when you fell asleep this afternoon." I was embarrassed, and astonished, for Armand had never commented on that before. Had he always been too polite to do so? "And this whistle... I missed it so much!" He caressed my thigh, that was too close to his face.
"I missed it too, Armand. I haven't done it in such a long time! It belongs to you... But now let's go down to the beach..." Springing to my feet, I saw him give a start. The hand that had been on my legs was left in the air for a moment, until he withdrew it, placing it on his chest, as if to calm his heart. "Nothing can stop that sun from leaving us..." Offering my friend a hand, I lifted him from the floor.
I was an only child. My parents died in a boat accident, when I was two years old only. Have I ever told you that, Laurent? Tarso was already a widower at the time. Sometimes I wonder how he managed it, when I was a baby. Having to take care of me, all on his own, and keep up with the work on the fields. Of course, I have never asked him. Can you imagine your great grandfather changing diapers or feeding me? I have no whatsoever memories about that. And I don't recall any occasions when he played games with me, either. Anyway, I guess this somehow explains why I've always been a loner, or 'reclusive', to use the art critic's term. Don't you think so, Laurent?
YOU ARE READING
The Last CanvasSpiritual
A starving Italian painter flees Paris in the winter of 1974. His destination -- a tiny private island lost in the Indian Ocean. His destiny -- a soul-crushing love triangle with a French nobleman and a haughty Parisian intellectual. His fate -- inv...