I was standing in the midst of my burnt-out studio, they said it was an electrical spark in some old wiring. Most things were damaged if not ash. I salvaged a few art pieces from the wreckage hoping I could restore them and sell them for a decent amount on the art market to keep myself afloat till I found a real job or if I was lucky, re-inspired to paint. I hadn’t painted anything in five years and was just living off the sales of my paintings from before my painter’s block came along.
I used to live underneath my studio and managed to save some of my possessions but most of my artwork was toast. I started looking for a new place to live. But with my unsteady income I didn’t want to sign some expensive lease that I wouldn’t end up being able to pay for.
A friend of mine told me they had someone looking for a roommate, I wasn’t excited about sharing my living space with someone but I had few choices with my money and inspiration tendencies.
The friend gave me the address and I went by. When I arrived at the building I thought about turning around and leaving right then, this guy lived on the top floor of an apartment building, a penthouse.
I wouldn’t be able to afford this if I was supposed to pay half, my friend had said it wouldn’t be expensive, maybe four-hundred dollars a month, that was a good deal for any rent. What was the catch? Was the guy rich?
I thought about it, checked to make sure I had the right address and decided to see what the catch was since I was low on options.
Everything I had saved from the fire was in my car. I was worried, with my luck that it would get broken into well I was up there looking for this guy. But I didn’t want to carry my things up if this turned out to not be for me.
I made sure the car was locked, in a lit spot since the sun was setting and close to the entrance. I rode the elevator up to the top floor and stepped out into the hall which had one door in the middle of it. I approached the door and rang the doorbell.
I heard footsteps and movement inside. A shirtless guy in a robe and jean shorts answered the door. I was surprised by his get up but it was the evening and he probably wasn’t expecting any visitors.
“Klaus Krane?” I asked.
He looked high. Is there such a thing?
“Do you live where these are made?” he questions holding up a cigarette.
I examined my clothes further and found they were dusted with ash.
“Declan March,” I replied holding out a hand.
“Ah, the artist,” he replied.
He was on something more than cigarette smoke.
“So, my friend said it would be like four-hundred a month but you live in the penthouse?” I question.
“Oh, is that too much? What about three-hundred? You could live here and I wouldn’t really care, I just have too much space and find it too quiet,” he replies.
“No, if it’s four-hundred, I’ll do the four-hundred. I just wanted to make sure this wasn’t a joke,” I replied.
“You wanted to make sure there was no catch?” he jokes.
“Yeah,” I reply a little weirded out.
“No, catches here,” he replies.
“Okay, I’m going to get my things, do you want to show me the room?” I question.
“Of course,” he replies pulling the door back.
His hair is messy, curly and a shade of chestnut brown. He has a five o’clock shadow. His apartment is shrouded in darkness from the closed windows but lit by lamplight, much like my studio when I was working at night.
He led me around a cream-colored couch and a cherry-wood bookcase to a door. I notice a TV blending in with the darkness.
“This is yours,” he replies opening the door.
Inside is a giant bedroom with a window display of the streets and city beyond. There had to be a catch or joke. For four-hundred a month? The bedroom was already furnished and had its own bath, TV and desk space as if he knew I was moving in weeks in advance.
“Okay, what’s the catch?” I question expecting him to say it was a joke. Even if he was rich and just wanted company is his quiet apartment, why wouldn’t he want the renter to pay the full price for half of the space?
“I told you no catch,” he replies smiling.
“How much do these places cost? Two? Three-thousand a month and you’re just going to let me stay here for less than a sixth of it?” I question.
“I have nothing better to do with the space and you need it,” he replies.
He left me standing at the entrance to my room and wandered off to his half of the house.
I guess if it were all a prank I’d find out tomorrow morning when I was awoken by my friend and him, till then I was glad not to be out on the street.
I went down and collected my remaining artwork, clothes, trinkets, dishes and etc. from my car. I placed all my personal items in my bedroom, I set up the art supplies that I had salvaged from the fire on the desk. I went out into the kitchen and found an empty space for my cutlery.
Klaus had laid down on the couch and dozed off. I caught a glimpse of his tan skin under his robe and the six-pack he sported. It sparked something in my mind, the urge to paint. I threw my shoes by the front door and went back into the room to get an easel, canvas, and paints. I set up the easel and started.
I sketched out his form and then started on the larger details, I was there for a good five hours. When I was finished it was a replica of the still sleeping Klaus, I was covered in paint swatches trying to find the right colors for the right things in the surroundings. I dismantled my easel and set the painting in my closet out of the sight of Klaus and reach of any clothes. I didn’t want him to think I was some creeper painting people well they slept.
I got cleaned up in my new bathroom and put my paint-covered clothes in the laundry. I laid down in the bed sore and exhausted from sitting still and painting for five hours straight.