CAT & MODEL
Koko stood by the huge window stroking the black cat. She was completely naked, but the cat didn't mind, he was being stroked. She peered out of the window at the Sacre Coeur in the distance. It was some time since she'd been there, some time since she'd prayed. She stroked the cat under the chin and it purred loudly. She smiled. It reminded her of herself when she and Andre made love here in his studio. Not that they were lovers only: she was Andreís model; she posed for him, she was his inspiration, as Andre said. And when they did make love, when the mood came, it was either on the dark-pink sofa by the window or in his bed behind the dark curtains on the other side of the spacious room.
"Iím going out, Koko, won't be long," Andre had said and had just gone out. Koko was what Andre nicknamed her, her real name was lost in her memory, best forgotten Sometimes she went with him to the cafes or bars. It was that kind of place Montparnasse. She loved Paris. She loved its air of excitement. It made her feel endlessly young. Andre had chosen her as his model out of many others.
"You inspire me!" he often said enthusiastically. He had painted her many times and was working on another a few hours ago. She would strut naked about the studio like a new born, and Andre, like the cat, didn't mind unless he had visitors coming to view his paintings, and then he would say, ďQuick Koko, get dressed, Iíve visitors coming!" She leaned forward and kissed the cat on the head. She stared out over Paris and wondered what Andre was doing. Sometimes he went with other women. She knew, she could smell them on him. She didn't mind. She was his model. Her beauty would be remembered when those other women were old hags and long forgotten.
Andre's paintings had reached as far as New York and London. And so too in a sense had she. If she had gone tonight Andre might not have been in a good mood. If he didn't invite her along she'd not go. It was best. She knew all those whom he knew. Other artists like Picasso and Chagall. She remembered poor Modigialini. She loved him and was saddened to hear of his death six years before. They came and went the lost or famous. She knew Andre loved her by the way he captured her on canvas. She loved him in the way she posed for him. Patting the cat's head she moved away from the huge window. She could hear
the cat purring as she stood by the table and picked up an apple.
"Peke, I cannot stroke you all the time. You are like your master, thinking I am here only for him," Koko said. She sniffed the apple and then took a small bite. Sometimes Andre would do still life paintings, so always kept fruit and flowers in the studio, but Koko would watch as they became forgotten as would eat the fruit or place the flowers in fresh water before they died.
"Why have you painted those bananas blue?Ē Koko had asked Andre at one time as he stood at his easel.
"Thatís how I see them," he had replied.
"Are your eyes poor?Ē Koko had replied. She smiled to herself. The way of artists fascinated her. Andre especially. She walked over to the easel where Andre's latest work was covered by a cloth. She lifted the cloth and peered at the canvas. He had captured her as he always did in his own way. He always had her just so. In as sense he† had made her immortal. Frozen in a moment of time.
"This is a creation," Andre had said gesturing towards his painting with his hand," but a photograph is just a copy. An imitation. I, in† my work, recreate you and all that I see." Koko heard his words in her mind, as she let the cloth fall in place. She felt reborn, when he spoke like that. As if she had been brought into the world again without having to go through her mother's womb again. The mere thought made her shudder. Those days were long behind her.
"Peke, leave those curtains alone!Ē she exclaimed, catching sight of the black cat hanging on to the dark-brown curtains. "Your master will not be pleased if he catches you." Peke sat back and licked his paws. Koko moved back over to the window and stroked the cat's head again. Her gentle strokes bringing purrs from the cat once more.
"Heís a stray," Andre had told her when he brought her home with him one night from one of the bars. "Heís needs love and care as I do," Andre had said placing the black creature into her arms. She leaned forward and kissed the black head. The purring grew louder.Koko laughed to herself.
"You are such a passionate fellow!" she whispered. "Iím sure you have Andre's soul somewhere within you." The cat purred louder as if in agreement. She picked Peke up and kissed his nose. "If only you could speak," she murmured, kissing him again. She set him down on the ledge. She looked out over the view. It was getting darker. She hoped Andre would not be long. Her flesh felt cold now. She needed him near her; needed his warmth. "Donít be long, Andre! " she whispered to the glass window, "Iím waiting for you." The cat purred and brushed its head against her naked breast. She smiled. The cat rolled on its back, its purring getting louder and louder and louder.