Allen stepped away from the canvas to take a look at his painting progress. So far he was pleased with the form his brush was taking as it moved across the surface. It felt right this time. The picture that was forming was starting to look just like he’d sort of planned it in his head. His hands and wrists were finally cooperating in the artistic way he wanted. He dipped the brush in a little more red and stepped forward, almost touching his nose to the canvas as he started again to spread the red paint up and over in high arcs starting near his face and up over his head. The red paint, thick on the brush, dribbled and dripped down the length of the eight foot tall canvas and onto the wood floor.
Every stroke of Allen’s brush added to the depth he wanted to build into what he thought would be the painting that could change the world. It was a special painting. In fact, there wasn’t one like it anywhere in the world. Allen stepped back again and shook out his arm. It was getting a little sore from painting over his head so much. He wasn’t quite used to it. Plus he’d put on some weight since quitting his job at the bank so that was slowing him down a bit.
He didn’t start out as a painter. He was a financial planner and was happy in the logical world of numbers and figures and sums and decimal points and percentages. He loved it all. He knew that was what he wanted to be ever since he was a young boy and he found an old adding machine in his grandfather’s attic. His grandfather showed him how to use it and Allen fell in love. He devoted all his energies to being excellent at math and took a great deal of pride in the practical and logic sense it made. He never had an artistic bone in his body. English classes and literature classes weren’t his thing. He’d struggled with the required reading and his book reports were always dismal. He’d rather be doing fun calculus than having to read about some dumb Hobbit or Dracula.
It wasn’t until he was walking home from work earlier this year when things changed. He was possessed with a singular loneliness as he trudged along the sidewalk. An attractive woman was jogging toward Allen and he was transfixed. He’d never made much time for women in his life. He’d had a few girlfriends, one for eight months in college. Since then though he’d been so career focused he just never really spent any time looking for a companion of the fairer sex. He was rather blissfully unaware of his own need for company until he saw this woman jogging toward him. She was wearing a very tight work-out outfit. She was bathed in late afternoon golden sunlight and seemed to be moving in slow motion. Allen’s mouth dropped open as she got closer and then passed him. She didn’t look at him; she just kept running, focused on her goal. Allen felt something inside snap. His stomach seized and he felt dizzy. He watched her well toned body run away from him and round the corner. Allen started to cry.
It didn’t make any sense to Allen’s finely honed logical brain. He’d seen pretty women before and it didn’t get to him. Now he was stunned into a realization that he was terribly lonely and ultimately unfulfilled. All his work on numbers and figures seemed pointless. He continued to walk up to his apartment building in a stunned fog. He barely remembered getting into his apartment, taking off all his clothes and dropping into his bed. The running woman was on a continuous loop in his brain and he was overwhelmed with arousal. It felt shameful to him though. He felt guilty for thinking about this woman in such a way, but he felt compelled. He wanted her as much as he wanted to plan for someone’s retirement, except more so. The flashes of light in his imagination as he continued to imagine the running woman seemed to unlock something in Allen’s brain and he was awash with passion.
Two hours later Allen was sitting on his living room floor, wrapped in his bed sheets, drunk on two bottles of red wine and ice cream. Computer paper was thrown about the apartment, some blank; some had scribbled pencil drawings. He knew he could never go back to the bank. His days with numbers were over. He had a vision and now he had to express that vision to the world.
Allen closed his eyes and paused the brush on the canvas. He had to take himself back to the moment of ecstasy, the burning red of his lust, the way the sun was like an echo of the jogging woman’s beauty. He found it, felt himself getting aroused, opened his eyes and continued to spread the paint across the canvas.