Winter light flowed though the double windows of the upstairs of an old store. Somewhat warm it was, as it needed to be, for there was no money for enough heat. An old artist sat on a crude wooden bench dozing in front of a very large blank canvas he had stretched himself years ago. His flowing gray hair was matted now, his face showing the years of hardly living or of living hardly. A completely paint-covered apron covered a dirty blue shirt and baggy cotton pants, above scruffed and painted high-top work shoes. There was a soft little snore rising to the rough hewn rafters. Down below, there was an old store of antiques, mostly junk. Still his daughter, Millie, kept it going and managed to have a pot of warm coffee with its attendant luscious smell enticing the occasional visitor to browse a little longer.

Millie loved the "customers" who hung around with idle prattle about finds they had made. Sometimes, though, they just taunted her asking for prices of some little something when Millie knew they had no intention of buying. Millie worried about her aging father and his dozing habits, But Abel had his reasons. While he sat and dozed, he remembered -- remembered the gardens of Paris, of Tuscany, of Holland. He mused about his old artist friends and laughed about their debauchery. And that would become his inspiration for his next painting.

His old cat, Fritz, bounded up on his lap and woke him in the middle of this somnambulant state. Enthusiastically, he grabbed his largest old brush from a paint- dribbled and chipped crockery pot. He outlined the faces randomly of Van Gogh, Vermeer, Titian, Monet and others known only to his memory. He made smaller outlines of his wives, ladies of the evening, and old true lovers in his life. Abel began to paint each face lovingly, intermingling the background with the flowers of their countries, tulips, edelweis, violets. Day after day all winter Old Abel painted his masterpiece. Millie encouraged him heartily, bringing him coffee and sandwiches all day long. She just knew that this painting was the painting that would make for Abel and of course herself, all of the money they would need.

In early spring, about the first week in April, Abel left his studio in search of a small piece of wood, which he found in a nearby lumberyard. He hurried with the stiff gait of the old back to his studio and etched with his worn but sharp stylus, "Winter Bouquet," and with that fell asleep for the last time.




~ Norma (Twi1ite@sbcglobal.net)

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The midi is "Heart Dance".