The Third Susan-Part 3 (Conclusion) (Image: Mary Jane #1)

“Musette,” she begins, “in the first of a set of three stories—is a fourteen year old girl growing up on the streets of Paris  in the late 1860s. She’s homeless and survives by begging and doing odd jobs for street vendors, merchants and city workers. I think she has a couple of half-brothers who help her out on occasion.”

“Anyway,” she continues, “as her body matures she becomes a beautiful young woman and it happens she has a nice voice. She hooks up with an accordion-player and they are street-performing one day when an artist—a painter-sculptor—walks by and is taken by her sweet voice, pretty face and beautiful young figure.”

She wiggles around into a better position, ”Up—up a little higher,” she says, “yeah—right there.”

“The artist—named Remy—in the stories—is pretty much acknowledged to be based on Edward Degas,” she says. “Nicole was a model for Degas off and on for many years and likewise they were lovers off and on for many years.”

“So Musette is Nicole Collett?” I ask as I dig into a knot in her pretty neck.

“Nothing gets by you, does it Yank?” She moans and says, “Yeah—God that hurts so good. You have great hands—and no—don’t say it you adolescent butthead!”

“To cut to the chase,” Susan continues, “he eventually is able to get her to come live with him and be his model, lover and gopher.”

“Lover?” I say, “at 14?—how old is he?

“Forty-something,” she returns, “and get over your stupid American Puritanism—it was an entirely different time, culture and sub-culture.”

“So what happens?” I ask.

“For the next 12 or 14 years,” she goes on, “she lugs his canvases, brushes and easels around after him as he wanders all over France chasing his artistic narcissism, cheating on her, yelling at her. She puts up with his infantile tantrums, cooks for him, cleans the crappy living quarters he finds, washes his clothes, goes along with whatever ridiculous and humiliating sex acts he demands. On one occasion he tries to pimp her out but she finally explodes and tells him to go to hell.”

“Good for her,” I say.

“Ah shit,” she says, “you’re on his side you lying bastard—I know exactly what you’re thinking—probably something like, “Yeah—cool—my man Ed had it made.”

“You’ve absolutely the prettiest cynic whose neck I ever rubbed,” I say, and bend over to kiss and lick her neck.

“Just keep rubbing,” she says.

“So, is there anything positive about this relationship?” I ask—continuing to rub.

“They really did love each other,” she says—“desperately—more deeply than you can imagine. She really was his muse—he would have been nothing without her. That’s how you got to me earlier. The magic words are “muse,” “love” and “art.” I suppose I’m like a slot machine—line up those three cherries and—jackpot.”

“So, when do I collect my winnings?” I snicker.

“Soon enough you jerk,” she says. “Just keep rubbing.”

“So how did this loving exploitation turn out?” I ask as I do as I’m told.

He does what every asshole, woman-exploiting artist who ever lived does,” she says, “dumps her when she loses her child-like sweetness and he spots another beautiful, pathetic waif.”

“And?” I say.

“By then it’s too late. She has become a slave—an addict. She couldn’t even keep her own name—Remy the fictional character and Degas the real artist didn’t like her given name and insisted on calling her ‘Suzanne’—after some freelance whore he knew when he was an apprentice to a master.” She snuggles back into me then slides down so her head is in my lap. She closes her eyes.

“She has lost her soul,” she sighs. “So she writes about it—she becomes an artist herself in her lifetime but knows in her heart her efforts are only an echo of her precious artist lover’s ethereal gifts. Even in death it doesn’t end—she continues to follow and love him—be his muse across eternity—life after life.”

“When you were saying all those things you thought were just a line to get into my knickers, did you have a sense that they were in fact true and you’d known me before?” she says in a matter-of-fact way.

This is getting genuinely scary. I wonder if she’s psychic or something.

“I did,” I say without meaning to—and now my head is starting to hurt. “How did you know?

“We have known each other before,” she continues, “dozens, maybe hundreds of times. We have been lovers and I your muse countless times. But I’ll be damned if I’ll be your gopher—you can lug your own stupid equipment you narcissistic bastard. Just because I love you doesn’t mean I have to like you. That—she snaps—you’ll have to earn. I’m tired—let’s go to bed.”

She stands up, strips off every stitch of clothing in a single sweeping movement. She walks naked across the room, pauses and steps into a pair of gold Lemay  high heels lying on the carpet. Sauntering over to the bedroom door—she turns and poses provocatively a few seconds then kicks off the shoes at me—nearly hitting me in the face.

“You’re Musette, Suzanne and Nicole—reincarnated,” I say, stunned. “And I’m—Degas?”

She turns and walks into the darkened bedroom. As she does she calls back over her shoulder,

“Nothing gets by you, does it Yank?

End part 3–end story

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