Lola Wants To Kiss

I do prefer working on smaller pieces but I feel it important for all artists to leave their comfort zone as it fosters evolution. Pre pandemic I had bought several large hand cut pieces of paper in different styles (cold pressed/hot pressed/cotton etc) with no immediate idea what I would do with them.

This was my first time with this paper which is 22×30 hot pressed and not cotton. It handled very differently but I am pleased with the results. The photo taken was with my phone as to give the viewer the gist of it, the skin in person (or had i a better camera) practically radiates a heat of blood flowing just below the surface.

 

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Blue on Blue

I wanted to make something beautiful but which also gave the viewer no hint as to its size. I will always eschew the standard poses and traditional idea of beauty. It is boring and all blurs together. For me, the real will always be beautiful. A true emotion, bodies and flesh as encountered in everyday life.

This piece is 5×8 Watercolor & Paper “Blue on Blue”

 

blue on blue

Nocturne

Everyone’s phone now gives them the ability to take great photos & movies. This is a blessing and a curse. It is nice to capture something, especially when on the road that one wants to show friends. The downside to this is, go to any big city in Europe and you see tourists so busy hunting the perfect instagram shot that they are not actually there in the moment. Ambient sights, sounds and smells are  not absorbed into memory. The old adage that “travel broadens the mind” is a sort of shorthand for being open to experiences and impressions so that they add to you and become part of you. I’ve seen some lovely shots of Paris on friend’s social media sites but when asked about their travels, they can not convey anything aside from the day of their trip they were at the local.

This is not recent news though. Another less apparent negative effect is that, with the ability to snap a photo of anyone, hundreds of photos of a night out with new friends, people under a certain age have forgotten or never learned how to look at a painting.

The relationship between painter and model/subject is not supposed to be one of exacting reportage. Ideally, it is as if the painter is describing the model but using their own words. Words in this case being the painter’s style. Because of the ability to document in photos, a person, people want an exacting reproduction all done in hyper realism. (like their phone photos)

When Matisse painted a woman reclining on a couch, you knew her foot was her foot but you would never dream of doing an  anatomical study from it. Largely, people do not want to see a painting which looks like a painting, where brush strokes are evident as is the artist’s hand. With my recent foray into social media, i have met some wonderful painters who are held back by trying to make their work look too real, too exacting and so stillborn. “Painterly” aesthetics is currently not as appealing to the masses as overly processed and perfected type thing which could be a glossy Haute couture ad.

Some museums during shelter in place have been offering free virtual tours. In a recent New Yorker column, Peter Schjeldahl, one of the finest living authors on art, suggested that viewing art online was not great. He drew the ire of many. There is though a huge difference between seeing an image of a work and actually being there. The digital image, even when shot in high definition still has factors which effect its appearance and impact such as the aspects of the device one is looking on. And the reality of looking at photos of paintings online, more often than not there will not be a sense of communion since chances are one has the television on or other distractions, the myth of multi-tasking. If one goes to a museum, instagram moment hunting aside, ostensibly you are there to experience art and nothing else. There is just an indescribable aspect to being in a building, in the same room as a work with it in front of you and others around you. There is not a “feeling” seeing it flattened out on a device’s screen. It gives the gist of a piece at best, it is akin to hearing a recorded voice not the voice speaking in the same space as you.

I get great pleasure in portraying human flesh in my works. How i do it is not a matter of degree of chops but intentional. It’s painterly and expressionistic. To do close up parts, it almost borders at times on abstraction. I have done pieces, close ups, where there is not the guide-indication of an eye or finger to tell of a body. It is even more abstract yet there is something fleshy about it. I feel very fortunate to be able to work the magic the makes a white square seem as if it has volume & mass, heat of blood flowing just below the skin.

Nocturne Watercolor & Paper 5×8 inches

nocturne

Tan Lines

9×12 watercolor & paper

During having to stay home she took sun baths on her balcony. From there she could see into my studio window, watching me work. Hers was one of many faces who while away the time taking in the mellow rays of the sun, which after an hour or so almost managed to trick the body into thinking everything is all right,  watching me work. when I finished a piece I would turn it towards window so she could see what I had been working on. shyly at first, she started informally modeling.

To me, the real is always beautiful. It facilitates emotions which in turn allow the viewer to return to a work over and over without becoming bored.

The size of my works is intentional. Their size helps bolster the feeling of happening upon a scene from an open ended story. Shelter in place has shown a lot of us that our living space is smaller than we realized. The wall sized pieces so often emphasized make a collector live under the piece and not with it. The larger size and familiarity also eventually creates the effect of a work just becoming first visual static, then merely a wall. My smaller pieces engage the viewer as one is making the choice to look at it rather than having it loom over them.

I also keep in mind the burgeoning collector who is just starting to collect. Large pieces, especially for an apartment dweller can dictate the style of the collection while also limiting the amount which can be displayed. I want my works to be able to be included in a collection as it and the collector’s tastes grow.

Ultimately bigger is not better, there is just more of it.

 

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Schnabel Flag & A Portrait

I decided to  switch to mostly using cloth napkins. While sheltering in place it makes it a little nicer when finding oneself at the same table meal after meal. When the second wave of people being sick hits and those without empathy become even more animalistic than they had shamefully been during the initial outbreak,  (paper napkins) it will be one less thing I have to worry about being hoarded and unenviable to me. I ordered a few extra packs online so i am not perpetually washing them.

One pack i got looked like the pattern of the type of pajamas Julian Schnabel wears out in public. By coincidence the night before they arrived I had a dream that he had come over. I had made tagliatelle with my Palermo sauce.  After eating we sat at the table not bothering about clearing it, talking. I doodled on a napkin. When it was time to go home, without asking permission, he took my napkin doodle .

I took one of these Schnabel napkins and tacked it to my studio wall like a flag. A flag under which I serve, a flag of a conquered nation. A totem that there are others out there who also live to serve the process.

 

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I just completed this portrait. I used multi-media paper. The most important aspect for all my work is that emotion comes through. The true is always beautiful and i do not think in my ever growing body of work there is one face that is not.

“This Moment” 9×12 Watercolor & Paper

thismoment

Paper

I had unintentionally lucked out. Where I lived in Paris had five art supplies stores all within a five to ten minute walk. Each was good for specific things.

One aspect of all which was nice was that each was for working artists, this was reflected in the pricing, quality and selection. All the places were “historic” except the one closest to me. This one was still good though, it just meant the Soutine had never bought his pencils nor charcoal there.

All the staff at each place are artists themselves but they are almost shy about it. There is none of the (sometimes) overbearing networking as occurs in North America. I became Pals with Quintin. He finally showed me some of his work. intricate ink on paper works. I did not just offer up the small talk compliments but discussed technique with him which cemented our friendship.

After that, for years, every time I went into his shop I would get the sale price plus employ discount on my basket full of stuff.

A few years ago I went in early in the morning on my way to an afternoon of sketching and heavy lunching. We chatted and at first he seemed distracted but after a few minutes of talk it became clear it was more a type of embarrassment.

He was going to follow a girl he liked, really liked, to Ibiza where he would also work on his graphic novel. It was unclear if they would take him back on the staff when he eventually returned to Paris. I should load up as much as possible now as to take advantage of the deep discount.

It was the end of an era. Most likely a mistake on his part but that and/or an over earnestness is right of passage for youth as they find their way. I put things in my basket, he handed me blocks of watercolor paper. Seeing me doing math in my head, assured me not to worry about it.

Standing at the counter i knew to let the woman behind me go first, feigning to have forgotten something.

We were alone now, we shook hands. He turned around and grabbed a bunch of stuff off the backboard which he put in my swollen bags. Shaking hands, we exchanged information.

Back in my studio looking at all the stuff he gave me, I was pretty sure they would not be having him back. I had blocks of 7×10 French cotton paper which became one of my mainstays. I had so much of it that it lasted me several years.

I am constantly, from piece to piece switching what paper I use as it keeps things fresh. I do not know how it works for others but in my head i envision a piece before executing it and this vision includes its size too. This has kept my piles of paper dwindling but at a leisurely pace.

Despite plans already solidified, shelter in place finds me on the wrong side of the ocean, Paris right now for me as for most, just a magical daydream. I am very fortunate to be able to continue to work though. My stateside studio has taborets full of supplies.

Since I am going to be around, as i mulled over a new piece I carefully emptied them as to dust inside them. Something which was more busy work to contemplate by than actually needed. To my surprise I found that I had finally reached the end of my Quentin paper! It is all right I have plenty of other paper but this was, for me, the best cotton paper.

I decided to get a new paper to try, a 9×12 non-cotton paper. Right off the bat I enjoyed using the paper. It handles different from my French cotton paper but still enjoyable. Using the new paper, despite all going on, I get that familiar pleasure of serving the process & my craft. I hope Quintin is on some Spanish beach with his hippy chic drinking wine and looking out at the sea, I hope that I find myself walking around my arrondissement sooner than later.

 

“Blue Pillow” 9×12 Watercolor & Paper (new paper)

“Hand Selfie” 8×5 watercolor & Paper

 

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Green Clogs

The nature of fame has changed. Like a lot of things, it’s properties are no longer agreed upon facts. Where once it was tied in more with the possessor’s talents and the work put into achieving the abilities, now it is often more align with coveting the “fame”.

The reality star/internet influence is largely the ultimate ambition of an entire generation. A main element of this phenomenon is the “look at me/look at what I have” aspect. It allows for feeling good about oneself without having to really work (i.e practice to become the best guitarist et al). This new fame is done by of looking down on those without while also being watched.

Social media (Instagram etc etc) is full of postings of people showing others their fab lives even if it’s largely artificial. People taking photos of their tropical vacation, Parisian jaunts. (mostly) They are not trying to show you the poetry of the sights but rather what they have that you don’t, where they are but you are not.We should all try to be the best version of ourselves but this is perversion of that concept, people putting forth an idealized, artificial version.

There is a company now where you can rent a private jet by the hour, it doesn’t go anywhere, it is for photo ops, so you can post photos of yourself chin on hand gazing out plane window or leaning back in plush leather seat champagne in hand smiling at the start of your adventure to nowhere.

The zeitgeist? Immediately pre pandemic a celebrity gave her boyfriend half a million dollars in cash, putting it up on social media. Putting aside whether the money was earned, in what way is any purpose served aside  from “look what I have”? (although Marie Antoinette didn’t actually say it, and the proper translation is brioche not cake) if ever there was a “Let them eat cake” moment that was it. Art should inspire. Even bad art can inspire as the viewer feels that they can make a better painting, write a better song etc. There is no discernible culture involved in any of this. For now we all live in self imposed exile and the “celebrity” peacock(ing) to some extent continues, albeit from living rooms and bedrooms.

My studio windows face a new building with the same color scheme as mine. People go out onto their little Juliet balconies to drink coffee and smoke. They are too far away to talk to but we have now all become part of each others daily lives via our mutual observation. I can chat while painting but I am also simultaneously absorbed into the process so I do not mind being a show for neighbors.

It will be interesting once we are all through this, to see whose values change.

Of course I have no idea of their web presence and its content but I have yet to see anyone leaning back against the railings of their balcony glass champagne in hand looking up, duckbill faced to raised phone, snapping a selfie.

One of them, i have noticed seems to have learned my easel working hours. We have a tacit understanding, I do not mind her watching and I do not ogle her when, on sunny days she walks around in the nude. We sealed our social contract with a series of casual waves.

I have started working big. I will not switch the usual scope of my pieces but I like the occasional challenge to keep things fresh. I slip a larger piece into my oeuvre now and then. I am still learning my preferred paper, trying a new one with each large piece.   I do have my method down and size too. The large pieces are all 22×30.

Regardless of size and subject of my piece, I seek to convey beauty from the real.

 

“Green Clogs” 22×30 Watercolor & Paper

 

20200319_08504420200322_13154220200327_100109Greenclog

 

 

 

Cyckenine (for Vassilis G)

Just back from being on the road. This is very much not my typical thing but I do believe stretching oneself and my comfort zone not only fosters evolution but also ads to chops.  I was very pleased with the results.

Text & images Wayne Wolfson Feb, 2020

 

Cyckenine (for Vassilis G)

Wayne H.W Wolfson

Part One: Brian #259-L

It was Wednesday, so Wesley would most likely come in. He made his money doing things which he refused to recognize as criminal. The discretion required of his work carried over into his comportment, never had anything been said that could be viewed as an attempt at fronting. Although it was not part of Brian’s programming, after a decade working the bar with only the odd day or two offline for update patches to be installed, he had formulated the opinion that those with power do not feel the need to broadcast it. Nor did they feel the need to call attention to themselves by playing up the mystery angle. On the rare occasion when Brian had witnessed him not freeze out a lady in her attempt to flirt, Brian had heard him say, when asked something personal:

“I would rather talk about things that I am into instead of myself, that’s boring.”

He would then divert the stream of the conversation to a book or opera that Brian would later search the data banks for information on when things slowed down.

Once in a while, in would wander some of the well-heeled younger crowd curious to experience the novelty of people working side by side with Andys. As exotic as it sounded, the reality was Solomon and his vest with its ongoing battle to contain his paunch and Brian sliding drinks which did not have all the bad stuff removed from it, across the pitted zinc bar. Rarely were there any repeat visits.

For those in the know, it was not the staff but their discretion and of course the collection of pre-war Irish whiskies that was the draw.

It was Wednesday, so he would be in. Brian liked seeing him, although he was unsure of where from within him this idea of enjoyment had come from. Regardless of who served him, he said hello or good evening but without any of the smirking irony of those who bothered to talk to a replicant outside of expressing their desires.

Part Two: Trudy

She was dangerous in the way that a person who wanted desperately to be loved could be. It was Wednesday and he was back in town. Initially, she had been sad upon the realization that a big part of her early appeal to him was that she was too self-centered, too damaged, to ask him any questions about what he did. This was not a defect as, true her interest in him smacked of a type of teen morality, only being concerned with in how it directly affected her agenda, but weren’t his own actions a manly variation on this? Did he ask what she did when he was not around? The closest they had ever come to that type of talk was when early on twice, he lectured her on the importance of unwavering discretion.

An unnerving thing, he was the one who had called her to get together. Planning for the worst, she smeared extra lipstick across her face. So much for the distraction of the holidays she thought to herself. Her hand, as always moved from left to right.

Part Three: Wesley

The blood could only speak to him if he was in direct contact with it. Years of experience had taught him to only dip his fingertips in it. As he crouched, the two corporate men behind him were bent so far forward to watch that at any moment he expected to feel their mid-career formed paunches on his shoulders.

The one on his left coughed, receiving an annoyed look from his partner for having caused a possible disruption.

Who knew how long such things take, it felt like forever but time was a language that we all thought ourselves fluent in even while using the wrong words.

“All right” he said standing up.

The handkerchief he had previously asked the senior man to hold onto was handed back to him, the colonel’s initials in faded blue stitching now barely visible.  He clenched his hand.

“Some people just need killing. Even the best scanner ops will not find anything which contradicts the official reports, tell the board that they are all set.”

The senior man discretely coughed so that Wesley held back, the two of them now alone in the tiny basement room.

“The boss said you always do a good job, made some near on joke about thoroughbreds needing to be taken care of, you know what he is like, wanted me to give you this if you were able to wrap things up quickly.”

Wesley took the black plastic card with its embossed diamond from the hand extending towards him. He recognized the insignia. Although he had never aspired to it, Heliogabalus, a members only ultra-exclusive club, where the skin jobs were said to be so good that one could not tell the difference between them and the real thing. Like a predatory beast, the streets were constricting most average citizens, starving them just enough so that they could not fight back but not enough as to kill them since they were still cheaper labor for some jobs than andys. Membership was more than most people, even the rarity of someone who still took pride in their job, would make over the course of several years.

The card was pocketed with a mumbled thanks. The senior man was envious but also a little disappointed at Wesley’s lack of outward display of enthusiasm.

They took the stairs, Wesley in the rear so that the senior man’s slow ascent meant that he had to keep bumping his shins as to not collide into him. A final handshake. The senior man fretted, should he say something?

“Uh, thanks again, great job.”

Wesley tilted his head in a sort of bow so that his face was gone, eclipsed except for very bottom of his chin by the brim of his hat.

 

As soon as he saw the card, Wesley felt the start of a disappointment which, if he could not beat back would color the entire rest of his night and possibly even tomorrow morning. The gift of the club pass was not a no-strings-attached reward, he had been in the game too long to think that. Of course, he could go and have a good time but inevitably he would while there bump into someone that the boss wanted a read on. It was not one of his gifts, but Wesley could already hear the conversation after going in for the requested meeting: “So, how was the club my boy? Enjoy it? Good, good, you deserve it..”

There would be a pause as he considered which was better to refer to Wesley to his face as, a thoroughbred or good producer?

“Yes, well have to keep our top producers happy, say I heard you ran into “…” while there…so, what’s your take on them? I know it’s just a casual read but with your skill even that is of value.”

 

Part Four: Date Night

Wherever we were to meet, she always had herself dropped off down the street. I think this was her clumsy attempt to see who dropped me off or how I arrived. Again, the disappointment for her as it was the same car service I had been using for years.

I made no move to meet her halfway but merely offered up a soft wave as I allowed her to come to me. She was walking extra slow whether to annoy me as a bite-back or because she was on something. Reaching into my pocket for a smoke my fingertip brushed the edge of the card.

Even my rewards and leisure seemed enmeshed to the job. Would I ever be free? Did I even want to be? I had money in the bank, it was boredom that I abstractly found myself worrying about on the occasions that I found myself contemplating getting out.

There had been no artifice in this work-reward and I still found myself trying to fight down an increasing annoyance. Trudy’s slow-motion pace was not helping.

Finally, she stood before me, people walking by us turned their heads to take in as much of the scene as possible. She did a little twirl as I held one of her hands above her head. The blue dress I had gotten her one Christmas, information that I was glad to have remembered, since there was a very good chance that later on she would try to spring a trap by asking me if I liked it.

With her in that dress, I knew that the night may still have two more dances to offer up. One with which to seduce, the other to say goodbye.

“Done with work?”

I let her have her hand back, she kissed me. Her kisses always made me feel like a soldier cut off from a cause, all that remained was trained brutality.

“What now?”

“Go to Solomon’s?”

She crinkled her nose.

“No, I am hungry. Let’s eat.”

“We can do that but later I still have to swing by there and pick up my messages, you can not complain that you are too tired.”

She pouted.

I would see how dinner went and if it was all smooth sailing then maybe I would bring her with me to Heliogabalus. Just as it had not been for me, I was not rewarding her but thinking strategically as she would serve as a buffer with anyone that I ran into.

We headed towards I Vitelloni. I do not know why the boss being disingenuous was so getting on my nerves tonight. I tried shaking it off, telling myself it was merely residual taint from the bad blood.

We were given one of the good tables, nestled in an alcove towards the back. Not because any money had changed hands with the Maitre’d but on account of having seen the look in our eyes and wanting as little to have to interact with us as possible.

My reverie was broken by her question:

“What?”

“It is always sexy watching you drink champagne.”

However, I knew that beauty was always a brief reprieve, like seeing an undulating field of flowers on the way to an execution.

The food was good and, in his relief, that no scene had broken out at our table we were given little cordials of cognac to warm us before our departing.

I decided I would bring Trudy with me. Why this inspiration came into my head, I have no idea.

The building managed to be imposing but also sort of camouflaged by the rest of the city’s vertical sweep. I touched the card to the scanner by the door, nodded to three burly men in black blazers who looked up at me from a kidney shaped desk before crossing the lobby to the elevator where I had to repeat the process.

There were no floor buttons to push, just a flat screen that the card was once again flashed to be read by a green light. Trudy had not said anything which was fine too. Had she been if not here, then someplace like this of perhaps a lower grade? Probably.

The doors slid open. An ante chamber all in white marble with a podium. Two beautiful women bookended the podium behind which stood a balding man in a tuxedo with gold rim glasses perched at the end of his nose. The women were both naked except for a thigh length piece of sheer white silk which still afforded a view of all their charms.

I gave the man my card, a puff of nano steam with all the electronic keys was spritzed in my face. I moved aside for Trudy to step up, the women continued to smile, I noticed that there was a pattern to them, goosebumps, erect nipples, smile, eye contact, blush response.

The man behind the podium cleared his throat.

“This card is for one.”

Trudy intuitively knew to move aside. I met the man’s gaze and slowly took off my calf skin gloves. The man looked at my hands.

“Yes, well this comes from a long-standing client. I am sure we can make an exception, the single card probably an oversite anyways.”

He cleared his throat again as he raised the atomizer even with Trudy’s face.

The place was cavernous, it was lit so that nothing was ever in direct light. There was a central bar surrounded by cushioned conversation pits, an older man with sharp features in a white vest with pointed fronts worked the bar.

Skin jobs wandered around naked, slowly floated above the room and down mosaic tiled halls on nearly invisible wires. The main hall branched off into high ceilinged salons. In one, men and women sat and talked, glasses of wine in hand as two naked women in bird masks fought on the floor in an increasing tempo of violence. Another looked more plebian with a DJ booth and people dancing to bad house music. Everyone was in varying state of undress. A few women were beautiful but also looked slightly drunk. I wondered if they were skin jobs too as for some people taking advantage of a loss of control was a kink.

There was almost every body type conceivable to be seen and had. One polite man held a door open for us. He seemed to have zero body fat, with genitalia so oversized that no man born of woman could ever measure up. For a second I understood one of the mindsets of people who come to places like this. After one has indulged in everything else, you need to seek out new taboo; things not organically occurring in erotic daydreams. To see someone utilizing what was so casually swinging around off of the doorman would be so strange that its uniqueness would serve to create even if only momentarily, a sort of heat. Surprisingly though, I did not get the feeling that the people who were obviously regulars to the establishment gave any thought as to where they could go once all of this became overly familiar.

Trudy’s shoes were bothering her, she pointed over towards a bordello style fainting couch, telling me that she had to sit down for a moment. I told her that I would go get us some drinks.

Approaching one of the smaller bars that was curved to mirror the alcove it was in, my communic-phone went off. The number was that of the unlisted one the boss sometimes used. Discretely, I looked at the screen for a moment. No text, just the picture of a man with an ingratiating smile trying hard to pretend to be unawares of the camera eye.

The very same man was at the bar. He gave a little start as he glanced to his right and noticed me. He snapped his fingers and said:

“Wesley, from….”

I nodded. As well trained as he was, only an expert would notice, the corners of his mouth did an involuntary quiver for what he knew would look suspicious if he tried to avoid. I took a glove off and offered my hand to shake. Of course, he was untrustworthy. The board had already known this. I was just the hammer, here so that later during negotiations, there could be no objections. Their expert had told them what he was so if he wanted in this was their percentage demand.

We exchanged a few pleasantries. Now that he was caught, he could relax, might as well enjoy himself. I ordered two whiskies Tai-Pan style.

“Well, I will let you get back to it.”

He nodded and was so relieved to be able to slip away that he almost forgot who I was and went to shake my hand again in farewell. Watching him disappear down the hall, I fought back the curiosity to see which salon he chose to lose himself in.

Trudy was laying back on the couch, one hand was inside her dress lazily caressing her breast. Rubbing her feet was a skin job elvish in its androgyny. It said hello to me and I returned greeting. It continued rubbing her feet, moving its torso forward and back as if rowing, through an unbuttoned blouse showing two smallish breasts but also a visible if unimpressive erection. I handed her a drink and we clinked our glasses. She moved a little so I could sit down too.

“These hands are heaven. Have you tried one of these? Probably not, you are always working, and this is a new model, I think the idea was taken from a folk tale or something. Would it be wild if we had it join us? Would that be a lark?”

I did not like talking right in front of it as if it were not there, but it would also be considered absurd were we to private conference about what Trudy wanted to do.

“If you want to try it have at it, I am good though, I assure you no hard feelings on my part. I still have to swing by Solomon’s too.”

“Wait” she said.

She sat up gathering her shoes in one hand. She leaned forward and they started kissing. Her cheeks turned beet red.

“Ok, I’m ready.”

As we were crossing the floor, I told her;

“You could have stayed if you wanted to, do whatever, I do not care.”

We stopped. She looked up at me.

“You wouldn’t be sore?”

“No.”

She kissed my cheek and I saw her quickly walk back to where we had just left.  In unison the girls by podium wished me a good night, their entwined voices a birdsong.

I found my way to Solomon’s. It was the slow time of night and I relished the peace.

Brian set me up with a drink.

“Tai-Pan style?” I asked and we both laughed.

A few hours later I saw Trudy getting out of a cab. At some point she had put more lipstick on. For anyone else it would look too much but with the crazy look on her face it worked. She staggered down the street, her head lolling from side to side fever dream like.

finis

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