Cecil had always been his favorite model. Because of some strange characteristic in him, Cecil was able to stand or sit or lay down for hours, looking at a certain part of the room, with his eyes closed or slightly moving if that was needed. He could be naked or dressed; he could be pretending to do something or just be there, being himself. He was one of the best models an artist could ever wish for and Claude had been fortunate enough to meet him in one of the artistic gatherings.
If he remembered correctly, it had been his friend Anya who had introduced the young man to him. They had all been drinking that night and the house that they were in was filled with the scent of smoke and marihuana. And those two smells were there because of the softest members of the community. Others enjoyed other pleasures that left no scent or at least not in a very notorious way. So it was strange to see Cecil, a boy of around nineteen years old, to be walking around there holding a glass of whisky.
The first thing Claude asked him was about the whisky itself. He wanted to know if that was Cecil’s favorite drink. However, the young man took a while to answer. He seemed to be kind of gone, maybe distracted or bored by everyone and everything in that house, that night. But he eventually said that the drink wasn’t his and that he didn’t like to drink any alcohol because that way the only thing that happened was that he would get disconnected from reality around him.
His answer was so strange and particular that Claude instantly liked him. That and because Claude adored the sight of younger men. He was not that old himself. He wouldn’t be considered somewhat of a father figure to anyone or anything like that. But he was older than Cecil, for sure and he loved younger men because they made him feel alive and in touch with everything around him. That’s why Cecil’s phrase hit so close to home for Claude, who decided he had to make Cecil a part of his life.
They would see each other a couple of other times, in other houses, in order for them to actually talk about their interests. It was clear that Cecil had no skill as an artist but he did wanted to work with them, to be able to understand their process and they ways they did their work. So when Claude decided to ask him to be his model, Cecil agreed, even adding a smile to his approval of the agreement. That smile, with soft pink lips and beautiful teeth, was the seal of approval Claude needed. After all, he hadn’t had a proper model for a while and he was certainly interesting in getting to know Cecil better.
The first time they met in Claude’s studio, Cecil was as silent as he had ever been. He wanted to be professional and Claude was very appreciative of that. It wasn’t often for a young man to respect the work of others and wanted to be part of the whole artistic experience. Claude decided to be bold and asked him to remove all of his clothes at once. He said it almost as if it was an order, something Cecil had to do in order to remain in that world. And he did, in silence, removing every garment with care.
The moment he was entirely naked, Claude asked him to pose in the simplest way possible: sitting on a high stool, imitating one of the most famous sculptures in the world. Cecil did not say a word and exhibit his body exactly in the way the artist wanted. The painter started his work, first outlining the whole picture and then putting colors. It was something of a rough sketch, a different take on the way he used to do portraits. They were in that studio for several hours, without speaking or eating.
Claude finished his work when the sun began to set. Cecil moved and stretched a bit, obviously feeling a lot of pain all over his body. But he didn’t outright complain or say a word. He didn’t even ask to see the painting. He did not say anything besides a soft “Thank you” before heading towards the door and running down the stairs. Claude had some bills prepared for him but he had no opportunity to give them to him. He put them away and started smoking a cigarette, as he thought of that beautiful young man.
They saw each other the following week and Claude was decided on making their second time a better moment for both of them. The moment Cecil entered the studio; he asked if he had to undress once again. He seemed ready to do it. However, Claude asked him to sit on the tall stool and tell him about his life. Cecil seemed surprised, for the first time since Claude had met him. His eyes looked larger and much more beautiful. His face was pale as he tried to find the proper words to begin his story.
He was a student. His parents had always wanted a doctor in the family, so they sent him to the best university there was. They did not live in the city but in the countryside, where they had a very prosperous milk business. He didn’t say it, but it was clear that he came from a wealthy family. His parents obviously owned a very large company but he phrased it in a way none of that could be put against him. He also said he had a younger sister and a big dog named Larry, who he missed a lot. That last part, made him shake a bit and clean the corner of his eye.
Claude only smiled at him when he finished telling his story. A moment later, he asked Cecil to wear a large sweater he had seen in a store recently. He would only wear that for some pictures Claude was going to take with an old camera he had borrowed from a friend. As he undressed and put on the sweater, Cecil confessed he had no idea about Claude being a photographer and also a painter. The artist smiled and asked his model of he had been asking about him to his friend in the business. Cecil did not answer back.
They spent several hours taking pictures. A camera was much less restrictive, so they were able to move around the place and play with objects. Better for Cecil, he was able to avoid any uncomfortable poses and even got to propose some of his ideas for some pictures. Claude would normally never take advice or comment for anyone but himself, but something from Cecil’s story made him agree to at least take some of his ideas into account. It was a nice afternoon of creating art.
When the time came for Cecil to leave, Claude stopped him at the door and gave him his pay, including the money he had prepared for him the last time they had met. Cecil told him he wanted to be part of their world but he did not want to take any money of them. He confessed he wasn’t there to hop from bed to bed or from one artist to the other. He wanted no mixing of feelings and work, he only wanted to be part of the experience of creating art and money would only make problems.
Claude extended his arm, with the money on his hand, and explained to Cecil that what he did was a job. He was a beautiful man with a natural ability to pose and to look the way artists wanted, whether it was for paintings or pictures. Claude even confessed Cecil could be great in audiovisual media; the kind artists did sometimes in order to show something in artistic light but with all the new media available for them. He said money was just a reward for being that amazing person that he was.
But Cecil did not accept the money. He did, however, kiss Claude on the cheek. He did not say a word after that, only running away once more, down the stairs. He left a very confused artist in that small studio where light entered in droves.
Claude went on to have an amazing relationship with Cecil that was always on the verge of something else. They both knew there was some kind of tension in the air but they had both decided to ignore it or at least pretend it wasn’t there. Something prevented them from being fully honest.