Saturday, November 26, 2005

Illustration Friday : Small

Copyright 2005 Ratlion
fairy
fair·y ( P ) Pronunciation Key (fâr)n. pl. fair·ies
n 1: small, human in form, playful, having magical powers

Monday, November 21, 2005

Illustration Friday : Free

Copyright 2005 Ratlion

Him that I love, I wish to be free -- even from me.
~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Looking Inward

Copyright 2005 Ratlion

Va-Va-Voom! : Street

Copyright 2005 Ratlion

Monday, November 14, 2005

Va-Va-Voom! : Alley

Copyright 2005 Ratlion

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Illustration Friday

Yesterday, while surfing, I came across this incredible site called 'ILLUSTRATION FRIDAY'.
As it says on the site,
Illustration Friday is a weekly illustration challenge. A topic is posted every Friday and then participants have all week to come up with their own interpretation.

I loved the concept and could'nt wait to jump on the bandwagon :).

So here goes, my first contribution.

This week's topic is 'STRENGTH'.

Copyright 2005 Ratlion
When I thought of 'strength', the first thing that came to mind was women and mom's in particular. And that in turn brought to mind this drawing I'd done a couple of years back.
I've improved a lot in my art since I did this, and I know I should've probably worked on it a bit, but for some reason I did'nt feel like making any changes to the original.
To me, the mom's face and expression in this drawing radiates a kind of gentle/quiet/patient strength and maybe even illustrates this quote I found online,
Nothing is so strong as gentleness. Nothing is so gentle as real strength
-- Frances de Sales
%3

Redhead At The Beach : 2

Copyright 2005 Ratlion

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Redhead At The Beach : 1

Copyright 2005 Ratlion

Friday, November 11, 2005

Blue

Blue. The blue of a winter sky in Goa. The blue of a shimmering sea beneath. The blue of a beautiful girl's eyes, the blue of her swimsuit.

Or the blue of her lips when she was fished out of the water.
The blue of my mood ever since. It's all blue. Sometimes it seems blue is the only colour on Earth, the only colour there ever was.

It was the swimsuit that first caught my attention, an azure flash past my chair as I reclined under the palm trees, sipping a juice. It had been a pleasant on-season - great weather, a gorgeous sea, excellent temperatures and a nice crowd. There were a lot of pretty girls around, and no reason why this particular girl should catch my eye, but she did. I watched her streak down the stone path, brush aside the fronds of young palms, and scamper down the beach to the water-line. She was a creamy white, yet to tan, and the rich blue bikini suit showed up well against the skin, a soft, sliding metallic blue, nothing I'd ever seen before. I watched her splash around in the water, a pale figure in the distance, drained my drink, and walked down the beach towards her.

Meeting her was quite easy: a simple dive into the water, slicing around through brine, and a rise like some marine monster out of the waves. Salt stung my eyes as I grinned at her, then flung myself sideways into the water, swimming a few metres away. Before I looked back, I knew she was interested, and soon, she had floated close to me. Blue eyes flashed in the sunlight, damp hair was brushed aside with the back of an ivory hand, and she smiled. I grinned back, and extended my hand, and said, "Hi. Vardhan." Her hand reached out, nut brown skin connected with whipped cream, and I got an answer: "Megan." I nodded, then sank down under the surface, letting the cool water counter the sun. I came up, and she was still looking at me. "You swim well," she said.
"I don't know how you swim, but you look really good."
A laugh. An acceptance of the compliment, in a decidedly British accent. Learning to flirt was a definite asset, especially when there's such a receptive target.

More laughs. More banter, questions, answers, jokes. Chemistry. I knew it was there, so did she. Water splashed, salty drops created rainbows against a warm sun. I dived to the bottom - only a foot or two deep - and came up with a handful of sand, dripping, soft and squelching between my fingers. A little cream shell was unearthed, a miniature claw probing the world outside. I held it up to her, and she admired the tiny creature, looked up, a glow on her face, and dove down for her bounty of marine sand. Something was happening here, I knew that.

The sun started to retreat into the sea, we moved up the beach towards Baga, walking along firm, glistening sand. Walking along with the sunset. Passing throngs of people in multicoloured swimsuits: a school of terrestrial tropical fish. Halfway down we turned, in unspoken agreement, and walked back towards the restaurant. "What about tonight," I asked. "Not possible," she said, "have to eat with my parents. How about tomorrow, though?"

Tomorrow was fine - another day of swimming, perhaps sneaking off to a discotheque in Baga, perhaps a quiet chat up at the Taj. Villa 31, no less, the best the Village had to offer. The shade of a hundred palms, a lovely lawn, and seclusion from the other villas - perfect.

Tomorrow dawned, beautiful and clear, but something hit me as my feet touched the floor of my bedroom, hit with the force of a speeding train. Something was wrong, this day should never have broken. I don't know why I felt that, and I suppressed the queasiness in my stomach, and proceeded towards the beach.

She was there, at the same table that she had used yesterday, waiting, smiling. A quick hug, the soft plop of a bag falling on laterite soil, and the magic had returned. I looked at the sea: a beautiful, glittering blue, but somehow, an ominous blue. I couldn't explain it, but I was afraid of the sea right then, afraid of the sea that was my favourite companion. The waves were tumbling on the shore as usual, the breeze was a soft one, and everything seemed all right, but for some reason, I was uneasy. The bobbing of the orange pontoons marking the safe area to swim in, the zippy motion of the jet-skis, even the swaying of the palms made me uneasy. I smiled at her, told her, trying to sound as rational as possible, that a swim didn't seem appropriate today. She didn't get the message. Didn't get it. Didn't understand what the fates were telling her. Or was she not supposed to know?

We took a swim - Megan splashing happily into the salt water, me following, nervously, behind. The water was great, though, and my fears started dissolving, slowly, in the brine. Slowly, but not completely, oh no, not completely... We plowed forward, ducking beneath swollen waves, feeling the tug of the undertow against arms and legs. She reached the barrier first, the puny little orange rope that was held afloat by equally puny orange pontoons, and hung on, catching her breath, looking at me. I slid up next to her, listening to the soft clop of the buoys against the water, the popping of champagne-bubbles of seawater, the low hiss of her breath and mine. Underneath them was a deeper sound, like an intruder hiding in the cellar beneath the household, a sound trying not to be heard. It was a low, sonorous buzzing, punctuated by sharp, slapping thumps, and gradually, I realised that it was a jet-ski, still far away, but closing in, closing in towards the insignificant barrier that separated the swimmers and the open sea.

I looked away, towards the direction of the sound, legs churning underneath me. Bubbles rose, debris of slaughtered water, and with them vibrations, building up. The jet-ski was closer now, an orange and white wedge coming towards us, stuttering, a lifejacket-clad blob sawing at the handlebars. He was hopelessly out of control; it weaves, crosses the thin orange border, someone screams, it comes closer.

Comes towards a brown head. Megan! Why didn't she hear it? Feel it? See it? What was she thinking, with her face to the sun? Get out of there, I wanted to yell, but just gaped.

Closer.

I yelled.

They say every seventh wave is the largest, that waves wax and wane in cycles.

Rogue waves, however, leap up, break the cycle, do what they wish. They sting your eyes, fill your mouth with salt, burn your throat, choke off your words.

She didn't hear me.

Bubbles. Slaughtered water. Help.

They found him first. Panicked, thrashing, wild-eyed, then dry and towel-clad, crying into the sand. Dumb Gujarati. Girlfriend to impress (there she was, looking on in horror, relieved her boyo wasn't the one taken). Five hundred bucks to spare, took a life. He was still wearing the life-jacket. MMD-approved, I remembered, how these things come up. And how many there are, flopping around on the beach, trying their hand at jet-skis and banana-boats and water-skis and can't goddamn swim. I could have killed him, but I hadn't found her yet. Could she be alive still?

Stupid hope, that was. No one can take a jet-ski through the head and survive. Or a gallon of sea-water in place of air. The Taj life-guard found her, brown hair limp, so still. Blue eyes wide open in a blue face, telling me I should have taken better care of her.

I wasn't crying, not shocked, not sad. I just looked at her parents, grey-haired mother shrieking, flapping arms, crying, bald father, the colour of bad strawberry milkshake, stumping down the beach. I actually found them funny. They didn't know me, not until the police arrived, asked for witnesses. I'd always wondered what a panchnama was, that was the interesting bit. Straight faced, creaky voiced, aching throat, but no tears, no shit. I'm a man.

They say the pain hits later. And hits and hits. You can't sleep, you can't eat, you can only think of her. Dreams are weird, you can feel the lycra of her bikini, the slickness of her skin, smell the salt in her hair. You remember words, and music, and there's bitter sweetness, and hours missing her and blaming yourself and waiting for her to come through that door. Why .... it's like being in love. And the colour, that bikini, never goes away.

Can't forget it. Trees, sand, rain, blood. All leached of colour, except blue. All blue, every third-eye snapshot replaced by the blue of her swimsuit. It's all blue now, always blue.

And always hell.
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Copyright 2005 Dogcrab

Lost In Thought

Copyright 2005 Ratlion

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Third (And Last) In The Dance Series : Dirty Dancing

Copyright 2005 Ratlion

Short And Sweet : The 6th (And Last) Part

A week later, Blake, Anita and Ria were back at Les Cloistres , Roarke hovering over them, suggesting dishes, pouring out a chilled Beaujolais. Anita’s family had left two days earlier, and now they were back at the restaurant, the third time in the week, and showing no signs of getting tired of it.
“This is much better,” said Anita. “You can really appreciate the place when it’s quiet, like this. It looks even better now.” And indeed it did, the creamy stone of the buildings alight with the glow from fat lanterns, candles flickering in a gentle breeze from somewhere. “The critics really liked it, huh?”
“Yeah. Very encouraging. I think it was a very successful night,” said Roarke, smiling at Ria.
Anita cocked an eyebrow at them, and grinned at Blake, who did likewise: both of them could read the signals. And indeed, had picked them up already at the night of the opening. It wasn’t like Roarke to abandon his own opening party, which he slogged for weeks to perfect. And Ria’s recent messages to Blake had contained more than a fair proportion of greetings to Roarke, though she’d declined to take his number down and call him herself – possibly trying to con Blake into thinking she wasn’t interested. Though fairly protective of Ria, whom he secretly considered a bit dizzily romantic, despite all her practical assertions, Blake wasn’t too worried, not after Roarke’s admissions in his apartment the other day. A year earlier, he would have been clucking like a nervous hen if a smooth operator like Roarke had expressed an interest in one of his best friends, but it seemed all right now. And Roarke seemed simply happy now, not smugly triumphant as he often was with his trophies.
“Besides, I think she’ll whack him if he tries anything silly,” Anita had said as she and Blake had cackled over this in bed. “You worry too much, you idiot. I think she can take care of herself.”

Now, replete with wine and good food, it all looked very rosy, nothing at all to worry about, except Roarke’s newly discovered talent to pause and apparently forget where he was every time Ria spoke to him. He was doing that now, staring into space in the middle of helping them choose coffees.
“Roarke!” said Anita. “Wake up!”
“Smell the coffee,” added Blake, languidly.
Ria grinned, and that seemed to get Roarke going again.
“Anyway,” he said, “you should try the Caffe Sudamericana.”
“Hmm. Yeah, ok.”
“Great. It’s a really nice coffee, a Cuban black with chocolate liquor.”

“Wow.”
“Yup. Try it. Short and sweet.”
Ria smiled. “I think I will.”
--------------------------------------
THE END

--------------------------------------
Copyright 2005 Dogcrab

Short And Sweet : Part Five

Anita raised the Megane’s hood as Blake and her parents clambered out, and slid the car into a parking slot. Roarke was lucky: there was a fair bit of parking space outside Les Cloistres, a potential deterrent for many other restaurants. His choice of location – the eastern bit of La Ciudade – wasn’t an obvious one, but it worked out perfectly. It was just outside the hustle and flow of the major shopping streets, with the added advantages of plenty of space to spread out, and of being situated at the bottom of a gorgeous 19th century building, below a spread of antique shops and ancient, obscure businesses like a frame-maker for paintings and a piano tuner’s.
They passed under the entrance arch into a delightful courtyard, dotted with tables for alfresco diners, other tables, equally attractive, under the ivy-covered cloisters around, which gave the restaurant its name. The flag-paved courtyard was thronged with people, too many of the – necessary – celebrity-page breed, and among them waiters circulating with platters and drinks-trays. Ria was already there, talking to Roarke, elegant in a dinner jacket; he turned and grinned at them as they walked up to him, warmly hugging his mother.
“Congratulations, mate,” said Blake. “It looks brilliant. What’re the reactions?”
“Oh, everybody seems to love it, though they may just be drunk.”
They laughed, and turned as a platter came their way with diablerets, little devils.
“Try these. Spicy little things; they’re great appetizers.”
They were wonderful, and made the perfect lead-in to glasses of a flinty Chilean chardonnay, ice-cold and just right for a balmy evening.
Andy, Anita’s second brother, sauntered over, with his wife, and thumped Roarke on the back. “Good job, R. Very well done. Shame Peter couldn’t be here, though.”

Andy took after his large, sandy-haired father, as did Peter, the youngest sibling, a lieutenant in the Military Police, stationed in the north of Tamriel, too far away to come down. Roarke and Anita, the middle siblings, took after their elegant, dark mother, slim, handsome and olive-skinned.
“Yeah, I know,” said Roarke. “But never mind, I’ll get him down here sometime. We’ll see if he can refuse these after a few months of army food,” he said, picking up a walnut-and-cream-cheese tart, offering it to his mother.
Ria had been quietly nibbling at something, a wine glass in her hand, and took a sip, eyes closed, a thoroughly satisfied look on her face. She opened her eyes again and grinned, “Yeah, I think I’ll be back here a few times. I hadn’t realized vegetables could taste this good. How do you make this? It’s amazing.”
Roarke laughed, and offered to take her round the kitchens if she was keen.
She was. “But only if I can stir something interesting.”

He grinned, and led her towards the kitchens, followed by most of the bunch.
Blake and Andy, however, remained behind, looking meaningfully at a new platter that came by.

Two hours later, an in extremely good spirits, Blake leaned back in his chair, tapped his foot on the flags, and picked up a goblet of lemon sorbet, conducting a tune only he could hear. “It’s an interesting concept, actually. Richmond’s very mediaeval, with lots of little old fashioned restaurants, so he started a place which looked really modern and classy, quite unusual there. And it was a big hit. Here, we have so many avant-garde places, it made perfect sense to open a nice, traditional, atmospheric place. Very good planning.”
Mrs LeSaux – Marianne - smiled, “He’s a clever boy. And the main thing is that the food’s always great.”
“Did you teach him?”
“Not really. He always loved food when he was young, but I was away working most of the time, so he realized that if he wanted to eat at odd times, he’d have to make it himself. And he just turned out to be really good at it.”
“Ha. I tried that too,” said Blake, ruefully shaking his head. “I ended up with a chocolate omelette. It was…. Well… never mind,” he said, as everyone laughed, Marianne’s face frozen in horror at the idea.
Ria smiled; her shyness had reasserted herself, and she’d been quiet all evening, though she seemed to have enjoyed every minute of it. “Ah, I should go now, I think.”
“Oh come on, stay a bit,” said Anita, frowning over her mousse.
“No, really, there’re all sorts of people coming over to the studio tomorrow, have to get up early. See you Blake. Bye, everyone. Lovely meeting you, Mrs LeSaux,” she said, and stood up, just as Roarke walked up to their table.
“Hey. You’re leaving?” he said, surprised, walking with her as she made for the exit.
“Yeah, sorry, have to go. But thanks a lot for inviting me – this was excellent. Really, one of the best restaurants I’ve been to.”
“Yeah, thanks. But can’t you stay longer?” he asked, pausing.
“I’m afraid not.”
“Hmmm. But you’ll be back here soon, I hope?”
“Of course.”
“Great. How’d you get here anyway? By car?”
“No, I walked. It’s just five minutes away from my place.”
“You’re walking back, are you? You know what, let me walk you back.”
“Oh no, please. I’ll manage, don’t you worry.”
“What worries me is that I’ll get five minutes less to spend with you if I don’t, and that would be a shame,” he said, smiling.
She grinned back, and agreed. “But don’t you have to be here? I mean…”“No, that’s all right. Most of the guests have left, and all the food critics are too full to notice. And it’s just five minutes anyway.”


He waved out to the others, and led her out onto the street, gleaming softly under wrought-iron lamps. It was a wonderful place to walk anyway, narrow, cobbled alleys lined with beautiful old houses, minuscule parks placed unexpectedly in between stucco-lined buildings, streets meeting in archways and tiny fountains, little squares dotted with people out for a little after-dinner conversation, talking and laughing softly.
Ria and Roarke were silent as they walked down, looking around, till she tilted her head towards him. “So, how come you decided to shift down here?”
“Well, it’s a nice city, and very different from where I stay. The whole southern feel, the sun, the sea… I guess I wanted a bit of a change. And setting up a restaurant here made good sense, so it all worked out. Besides, Anita and Blake are here, which helps. Nice to have family around. Are you from Mithril?”
“No, not really. I’m not quite sure where I’m from actually,” she said, smiling. “I was born in Ravenspring, then we moved to Alinor for a bit, then to the Middle East, ’cause my dad was setting up a business there, then to Ravenspring again, and then I came down here to study. And basically, I just stayed. The family lives in Ravenspring though.”
“Uh-huh.”
“I’ve never been to Richmond though. I’ve heard it’s really nice.”
“Oh yeah, it is. It’s a really old city, dates back to the 11th century or more, and it’s mainly a university town, so it’s really peaceful and green. Love the place, really.”
“Yeah, I can imagine. I’ve seen pics of the castle. It looks really amazing. Actually, I’ve never traveled to the Wilderland at all. Everyone says it’s really spectacular, but I’ve never had a chance to go there at all. Hardly ever been to the west at all, really. I should go sometime. I haven’t been out of the east at all really, except for when I lived in Renn. And I hardly got to know Renn either, really.” She paused. “I’m blabbering, aren’t I? Sorry, I tend to blabber sometimes. And sometimes I’m absolutely quiet. Hm.”
He was laughing silently, and shook his head. “No, go on, it was lots of fun listening to that. But if you really feel you haven’t traveled much, maybe you should take some time off and do that.”
“Hmm. I tried once, but I went alone, and it wasn’t fun. Company would have been nice, but then I’d only have my cousin, and well…”
He nodded knowingly. “No one to go with, eh?”
“Yeah.”
“Yeah, I know what that’s like.”
“Oh. Blake told me… uh… well, he said you were very popular.”
He grinned roguishly. “He said I was a philanderer, you mean.”
“’Playboy’ was the word he used, if I remember right.”
Roarke laughed again. “Well, true enough, but I didn’t know anyone I’d want to go touring the country with.”
“Hmm. Yeah, I understand. Anyway, that’s my house,” she said, pointing to a neat three-storey place.
“Nice. You live alone?”
“No, my cousin stays with me too.”
“Right. Oh, is that your studio?”
“Yeah. You should drop in sometime. Though, er, there won’t be much for you, of course. But you can bring, well, your girlfriend or whatever.”
“And what if I don’t have one? Am I still allowed in?”
She grinned nervously, and fished for her keys, saying nothing.
They paused at the foyer for a minute, and she stuck out her hand. “Well, goodbye. Thanks for walking me over,” she said, her face blank.
He ignored her hand, gave her a quick peck on her cheek, and smiled as her eyes widened. “My pleasure. Thanks for coming over.”
“Er.” She looked at him for a minute, then reached out and patted him on the arm, not quite sure what to do. He smiled again, and gave her a hug, looking at her as she broke away, waved, smiled, and went inside.His smile widening, he turned away, and slowly, walked back to his party.

--------------------------------
Copyright 2005 Dogcrab

Short And Sweet : Part Four

They’d just ordered drinks when Ria entered the restaurant, ushered to their table by a waiter. Quills’ soft light glowed on her dark hair as she smiled down at them.
“Thanks,” she said. “Hi guys. Sorry. I had traffic just before the bridge.”
“Not at all,” said Blake, giving her a quick hug. “Sit. This, by the way is Roarke Gable.”
“What!? Who?” She frowned at the stranger, shocked at how much he looked like Clark. “Are you serious?”
Roarke couldn’t speak for laughing, so Blake reassured Ria he was nothing of the sort. “He’s Anita’s brother, actually.”
“Oh, hi. Yeah, Blake told me about you. Hi Anita. How’re you?”
Anita was still chuckling, but reached over and gave Ria a peck on her cheek anyway. “I’m fine. How’re you?”
“Oh, fine, fine. Sorry,” she said to Roarke, “were you saying something?”
“I was saying Blake said you were a fashion designer.”
“That’s right. I have a small studio in the Ciudade.”
“Yeah, Blake said so.”
“Oh, ok. He said you were shifting here or something.”
“Yeah. I’m opening a restaurant here. It’s in Ciudade de Mithras, actually, apparently quite close to your shop.”
“You’re a restaurateur?”
“Well, more a chef actually. I started a restaurant in Richmond, and it did quite well, so I’m trying that here as well.”
“Cool. Sounds really nice. Good luck with that.”
Roarke smiled. “That’s sweet. Thanks a lot.”
“And hey, what was this Roarke Gable thing?”
“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
She giggled.
“Actually, it’s an unfortunate coincidence. Blake insists I look like Clark Gable, and my name’s Roarke, rhymes with Clark. Sad joke, really.”
Blake was holding his sides by now. Ria and Roarke’s banter had taken over the table; it was quite a pleasant surprise because Ria was normally shy and took some time to warm up her vocal chords, but this time she was quite literally blabbering on.
Anita grinned wickedly and said, “Well, actually, Roarke’s his middle name. His real name’s Dextre,” mimicking exactly the characters from the cartoon show.
“Yes Deedee,” said Roarke, exasperated.
“Well, I like Roarke better.”
“Exactly! Thank you.”

Thankfully, the waiter arrived with the menus, rescuing what could have turned into a sitcom situation. They bent over their menus, silent but for occasional gasps of delight.
“Yup, I’m ready with my order. You guys?” asked Blake, motioning the waiter over.
“I’ll have the poacher’s partridge, please. With the baby potatoes, please, not rice.”
Anita ordered a ginger wine-basted duck, Ria, a vegetarian, ordered the excellent mushroom soufflé, unfortunately one of the few green dishes on the menu.
Roarke turned his head up to the waiter and enquired about the day’s special.
“It’s a pork chop in cherry sauce, sir. Or a braised trout, if you’d prefer.”
“I’ll take the chop, please. It sounds fantastic. But… the vegetarian choice is fairly limited, is it?”
Blake and Anita looked at him in surprise. Was Roarke turning out to be a closet vegetarian after years of rare steaks?
“I’m afraid so, sir. We do the best game in south Tamriel sir, vegetarians here are – if you’ll excuse the pun, sir – rather rare.”
Roarke grinned. “Well, that’s all right, thanks. I’ll have the pork chop anyway.”
Turning to the others, he explained, “No, I’m not turning vegetarian. It’s just something I wanted to know for my own menu. I think vegetarians get a pretty bad deal most of the times; I want to make sure I give them plenty of variety as well.”
Ria looked impressed with this. “Yeah, you’re right. I mean, I do eat some chicken once in a while, but I’d really like a bit more choice.”
“Exactly,” said Roarke, smiling. “You know, it’d be great if you could come to the restaurant opening. D’you think you could make it?”
“Uhm, yeah, I’ll try. When is it?”
“The 20th. Do come, it’ll be wonderful having you.”


Naturally, it was a wonderful evening: it couldn’t help being so, what with the tables glowing with the lights under them, the soft light bouncing off polished wooden panels and the view down to the dark, twinkling harbour. There was brilliant food as well, of course, topped off with strawberry zabagliones, and the languid drive though thin traffic back to the city. Blake would have followed Ria to her home anyway, tucked away just above her studio, and it was fortuitous that Roarke stayed not much further away, so dropping him off was easy. Yawning, Blake flipped a wave at Roarke, who looked quite content under his porch light, and drove off.
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Copyright 2005 Dogcrab

Short And Sweet : Part Three

“Where is this place we’re going to?” asked Roarke, over the thrum of the Sultans of Swing.
Blake turned the volume down, and said, “Quills. It’s one of the restaurants – the nicest one – at the Press and Radio Club."
"Oh, ok. Nice?”

“Very. Very. It’s on this island that’s just off the mainland, called Touracou Island. Home of quite a few of the rich and famous. That’s the bridge to the island there,” he said, pointing to a string of lights stretching east across the dark water.
“It’s gorgeous,” said Roarke.
“Isn’t it?” said Anita, softly, from the back seat. “Love the drive there. It’s a bit out of the way, but it’s a great place, and the drive there’s lovely. Really worth it.”
Roarke agreed. “How’s the food?”
“Oh, superb,” said Blake, enthusiastically. “Nice mix – southern, northern, French. And lots of game, so it’s quite exotic.”
“Brilliant. Can’t wait. By the way, who’s joining us? A friend of yours?”
“Yeah, Ria. Old friend.”
“Nice girl,” said Anita. “She was ill, right?”
“Yeah. Touch of cold. But that happens pretty often, poor kid. She’s better now, or so she claims.”
“How’s her studio doing?”
“Studio?” asked Roarke.
“She’s a fashion designer. Actually, R, her shop’s about a minute from your restaurant.”
“Oh. Nice.”
“Yeah. Anyway, we’re almost there. You’ll meet her. Hey. You want a tour of the place first?”
“Oh yes! I’d love that!"
.............................................
Copyright 2005 Dogcrab

Short And Sweet : Part Two

Blake’s cell-phone chimed. He picked it up, and saw it was a message from Ria, and smiled. Ria was one of his closest friends, but busy lifestyles kept them from meeting often, and SMS was one of the few ways of keeping in touch.

Hello? Where’ve you been, scribe? Haven’t heard from you in days.
Blake looked guiltily at the phone, realizing he’d neglected her for quite a few days: she’d obviously been busy with her fashion studio, and he, forgetful as ever, hadn’t got in touch. She’d been ill too, down with one of her frequent colds, so it was doubly silly. Instead of texting back, he called.
“Hey there.”
“Hello.”
“Sorry. Completely forgot. Really, really busy. Sorry.”
“You forgot. That’s nice.”
“Sorry! Really! How’re you?”
“Same old. Better now, but still a bit dull.”
“Hmmm. Bad. Has the cold gone?”
“Mostly, yeah. How’re you? Actually, I don’t think I care about you any more. How’s Anita?”
“Ha. How nice. Yeah, she’s pretty good. Hey, listen. What’re you doing on Friday evening?”
“Ummm… not much. Why?”
“You want to join us for dinner? Anita’s brother is here – you haven’t met him, have you? Anyway, he’s shifting here, and well… that’s a long story. Ask him. So, we’re going out to Quills on Friday. Come along.”
“Quills? Yeah, nice. I’m not sure, but I’ll let you know.”
“Great.”
“All right. I’ll call you before Friday.”
“Yup. Seeya.”
“Ciao.”
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Copyright 2005 Dogcrab

Second In The Dance Series : Dance With Me

Copyright 2005 Ratlion

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Short And Sweet : Part One

“Last box!” gasped Blake Arnage, heaving the cardboard carton into a bare kitchen and promptly sitting down on top of it.
“Oh God,” said Rourke LeSaux, “That’s it. I don’t think I want to see another box again.”
“Well, cheer up,” said Blake. “Think of all the fun you can have unpacking them. And then figuring out where everything should go. And then putting it all there. And dusting it down afterwards. You lucky, lucky guy.”
Roarke glared at Blake, and chucked a dusting cloth at him, his patrician features splitting into a grin.
His sister, Anita, walked into the kitchen, nursing a scraped hand, and looked mournfully at Blake, wiping dust off her short hair.
Trying – and failing – to not chuckle at her woebegone face, Blake examined her hand, his ex-pression now concerned. “Here, you should put something on it. Quite bad. What’d you scrape it against anyway?”
“I don’t know. I think it was one of those wooden crates.”Anita turned to Roarke, and asked whether he had any disinfectants.
“I’ll go look,” he said, and gingerly unfolded himself off the floor, walking off into the bedroom of his newly rented apartment.
Blake finally heaved himself off the carton, groaning, and called out, “What’s in this damn box anyway? Your rock collection?”
“Nope,” said Roarke, coming back in with a bottle of Betadine. “The invites. And menus and things.”
“God! Only that? Bloody heavy for paper.”
“Yeah. It’s all… fancy paper and fabric and all that. Quite nice actually, I’ll show you the stuff later.”

They sat in silence for a minute, Blake dabbing the brown liquid onto Anita’s wrist, and looked at her.
She smiled at him, and wiped a nob of dirt off his long nose.
Roarke looked lazily over at them, and said, “You look like hell, Blake.”
“Sure. And you still look like a pretty boy,” he retorted, grinning.
And it was true: Roarke looked like a young Clark Gable, tall, slim and dark, with the same sardonic smile and much the same effect on women. Blake remembered what he’d said to him when he’d first met Anita’s family: “If you weren’t Anita’s brother, mate, I’d be shopping for concrete boots.”
Thankfully, they’d got along very well, both the auto-journalist and the chef fond of cars and food, and it had developed into a good friendship over the next two years.
Anita looked up and asked, “R, who’s going to be sending the invites? Do you have your PR people here?”
“Yeah, met a few people last week, and it seems to be gelling quite well.”
“That’s great. Set for the big day, then?”
“Hope so. Stuff always comes up at the last minute, you know, but there’s still twenty days to go. When’s everybody else coming down here?”
“On the 18th, if I remember right. Dad sounded particularly excited,” she said, smiling.
“Are they staying with you?”
“Mom and Dad are. Andy and Nyssa will have to stay with you.”
“All right. I’m glad we got this place done already.”
Blake, who’d been leaning against the wall, eyes closed, suddenly leaped up. “Shit! Forgot the bottles” he muttered, and ran out of the house, pounding down the steps.
“What?” asked Roarke. “What bottles?”
“You’ll see,” said Anita grinning impishly.
Blake burst back in a minute later, panting and clutching three green champagne bottles. “Some champagne,” he said, setting the bottles down. “To celebrate getting the flat.”
Roarke gaped for a minute. “Guys, you didn’t have to…”
“Yes we did,” said Anita. “After two hours of taking boxes up three storeys, drinks were necessary.”
Roarke laughed, and took the bottles inside the kitchen, placing them carefully inside the fridge.

An hour later, cleaned up and holding glasses of pale gold Spa-Norderaine, they watched the summer sun sink behind the Coldmints, making the streets of Mithril glow. Already two bottles down, they were feeling particularly mellow, trying in vain to temper inebriation with Thai take-away; conversation was limited to murmurs now, attention more on the tiger-striped sky than each other.
Anita unclasped her hand from Blake’s, getting up and muttering about having to go to the bathroom.
Blake turned suddenly to Roarke. “What happened to your moustache? Anita bullied you into taking it off?”
“Yeah,” said Roarke, sadly. “She said it made me look smarmy.”
“Sisters,” said Blake, shaking his head, and both of them nodded sagely. “You should see mine, much scarier than Anita.”
“Hmmm. Loved that ’tasch actually.”
“Can imagine. Women loved it, huh?”
“Yeah. Shit.”
“True. But you’re still the heartthrob of Richmond?”
“Hardly. Did have a girlfriend or two.”
“Or five…” said Blake, grinning.
“Haha. Yeah. Those were the days.”
“Right. ‘Were?’"
“Yeah… I think I’m finally growing up now.”
“No!”
“Yes.”
“No! I used to do the whole ‘vicarious living’ thing through you. What do I do now?”
“No, I’m serious. I’m just… bored… of all this. I mean, it’s nice of course, but the idea of one nice woman to be with does have its merits.”
“Roarke? Picket fences? Yellow Volvo? Cuddly little puppy-wuppies? Lots of babsie-wabsies?” said Blake, unable to stop laughing.
Roarke cracked up too, but it soon turned into a guilty grin. “Not exactly. Well, not the yellow Volvo at least.”
Blake’s jaw dropped further. “You’re serious?”
“Hmmm. It’s odd actually. Most of the girls I go out with start talking about marriage at some point anyway. Most of my friends are getting married, too. And well, Mom and Dad were starting to hint.”
“Oh God.”
“Yeah. Well, anyway, don’t think anything will happen for quite a while yet. And you? You guys getting married?”
“Don’t know. Not yet, I think. Funnily enough, I don’t know whether I’m ready for… you know… happy matrimony and all that. And hey, suddenly you’re ready for it. Talk about a role reversal.”
“Well, not marriage exactly. But, you know, I just want to stop sneaking back into the house in the morning. Mom does this really threatening thing when she gets cornflakes, did you know?”Blake laughed again.
“No. Well, too bad. Another one bites the dust.”
Roarke gave his guilty grin again, as Anita strolled up to them.
“What’re you guys talking about?”
“Oh, nothing,” said Roarke quickly. Much too quickly.
“Hey, what’s going on?” she asked, instantly curious.
“Er. Never mind,” said Roarke, shooting a warning glance at Blake, who instantly smoothed his features.
She looked at both of them, eyes narrowed, then shrugged expansively.
“Anyway,” said Anita, “remember to give Mom a call. And what’re you doing this week? Busy?”
“Yeah, I think so. But we should do dinner sometime. I don’t think I want to do any cooking before the restaurant opens, and take-away loses its charm pretty soon.”
Blake piped up, “We should go to Quills.”
“Yeah!” said Anita, her face lighting up. “It’s a really good place. You’ll love it.”
“Great. Friday night?”
“Sounds good, said Blake. “Anyway, should go now. Got a very early shoot tomorrow.”
“Oh,” said Roarke. “What’re you shooting? Anything nice?”
“Trade secrets, mate. Buy the damn magazine,” grinned Blake.
“Right. And any time you want a meal, I’ll forget your reservations.”
They laughed, Anita hugged Roarke, and she and Blake left, leaving Roarke alone with an intimidating pile of dusty boxes and a lingering smell of fresh paint.

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Copyright 2005 Dogcrab

First In The Dance Series : Shall We Dance?

Copyright 2005 Ratlion

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Welcome to the private gallery of Ratlion & Dogcrab.

I'm Ratlion, a twenty something gal who's into art and Dogcrab's a twenty something guy who's into writing.
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