A Disappointed Man (ii)

This is the second part of my story about two artist cousins, Ian and Jacob. For no reason, Jacob is always bitterly jealous of Ian. At Jacob’s latest exhibition, the main painting is of Ian, and called ‘A Disappointed Man’ – attempting to show the subject as ‘broken’. Jacob mocks him – “I’ve beaten you, Ian. Sacha has agreed to marry me, the gallery is showing my exhibition, not yours, and I hear you’ve been banned from driving for a year.”

This is part (ii)

His cousin was the most annoying person he knew, but he wouldn’t feed the man’s resentment by being angry or retaliate with words. The best way to wind him up was to be pleased for him, to congratulate him, but to do that he needed to be fuelled and he grabbed a glass of fizz.
The woman in the peacock toque had opened the doors, and people spilled in, his friends boisterous and noisy, seeing Ian and the table of filled glasses, came straight over.
“Let me introduce you to Jacob, the artist, my cousin!” Ian said and the rather drunken gang swarmed over to where Jacob was standing with a miserable woman wearing a long frock and a long face. She was the reporter from the Strand Gazette who seemed less than inspired by the exhibition.
Jacob was still standing in front of the portrait of Ian and this became the focus of the noisy group’s attention. Maybe Jacob would cheer up and get over himself with the enthusiastic comments Ian’s own friends were making.
The press photographer arrived. Ian hadn’t seen her before; the usual Gazette photographer was a man who always reminded him of a ventriloquist’s dummy, the fixed expression, the glassy eyes, straight line of a mouth and a jet black wig. This photographer was a buxom young woman who set about organising everyone in front of the portrait of Ian.
Sacha, now Jacob’s fiancée, had arrived and was arranged to stand between the two cousins. Ian had forgotten that she had this modern way of posing for pictures – it’s an Insta thing another friend had murmured. Sacha had what she considered a ‘good side’, and would always stand with her right shoulder forward and dipped, head lowered, eyes raised. As Ian was standing on her left, this meant she seemed to be leaning towards him, and had her back to Jacob.
“Smile!”
Jacob was drawn away to talk to the reporter so the photographer showed Ian the photos she had taken, standing rather close to him. She had taken several shots, but Ian chose one with him smiling and Jacob looking… well, disappointed.
“Fabulous portrait of you, darling,” she gushed. “You look so contemplative, such a sincere, thoughtful expression, spiritual – the artist has captured you perfectly.”
“He’s very talented… I’m Jacob’s cousin, Ian. Can I get you a glass of bubbly, perhaps?”
“The title mystified me, but now I can understand it completely,” she let him steer her towards the champagne. The bottle opening young woman was opening more – it was going to be an expensive night for Jacob.
“The title mystified you?” Ian asked.
“Yes, but now I see it, The Anointed Man – an ordinary man, a humble man, a man now chosen by our Lord.”
Ian blinked at her.
“Tell me, Ian, have you truly found the Lord?”
“I – um –” he emptied the glass. The Anointed Man? “No, not recently… excuse me, I must just…”
He passed her the empty glass and without a farewell to anyone, he exited the gallery. He would go back to his own studio, a splendid idea blossoming in his mind.

*** This story was inspired by a painting from the very talented Paul Wright, entitled ‘Ian’

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