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by Chuck Capaldi copyright The crys

Found at: 0x1bi.net:70/textfiles/file?humor/maecenas.hum

			     MAECENAS

				by
			   Chuck Capaldi
			  (copyright 1986)

  The crystal oil lamps lining the room's perimeter gently illuminated the rich
Arundel, a man of mature years, unimposing in all ways but for his eyes.  Steel
of their own, the windows of a soul shrouded in old age and bitter memories.
They flitted about the room, finally coming to rest on the slightly wrinkled
brow of his wife, the Lady Diana.  She smiled as she caught his uneasy gaze.
Till death do us part, he pondered with revulsion, image of rotting flesh.

  "Arundel, are you feeling well?" she queried before pursuing her line of
questioning without expecting an answer, "you look rather ill.  Why dear,
you're clinging to that chair as if it were your lifeline".

  With a sigh of disgust Arundel freed himself from the chair,"Well then, I'll
leave it...  maybe if I do that you'll leave me in peace." The odor of her
ageing flesh gradually filled his nostrils.

  "Come on, Arundel, forget the bloody statues and let a real woman provide for
your needs." Her mouth opened into a bleak and uninviting gap, despite the best
of intentions.

  "Peace I said, not hell.  Just leave me to myself.  We both know it's much
better that way," he responded, attempting a smile that never fully
materialized on his face.

  In shocked response she stammered, "As you will milord.  If the statues

  His breath coming in short gasps, Arundel turned toward her.	"Pleasure then,
s that what you want?
but a steer," he spat back at her, steal eyes glinting the darkness.

  The rage within her boiled up as the wrinkled flesh of her once aquiline
features contracted as if touched with a red-hot coal.	"Enough of this, just
but enjoy both alone!" With a flourish intended to be a curtsey, Diana rose and
the manse that alone would serve to fill her longing.  Arundel retreated from
the turbulence that her movement stirred around him with a shudder of disgust.
Every night for two weeks the scenario had been the same.  For some time he had
all this among his statues.

  On the stairway he felt stirrings of joy in his heart, his steps already more
buoyant than they wer a moment before as flesh touched marble in anticipation
of a union yet to be fulfilled.  He loped toward the garden gate, and as he
opened it, a mystical transformation overcame the man.	His back straightened,
and the youthful bounce of each step propelled him forward; the fragrance of
earth and fresh-cut grass possessed his nostrils.  Already his mind turned to
the statue of Perseus that he had studied for the past two weeks.  His mental
meanderings, however, came to a halt as he neared the statue, Perseus,
Greek as he stood transfixed by perfection, youth and beauty.

  Reaching out with a tenuous hand, Arundel trembled as he touched marble,
milky-white in the moonlight.  In rapt appreciation, flesh brushed marble as
man touched hero, judging with accuracy the curve of the statue's shoulders.  A
abdomen.  The man sighed as his hand continued its downward journey, persisting
at the navel in despair of finding fault with the youthful form.

  His breath came in short gasps as his body breached the gap that separated
the mortal from the eternal.  The figure gently shifted to better accomodate
the form of Arundel's body.  "Persei," he murmured again, unwilling to destroy
this moment of unsollicited passion with nothing more than soft speech.  He
continued to explore the secrets of the ancient statuary, eyes closed as youth
flowed once again through his being lik molten lava.  Arundel knew then, he
knew that this statue embodied more than merely art.  The reawakening of these
long dormant emotions had granted life to the statue, and in return Arundel had
only in the urgency of his thrusts, he timed them to meet the flood of memories
that washed over his mind.  Exhausted by the tempo of the final effort, Arundel
collapsed on the ground, the statue towering over him, bathed in the cold rays
of moonlight.

  Arundel sighed as he arose some time later and dragged himself through the
equally as afraid to look at himself in fear of no longer recognizing the man
bed, remembering his delight in the moment of recaptured youth.  With little
more than a breath he plunged into the black void of sleep.

  So entirely exhausted was he that his slumber was not tinged with dreams, but
n the dark arms of Orpheus, Arundel slowly became aware of the presence of a

  "Show yourself, who is there?" he exclaimed as he opened his eyes, not really

  Arundel stared with wide-eyed wonder at the center of the blinding flash as
f transfixed by some mystical talisman.  As the intensity of the blinding
confines of the heavy down coverlet.  A shape took form in the center of the

  A woman lay reclining on a couch in the style of ancient Rome.  Nine swords

  Not sure how to respond to this new intruder, Arundel kept silent as did his
visitor.  However, the tears on her face bespoke some great sorrow, some
undefined agony.  Carefully the appariton opened her mouth, clearly intending
to speak, but the words were frozen as her flesh was suddenly transformed into
the timeless off-white of finely worked marble.  Every excrutiating detail of
failed to react, too caught up in the emotion of the moment to do anything but
lost to its depths.

  "Perseus," he screamed, suddenly overcome by a desire to protect the

  The light of the full moon blazed a path for him as he fumbled with the heavy
ron lock of the garden gate.  The garden seemed to fight back at his
ntrustion with a fury all of its own.
as he struggled to force open the gate, trees scraped his face and arms, and
the sky overhead darkened leaving only the seemingly indifferent eye of the
moon to witness his plight.  With a final heave the gate gave way before him,
and Arundel, breathless, passed through the narrow paths and beyond marble
figures translucent in the milk-white illumination of the moon's rays.

  With barely a glance toward where he was going, Arundel crashed through the
underbrush and landed in a breathless heap at the foot of the statue.  His
clammy flesh desperately grasped at the indifferent marble.  Tears welled in
at finding it again.  With an upward glance at the towering figure, Arundel

  The realization suddenly dawned on him that in his effort to cut off others
from the dawn of his happiness, he had inadvertantly cut himself off also.
Arundel stared in agony at the mutilated form, a blood-red tear staining the
once again felt the presence of some form, and a glance upward served to
confirm his suspicions as the luminous moon slowly began to increase in
brightness, bathing the entire garden in a stark, icy-white light.

  The figure of the woman approached, her path blazened by the moon's rays, in
eight fellows.	Stretched out on her couch, a slow smile of satisfaction spread
across her face as she turned toward the moon.	A blinding flash emanating from
the center of the orb struck Arundel on the forehead, betraying the malice of
veins as his mouth opened in a silent scream of agony.

  At mornings first light the white marble of Arundel's figure glistened with
near.  As she entered the knoll, his stone senses were unable to recognize her

  Several weeks later, Sir Francis was attending a reception at the manor house
knoll shared by Arundel and Perseus, Sir Francis crossed himself, exclaiming,
"It's the ressurection!" Arundel's unseeing eyes sensed, nonetheless, the
lady's smile in response to this comment.




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