Peter van Straten Art by Peter van Straten


Late morning light, perhaps like an airborne river of microscopic wildebeest – African sun propelled by the sheer aesthetic essence of its own golden, stampeding motion – pours into a lush, third floor bedroom interior, the light’s warm spittle dripping from lilac tassels, purple curtain frills and the smiles of marble statues half hidden in their folds. Little left-overs of light run in exquisite silver rivulets across the salmon pink sheets on the bed in the centre of the room. And on this bed, lying half on her tummy, her goddess head propped up on one arm, lay Opulia, her satin nighty gaping to reveal the heavenly stretches of her perfect skin.

Slowly, one by one, Opulia fed heart-shaped liqueur chocolates to Dennis who lay at her side, his crazed and intense stare never leaving her face. From an open door at the far end of the room came the sound of singing, the bass rich and mock operatic beneath the hard, lean hiss of the shower spray.

Briefly ignoring his Goddess to scratch himself, Dennis dislodged a flee (a flee who had transferred from a German Shepherd the previous afternoon when Dennis had been taken for his walk). After one magnificent jump this flee found himself on the exquisite curve of Opulia’s left buttock, delightfully awed and alone on the planet-like, goose-bumped expanse.

Bored with spoiling Dennis, Opulia rolled onto her back (unknowingly imprisoning the flee between her heavenly cheeks) and stared up at the ceiling, from where effeminate cherubs returned her gaze, their faces the faces of well known politicians, and Opulia’s gorgeous blue eyes, already bored by daylight, misted over with day-dreams: As the singing in the shower swelled, the voice – in her daydream accompanied and rich – flew past her like a swallow and out of the window, dipping low over the meticulously manicured lawns, leaping from fountain lip high into the air, chasing for sport the little clouds whose task was merely to decorate the sky, and who would never dream of raining…

A sudden slap on one buttock dropped her like a stone from the sky. The music stopped. Dennis leapt from the bed onto a sofa and turned to watch his Gods. Spreading her legs apart to accommodate her lover’s clean, hairy and pasty body, Opulia lifted a hand to stroke the cleanly shaved cheeks as her man lowered himself onto her.

“Oh my baby… My Baby…” she crooned suggestively, pursing her lips and kneading one roll of his belly in her hands. He kissed her on the forehead then stood up.

“No time for love, my love,” he said softly, almost solemnly, as he adjusted the towel around his waste. Turning his back on the bed he walked over to the window. The floor was covered in a dense carpet of purple grapes, placed there – as part of a “living in art” work – by Ernst Wittke, the same artist who had commissioned the painting of the politicians on the ceiling. Their juice squirted up between the man’s toes as he walked, purple droplets running down between the black hairs on his sturdy legs.

Opulia’s expression darkened, her eyes narrowing with fear. She didn’t like it when he was serious. Sitting on the broad window-sill he leaned a shoulder against the window frame, head held slightly forward to inspect the grounds below, where pieces of ultra-modern sculpture littered the lawn like remnants of some weird war.

“What?” she gasped, sitting bolt upright on the bed.

“We have no money,” he replied, unable to look at her as yet.

She put her hand to her mouth.

“The JSE…” he tried but didn’t know how to continue.

“How much!?” she managed from within a hastily drawn breath, her slender shoulders tensing towards him. In the silence that followed she absently circled her left nipple with one trembling finger-tip.

“Left?” he asked, glancing at her.

She nodded, her mouth slack, hanging open.

“About four million,” he replied with difficulty as Opulia gasped. He absolutely hated giving exact figures but this was different. It was an ending. He turned back to the window, unable to look at her.

Gripping the sheet in one delicate little fist, Opulia brought it up to her mouth. Tears burst from her eyes, some hitting the sheets without even touching her cheeks, as if she were a cartoon character. Alarmed, her man stood. Just seeing her like this moistened his own eyes and although the financial catastrophe was international, impersonal, he still felt a sharp stab of guilt over his failure to save her from this. He should have seen it coming. He should have been more conservative. He stood and walked across the grapes to her.

“But what will we to do?” stammered Opulia, as if choking on a cherry, her staring eyes stretched wide with panic. “What about the party?”

“I need to think,” he replied, circling her ankle with his hand. She watched him retreat into his mind and a tiny flame of hope rekindled in her eyes. God she loved it when he thought! He was so clever. For her his mind was the most beautiful thing about him. She stroked his face then cocked her head and stared at his eyes as they retreated entirely from the present.

She waited, both her hands over her mouth, her wet eyes glistening with timid anticipation.

His focus returned.

He looked into her eyes. Her mouth was open, her eyebrows were raised.

Then he opened his mouth and said: “We could become middle class.”

Opulia frowned.

She very slowly lowered her hands into her lap and cocked her head to the other side.

She was totally confused.

“It would be an adventure,” he continued, never taking his eyes off hers. “We could even be lower middle class.”

In the absolute silence that followed she stared at him unblinking. Then, like a psychic reading straight from his mind, she pictured it: their middle class home in the suburbs, its stucco walls a dirty white, the garden cluttered with cheap, tasteless and yet simultaneously pretentious nonsense – barbecues on Sundays with the neighbours…

He was a genius.

She reached under the towel and took hold of his willy.

She was so relieved she couldn’t speak, but shuffled closer on her knees, and just held him. Resting her forehead on his chest she started sobbing and shaking as her fear gave way to relief.

“Thank you,” she finally sniffled into his hairy chest, “I am so lucky.”

She pulled away from him to admire him, her hand still on his member, which she felt gradually harden in her palm. With the back of her other hand she wiped at her cheeks.

“We could even have a golf-ball post-box,” she sighed, exhaling a gasped laugh, and wiping the last tears away.

“We’d have to have a vibacrete wall,” he replied, “ with fake bricks, and a car that’s always in the driveway and always gets washed on weekends.” He stroked her cheeks and the immaculate line of her jaw with the backs of his fingers. “We would go to malls, and buy our own food.”

“We could even cook our own food,” she smiled, her hand getting more active. “We could have cocktail sausages!”

“It would be such an adventure,” he replied, delighting in her delight. “Like camping.”

Opulia’s hand suddenly slowed.

“No no no, we mustn’t mix our metaphors!” she reprimanded him, using her cutesy voice, and tweaking the tip of his nose with her free hand. “This is going to be a performance piece inside an installation piece. Oh god you’re a genius!” she shouted, suddenly leaping up. She jumped up and down on the bed, turning in the air each time she jumped.

“Toilet seat covers!” she yelled in mid air. “Delicious monsters in square asbestos pots. Net curtains on all the windows! But,” she concluded gaily, fixing her eyes on Dennis the Borzoi, whose tale wagged as his goddess jumped, “we’ll have to swap Dennis for a poodle.”

Ebony would be so jealous! None of their friends had ever done anything like this! Even Ernst Wittke, she was sure, had never thought of anything like this.

“And when the piece is finished,” continued Opulia, jumping higher and higher, as if on a trampoline, “then the nice museum people in their nice orange overalls are going to pick up the whole house and put it in the Museum of Modern Art.”

She dropped down on her knees before her hero, pulled his towel away, and pushed him backwards onto the bed. Then she jumped onto him, and squeezing him between her knees, rose and fell like a crazed jockey. Rising and falling she sped towards the finish, until, with a final choking whine, she pushed her face into his chest again.

“Oh God you’re sexy when you think!!!” she screamed, and the flee, shaken beyond endurance, abandoned his cataclysmic landscape, and leapt into the void.

Share: Facebook Twitter

Comments are closed.