Gregson wondered if the women who paint nudes, ever got self-conscious and took their clothes off. He needed to visit with the dead body, but what could it say? He was feeling animal impulses—electricity trying to escape his body—Gregson needed to plug-in somewhere.

“What are those red marks around the neck?” He asked the officer in charge.

“You’re joking, right? —that’s not pizza sauce, but the real thing.”

“I’m not so sure. There’s magenta, strawberry red, and pink flairs near his erogenous zone—that’s where my girlfriend turns me on like a light bulb—she just needs to lick the switch.”

“Make-up? Should we be looking for a woman?”

“Women—in the plural sense. He probably didn’t do what they wanted him to do.”

“When you put it like that—being with lots of women is like being in bed with the government.”

“They’ll be one-in-the-same, soon.”

Gregson walked through the creative conference, admiring the exhibits. Women in Eskimo suits were chiseling naked men with icepicks. When they got near the balls, Gregson winced. Art is the manifestation of culture.

There were valuable paintings on display. Gregson was a fan of Georgia O’Keeffe. Somehow, death and the feminine radiated from her flowers like symbolic vaginas. Was this a warning? Artists have the luxury of being undefined—they change so often, critics aren’t able to keep up. The culture complains, and then it wants more.

Mac was showing his drawings of ballerinas—their legs and bodies were more delicate than a hummingbird’s—still, art is an expression of the soul—and Mac’s soul didn’t match his image.

“Would you care to play 9 holes, tomorrow?” Gregson asked. “There’s a course on the edge of the moor.”

“8 AM, tomorrow morning.” Mac said.

“Bring your irons, and don’t be late.”

Gregson noticed the women who paint nudes. They were lying on sofas and smoking cigars. A woman who smokes a cigar can be a major turn-on because it’s a symbol of sexual liberation and her independence from society—while simultaneously signaling how dangerous she is. Men feel most alive when they are closest to death, and women with cigars allow them to flirt with sex at the same time.

Their first assessment of him was his manhood—they glanced down there like scientists, and looked-up into his eyes like prostitutes.

“I’m Gregson.”

The blonde in the middle, wearing a white cocktail dress, spoke first. “This is Claire, Kathleen, Charlotte, and I’m Kathrine.” Gregson kissed the backs of their hands one at a time. He noticed their make-up.

“Your names all begin with the same sound.”

“And they all end that way, when we’re together.”

Gregson wanted to ask her what she meant, but then decided to start with the important question. “How did you know the deceased?”

“We slept with him.”

“Did his girlfriend know?”

“I think so—we slept with her too.”

“Just to be clear, ‘slept with’ is a euphemism for sex, right?”

“What rock did you crawl out from under?” Claire asked. She had red hair, and a red dress. Some women are on fire, and they can burn down a house, with the man inside it. She smoked her cigar, and exhaled—hell was inside her, and a popular vacation spot for the naive male.

“So, just to be clear, you were all having relations?”


“Who do you paint?”

“Each other.”

“Did you ever paint the deceased?”


The innuendo, and follow-up questions were giving Gregson a headache. One woman could launch a man’s migraine to the moon. Four women could cause him to colonize Mars.

“I need to go to bed,” Gregson said.

“Would you like some company?” Charlotte asked.


“You’re gay.”

“Yes—peace and quiet is a state of bliss.”

They all pouted.

Gregson left and considered smoking a cigar.

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