The Arts, Part Three
by Fool

The morning air was crisp and still. The sun had just barely peeked over the horizon. The birds had only just begun their first songs of the day. As he walked slowly to school, J.T.'s only company was the early morning joggers, dressed as usual in their colorful jumpsuits, torturing themselves in the pursuit of healthy living. J.T. didn't really understand them, though he saw them every morning. Why anyone would want to get up so early in the day was beyond him. He sure didn't want to.

He had an algebra test today, and he was not looking forward to it. His eyes focused on the sidewalk in front of him, his steps measured by rote. He still hadn't completely woken up, nor would he probably until about 2nd period.

The joggers passed the high schooler without noticing him. Winter was coming, and soon the city would be covered in ice and snow. They would have to move their exercises indoors for the season, and so they pushed themselves hard now, knowing that the colder weather would affect the regularity of their exercises later.

J.T. crossed over from the streets into the park. The route put on about another ten minutes to his trip, but he was really not looking forward to that test. He hadn't done his English homework, either, and Mrs. Stockton would be on him about it, he knew.

He almost didn't see the figure until he was walking right by it.

The fifteen year old looked up, and there she was standing by the side of the path. Cool, smooth green stone.  White gossamer dress, almost transparent in the early morning light. Arms outstretched as if holding something large and bulky, with a smiling white mask gripped in one hand instead. J.T.'s mouth fell open in shock.

It was a nude statue of a woman, beautiful beyond belief. Well, semi-nude, though the dress she wore hid nothing at all. Her head was turned slightly to the side, mouth slightly open and her eyes glazed the same color as the rest of her face. She was gorgeous, simply gorgeous. J.T. stood there in silence, not thinking, just admiring.

It was the first time the young boy had ever truly looked at art.

He could feel himself hardening in response to it.

J.T. took his gloves off and lightly grabbed onto the loose cloth surrounding the statue. He couldn't believe what he was doing. It felt like a dream. He pulled, and the gown fell away from her, revealing all of those pale green secrets. J.T. shuddered uncontrollably. There were no chisel marks, no manufacturing stamps, nothing. The statue was flawless, polished from her exquisitely carved hair down to her shapely molded toes. The proportions were perfect. She might well have been a real girl standing in front of him, a Playboy pictorial in green paint brought to life.

Mrs. Stockton and the algebra test were a million miles away.

He approached closer and tentatively put his hand out. He ran his fingers over the statue's stony breast, then pulled back suddenly as if he had touched something hot. It felt so good, so sleek and fine. His groin pounding, J.T. pressed himself against the frozen figure, his hands exploring the glassy thighs, stomach, legs, and ass. Beneath the statue's chill there was a mysterious warmth, a tingling sensation that felt almost electrical. Waves of sensation passed through him, primitive memories of pleasure . . . of transformation . . . petrification. The boy's release was immense, and the front of his jeans stained instantly.

Her name . . . her name had been . . . Ellen . . ?

"Hey, you! Get away from her!"

J.T. pulled back blindly, shaken, embarrassed, for a moment not knowing who or where he was. The statue's mask fell out of her hand.  Ellen . . ? he thought.

It was a jogger running up to him. J.T. looked up, saw him, looked down at his pants, and felt a cramp surging through his privates. He ran, not knowing where.

The jogger who had yelled at him stopped by the statue, wondering how in the hell something like this had been left in a public park. It was a fantastic work, but . . . my God, he thought. She's nude. He stood there watching the boy run off. He had thought the kid had been molesting a real woman, at least from a distance, but now . . . . He could see why maybe the kid had been doing what he had been doing.

The statue was beautiful.


The jogger removed his gloves.

It had been a long time since they had last spoken, but the man could still remember the last words his benefactor had said to him.

Art imposes an order on life . . . how simple a statement, yet how profound in its simplicity. The painting of a beautiful woman exaggerates certain qualities of her features while de-emphasizing others. Music deliberately excludes most sounds and concentrates on only a few arranged in certain patterns. Poetry brings out striking and unexpected similarities between object and form.

The man sat down at a table in his apartment and began checking the Freezer. He undid the lens device and checked the circuitry underneath. He didn't even pretend to understand the physics behind the tool, but he had long ago memorized its internal configurations, just in case repairs to it were necessary. He no longer had the resources he once had available. Just one look around his apartment, at the dust and the cobwebs in the corner, the cracked window in the living room, was enough to remind him of that fact lest he forgot.

His mind wandered as he examined the connections.

Art, his patron had finally said, is simply that ultimate expression of the human mind's desire for a re-arrangement of the universe, of a transcendental leap from the purely natural to the more desirable artificial.

Yes, he agreed. Absolutely and one hundred percent, he agreed. He reattached the Freezer's lens and put it to the side. Next to the table by the wall was a shelf, and on the shelf he had weeks ago lined up the precious materials he would be needing for his project. He counted them again for the thousandth time. Four had already been used - the white marbleizing solution, the stone powder, the plastic lotion, and then just last night the green marbleizer - and five more waited use.

After they were gone, though, he would have nothing left.

Why did they have to abandon me? the man wondered, tears in his eyes suddenly. He had been like this for days, his emotions a wreck. Was it something I said, something I did? Something I didn't do? He had no real idea, still, even after so much time had gone by. His former masters spoke a great deal but explained little if at all.

It just wasn't right.

The man took the fifth container down from the shelf and held it to his chest. The truth was, he suspected, they had simply lost interest in him. It happened. He had seen firsthand. Their moods varied sharply. Everything was drama to them. The Dancers either treated something as the most important matter in the world, or they chose to ignore it. It was insane.

He sniffed and drew himself up straight again. But who am I to judge them? he thought. They had introduced him to the Club, shown him how to turn his most cherished fantasies into reality. They had given him a life, an occupation. They've given me a dream . . . and I have to show them I can still live up to that dream.

Because, maybe then, they would take him back.

The petrifier stood up with the fifth container still held tightly to his chest, the way a mother might carry her child, and went into his bedroom. There, along one wall, he had pasted pictures of all his subjects, the lucky recipients of his masterpiece design. Most of the pictures he had taken from his high school yearbook, but others he had taken personally in the year he had spent planning all this.

He scanned the pictures, left to right.

He wiped a tear from his eye.

Four down, he thought. Five to go.

Hiram hated police stations.

Once, long ago, he had worked in one himself.

"Thank you, officer," he said to the desk sergeant. He put the last of the paperwork inside his coat pocket, turned around, and started walking out. He had been keeping track of the news, especially in Cincinnati where all the victims had once gone to school, and when a nude statue was found in a local park he had hopped the first plane back.

Fourth victim, Ellen Hewitt. He had recognized her picture from the yearbook he had the moment he had seen her petrified figure, though he hadn't said anything.

No one else had made the connection, of course, between her disappearance and the green statue, but it was still a mess of a situation. Ellen Hewitt, unfortunately, had once been Ellen Blaine. Her husband would probably be interested in knowing what had happened to his wife. Thank God they had no children, the detective thought. He could still imagine what he might have said to Mike Hewitt, though.

Gee, sir, I guess the only way to tell you is to just tell you. Your wife was kidnapped by a maniac with access to tools beyond human definition. He turned Ellen into a marble statue.

Green marble.

No, seriously.

Would I kid you in a moment like this?

Hiram walked down the steps from the police office and got into his rental car. There was no way he could actually do that in real life, as much as he would like to say something to poor Ellen's husband. In all likelihood, in fact, he would never even see Mike Hewitt, let alone talk to him. All he could do is lay claim to the statue, which he had just done, make some "donations" to the right people, indulge in a little hypnosis perhaps - he hated using mind tricks, they made him feel slimy - and do his best with all that to cover up Ellen's disappearance.

He took his key - the key - and inserted it again in the slot behind his head.

He hated what he had become. He truly did. The clicking noises the gears made when he wound himself up grated on his nerves like nothing else in the world.

I'm gonna get this guy, Hiram thought, taking the key out again and putting another inside the car's ignition. And I'm gonna take out all my frustrations on him.

Smiling grimly, he pulled out into the streets.

The petrifier sat in his van outside the house of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Montclair, where the former Anne Willis, as he had known in high school, lived.

Where my future Melpomene lives, he corrected himself.

He had made sure she was alone. Her kids were off at school, and her husband wouldn't be back from his office job until later that afternoon. He had all day to work

She still looks great, too, even after two children, he thought. I'm lucky. He looked down at the container he had strapped to his chest, and the hose connecting it to the nozzle gun he wore, and was satisfied everything was set.

She'll make a beautiful piece of art. A beautiful Melpomene.

The petrifier got out of the van, locked the door behind him, and walked up to the house.  He had checked his appearance before in the mirror, and he was confident he looked harmless and safe.  No one could see the hose assembly or the Freezer beneath his coat.

He rang the doorbell.  A moment later the door opened.

"Hi, Anne," the man said, and took out his first tool.  "Remember me?"

. . . to be continued

Read "The Arts, Part Four"

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