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MORNING SERIAL; The Golden Orphans.

Byline: Gary Raymond

IT was a cliche that we had met at my own exhibition, and she had not known I was the artist she had come to see, and that I had spotted her the moment she entered the gallery - it was a good opening, although fewer in attendance than would have marked it out as a grand victory for my new collection. I stood next to her as she admired one of my cloudy, clumpy landscapes.

The things said about me by critics at that time, in print and to my face, were always in terms of aggression; that my work was aggressive, angry, as if I imagined love was found in the carnage of a battlefield, as if love was a bouncing bomb, a cannonball, a swinging axe.

But Clare spoke in that considered way of hers and she said that she felt the artist was in love with light. And in love with the silence that comes after the crash and bang.

She thought that I was in love with light and silence. And of course that made me fall in love with her. And seeing me feel my way around the revolting rusty darkness of The Castle would have made her laugh.

I was thinking of this near a lower level bar, ordering a drink, when I became aware of something near my elbow. I looked up with a start, and saw a figure up close that at first was difficult to define. I thought first it was a naked child, but then I realised it was not a child, and although only wearing a pair of denim cut- off shorts, was hardly naked either - he was smeared in bad tattoos all across his taut tanned torso and up his arms and neck.

It took a few moments but I did recognise him as the wretched looking creature I had seen in the street from Furkan's bar.

He had the cap pulled down low over his brow, and I noticed then too that he had no shoes. How had he gotten in here? Tara had given me his name, and I remembered it.

"Stelly," I said. He looked me up and down like a reptile. His eyes were slits and his lips were crisp and pencil-thin.

When he spoke, he felt the air with his tongue before every sentence.

> The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond is published by Parthian www.parthianbooks.com CONTINUES TOMORROW

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 21, 2018
Words:409
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