Monday, January 18, 2010

Lonely Soul

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The eldest of the McAlister siblings is responsible and always putting his brother and sister before himself. Now that Erick and Elizabeth were enjoying their married lives, the time had come for Michael Casey McAlister to find his soulmate. A man with a deep sense of family and honor, yet at times could be manipulative and very controlling, always doing what he thought was best for others.

Featured on The Most Dangerous Bachelors list with his brother, but for his love for daring outdoor activities; he searched for a woman who wasn’t a high society princess. With his good looks, wealth and sexual prowess, he has attracted many ladies but when the one he thinks is Miss Right doesn’t like his dog he shows her the door. Lonely and discouraged, he dedicates himself into a New York City community garden project with his friends and busies himself with his comic strip he has created under the name of Mike Casey.

Mike meets Lauren “Wren” Avery with the help of their dogs in the park while he’s working on a cartoon. He sees her as a chance to improve himself and not follow his father’s path of unhappiness. He certainly didn’t expect to fall in love with the graphic artist. Wren falls in love with him as the cartoonist not knowing he is the co-owner of McAlister Enterprises, the same company she works for. He knows he’s being wrong in not telling her the truth but his world falls apart when his love is transferred to the London base and she finds out who he really is. He realizes that in while building the company and interfering in other people’s lives he may have lost control of his own life and what truly matters.

The package arrived that morning before he left for work.

He didn’t bother opening it because he knew it was the portrait Andrew Somerby began painting of him a couple of months ago. Michael had spent the holidays with his family at Hampton House in Sussex, England and stayed while his brother was gone on his honeymoon. During his sojourn he visited the London base of McAlister Enterprises and spent some time with Andrew in his studio. Andrew was in charge of the two Somerby banks in England but was also the famous underground artist known as Puzzola.

Michael was hesitant to open the package. He had seen the portrait before he left London but Andrew would sometimes work on a piece after the model was gone. The fact that artist Puzzola was known for capturing the essence of a person on canvas was what scared him. Andrew had done a self-portrait titled Painted Soul that was sexually charged with emotional frustration. He then did a portrait of Erick titled Tormented Soul which captured the emotional torment Erick held inside as he searched for a normal life.

Michael was afraid to face his soul.

When he got home that night, he changed his clothes and grabbed a beer from the refrigerator. Michael stared at the box for a few moments before he opened it. Carefully he unwrapped the canvas from its protective plastic and placed it on the couch so he could step back to look at it. He picked up a small note card that had fallen out.

“Lonely Soul,” he read out loud. “Oh, boy.”

Raising his eyes to the painting Michael took in the image. He was seated on the floor sketching in a book with his dog Ariel cuddled along his leg; his hand lay on her back, with her head resting on his thigh. His affection for his pet was strong and it showed in the picture.

When he looked into his own eyes he recognized the emotion. Andrew definitely titled it appropriately. He was drawn into his own soul and it was empty, except for a sense of isolation, and loneliness.

He tilted his head as he viewed the piece more intensely. His elbow balanced on his bent knee, his hand held a pencil close to his mouth. While he was in London, Michael decided to quit shaving his face and was pleased with the appearance; Andrew
used soft brush strokes to suggest the facial hair. In the portrait, his head dipped, navy blue eyes looked at him under dark brows, looking as if he were in contemplation.

Knowing Andrew like he did, Michael was sure there was a deeper meaning in the details of the painting so he began to look for clues. Noticing the jeans and cotton shirt, was definitely him. He wore fine suits but preferred to be in jeans and sweatshirts. The sleeves of his shirt were rolled up, a symbol that he wasn’t afraid of work.

The sketchbook and pencil represented his artistic self, something his father discouraged but Mike pursued anyway. Eventually, his father accepted the artistic sides of both his sons and actually began to encourage it. Michael felt the time spent at his drawing table kept him grounded as he built the company. His sister, Elizabeth, had a successful career being a professional painter and owned galleries in Chicago, New York, and London.

Erick painted portraits for relaxation. His style was similar to Andrew’s, probably because they were as close as brothers.
Michael, on the other hand, had a more sketch-like style. He preferred to draw than paint.

Michael continued to scrutinize the picture for symbolism. White shirt, truthfulness and honesty, worn open in a relaxed state; tanned skin, good health and outdoorsman. No jewelry, not even a watch meant that he wasn’t materialistic but the pillow behind him carried the McAlister plaid to show his family honor.

Focusing on his hand holding the pencil, Michael noticed that a finger was resting on his lips. Many times when he’s deep in thought, he has the tendency to touch his lips with a finger. Because of the way his head was slightly tipped, he suspected that was the moment Andrew had captured. He must have been deep in thought, perhaps thinking of the sketch, and just looked up for an instant.

When he looked into his own eyes he recognized the emotion. Andrew definitely titled it appropriately. He was drawn into his own soul and it was empty, except for a sense of isolation, and loneliness.

Michael shook his head in attempt to view the painting differently. In the portraits Andrew had done of himself and Erick, there were ghost-like suggestions of a woman surrounding the subjects. Michael found no suggestions in his portrait. He was
alone, like he was in real life. Then he noticed a simple sketch made on the book in the painting.

Leaning toward the canvas, he tilted his head for a better view. It was a drawing of him and a woman in a lovers embrace. The woman had hair just past her shoulders and an athletic build. He smiled and wondered how Andrew came up with such an image. Perhaps he would find his soulmate through his own art. Michael continued to smile at the thought and picked up his gift.

A wall had been prepared for the special piece for months. He took a moment to pound a nail into the wall and then tenderly hung Lonely Soul. The painted eyes still made him feel uncomfortable because what the portrait told him was true. He was

Ariel pawed at his leg impatiently. It was past the time for her daily walk in the park. Michael grabbed his backpack, tossed in a Frisbee and water bottle. As an afterthought, he added a couple of pencils and a sketchbook.

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1 comment:

Alexia Reed said...

Wow you have such intricate detail in this excerpt! I felt like I could really see it all in my mind. Great!