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Leslie R. Lee

This painting! It snatched the very air from my lungs. I must own this. I must! The trick now was concealing that very fact. Adjusting my silk tie in a most convincingly nonchalant manner, I sauntered down the chain-link fence.

I do not know why I had stopped at this little outdoor art venue. Usually, I detested the common reproductions these pathetic street vendors displayed in the blazing hot sun. The ultra-violet rays would soon bake the color completely out of the cheap copies. The tawdry frames served only to complete the ruination of the great masters. Yet, something did make me drive my car into the lot and park beside people grimly trekking their way into a video store in search of cheap entertainment. Perhaps I stopped because I recognized none of the works leaning against the filthy fence. Where were the lethargic suns wilting into endlessly mundane seas? Or the terminally cute little children staring out with eyes so huge that I just wanted to kick in their puny little faces? Or the smeared abstracts that looked as if someone had used the canvas to clean their hands after painting some kitchen cabinets?

None of those horrible clichés were to be found.

Instead, here was a portrait of a woman so enchanting, it left me breathless. Confident, strong, intelligent, she regarded me. Beautiful. And not like a model whose sterile looks were more consistent with some related but mutant humanoid species. No, this woman possessed a just and simple beauty. Plain and forthright. Nude, she lounged against a plain background. Sun-tinted, brown hair fell in disarray about her shoulders. Her tanned face reflected an outdoor, fresh life. She did not smile, yet perhaps, if I were patient enough, she just might.

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