Nothing inspires art like love.
Theophile Lekas has spent the last seventeen years trying to build a name for himself as an ice sculptor. Ice is his world, but he lives for Dylan Mincer.
But loving from afar isn’t enough, and if Theo wants to win Dylan’s heart, he’ll need to sweep him off his feet. And what better way to do it than with a sculpture that will leave Dylan breathless and the world in no doubt of Theo’s genius?
After an argument leads to murder, Theo is hit with true inspiration. And he has the perfect block to begin his project. For Dylan, Theo will create his masterpiece. And it will be as unique as a snowflake
Great art requires the perfect muse.
Leaving his coffee cup, still half-full, on one of the bales he crossed the area to the walk-in freezer. He only had two tanks to make ice blocks. Sometime in the future, when he made more money, he’d expand. He needed to. He made all his sculptures the old-fashioned way with chainsaws and hand tools -- no pre-programmed machines for him.
Perhaps it was a good thing Dylan had begged off coming back with him last night, he needed to start yet another swan for an event, and that would hardly impress him.
“No, it wouldn’t. You need to start working without a shirt on.” Cat’s voice, or how he imagined it would sound if he’d had a voice, echoed in his head.
Theo nodded, not to the without-a-shirt part but that it wouldn’t impress Dylan, and went back to work.
The ice had been in the tank for three days, and he checked the surface of the block with a measuring bar before reaching for his wet vacuum to remove the layer of water resting on the top. Yeah, definitely a good thing Dylan isn’t here for this part. Sucking water off the ice wasn’t sexy nor did it show off his artistic skills. Theo swallowed. Did he have enough artistic skills for Dylan? Perhaps he was nothing more than an Elvis impersonator.
“There are plenty of good Elvis impersonators!” Cat’s shout echoed from inside the barn. He never came into the freezer unit. Theo shook his head. He couldn’t trust the cat.
He hoisted the block from the tank, removed the plastic liner to make sure the ice was clear and free of cracks and bubbles. It was. He could start on the fucking bird.
Carving it was quick work, but it happened now and then that he cracked the neck. He should ban birds.
Once he’d figured out exactly what his next piece would be, he’d never do swans again.
“Nothing wrong with birds.”
“For eating perhaps, but as sculptures they’re boring.”
Cat nodded, or Theo imagined he did, and slipped in behind one of the hay bales. Just as well. He tended to interrupt Theo when he was working.
The comforting sound of the chainsaw drowned out the world.
Theo was guiding the blade through the ice, giving it a rough shape of a swan, when something touched his shoulder. He whirled around. The chainsaw slid on the surface before he managed to get control over it.
A wiry, greying man stood there sneering at him. Theo sighed and turned off the chainsaw. “Dad.”
Silence filled the barn, making its walls belly out from the pressure of it.
“Still playing with ice?”
The chainsaw grew heavier in his hands. Theo searched for something to say, but, as usual, no words came to mind. “Sculpting.”
Dad snorted. “Still trying to be an artist?”
“I am one.” And soon, when he’d figured out what his next piece would be, his dad along with the rest of the world would be awestruck by his talent, his innovation, his ... another good word that would make the masses bow in reverence.
“Theophile.” He tsked and shook his head. “The world has enough of queer artists trying to milk the stereotype. Grow up and get yourself a real job. You don’t have the grace to play the role.”
Theo couldn’t say what was happening. His mind clouded with black smoke, a roar sounded in his head, and in the next second, he pressed in the two start buttons on his chainsaw.
Blood splattered over the swan as the blade cut into his dad’s skin and continued through muscle and sinew. There was a small kickback as the nose of the blade severed the spine, but Theo gained control of the saw at the same time as the head thudded against the ground.
The body collapsed, blood sprayed in pulses, turning the wood shavings almost black. Theo stared for a moment, unable to take it all in.
He’d beheaded his father.
For some reason, he’d always assumed death would be quieter, more ... unique.
“Do you think the customer will appreciate the dye?” Cat tilted his head to the side as he watched the sculpture.
The ice was melting, no faster than it should, but talking to Dad had given it a few extra seconds. The blood glimmered like rubies around the swan’s neck and down its chest. “I think it’ll melt away.” Sadly.
Would it be more morally appropriate to bring out the other ice block and start over? But if they didn’t know the swan had been baptised in blood, did it matter?
Cat shrugged the way cats sometimes do and left the barn.