The Artiste


Would this train ride never end?

William stared out the window at nothing much, just as he’d been doing for days. He knew travelling from New Jersey to San Francisco by train would be grueling, but he was not prepared for the monotony of Kansas, Nebraska, Ohio, ad nauseum.

And then there was the smelly brat and its ridiculous gum-popping mother sitting directly across from him. The child looked to be around six or seven and was not yet potty-trained. Either that, or it farted an awful lot. Occasionally the mother put down her Dirty, Filthy Secrets magazine to take it to the restroom, but not nearly often enough. The only thing that kept William’s sanity in check was knowing his beloved Solange would be awaiting his arrival at the train station in San Francisco. And then they would be married.

It was love at first sight for both of them. Well, almost. William became smitten with Solange nearly a year ago, on their first date. He’d taken her to Dante’s on Pier 39 for dinner. There were a million things that endeared her to him: the way her hazel eyes sparkled when she looked at him, the way her long black hair swirled down her back, her refreshing independence and self-reliance, dry sense of humor…Solange was everything he’d dreamed of in a woman.

It took a bit longer for Solange to fall for William, but he chalked it up to her playing hard to get, being cautious, or, perhaps it was simply part of being an artiste. He still wasn’t quite sure what exactly her art was, but no matter!  William just thanked his lucky stars that his boss kept sending  him back to San Francisco every month.

William stopped a crew member who was passing by. “How long ‘til we reach San Francisco?”

The man calculated in his head. “You got about four hours to Los Angeles, from there, you got probably another 10 hours.”

“I see, “William sighed. “Thank you.”

Less than 24 hours!


The next day in San Francisco…


Will this guy never finish up?

Solange was employed at one of the city’s most prestigious brothels, Le Chat Château, which catered to the world’s most prominent men. As such, Solange considered herself more of an artiste than a courtesan since she had, after all, raised her profession to an art form.

Finally, her client’s session had come to its natural conclusion, and Solange took a break with her friend and fellow artiste, Yvette de la Sol.

“Got a light?” Yvette asked with a Gauloises dangling from her plump magenta lips.

Solange lit Yvette’s cigarette and then her own. She inhaled deeply and blew the smoke out slowly with a sigh.

“Is something wrong?”

“I dunno.” Solange shrugged. “You ever get that weird feeling like you’re forgetting something?”



Susan Marie Shuman/ SusanWritesPrecise