from Angelica's Grotto
Klein walked Melissa back to King's College, then headed for the tube. As he passed the Arthur Andersen entrance on his way down Surrey Street he encountered a sixtyish man leaning against a white TNT Courier van and swinging his left leg back and forth. 'Trying to restore the circulation?' said Klein. '
Hip's giving me bother. It's worse in cold weather.'
'That building on the other side, up towards the Strand, the one that says PICCADILLY RLY - I've been trying to figure out what the RLY stands for. Would you happen to know?'
'I believe it's an old defunct railway station that was probably built between the two wars,' said the courier, 'around 1920, something like that.'
'Railway! I've never seen it abbreviated that way before. Was it a Main Line station?'
'No, it'd be one of the Underground stations; they've probably diverted the line since then - I don't think it's in use now.'
'Tunnels underneath where we're standing, and empty tracks going nowhere!'
'Could be, unless they've torn up the tracks. Who knows what's down there by now, eh?'
* * * *
27: 30,000 FEET UP
[...] The phone rang; it was Melissa. 'Yes?' he said, immediately ready for whatever she might suggest.
'Prof dear, around ten this evening could you go to Gallery 7 at my site, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click on YES for a one-to-one? Thanks. Must run. Kisses from you-know-where.'
When he was at his desk he worked on notes for the Klimt book. 'Pornography has always been part of the visual arts,' he wrote. 'I don't recall any pornographic cave drawings but their art was more elemental, more religious - Mother-Goddess figures, fertility symbols - procreation and survival - huge breasts and buttocks - Venus of Willendorf. And the Greeks! Raunchy Athenian red-figure vase-painters drew the line at nothing. Oral sex? Can't recall. Everything else, certainly, one-on-one and in combinations. What would those vases fetch at Sotheby's now? The Romans weren't far behind, look at Pompeii: probably half of them were in flagrante when Vesuvius blew. X-rated petrified corpses. India - they couldn't get enough of it. They would have had to do Advanced-level yoga before they could even manage those positions. Krishna and the cowgirls. And the Europeans: Rembrandt did it - Vermeer? He did a brothel scene with a madame and some punters fully dressed but no hardcore. Vermeer painted moments in arrest. What would he have done with some of the ANGELICA'S GROTTO activities? The mind boggles. An authentic Vermeer of a woman in period underwear accommodating five men would set an all-time auction record. All the recent masters put their hands to pornography: Daumier, Millet, Lautrec, Picasso, Pascin. The B-List masters too: Felicien Rops and his giant willies; Bruno Schulz and the naked woman with the stallions and the little eunuch - no penetration except in the cerebral cortex. How am I going to get through the day? 'I have a craving that can only be satisfied by a disaster film - air, sea, or submarine, I don't care which; but preferably one where somebody survives through sheer pluck and resourcefulness plus maybe a little help.' [...]