An idol idyll
Devon Myers sat patiently at the auction waiting for the
only item he wanted to come up for bid. His was no backwoods, small town
auction, and the auctioneer was no fast-talking hick trying to pawn off Aunt
Myrtle’s tea set in the shape of farm animals. This auction required a
dress code and proof of finance. So far, Devon saw two Picassos, one
Monet, a full suit of armor belonging to Phillip, Duke of Burgundy, a dagger
owned by Giovanni Borgia, a lyre traced back to Aelius Dionysius, and an
unpublished work by Sir Frances Bacon.
Even though all these items were very fine, none of them
appealed to Devon.
The auctioneer’s assistant, a pretty brunette, brought out
a large box around 24 inches tall and 15 inches wide and set it down on the
table. This was why he’d driven 150 miles. She opened the box, and inside
the purple velvet interior sat the sandstone statue of a Hindu female frozen in
a dance pose.
“Ladies and gentlemen, what we have for our last item
is a 12th century Hindu Apsara. What makes this item so rare is that
it is flawless. You will find no chips or abrasions. Bids will start at
five thousand,” said the Auctioneer.
Devon raised his hand and the bid rose to
six. The bids kept coming and rising and Devon kept raising his hand each
time someone else bid. At ten thousand the majority stopped.
“Eighteen,” said Devon. Only Devon and two others
remained in the bidding war. One called out for twenty-two thousand. The
third dropped out. Bound and determined to own this piece, Devon called out for
twenty-eight. There were a few murmurs in the crowd.
“We have twenty-eight thousand. Do I have thirty? Twenty-nine?
Sold to Mr. Devon Myers for twenty-eight thousand dollars.” He wrote a
check for the full amount, and the assistant handed him the Apsara. “Thank
you, Mr. Myers. It is always a pleasure to do business with you,” said the
“Likewise, good sir. Please keep me posted if
you come across any other items that you believe I might be interested
in. You know my tastes.”
Over the years, Devon had gathered many acquisitions
through this man and still did not know his name. No one did. To everyone who
had dealings with him he was simply known as the Auctioneer. All of his
auctions were private and by invitation only. Almost everything sold was
done so illegally. The items purchased were all undocumented and belonged
Devon owned a sprawling six-bedroom (though only used
one), six-and-a-half bath home with five-car garage. He pulled into the last
bay, grabbed the box, and went inside. His home resembled a museum curator’s
wet dream. Every room held rare artifacts from all over the world, some in
glass cases and others on pedestals.
He placed the box on the coffee table and sat down. Grinning,
he felt like a kid set loose in a Toys R Us. Opening the box, he admired his
new prize. This he would place above all the others items he owned. His fingers
brushed across the surface, and he quickly pulled his hand back and frowned. If
he wasn’t mistaken it felt warm. Taking the statue out of the box, he found
that it indeed felt almost flesh warm. Very
strange, I’ve never felt anything
like this before. Perhaps it’s the box. He set the statue down and checked
the box. The inside was cool.
Not willing to let this strange experience cloud his good
mood, Devon picked up the statue and placed it upon the mantel of his
fireplace. Sitting back down on the couch, he stared at his newest addition,
completely enraptured with it. He possessed other artifacts thousands of years
older than this, such as Egyptian, Sumerian, Byzantine, Incan, yet he placed
the Apsara above them all. Truth be told, he didn’t even know what an Apsara
was. Devon had received a phone call from the Auctioneer who informed Devon of
what he had. Not able to pass this up, Devon informed the Auctioneer that he
would be there to bid. Glancing at his watch, he saw that it was really late
and he had a meeting tomorrow morning…
In his dream he lay in bed as this beautiful woman,
wearing a loose, blue gossamer dress slit up one side to the thigh, walked in
from his bathroom. The muted light from the bathroom, falling over her nut-brown
skin and silky raven hair, threw her completely into the realm of the exotic. She
gracefully sauntered to the side of the bed. Leaning over, she gently brushed
the side of his face with her hand, leaned in close, and placed a light kiss
upon his lips, then whispered in his ear, “Tuma mere ho.”
She backed away slowly and begin to twist and turn
and move her arms to a soft tune only she could hear. Devon was so mesmerized
by this creature’s beauty that it seemed perfectly normal for her to be here. Too
soon she faded away as the sound of his alarm brought him into the waking world.
Reaching over, he turned off the alarm and flopped back onto
the bed. His mouth felt Sahara dry and his eyes felt as if he washed them in
sand. Devon swore he was more tired now than when he went to bed. Sleep or no
sleep, he had a meeting. Just because he owned the company didn’t mean he could
slack off. Getting out of bed he groaned. Even his muscles were sore. On his
way to the kitchen he stopped to take a quick look at his Apsara. No matter how
hard he tried, he could not get that woman in his dreams out of his head. After
a glass of orange juice and a shower he was off to work.
Devon’s secretary welcomed him with a cheery good morning,
and in returned he mumbled a half intelligible morning. Closing the office door,
he sat down in his chair, leaned
back, and, within three minutes, fell asleep.
“Devon, Devon. Come on man, wake up!”
Devon quickly sat up. “Huh? What? Oh, it’s you.”
“Yeah, it’s me. We have a meeting in five minutes,
remember?” said Paul. Devon’s brow furrowed as he looked at his project manager
trying to process what he was saying.
“Corrigan-Schoffer account, remember?”
“Right, the lawyers. New office building.”
“Yeah, you going to be ok?”
“I’ll be fine.” Devon rubbed his eyes, then stood up.
Even though the meeting ended with a signed contract,
it was a grueling two hours for Devon. It took everything he had to keep his
eyes open and his mind on the meeting and not on the dream girl. They walked
back to Devon’s office. Normally after a meeting that ended with a contract
signing Devon would slap Paul on the back and pour two glasses of celebratory
wine. Instead, he collapsed into his chair and Paul took a seat.
“Devon, you coming down with something? You really
are out of it today.” He and Paul had been friends since college. If he could
talk to anyone it would be Paul.
“Have you ever had one of those dreams that, no matter how
hard you tried, you just couldn’t get it out of your head and shake it off?”
“No, I can’t say that I have. What did you dream of
“This very exotic girl walked out of my bathroom wearing
some type of sheer dress. She came up to me while I was lying in bed, bent
over, and kissed—”
“Wait,” Paul held up his hands, “I don’t need to hear about
your nighttime exploits in dreamland.”
“No, nothing like that. She whispered something in my ear—don’t
know what—then started dancing in the bedroom.”
“That’s it? You’re all bent out of shape because some girl
whispers in your ear and does a jig in your room?”
“Well, when you put it that way.”
“Go home and get some rest.”
“Good idea. I think I’ll do that.”
When Devon arrived home he got as far as the couch. Leaning
back, he stared at the Apsara. He couldn’t take his eyes off it. He was fully
obsessed and didn’t care. His whole house could burn down and yet, as long as
he saved the Apsara, he would be fine with that. Devon’s eyes grew heavy and he
heard light lilting laughter. A hand ran lightly through his hair; lips
caressed his cheek. A soft voice whispered in his ear. “Tuma mere ho.”
Opening his eyes, he saw his exotic beauty beside him. “What
is that you said?”
Tilting her head slightly to the side, she smiled. With
feline grace she backed away from the couch and twirled into a dance, her blue
gossamer dress flying around her. He could not believe such a beautiful
creature could exist.
“What was it that you said?”
“Tuma mere ho.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You can speak English?”
“I can speak many of your languages.”
“You are so beautiful. Too bad this is just a dream.”
She straddled his lap, took his face in both of her hands,
and kissed him deeply. His arms wrapped around her and he brought her in
closer. Breaking the kiss, she stood and swayed back and forth in a slow
Trying to get up, he found that he was too weak. All he
could do was follow her with his eyes and let the rhythm wash over him. Slowly
she begin to fade.
“Wait, where are you going? Please, don’t go.” She smiled
The noise of his alarm clock brought him awake. He rolled
over to turn it off, then remembered that he had been on the couch. How had he
gotten to his bed? Crawling out of bed was a Herculean feat. Trying to stand up
sent him falling back onto the bed. What
the hell? Using the nightstand to help brace himself, he made it up on
shaking legs. I must be coming down with
something. As he walked his legs grew a little stronger. In the bathroom
mirror he saw that the bottoms of his eyes were dark and his sclera bloodshot. His
cell phone began to ring. Going back to the nightstand he picked up his phone. The
caller ID said it was Paul.
“Hey, Paul, what’s up?”
“Just wondering if you’re going to make it into work today”
“Yeah, of course. Why wouldn’t I?”
“We have the Japanese delegation coming in at two and,
since you didn’t make it in yesterday, I was wondering if you’re going to be
able to make it today. If not, I can handle it; it’s ok.”
What the hell is
Paul talking about? I was at work yesterday. We signed the contract for those
“Paul, you do realize I took off yesterday, right?”
“I figured you probably took an extra day to rest.”
“No, I was at work yesterday and then took off after the
meeting with the lawyers.”
“I’m afraid not, Devon. That was Monday. Today is
That can’t be
right. He looked at his watch. It read Wednesday. That’s
not right; it can’t be.
“You coming in?”
“Yeah, Paul. I’ll be there.”
“Hey look, if you’re not feeling good…”
“No, I’m fine. I’ll be there.” Devon hung up. He shook his
head. No. This can’t be right. I’ve been
out for two days? That’s just not possible. It must be some bug, maybe the flu.
Still trying to wrap his head around losing a whole day, he got ready for work.
Throughout the morning, Devon fought his fatigue, but kept
losing by dozing off and on. At ten minutes till the meeting Paul came in to
let him know that the Japanese entourage was in meeting room 305 and ready to
start. Everything was set to begin.
“Jesus, Devon, you look like crap! You sure you’re ready
“I mean if you’re not feeling well I can handle this. This
will give us our first foothold for international contracts.”
“I said I got this.”
But Devon didn’t have it, not by a long shot. Halfway
through the presentation, not only did Devon fall asleep, but also began to
snore. Paul did his best to work around this but that just was not possible. He
apologized profusely and tried to reschedule the meeting, explaining that Devon
had not been feeling very well the past couple of days and that he had been
working really hard for this. No matter what Paul said, the Japanese businessmen
would not accept his apology. Very offended, they said that since Mr. Devon did
not think that their time was valuable enough to stay awake, they would seek
someone else who would appreciate having them as clients. Paul wanted to wake
Devon up and throttle the hell out of him.
Five months of
work on a multimillion dollar contract are down the drain because the bastard
didn’t take this seriously. Yeah, it might be his company and he can do what
the hell he wants, but when those actions start affecting our names that’s a
whole different story.
Paul left Devon where he was and walked out for fear that
if he stayed in the same room with him any longer he would knock the hell out
of him and not give one damn bit about his status as friend and boss.
Devon woke up with a start to an empty meeting room. Hasn’t
the meeting started yet? He
looked at his watch and it said 4:30 pm. Oh
hell! He got up and walked over to Paul’s office.
“Hey,” said Devon. Paul looked up from his desk and
went back to the papers there and typed on his computer, completely ignoring
“I take it the meeting didn’t go so well.”
“You think? And what gave you that impression? How
could the owner of the company falling asleep during the most important meeting
of the company’s history not have impressed the clients? What the hell were you
thinking? You insulted them and blew
our multimillion dollar chance. Do you have any idea what you have done? Not
only have you caused irreparable damage to this firm, because, believe me, word
will spread about how the owner likes to nap through meetings with clients, you’ve
hurt my reputation as well. What the
hell were you thinking?”
“Hey, hold on now. I may not have been feeling good, but I
did attempt it. You’re the Projects Manager here. If you think you’re all that
good, why didn’t you save this project?”
“God himself couldn’t have saved that contract.”
They stared at each other, neither one giving ground. Paul
was furious with Devon and his erratic behavior. Devon was on the verge of
telling Paul to get the hell out; friend or not, he would fire him. No one,
absolutely no one under his employment should address him in such a manner. This
was his company, not Paul’s.
“So I guess you’re going to fire me now.”
“I should. We’ve known each other for a very long
time, Paul. But that does not give you the right to talk to me like
that. I’m still the owner of this company, which means I’m still your boss,
regardless of what happened or what I do or don’t do. I’ll overlook this
one outburst, but only because of the great work you’ve done for this company
in the past. Don’t let it happen again.” He picked up Paul’s desk phone
and called his secretary.
“Tamara, I am leaving for the day.” He hung up and
walked out without another word.
Devon tried to put Paul’s outburst behind him, but couldn’t.
It didn’t matter how good Paul was, he should have fired him for
insubordination. Lucky no one outside the office had overheard, or he would
have fired him on the spot. Having others hear that and not do anything about
it would have sent a message to everyone else that he was weak and others would
start to think they could get away with things. Devon ran a tight ship. He expected
everyone to perform at their best, all the way down to the janitorial staff, and
they were all well paid with the best benefits he could find.
But Devon wasn’t performing at his best and knew it.
That was another reason he didn’t fire Paul. He
would have set a double standard. Do as I say, not as I do. Even if no one
heard it, others would have seen Paul taking all his stuff home. Questions
would be asked, and there was a good chance that Paul would have answered them.
Paul might be a friend, but was becoming a risk using friendship as a crutch to
get away with that outburst. What else
might he do? Yes, it’s time for Paul to go, but not on Paul’s terms. It will be
of my time and choosing. I’ll have to figure out something that will not reflect
on me and my company, and make it look as if it’s all Paul’s fault.
For the first time in days Devon was energized, thanks to
the anger he felt. But all that would change. As soon as he arrived home, the
first thing he did was grab the Apsara. Instantly, his pent up energy drained
away, leaving him weak and weary. The last thing he thought when he sat upon
the couch was how much warmer the statue felt than it had before. He opened his
eyes to the sweet kisses and caresses of his mysterious woman.
“Tume mere ho.”
“What does that mean? You keep saying that, but I don’t
understand what it means.”
“Very soon you will. Then I will tell you. I promise.”
“Devon, Devon, wake up! Come on man, snap out of it.”
Devon moaned and began to rouse. His head lolled side to
side. He didn’t want to wake. Who is
that? That voice. It’s not my beautiful woman. His eyes begin to flutter. Vision
blurred, but soon his surroundings came into focus. He pushed away the hands
that shook and lightly slapped at his face.
What the hell’s he doing here? I just
left the office. Why is he not at work?
“Come on, that’s it. Come on, Devon.”
“What are you
doing here?” asked Devon.
“I came by to check on you. Damn, look at you. You’re still
in the same clothes. You look like you haven’t eaten in a week.”
Devon’s face was sallow, dark circles under his eyes, suit
hanging on him like it was two sizes too big.
“Of course I am. I just got home from work. Remember me
telling you I was leaving because, if I stuck around, I might flat out fire you
right then and there?”
“That was a week
What? A week ago?
No, he must be crazy. I just got home
maybe an hour ago. It can’t be.
“Are you insane? Are you looking for a reason to get fired ‘cause
if you are…?”
“Devon, look at your watch. You tell me.” Devon took a look
at his watch. Indeed, it had been a week. He could not believe it, but the
truth was right there on his wrist.
“Devon, you need to see a doctor.”
“No, there’s nothing wrong with me.” He tried to get up,
but fell back onto the couch, too weak to stand. He hung his head in defeat. Paul
reached down to help him up.
“Come on. Let’s get you a doctor.”
Devon pulled back and waved him away. “No, it’s not me. It’s
Devon pointed up at the statue on the mantel. Paul turned
to look. “Her. She comes to me at night or whenever I’m sleeping.”
Paul could not understand what Devon was talking about. Devon actually
thinks that this statue comes
to life and visits him in his dreams? He must be a lot sicker than I thought,
and not in a physical sense either.
Devon could tell that Paul did not believe him. “Touch it
if you don’t believe me. It’s warm. Yeah, that’s right. It’s warm, like you and
Paul looked at his friend in great doubt. Devon motioned
for him to touch the statue. Paul turned and placed his hand upon the stone. The
stone was cold. He turned back to Devon.
“The statue is cold, Devon. It’s just a stone statue,
nothing more. Look, I think maybe you’ve become a little too obsessed with this
thing and it’s clouding your judgement. Let’s just take it down and put it away
Before Paul could pick up the Apsara, Devon found the
strength not only to stand but grab Paul and push him away from his most prized
possession. “Stay away from her! Don’t you dare take her down! She’s not yours;
Paul could not believe what he was hearing. Devon was
placing this stupid rock statue above his own health and company. This was
insane. “Look, if we could just place this in another room…”
“GET OUT! Who the hell are you to come into my house
uninvited, and tell me where I can put my own stuff; so you just get the hell
out of my house and, matter of fact, you're fired.”
Later that evening, despite feeling so weak, Devon managed
to make it upstairs and collapsed onto the bed. Maybe there was something wrong
with him, but who the hell did Paul think he was to come into his house and
tell him what he should and shouldn’t do? At least he didn’t have to worry
about that anymore. Should have fired him
a long time ago. And the nerve of him to try and take down my Apsara. He was
jealous. Yes, that was what it was. Paul wanted the Apsara all to himself.
Devon figured he just needed to get some rest and would be
as good as new in the morning. He closed his eyes and began to drift off when
he heard music. Faint exotic melodies from a zither, sarangi, tabla, and flutes
could be heard, but still sounded far away. Devon opened his eyes to see light
spilling from his bathroom? Who in the
hell is in my house? If it’s Paul I am going to beat the hell out of him. Due
to his weakness, it took Devon a little time to get out of bed. He took off the
suit jacket he still wore and tossed it onto the floor. Carefully, he
approached the open bathroom door, looked inside, and gasped. His mouth hung
open and his eyes grew wide. The bathroom sink, tub, shower, toilet were still
there, but that was where the familiar bathroom stopped. The rose-colored,
granite-tiled floor had been replaced by a thick carpet of grass. Green vines
hung down the wall and flowed across the ceiling. The back wall was an opening
that led into a jungle. The music was coming from there. What the hell is a jungle
doing in my bathroom?
He set one foot upon the grassy path and could feel the
dirt below. Scents and colors of jasmine, marigold, lotus, and orchids flowed
around him. A few more steps took him past the wall. A vast thick jungle
expanded to either side of him. Stepping a little further he could see a full
moon above. Looking back, Devon could see his bathroom and his bedroom beyond. It
did not disappear like he feared it would. Light from the full moon gave him
plenty of illumination to see his way along the path. Intrigued, he walked
along the path, following the sound of music further into the jungle. Soon he
could hear what sounded like a small waterfall. Continuing on, the winding path
led to a large opening with a few torches scattered about. This is where the
soft flowing music was coming from, but he saw no one playing the instruments. The
path ended at a pool being fed by water flowing down from a mountain wall at
the back. Standing in the middle of the pool was his mysterious woman. She
smiled at him and, as she approached, he saw that she was completely naked.
Never had he seen such a beautiful, sensual form on a woman
before. She placed her wet lips against his, and then smiled as she begin to
remove his shirt and pants and underwear. Taking him by the hand, she led him
into the pool. The cool water felt good on his skin. She wrapped her arms
around him. Devon pulled her into a tight embrace and kissed her deeply. He had
no idea how long he stood there with her. Time in this place held no meaning. This
was the Apsara’s domain.
“Tume mere ho. You are mine,” she whispered.
After some time she led him out of the pool and they lay
down on the grass where, for the first time, they made love. And he finally
realized the true meaning behind you are
mine as he grew weaker and weaker. It became too hard to focus. Simultaneously,
he felt fear and an intoxicating lust. I
should never have purchased that damn statue, should have let Paul take it away.
How had he not seen past his own obsession? All he wanted to do was escape the
Apsara now that it was too late. The fullness of her fiery desire held him fast
and would completely drain him; despite his mind trying its best to rebel
against this creature’s lust, a part of him didn’t want to. And it was that
part that won out as he slowly faded away.
It had been a month since Paul had any contact with Devon. Even
though Devon had fired him, there was no official paperwork done, so he
continued to do not only his job but Devon’s as well. He couldn’t just let the
company go down. Too many people with families to support needed their jobs;
therefore, Paul continued to work, taking on the responsibilities of running
the company. The front door to Devon’s house was still unlocked. Letting
himself in, he called out to Devon and received no answer. Despite their fight,
Devon was still a friend, a friend who was in some kind of trouble. Paul was
determined to do what he could to help him through this. To placate the many
questions arising from Devon’s absence at work, he lied and told them that
Devon was sick—not a lie, but for morale they didn’t need to know the details
to Devon’s illness. Truthfully, even Paul didn’t quite know what Devon’s
sickness was either. He saw that the Apsara, this thing that Devon was so
obsessed with, still sat upon the mantel. How
could one person become so obsessed with an object that he would allow it total
consuming control of his entire life?
Checking the entire downstairs and finding no one there, Paul
went upstairs. He had never been upstairs in Devon’s house before, but the only
door open was the one at the end of the hall. Paul walked into Devon’s bedroom.
The door to the bathroom was open. He saw nothing out of place. But, what he
saw on the bed sent a cold chill through Paul. Lying on his back on the bed was
his friend Devon, or what was left of him. It looked more like a mummy wearing
a suit. The flesh of his face was pulled tight around his skull. Lips were
shriveled, revealing a rictus grin. Cheeks were deeply sunken. Devon’s eyes
were all dried out and papery.
Paul quickly covered his mouth and nose. What if Devon had
a strange physical illness that affected his normal outlook and made him start
acting crazy? Was it contagious? Paul decided to get out of there before he became
infected too. On his way to the front door, he stopped beside the mantel for
some reason he could not explain. It was as if he saw the Apsara in a new
light. It really is a beautiful piece of
work. What was it that Devon said? When
he touched it, it felt warm.
Slowly, he raised a hand and placed it upon the statue. Sure
enough, there was a warm sensation to it. How could this be? Paul had not felt
this sensation last time he’d touched it…or…perhaps, he did but because of the awkward
situation between him and Devon, he just hadn’t noticed it then. But he sure
did notice it now. Without thinking, he took the statue down and tucked it
under his arm. He could always call the police later, but right now he had to
get the Apsara home.
Jessie Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org, of
San Antonio, Texas, wrote BP #77’s “The Apsara.” He lives in San Antonio, TX
with his wife and two kids, two cats, and a snapping turtle. While not working
the dull everyday job he is working on his writing. He writes both fiction