Poems and stories by Bruce Levine, Duane Anderson, Ivan de Monbrison, Ivanka Fear, Jane Ellen Glasser, John Grey, Nolo Segundo, Steve Slavin

Poems and stories by Bruce Levine, Duane Anderson, Ivan de Monbrison, Ivanka Fear, Jane Ellen Glasser, John Grey, Nolo Segundo, Steve Slavin

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“So essentially, we’ll have two types of customers.

Those who want to commission their own portraits –

or those of relatives – and those who want to buy

reproductions of portraits that they just happen to like.

Any more questions?”

She shook her head.

“OK, then! Let’s get this notarized, and then maybe we

can grab some dinner. “

“Great! A starving artist never turns down a meal!”

After the charcoals had been hung, Michael patiently

waited to see if anyone would approach him about

having a portrait done. He knew enough to restrain

himself from doing a hard sell – or to say anything at



The guests at his parties were almost all either very

rich, or else worth at least a few million dollars. And

they assumed that he was quite wealthy as well. Sure

enough, a woman he had known for years asked him if

he knew the artist.

“Would you believe she’s actually here tonight? I’d be

happy to introduce you.”

Minutes later Yvonne had her first commission. The

customer didn’t even blink when she was told that the

price was $2,000.

Michael arranged to hold parties once a month. While

ostensibly by invitation only, his parties adopted the

velvet rope to keep out the riff-raff. He counted on the

doorman’s discretion about whom to let in. And

Michael didn’t mind when the doorman let in a few

well-heeled people without invitations who were

willing to slip him a twenty – or even a fifty.

Some of the people he introduced to Yvonne

commissioned originals, while others purchased

reproductions, that usually sold for about $500. A few

generous buyers would commission a drawing of

themselves, and then order several reproductions for

their friends and family.

Within a few months, Michael had begun to see the

light at the end of his own financial tunnel. And best of

all, he’d managed this trick without even holding a real


He soon realized that they were making considerably

more on the reproductions than they were on the

originals. So, he upped the number of reproductions

for each charcoal to one hundred.


It eventually occurred to Michael that he barely knew

anything about Yvonne beyond that she had studied art

at Parsons, and had been teaching drawing at Music

and Art High School for the last fifteen years. She had

never married, but did have a six-year-old son who

lived with her.

One evening he invited her to have dinner in a French

Restaurant just a few blocks from his house. He smiled

when she conversed with the waitress in French.

Maybe the wine made her more talkative, but by the

time they left, he had learned much more about her

than he had learned during the five months they had

collaborated. She had lived a pretty wild life especially

during the last decade.

“Weren’t you afraid of catching anything or of getting


“As a woman who had come of age in the early

nineteen-fifties, I had been thoroughly unprepared for

the sexual revolution that overtook the next decade.

But it was amazingly liberating. After a few years, I

began to think I was invincible. So, I stopped using

protection – at least on a regular basis.”

“And then you got pregnant.”

“Maybe it was inevitable that I would. Maybe I really

wanted to. But I’ll tell you this, Michael. It was still a

big shock.”

They sat quietly for a full minute.

“I met Peter at a loft party in SoHo. One of my friends

was having an opening. Peter was just twenty-one. He

had crashed the party with a couple of his army

buddies. They would be shipping out to Vietnam in

just ten days.”

“Was he drafted?”

“Of course! But he was fatalistic. If his time came,

then there wasn’t much he could do about it.”

Founder’s Favourites | December 2021—Issue 17 | 10

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