He reported to me in town that afternoon. We had arranged to meet at a little art gallery. I picked it because the owner is an artist, himself, and sometimes exhibits his own paintings, still wet.
I love the smell of oil paint.
One of the paintings in the shop—not by the owner—is of a dolphin, a female, under water. It's a lovely piece of work, every curve, every shadow, true. And the subject, well, she was a beauty. I was admiring it when the little bell over the door jangled and Tim came in.
The boy would never have made a successful spy. He stepped in looking over his shoulder, and practically ran into an easel. The way he played with his collar, the way he kept glancing around to see who was looking at him, if I'd been the store clerk, I'd have figured he was there to steal a painting.
Finally he spotted me and sidled over.
I nodded at the artwork.
"Isn't this great?"
Tim scanned the picture.
"Yeah, I guess."
"So what happened?"
"I brought it up, like you said, and he did listen…"
My eyes were still on the painting.
"Good. Excellent. Just look at that. It's so—so erotic. So he's interested?"
"I guess. I don't know. He didn't exactly say so. Erotic?"
Yeah. It just makes your heart pound to look at her. Look at the way she's twisting her…"
He was staring at me.
I put my hand on his shoulder, and moved him toward the door.
"You'd better go now. We probably shouldn't be seen together. You did just fine, just fine. I'll talk to you again."
"Did you say erotic?"
I pushed him outside.