Candy had moved to Deophilis, the beach city. She had gotten a new job that paid her less of what she earned with her former employer. It has been a year and eleven months, since the incident occurred. Jake was laid to rest about a week after what happened that frightful evening, Candy and her friends attended the funeral along with her father. The burial made her accept the realisation of the loss she had to bear. As painful as it seemed, she knew she had to move on with her life. Her two friends, Mellissa and Laura stood by her side and comforted her in the ways they could, it was sad for them to have witnessed it all but happier to have seen her gradually returned to her once blissful Candy; for society makes loss more bearable for the unmarried which was convenient for Candy as she occupied her mind with series of distractions, making her visit to the Vida futura private art gallery, a frequent practice. One of the preoccupations she had to endure as she awaited what was next in life for her.
In the art gallery, a smiling female art promoter walked on to a distinguished gentleman, “Sir, would you need that wrapped?” referring to the Vicasio painting he has been staring for the past half hour speechless.
“It’s amazing what you can do with a little smudge of red,” referring to the painting.
The lady smiled and said, “It is the battle of Noche; a thousand soldiers were wiped that day, not many appreciate the sights of violence.”
“Mmm!” The man turned to her, “I am not many!”
“I shall be over there, if you need anything!” she responded, he glanced at her as she walked away. Making him spot a beautiful broad, whose appreciation of art picked his interest. Her dress was perfect; his favourite colour. She was everything he believed a woman should be. Such beauty in red needed a complement he thought, as he walked to the mysterious woman. Her perfume was what he had always appreciated in a woman.
It was Candy Cuthway. She stood facing an abstract painting, pretending to be intrigued, as though she was captivated by it. Candy sighed and smiled as she tried to wrap her sense around its meaning.
“Touzhius Alejandre’s ‘Scent of the Son,’” said the gentleman.
“It’s not!” Candy seductively turned to him and said, “It’s only a replica, one of many used to stand in for the original, which was damaged in 1981 during the Northberg uprising.”
“I’ve never seen an art critic with such charm,” he said, “a beautiful lady with taste and flare in art?”
“I’m flattered, Mister…” she responded
“Burdigan, Tailor Burdigan!” he replied.
“It’s a pleasure meeting you, Tailor Burdigan.” she said, “I’ve fed my senses enough for the day. Please to meet you.” she smiled as she made an attempt to leave.
“Maybe I should give you a lift?” he said
“You are too kind sir,” She responded, “I will take the bus.”
“A woman such as you should not be seen wandering off alone without some form of security.” Tailor said.
Playing into his ego, Candy stopped and responded, “A man as imposing as you shouldn’t be seen with too many.”
Tailor smiled and laughed, captivated by her charm, “A beautiful art critic and also with a sense of humour? I like that!”
“This is an art gallery sir, everything here is beautiful, even if it’s not worth the price.” Candy replied.
“A woman as intriguing as you, is worth any price!’ he said.
“That isn’t very complementing for one who has a poor judgment in discerning authenticity!” Candy said, “I’m not on display, am I?”
Tailor paused and smiled, concluding that she had succeeded in picking his interest he said, “You’re right sweet lady, about the fake painting of Touzhius Alejandre. He called it, ‘Scent of the Son,’ it was actually destroyed during the 1981 Northberg uprising. This painting was supposed to be one of his peachiest achievements. It portrays the greatest weapon mankind would ever possess; the painting is a depiction of a peculiar name that is hateable yet, greatly feared by Satan and all those who dwell in the dark. This piece was however, sold at the black market by a certain collector…me!”
“My apologies Mr Burdigan, I too have my follies!” she said, “No collector however rich would bedazzled himself for such a work unless he had an obsession with the artist in question.”
“Follies? No!” replied Tailor, “In my sight, a woman as beautiful as you would get away with anything,” smiling in his upscale look as he removed his Santos De Cartier golden sunglasses to have a good look at her eyes.
Candy smiled turning away from his gaze.
Tailor smiled too as he wore his eyeglasses back and said, “He was such a religious man, a sculptor and a musician…but his life was short-lived, everyone who knew him spoke highly of him.”
“So um…you know him that well?” asked Candy.
“Well, yeah, sort of!” said Tailor as he used his right hand to adjust the painting on the wall, “I admire his works, unfortunately I’ve never met him. They say the good die young, he was one of a few.”
“Mmm! He must’ve been great of a man then!” said Candy.
“I’d trade half of what I own,” added Tailor, “just to have him paint one last piece for me!”
“Wow, some fan you are,” Candy said.
“I couldn’t but notice,” said Tailor, “you’ve been staring at the painting for quite some time.”
“Well, I’ve seen almost half of the works on display today but this particular one exalts my imagination,” relied Candy, “and what would you have him paint? If I may ask?”
“Well, if you had asked me this question say, yesterday,” he said confidently, “I’d say maybe a painting of a rusted nail being hammered into the right hand of Christ, or maybe uh…a portrait of mother Theresa dining with Diana and the poor children of Africa under a dead baobab tree!” Tailor sighed, “But now that yesterday is buried in its fated tomb, I would ask him to paint the most beautiful thing I’ve ever set my eyes on!” he walked and stood beside Candy.
Their eyes all set on the painting.
“And what’s that?” Candy whispered.
“You have the most gorgeous eyes I’ve ever seen,” he said turning to her, “Your smile can make a captain throw his own heart into the furnace just so he could power his ship to get to you on the shore.”
Candy sighed, “Such flattery!”
Tailor smiled and stretched his hand, “She knows my name…and the beautiful lady must be?”
“Candy Cuthway!” she replied smiling, Candy turned to him and innocently stretched her right hand.
“Hello, Candy Cuthway,” Tailor said as he held her hand, “the warmth of your hand can melt the hearts of kings,” he bent and gently kissed the back of her hand, “alluring, you smell just like the heavens. You dress and smell just as how a woman should!”
Candy felt abashed, “People are watching us,” she whispered.
“They can watch all they want!” responded Tailor, “Such delicate hand. I bet if this was ancient times, you’d be a princess, and I, that young man who would sit and watch your beautiful smile until the sun sets!”
“I would’ve been the daughter of a peasant farmer! Trust me,” she responded with a giggle, “I know what I am talking about!”
“It’ll still fall in tune then; and the prince would leave his people and all the spoils in the castle just so he’d be with you,” said Tailor, “if his father the king disagreed with whom his heart is fond of, that is. Trust me, if I was a king who has lost both his crown and his kingdom, the sight and smell of you would make me know there are things worth more than a golden chair and a land filled with people whose duty is to execute my bidding!”
“You have a way with words, Mister Tailor!” Candy said as she gently withdrew her hand, “You sound like a writer. What more can you tell me about this…painter?”
“Oh Well, like I said,” he sighed, “Touzhius Alejandre was a very religious man who believed that the only way man would experience an everlasting peace is when man acknowledges, embraces and becomes one with the light,”
“I see, you know him that much?” Candy inquired.
“Yeah, I was lucky to have bought one of his diary during an auction some years back after a ferocious bidding battle,” responded Tailor, “it’s one of my most precious possessions! I guard it more than I guard my own soul. Touzhius Alejandre described his experience when something mysterious happened to him a certain night; he found himself in this amazing place, and he was made to see the great wonders of the presence of the one he called the light. He gave an account of how he saw these myriad souls all dressed in white, crowned with gold and in such great glory as they surrounded and gave praise to this awesome light that seemed to be seated at the centre, on the most magnificent throne. Touzhius Alejandre recounted how he saw praises sang from the tongues of these righteous men elevated as the sweetest fruit offered to the light, and how, the light emits itself in return as a reward and shone upon and through these pure souls, thereby completing a perfect circle of peace and harmony. He said that when he found himself in that place, it was so amazing and awesome that he knelt down and bowed before the light. The very birthplace of love itself.”
Candy watched him expressed in details as though he was right there when Touzhius Alejandre had his encounter.
“Hmm! Fascinating,” said Candy.
“He stated that after his encounter with the light, he came to the realisation that God and man have the most perfect and peaceful relationship; for in that union, man finds peace through love, and thereby Touzhius Alejandre came to the conclusion that man was created to praise the creator. So, in a way you can say; man is an embodiment of praise while God, the light is an embodiment of abundant love, truth and infinite mercy. So, when man gives himself in form of praise to God, then man shall receive pure love and abundant mercy in return. Which leaves man totally immersed in an aeonian ocean of peace. The very thing man’s spirit was created to feed upon; peace, such that he had never experienced,” Tailor smiled, “Touzhius Alejandre stated that, a man, whether rich or poor can never understand his purpose nor experience true peace until he seeks, acknowledges and embraces the light! Because purpose in itself was designed and gifted to man and so a man can only attain to his full potential when the one who created him unlocks it! And as long as a man does not align himself with his creator, the light-God, man will forever feel empty no matter what he earn, own or become!”
“Wow! Breath-taking! Nothing new about that,” said Candy, “if you ask me, hope I don’t sound rude.”
“No, not at all. You have no idea the kind of man he was before his encounter with the light!” said tailor, “However, one of the problems I have with Touzhius Alejandre is that he believed that Jesus is like this prince who inherited a great kingdom from his father, the king. And he, Jesus…the prince, is on a mission to reconcile his father the king with the love of his life; man. I think Touzhius Alejandre conceived this half-baked idea that the new heaven is like God’s beautiful resting place, where God and man would remain as one in perfect harmony forever, and ever! In a way, man shall reclaim his rightful place in the sight of God! Of course just like any typical follower of Christ’s footsteps, Touzhius claimed that he was made to understand that Christ created a path from a dying world to a living world and that Christ, himself is that path!”
“Oh wow, deep…you are a preacher now?” she teased, “Are you a Christian now?”
“Do you know my problem with the Christians?” replied Tailor, They claimed the world isn’t their home that they’re just passing through. But if you wanna be like Christ, aren’t you supposed to make sure you shine the light in order to lead whom you love, back home?” he smirked, “I mean if you claim you love someone, that’s what you should do, right? You know, lead the ones you found in that market that appeared lost or strayed, simple!” Tailor pulled his eyeglasses and used a white hanky to clean the lenses, “If I go about building dwellings out of rocks in a place where even the buyers and sellers raise only temporary tents, then I should be assumed to be a citizen of such a place!”
“That’s a bit judgmental, don’t you think? Are you trying to avoid my question? Sermoniser?” asked Candy, “Are-you-a-Christian?” she emphasised, “It’s just a simple question!”
“I can’t be that, no I am not!” he replied, “Christianity is a huge supererogatory task; great and unnecessary burden, I mean, come on…look at the author of that faith and what he went through! You should know that whoever wants to follow the footsteps of such a wonderful man, as the stories painted him, should as well be ready to do as the man did or more and…probably face what he has been through or worse. That’s not a route I would like to find my footprints on, believe that!?”
“I think you’re going to be an amazing preacher,” Candy joked, “it’s good to know you didn’t deny His existence.”
“Well, even when Satan approaches a man, one of the first things he would say is that, God is not good.” said Tailor, “Which means, the first thing the devil himself does is to acknowledge the existence and the authority of God! Now that’s the kind of being you should call a preacher,” he sighed, “In order words, only a fool would believe there is no God, right? And some, even believe that the creatures with other tangible and visible entities should be worshipped and feared, but not the creator?”
“So, not religious and obviously not atheistic either.” Candy said, “There’s a word crafted for people like you, you know!”
“My mother was a Christian, before she passed away,” said Tailor, “but I highly doubt if she understood what it really meant to be one!” Nevertheless, they say in death, all life questions are answered!”
“So, you do not have any beliefs, or whatsoever?” Candy asked again.
“No, no darling I’m just a free…business man.” answered Tailor, “You don’t just believe in something simply because you read it or when someone tells you, you believe what you know!” he smiled, “Touzhius Alejandre wandered the earth as an empty vessel. He said, a man shouldn’t just believe in some supernatural being whose existence can only be found behind the tongues of men or on the pages of some books. Touzhius Alejandre sailed on the seas of such thoughts until one night, the devil came to him and made him an offer no man would refused; Satan offered him the world and also promised to reveal to him many secrets in exchange for his soul. Touzhius Alejandre wrote, ‘I came to the realisation that no one needed to tell me that my soul is worth more than any treasure the devil was willing to offer’. Touzhius Alejandre went through an ordeal that totally changed him, and stumbled on something nobody could ever take away from him when he final had an encounter with the light, in it, he said he found the truth about everything.”
“You don’t sound like someone who is interested in Touzhius Alejandre’s works,” said Candy, “But it’s like you…”
“You know, someone once told me that everything a man owns and or possesses in this world can be seized from him, but not his knowledge.” Tailor interjected, “However, for the knowledge to be accepted by such a man, its genuineness can only be authenticated when the conveyer of such knowledge itself is that knowledge!”
“In other words…” Candy responded.
“A man has every right to disagree with everything he is told by anyone, it’s absolutely okay not to swallow the things one is being fed with from any of these so-called holy books, until…” said Tailor.
“…he encounters the truth,” Candy added, “and the truth shall set him free!”
“Seek and ye shall find!” added Tailor.
“Hmm! We’re going somewhere,” Candy interpose saying, “And I believe Thoziuz Alendray…”
“It’s Touzhius Alejandre; T-O-U-Z-H-I-U-S space A-L-E-J-A-N-D-R-E.”
“Oh! Well, I believe Touzhius Alejandre, found something he longed sought for,” responded Candy, “no man had ever found what he sought not!”
“Exactly!” he said, “Your allurement carries with it a rare spice found in beautiful women.”
“Here we go again,” she said, “and what’s that?”
“Intelligence!” answered Tailor in a soft voice, “You see, I’m only quoting some of things the great painter said. He didn’t hide anything about himself in that diary; his love life and what it almost cost him, his encounter with the dark lord and how he got saved by the light as he walked through the pectus of hell.” Tailor stared into her pretty eyes, “Listen uh…I know a good restaurant by the beach, in case you want to…”
“Interesting story, Sir.” said Candy, “I really wish I could come but I’ve got to get back to the office.”
“Please call me Tailor.” he said, “Come on, your boss will understand. Well, to be frank if I was him I would get mad and probably sack you…then marry you!”
“What?” Candy exclaimed.
“Oh nothing!” replied Tailor.
“I really wish I could, but you see, I am like this ship that stole away in the darkness!” she interposed, “Trust me, if I’m three seconds late, my boss would notice! I just came by to see what’s up and what’s new then rush back, you know.”
“Well, how about this evening, dinner?” he asked.
“I need tonight to put some things in place, because I just recently moved in to my new place.” she said staring at her wristwatch, “Plus, I really kind of need that job, you know how hard things are nowadays.”
“A beautiful queen like yourself should not be exposed to such chores,” he said, “you should be bathed in gold, fly around the world in your own jet, lay this beautiful head on a pillow stuffed with red diamonds.”
“Bathed in gold?” Candy laughed, “Fly around the world in my own jet, you say?” she covered her mouth with her right hand when she realised the sound of her laughter drew the attention of the rest of the people in the gallery, “and that thing you said about red diamonds, stuffed in my pillow? Oh, come on, I’m not a 16year old girl, get real!”
“Well, the good thing is, I did make you laugh, didn’t I?” he said smiling.
“I’ve got to admit, yes you did!” Candy said as she smiled back, “And I’m glad you did!”
“There are men who can make that happen.” said Tailor, “Any man who understands the value of having two hands can get you all the things you need.”
Tailor was lost in her arresting eyes, as though they commanded his heartbeat. He was totally ensnared by her beauty but Candy insisted she needed to go.
“Sir, sorry to interrupt,” said the female art promoter as she broke the silence, “I don’t know if you’d fancy our little treat. It’s complementary.” A young man in a black tuxedo was standing beside her, holding a Bottle Bouquet Wine Glass Tray.
“Oh, thank you.” Tailor responded as he picked two glasses of wine and handed one to Candy. He turned to the other lady and said, “About that Vicasio piece, please give me a minute.”
“I’ve got less than fifteen minutes to get back to the office,” said Candy.
“Oh, no!” said Tailor, “In that case, I’ll need your address, I would like to send you a telegram!”
“Really?” Candy laughed, as she returned the wineglass to him.
Tailor laughed along, “Apparently, a phone number would do?”
“Is this how you talk to every woman you come across?” she teased.
“If her presence births an ambiance that sweeps a king off his feet, yes!” replied Tailor with a charming smile.
Candy looked at him in the eyes, “Well, I’m out of words!” she pulled out a piece of paper from her purse and scrawled her number then handed it over to him.
“I just hope I’m not dreaming,” Tailor said, “and if I am, I pray nobody wakes me up because I’m going to commit murder!”
Tailor was so excited he couldn’t hide it. As Candy walked out of the gallery, he couldn’t believe what beheld his eyesight; her curves and the way she walked hypnotised him. He took a few steps towards his bodyguards. “I am going to marry that girl, mark my words boys,” he said to them, “yes!” as he set his left knee on the floor excitedly like a child.
“Anything boss wants boss gets,” said one of the bodyguards.
“No Gerald. This one, T.B must be patient with.” Tailor responded, “This is the type of woman you wanna call a wife; squeeze and pour her all the love you’ve got locked inside of you.” he turned and walked back to the painting on the wall, where the female art promoter was standing, “Uh huh! So, what plans do you have for the evening?” as he wrapped his arm around her waist.
Candy knew he would come for the exhibition; she had taken her time and made little findings about Tailor and had dug enough she needed; from his lifestyle, both his legitimate and fraudulent business down to his favourite colour which was exactly what she wore to the exhibition. She practically knew him one on one in her mind, and was lucky he showed up after several attempts she made to have him notice her.
Tailor was known to be a very successful business man, a well-known admired man in the beach city. He considered himself a drawstring bag filled with fortune, and nobody really knew how he got to rise to power. However, as legit as he might have appeared, rumours had it that he was a drug baron known by the Feds but in a way, he played to the tune of the ones upstairs. Tailor also had so many friends in high places, and was well connected and covered by the corrupt cops. He was the perfect definition of a philanthropist on the surface but, Just like any other wealthy man, Tailor wanted more of one thing; power, he even had dreams of going into politics and running for president in the near future.
With what Candy had gathered about Tailor, she must try hard to look beyond the way he presents his image in order to have him bite the bait, for he is believed to be as vicious and deadly as a school of piranhas. And because Tailor’s records with the law appeared crystal and stainless, it would be a waste of time taking him to court in connection with Jake’s murder. Besides, Candy had stamped out all the witnesses that could testify against him.