The Bucks Part 5
That next week Ambette heard about the sale and as you might expect, demanded piece of the action.
“I’ll give you a thousand sardines,” he told her, “tinned. I only got ten thousand for it, and I gave Katesse five hundred. He’s been having a bad year.”
“He’s having a bad life,” Ambette sniped.
“A thousand sardines is a generous offer. You slept though most of the pose.”
“It doesn’t matter. I allowed you to capture my feline spirit. That’s what made your work the talk of Paris. You couldn’t possibly be stupid enough to sell it for ten. I heard you sold it to the Count, that pompous Persian whose been sucking up to President Katoleon and his friends.”
“I didn’t have a choice, Ambette. He’s going to give it to Katoleon.”
“Oh, I see. What did you name my painting?”
Right, her painting. “Ambette’s Amnesia,” he told her. “You should be grateful. A thousand sardines is—”
“I don’t see why you didn’t just call it, Ambette. That would have given it more class. You should make copies, do some fast stuff . . . dry brush.”
“I don’t chew my cabbage twice.”
“Yeah, right. Whatever. Does the Count know I’m the one who posed? I am the painting’s soul.”
“He knows your name.”
“Well, I suppose at least that’s something. Where are my sardines?”
“They’re here, in the back room.”
“Okay. I’ll send a friend to pick them up. Catch your act later.” Ambette winked seductively and left, swishing her tail. She had a nice tail, but not much between the ears.
* * *
Ambette became well known, the toast of the Left Bank. Much sought after. A French play pussy, party kitten, subject of discussion in the absinth parlors and salons inhabited by the Parisian rich and famous—where my painting had been focus of attention not so long before. Go figure. That’s the way kats are. Throw ‘em some fancy fur and you’ve got their full attention.
Ambette got Katesse to pay her 250 sardines for a two hour pose. Outrageous, but it worked out well for them. The painting wasn’t much, La Belle, they called it. Just a dry brush, but it sold for a good price. Ambette got half of course.
La Belle at Arch of Givry
Katesse’s painting gave Ambette more fame and glory. She was sought after by royalty and played lovers like a pinball machine, bouncing from one to another. She died her coat a different color every week and frequented the most expensive bistros and exclusive cabarets. She was often seen with the Count, dining on French fried rat, boiled squab, imported mouse meat, drinking absinth . . . snorting catnip. Anything she wanted. She became a legend in her own mind.