Art Supplies

mess deck
Mess Deck and Entrance

Monday, August 19, 1968

Sumo and I got up to start preparing breakfast, and Reb had the doughnut bar fully stocked with his specialties.  The assortment was the same, but it appeared more professional; in fact, it looked elegant.  As we made coffee and mixed pancake batter, Sumo inquired about any techniques he had learned from Margaret . . . “I mean baking methods.”  This was a special moment as Reb’s passion spilled out, describing her baking and craftsmanship – he was excited!

After breakfast he wanted to show us something he had sketched.  We went to the hooch, and he took a piece of paper out of his leather portfolio.  It was the receipt from his hotel (a standard 8X10 sheet).

On the back of this official voucher was a sketch of Margaret.  She was face down on the bed and nude.  The twisted sheets covered her hips, and the small of her back was highlighted in great detail.  It had a sheen as if she had been perspiring, and her hair was slightly tangled over her shoulders.

Sumo was stunned, and said, “My God, she’s beautiful.”  Reb asked, “What do you think Sarge?”  I hesitated, “Look at those sheets.”  Reb seemed confused and said, “Sheets?”  I smiled and answered, “Sheets don’t get like that from sleeping . . . that must have been a real workout.”  Reb blushed, and said, “It was.”

Margaret was also astonished by Reb’s sketch on the back of the hotel receipt (he sketched it as she slept after the massage-sex).  She announced they would shop for proper art supplies the next day.  Meanwhile they slept into the evening before going to work in the bakery that night (no more sofa for Reb).

Margaret sent Reb back to her flat at 5:00 am.  She didn’t want to deal with rumors among her employees regarding their relationship.  The baking was finished, and all that remained was stocking the pastry case.

Reb took a shower and shaved before she arrived with a bag of doughnuts.  Margaret had arranged for two days off and would return to work Friday night.  The doughnuts would wait . . . and the newly-made bed was again messed up.

The first stop in downtown Sydney was a huge multi-story department store.  The sign read, “We supply anything and everything.”  Reb spent an hour purchasing pads of sketch paper, various pencils, erasers and the leather art portfolio.  It contained a slate for sketching.

Next stop was a photography studio supply store.  Margaret bought some large format film and admired a classic wooden tripod with a new style swivel camera mount.  She wouldn’t pay the $70 price tag, but Reb could see she wanted it.

They went to lunch in an open-air restaurant court, and Margaret ordered a plate of raw oysters.  Reb hesitated at the glistening shells buried in the shaved ice with lemon garnish and little silver forks.  This would be a challenge as Margaret taught him the technique and tilted her head back, slurping the oyster down in one gulp.  Reb followed her instructions and was surprised it was actually good.

They ate a light lunch and were waiting for the bill when an older woman, dressed in black, approached their table.  Margaret stood up and greeted this matronly woman as if she was a relative, and Reb also stood, being courteous to the situation.  The woman politely asked Reb if she and Margaret could speak privately so Reb excused himself.

Not wanting to hang over them, Reb returned to the photography shop and purchased the tripod for Margaret.  He knew she wanted it and would put it to good use.  The store wrapped the box in brown paper.  Reb waited in the shade of a tree as Margaret and her older companion talked for almost an hour.  Finally they got up and embraced before the woman departed.  Reb asked the waiter for the bill, but it had already been paid.

Margaret was quiet on the walk back and didn’t notice the brown package.  She seemed preoccupied in thought.  When they arrived back at her flat, she hugged Reb, kissing him hard and said, “I’m going to freshen up, you get in bed.”  He did as she said, and the twilight shadows turned to darkness as they fell asleep in the after-glow of love making.

Reb was almost in a trance as he related this tale to Sumo and me.  He promised to finish the story later as we went back to work.

Next Edition:  Margaret’s Story

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