the day i first
declared myself
The Artist
you laughed so hard
we both wet ourselves

it was autumn
of some year
and we left behind
a smoking crater
that was once Paris

i knew i was
The Artist
when the drawing
i had just finished of you
naked on a red bedsheet
compelled me to look at it

as much as your actual
naked body did
how light moved fluidly
along your bone curves
and folded itself
around your arches

after the first night
in a cheap side street
in Roma
we needed to connect with
a dealer, hoping they’d
forgotten or forgiven
the last time we were here
and fucked them over in some
way or another

which is how we met Nicki (the Pricki)
Nicolò Donati
as the go-to guy
for junk in that quartieri

he was well-groomed
lightly scented, curly
haired swagger
with a charming
highly untrustworthy grin

ushering us like a slightly
perplexed concierge who
was wondering what
the fuck two
obvious lesbian junkies
were doing in his
immaculate hotel

and Nicki did live well

his apartment was all polished
stone floors, marble tops
chrome-plated furniture fittings
black Italian leather
and big windows
with great views

Nicki invited us to sit
on his expensive sofa and asked
‘cosa posso fare per voi ragazze?’
as he pulled out a silver semi-automatic
pistol from a nicely concealed holster
under his tailored jacket
and placed it very
on the coffee table between us

neither Hannah nor i
looked at the gun
this was nothing new
nor anything to worry about
and Nicki saw that
we kept our eyes on him
and he smiled

‘probabilmente possiamo fare le cose l’uno per l’altro’
Hannah smiled back

‘Oh, come cosa?’

from there it was business
we would transport his product
where ever he needed it to be
knowing he was just another cog
in the machine
and in return
we would get an impressive
discount on what ever we needed

we kept our side of the
deal good
no point in fucking off someone
who shows his gun card
in a first meeting

Roma was perfetta that winter
and when we left
we took two kilos of Nicki’s junk
to Florence
in the spring
dropped it off and never
saw him again

i was not quite sure if we
liked leaving or starting
over more

Image credit:Mike Petrucci

Ms. Zed is an artist and writer who lives in Bath, England, with the ghost of her cat. She studied art, art history, and design at Bath and Cambridge universities.