Snippet, PICKMAN’S MODEL.

I am in the process of doing something with this.

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He took her advice, although owning a revolver felt absurd. What was he, a Wild West cowboy? Practicing firing it was equally absurd, although a part of him thrilled at the cacophony and caustic fumes that accompanied the use of the infernal device. He contemplated painting a scene highlighting the connection between the sulfur of gunpowder and that of Hell, but swiftly decided against it.

“Mere devils are boring,” he told Abigail as they sat in the rattling subway car. Richard had been struck with the impulse to actually travel in one of the provincial things, and she had readily agreed to indulge him. Indeed, from her smile she found the experience highly congenial. “Hell is overdone…”

“I would imagine so,” murmured Abigail, and Richard winced. If she had a flaw, it was her weakness for puns.

He went on. “Yes, thank you, Abigail. But my point is, everything that could be said with those motifs has been said. Endlessly. Draw the Devil today, even in all the desperate glory given to him by generations of terrified peasants (and their priests, too!), and the audience would yawn. Even the ones truly terrified by the idea of the Devil would yawn.” He looked through the window. “It is a pity; the conceit was good.”

“Then paint it anyway,” said Abigail. “Why not? After all: do you paint for yourself, or others?”

Richard gave a rueful shake of his head. “Alas, while I paint for myself, I exhibit to get paid. Starving in a garret is for the people who secretly enjoy the experience.”