Read Gastien Pt 1 Online

Authors: Caddy Rowland

Gastien Pt 1

 

 

Gastien

Part 1: The Cost of the Dream

By Caddy Rowland

 

Also by Caddy Rowland:

The Gastien Series

Gastien Part 1: The Cost of the Dream

Gastien Part 2: The Cost of the Dream

Tristan Michel: Bloodline of Passion (Book 3 of The Gastien Series)

Giselle: Keeper of the Flame (Book 4 of The Gastien Series)

 

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Writer of Fiction, Painter of Life & Energy

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Published by Caddy Rowland

First printing, July 2011 (USA)

Copyright © Caddy Rowland 2011

All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy or copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

 

 

 

This book is dedicated to my husband, Dave, who has always been there and has always believed, and to Eric C. who helped me find Gastien. I thank both of you with all of my heart.

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE:
Glossary for all italicized words

 

 

Gastien (Part 1: The Cost of the Dream)

 

Prologue

 

April, 1899

Gastien slouched at his table by the window, appearing to stare at the painting in front of him. He wasn’t really seeing it.
Mon Dieu
, his hip hurt! Everything hurt. The muscles in his arms and legs ached something fierce, and his hands trembled. It was getting extremely difficult now to recover in the mornings after a night of hard drinking. His stomach felt like molten hell, and his head! Oh, sweet Jesus, the pounding in his head! It was almost enough to make him consider giving up his beloved absinthe, but not quite.

After a full day of trying to get lost in the color while painting, the loneliness invariably won out. It seemed the emptiness of his studio (and his life, come to think of it) would deafen him. How could silence be so loud and so painful? Once again, he would inevitably head out to the various cabarets, bars, and opium dens of Montmartre. He fervently hoped to forget how very alone and depressed he was for at least a few hours.

Several drinks later, many times high on various drugs, he would stumble home. He was usually accompanied by one female or another for a bout of meaningless sex, which would grant him a few seconds of total peace; the peace that came during that wonderful moment of orgasm, releasing him from mundane existence. No one understood better than he why the French called that moment “the little death”.

If only he could prolong those few seconds of bliss and forgetfulness! Forget how alone he was, who he had lost, and what he had given up all those years ago – all to become a painter and have his own studio. If I had to do it all over again, Gastien mused, would I do anything different?
Non,
probably not. My art is everything to me. I caused pain to myself and others to get the chance to paint, but to have done any less would have killed me even sooner than the damned
f
ée ve
rte
is determined to do. For the most part, I dealt myself the hand I wanted to play.

 There would be no regrets now. He knew time was not on his side, even though he was only 43. His muscles ached from God knew what: booze, sex, opium, or some kind of poisoning from handling paints. His hip had also hurt him quite badly off and on ever since that night – but the chance to own a warm place to sleep, food that was not from garbage bins, and a studio in which to paint were not so much to ask, were they?

He remembered back to a time when going out to carouse was a lark. He was so damn handsome then! So irresistible to women! He had his pick, never having to resort to the whores and the lower class women of the area. By the time evening came, he was usually sexually sated. He could then happily concentrate on partying, arguing art and teasing women he would never be taking home.

The
bourgeois
wives, and wives of the gentry, came to his studio to be painted during the day. Most often they ended up opening their thighs to him. If they offered, who was he to resist? He loved women. He loved the sex they provided even more. He was not about to turn down an offer from someone who actually smelled good and had an excellent chance at being disease free.
Oui,
he had enjoyed many years of the best when it came to
chatte.

Now, of course, those women were no longer interested in him. Not for the last year or two. The past two years were hard drinking years, and the tale was told on his features and physique. But, before, women had been drawn to his bohemian looks. They had adored his out of fashion, long, thick, dark hair. Those big, dark brown eyes with flecks of gold that glittered dangerously one minute and looked soulful the next, had held every female heart captive.

Add to that his flair for wearing odd jewelry, a colorful scarf, and other eccentric clothing just because he could, without detracting from his masculinity. In fact, what it did was accentuate his maleness. The blatant contrast gave him an oddly virile, kinky, and slightly dangerous appearance.

Women seemed to be drawn to a man that would take them somewhere they had never dared to go. It did not even matter that he maintained that he was completely incapable of loving them. It seemed most women could not resist a man who, by his actions, screamed “not emotionally available”. Every woman bet they would be the one to tame him. They always lost.

There was only one who managed to get to his heart and he almost…almost…gave it all up for her. But, at the last minute he realized that the price he had paid to get the life he had strived for was too high to turn his back on. Oh, Sophie, Sophie, Gastien thought, I hope – he shook his head to stop those thoughts. She knew he loved her. There was no reason to make himself feel even worse the first thing in the morning.

Gastien glanced out the window. It was still dark, but within minutes dawn would be coming. Soon people would start wandering down the street, on their way to work, or maybe bakeries or shops. Some would stop to watch him paint through the window. He really needed to go shave and brush through his hair, perhaps pump water for a bath to wash away the stink of last night’s booze and woman.

But I am wasting time meandering around in my past, he told himself. I never used to be so slow to get ready! Perhaps a little drink and a hit of hashish will straighten me out for the day. And still he lingered. It was so easy to just sit there and remember, remember back to how it all began. He was a month away from turning eighteen, still living on the farm…

 

               

Coming of Age (October 1873)
I

Today was going to be the day. In less than a month, Gastien would turn eighteen. He knew that if he did not take his stand now it would gnaw away at him for the rest of his life. He hated this farm, and he hated the fact that his father expected –
non
, demanded – that Gastien would one day take over the farm and run it. The stink of vegetables and animal dung stuck in his nostrils. If he had to smell them one more day he was convinced that he would start heaving up all of his insides and die.

His father had worked hard to maintain this land. It had been in the family for several generations, having been grown into a nicely successful fruit and vegetable farm. Their farm serviced many fine restaurants and grocers in France. Gastien knew they were lucky. Most farmers were dirt poor after hiring enough hands to work their land. His father somehow had a knack for hiring hard workers for little pay. He also screwed his wife close to death to get plenty of unpaid help in his offspring. Gastien was the oldest of eight boys and three girls. There would have been three more boys, but they had died as babies. He could barely remember a time when his father did not have him working at something.

At least his father did value education. He had married a school teacher. Poor fool was she! His father could be quite charming when he wanted something. Jean Beauchamp had enticed the young teacher Marguerite to become his wife by promising a life of peace on beautiful farmland. The reality was quite different, however. Baby after baby came. Marguerite was anything but peaceful washing clothes, cleaning house and making three meals a day.

At night, his father used her thoughtlessly. Gastien learned at a young age what it meant when his parent’s bed squeaked, and his mother cried out in pain. Another brat would soon be coming. When he got older he wanted to shout “For Christ sake, can’t you use your damn hand once in a while and let the rest of us sleep?” But he knew better and kept quiet. He had been beaten often enough for other things; he did not need to add another beating to his body.

His mother was also expected to teach all of the children how to read, write, and do basic math. Jean Beauchamp was not going to have any children that could not fully function in the world. It was paramount that everyone in his family could handle business transactions. He worked too hard to let any Parisian take advantage of him or his offspring. Jean was convinced that every person in Paris was out to take advantage of him or his business. Oh,
oui
, home schooling was mandatory in the Beauchamp household.

Studies were longer in the off season and on Saturdays. During the active farming seasons the children were expected to pitch in with the growing and harvesting of fruit, vegetables, milking the cows, gathering eggs and shoveling the animal dung from the barn and coop. That was the worst job of all.

Because Gastien so often angered his father, he usually was rewarded with that duty. He meant to do well, but farm work held no fascination for him. He would take off into the woods any chance he got to lie on the ground and just observe the colors in the woods. The colors beckoned to him. If he stared hard enough, the colors would come alive and speak to him. He knew before ever having picked up a paintbrush exactly how to paint any tree, any animal, and any object that he stared at. He not only saw the variations of color in the object, but the energy attached to those variations. The color danced for him. His fingers ached to put that dance down on record somehow, to say to people “Look! See this? That is color! That is energy! That is life!” Wisely, he kept that to himself. He secretly drew in the dirt of the woods, crushing berries and other things to get color.

When he was seven, his father found him on the ground drawing a tree in the dirt when he should have been picking cauliflower. With an angry roar, his father raised his foot and kicked Gastien forward into the ground. Jean kicked him repeatedly as he lay face down in the dirt, screaming at him that he was a lazy, no good bastard, and he should be ashamed to be such a sissy. Only girls sat and drew trees, men worked!

“Be a man, Gastien, for God’s sake! Don’t embarrass the Beauchamp name by being like a girl! Do you want to be used like a woman? That is what happens to lazy bastards that paint and draw. Now get up! Stop your crying and stand up like a man! Go clean the barn! Don’t come in until dark. Maybe going without supper will make you appreciate the vegetables you try so hard to avoid!”

Gastien knew better than to say a word. This was not the first time he had been hit or kicked. Far from it. Sometimes at night Gastien had nightmares of when he was very young. He would be running on chubby baby legs to his father who was coming in the door from the fields.

“Papa! Papa!
Bizou!”

But his father pushed him roughly away, yelling, “MARGUERITE! GET THIS SNOTTY NOSED BRAT AWAY FROM ME! I AM HOT AND TIRED AND HAVE NO TIME FOR FOOLISHNESS! CAN’T YOU MAKE YOUR SON ACT LIKE A MAN?”

Marguerite rushed in, apologizing. Something was not right! Gastien started howling. Before he knew it, his beloved Papa had grabbed him hard by an arm and swung him into the air. Then, holding Gastien by both shoulders Jean shook him. “STOP THAT BLUBBERING RIGHT NOW, DO YOU HEAR?” his Papa roared.

Marguerite yelled, “
NON
!
NON
, JEAN! YOU WILL HURT HIM!” She grabbed Gastien, pulling him away. With an angry roar, his father slapped Marguerite. She fell to the floor, and his father stood over her.

“DON’T YOU EVER CHALLENGE ME AGAIN, YOU
CONNE! NOT
UNLESS YOU WANT ME TO NOT ONLY BEAT YOU, BUT EVERY ONE OF THE BRATS YOU BRING INTO THIS WORLD, BABIES OR NOT! I WILL NOT HAVE MY PEACE DISTURBED AFTER WORKING ALL DAY!” He turned to the howling Gastien. “SHUT UP! IF YOU DON”T SHUT UP, I WILL HURT YOUR OTHER ARM!”

Gastien was too small to fully understand his father, but he knew he had to stop crying or his father would stay angry. His mother might get hurt again! He gulped hard several times, trying to stop crying. Finally, he was able to do so, wetting his pants. His father stalked out, and Gastien stood over his mother, afraid to make any noise. She finally got up. Marguerite reached for him, holding him close. Gastien’s arm was at a funny angle.

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