by Thia


The sketchbook itself, bound in dark leather imprinted with the Gloria crest. Inside the cover, written in a bold hand with black fountain pen:

To my son
On his thirteenth birthday
From your loving father


A young woman seated on a chair. The nose and the wild curls betray her blood relation to the artist, though the bored, supercilious expression bears no resemblance. Sweeping pencil lines trace the drape of the floor-length dress she wears, giving it an unflatteringly tent-like appearance. Her hands are folded in her lap, clenched tightly. No background has been drawn behind the woman, but careful shading added to the folds of the dress, the woman's face, and the shadow cast by the chair, give it a very finished look. Underneath, in rounded childish cursive: DEIDRE RED GLORIA, AGE 16.

A young man, about the same age as the young woman in the previous sketch, asleep against a tree. Long dark hair is falling into the youth's face, but it's hard to tell how much of the hair's messiness is true to life and how much the result of the hastiness of the sketch. The young man's clothing appears likewise mussed: loose shirt, torn jean cutoffs, no shoes. He's smiling. Note at the top of the page in near illegible scrawl: E ASLEEP (or else C ASLEEP, as first letter is not clear). The next line: WASN'T ASLEEP AFTER ALL – THE TEASE! Lower right corner, in neater handwriting: POLISH UP?

Copy of Bronzino's 'Venus and Cupid'. Not perfect – the artist apparently has an excellent grasp of the human form (as seen in the previous two sketches), but had trouble arranging all the elements to fit onto his paper. Certain aspects changed deliberately: most notably, Cupid is getting even more fresh with Venus than in the Bronzino. No date or note.

Young man seated behind a wooden table: laden bookshelves behind him suggest a library of some kind. The young man looks up at the artist with a puzzled expression: he, too, has untidy long black hair, which has fallen in front of one eye. Papers, covered with obscure calculations, are spread out on the table in front of him, and he holds a calculator in one hand. He wears a dark jacket (cross-hatching suggests tweed), a button-down shirt buttoned all the way to his throat, and a tie (dark, no pattern noticeable). Written underneath: JAMES. No date.

Young man standing, long blond hair loose around his shoulders, arms half-extended as if in pleading or comfort. His close-cut button-down shirt is half-unbuttoned, crumpled, and very askew, nearly falling off one shoulder (as well as it can given the young man's pose). Equally close-fitting pants show off long legs, down to polished shoes: the young man is apparently in the midst of taking a step forward. His face is beautiful, but completely blank of expression. He might as well be asleep. The lines of the sketch are dark, as if drawn over many times. Written underneath the picture: MY GABRIEL, AFTER THE PATTERN OF ITS ORIGINAL. No date.

A man in uniform, standing in front of a tank, glaring out at the observer. The tank is perfect to every detail, every nut and bolt drawn in its place. The man is hardly less carefully portrayed, from the rank pins on his jacket collar to the shine of his shoes to the neat dark hair brushing his shoulders to the cigarette tilting from his lips to the bulge of a shoulder holster under his jacket. Above it in very dark letters: MAJOR KLAUS HEINZ VON DEM EBERBACH AND TANK. Faint depression half-way through the name, as if the writer's pencil point broke off because he was pressing so hard on the paper.

Same man as in previous sketch, although it's hard to be certain as most of his face is hidden. He's lying on his stomach, fully clothed in a conservative suit, his head pillowed on his arms, fast asleep. A few grass blades and a flower or two place the scene as somewhere outside, in a meadow perhaps. The artist has lovingly shaded the man's body, down to the long lashes feathering the sleeping man's cheeks. Beneath the picture: AFTER THE CONFERENCE. No other date or comment, no name given.

Another of the same man, this one certainly Major Eberbach as it's a frontal shot – in fact, down the barrel of a gun. Major Eberbach holds the gun in one hand, sighting down it with both eyes. Or else perhaps he's merely gazing at the viewer with that inscrutable gaze. His expression is unreadable, his stance tense so far as it can be read under his trenchcoat. The gun is cocked and ready to fire. No name, date or comment written.

Picture of a ballroom from the point of view of a mezzanine above it. Down below, dancers fill the floor, although very hastily sketched. Only a necklace here or a tuxedo-jacket there really catches the eye. A few of the male dancers have faces: young, earnest, intent, most of them blond. One has tight curls close-cut and a nervous expression, another hair down to his shoulders and wide eyes. But most of the detail is lavished on the mezzanine, where a solitary figure, over on the right, leans on the railing and watches the frivolity from above. Major Eberbach may be recognized by the shoulder-length black hair and the omnipresent cigarette: his expression is in shadow and unreadable. He, too, wears a tuxedo rather than uniform. His shoulders are slumped, and he holds his cigarette in his hand rather than in his mouth. No one else is on the mezzanine. Again, neither name, date, nor comment.

Major Eberbach asleep again – but not wearing a uniform, in fact not wearing anything except a sheet that's slipped down to nearly his waist. He sleeps on his back, the arm nearer to the viewer outflung, hand relaxed, palm down. His hair looked rumpled on the pillow, and his exposed body bears marks more pleasant than a soldier's scars – a bite-mark on his upper arm, reddened patches on his neck and along his chest, with one particularly dark one just above his near nipple, and a suggestion of something on his lower belly. His face is turned toward the viewer. The corners of his lips are turned up in the slightest of smiles. Underneath, in clear printing: KLAUS, MORNING. Beneath that, in pencil so faint it can hardly be read: THREE MONTHS. HAPPILY EVER AFTER, AFTER ALL?

Beneath that, in a firm but unfamiliar handwriting: IDIOT.