That Which Smears Fair


Karl Better lived with his mother in an apartment he couldn’t seem to shake. And why would he want to? He could keep to himself, play his clarinet when he wanted to and spend hours surfing internet message boards without anyone telling him that he was wasting his time. His room was on the west wall of the building – as far from the other apartments as he could get. He had a rather large room in which he could keep the various drum machines, mixers, microphones and other recording devices he liked to have around piled around the room without fear of tripping.

His mother, Elizabeth the second, stayed out of his way mostly, as long as he accompanied her on walks. She liked living with someone stable, someone who kept a routine, and she liked having him all to herself. He’d tried to move out years before, but it hadn’t worked out. It had been hard on the both of them, but especially hard on Elizabeth.

The day before, Karl had heard a bout of commotion in the hallway, but Karl had simply turned up his music and made nothing of it. His mother told him on their morning walk that a new girl was moving into one of the neighboring apartments. People were always moving in and out of the apartments, and he often questioned why more people didn’t simply stay put.

Karl, continued on his chosen path, mixing new sounds and melodies to create pastoral skylines, and verdant landscape sound collages. He cut, screwed, mix, mashed, and morphed orchestral triumphs, against raw 80’s synth and created something new. He filled his days with his creations as he always had, but they were becoming boring, stale. Not, perhaps, because of their inherent staleness, but because there was no audience for them. Out of the few songs he’d released, one had received a torrent of views from the indie electronica enthusiast scene, that song being Asiatic Antonin. But, abrasive as the internet is, the experience left him scarred, and unwilling to share any more of his music with the world who wouldn’t appreciate it.

One day, while slumped in the chair before his computer, idly clicking through things, he noticed a new device on the apartment’s shared network entitled “Emily-PC”. Karl snarled to himself at the crass unoriginality with which everyone named their computers. Then without realizing what it could mean, he clicked on it. A series of folders appeared in his browser, and he clicked through to the “Public Pictures” folder, marked by a little flower icon.

Karl had seen his fair share of naked women via scandalous internet sidebar ads, and pop ups, not to mention the few internet porn sites he’d visited out of curiousity when his mother went out of town, but he’d never seen anything like this. Before him were dozens, if not hundreds, of jpegs named in a harmless serial like fashion, containing somewhat grainy, provocative nude webcam pictures. After cycling through the first few, Karl landed on what he believed was a modern wonder of the world. Basked in the golden light of the sun, Emily’s figure was spread across her bed completely buck and completely beautiful, her frame smeared with a thick brown paste. A bottle of nutella completed the picture by covering her most intimate details.

Karl checked over his shoulder to see if his mother, or anyone could see what he was doing, but his room door was closed as always. He returned his gaze to the picture which seemed to ravish his mind like nothing he’d ever seen. It touched him in a way that nudity had never managed. His mouth curled up, and his tongue sought something, almost like it was searching for a clarinet; his fingers too began to quake, and they fell upon the buttons and knobs of his synthesiser with unprecedented ease and passion.

“Karl!” There came a banging at the door that snapped Karl out of his dreamlike state. “Karl!!!” yelled his mother for a second time.

Quickly, spastically, Karl closed the picture, but then, thinking on his feet, copied the entirety of the devilish collection into a new folder lest he be deprived of them in the future. As he rose from his chair, Karl could only think of the beauty of what he’d seen, and not of the bizarre chance of fate that lead him to it.

“Yes, mom,” said Karl opening his door.

“Lunch is ready,” she said.

“Oh. Actually I think I might go for a walk.”

“Be careful! It’s not safe out on the streets!”

And so did he take to the streets with a quick, rash step. Coming down the steps of the apartment complex, however, he ran into the girl – Emily. Seeing her with her bag of groceries, and fully clothed at that, put him in state of shock. She glanced up, met his eyes, and then simply smiled at him as his feet stood stock still in their place.

“Hi!” she said.

Karl swallowed a great deal of fear and was able to mutter something small in response as she walked by.

“Your name’s Emily?” he said, now that he only had her backside to watch.

She turned, ruining the illusion, “Yeah. How did you know?”

Karl felt his face rise to the color of a rasberry sherbert.

“Oh, I think I…saw it…somewhere…”

“And what was your name?”

“Oh, Karl Better.”

“Karl better what?” She waited for a response, but there was none to be had. “Well. Nice to meet you!” she said, and then she bounced up the rest of the stairs and disappeared.

Karl waited a moment and then immediately returned to his computer.

He found, over the course of a few days, as he looked through the pictures of Emily that he had acquired that she was a model of sorts. One of her pictures held a link to a website that she modeled for. You payed a little fee to watch her on her webcam, and she would perform for you and chat with you. Every day Karl neared clicking the ominous “Join Chat” button, but refrained.

Perhaps if he composed a song just for her. A song that could capture everything he felt about her. Maybe then he could reveal himself to her, or at the very least just be free of her commanding presence in his mind.


Emily Enticing, as she was known online, was despite all her online acts very much a normal girl trying to make it in the big apple. She had just so happened to have found a niche in the erotic food market that treated her well. But it was just another stop in the road for her, just a temporary bump. Emily was headed real places, everyone that met her told her how beautiful she was and how destined for the screen she was!

There were girls on that strived and worked hard for the kind of action they got on the webcam shows, but not Emily. She grew up in a small town, with no place and no time to learn such a trade. A trade which she fell into by chance, and with ease, but one in which she knew she was not destined.

One day she accepted a webcam request from Shyguy380 and started her now tired routine. But her guest, Mr. Shyguy380 told her to stop emphatically. He said that he just wanted her to listen to a song and tell him what she thought of it. So she listened to it like she asked since it seemed like a harmless enough thing. And when he asked what she thought of it she simply said, “Sounds like a bunch of techno bullshit to me!”

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