Of all the paintings in room 61b of the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Sam loves this one the most. It is a piece by Vecellio di Gregorio Tiziano, a well-loved painter of Carlos I. Sam has sat on the bench facing the painting for over an hour now, and has checked his watch every few minutes. He sighs deeply, impatience growing with every second he waits for Aton – his 3 PM appointment.
At half past 4 in the afternoon, outside the museum, the clouds part letting past a thin shaft of light. Inside, a beautiful couple enters room 61b and a few instances later, Aton walks toward Sam, approaching him from behind. Aton’s clothes look like rags compared to Sam’s shimmering coat of pure dazzling white. He taps Sam slightly on the shoulders.
“Sorry I’m late. Errands.”
“Yeah. What the hell else is new?” Sam answers back. “Have a seat beside me, my dear friend.”
“So, what is this all about?” says Aton after comfortably settling beside Sam. “We aren’t supposed to meet in a while, what’s so urgent that I had to…”
“I’m sick of it all, Aton. Our roles. Our duties. Our struggles in this world.”
“What are you babbling about Sam? You’ve never been successful at what you do than now, of all times. Don’t you see around you? You’ve destroyed a lot of lives.” Aton exclaimed, passionate. “ Why would you be sick about it? You are winning. Yes, winning in the game that only you play, though.” He continued.
Aton looks at Sam, and then at the picture. He would know what more to say, and frankly isn’t sure if he is to say anything at all. Its not as if he will be affected by whatever Sam is implying. They are enemies after all. Opposites. The ultimate adversaries.
The handsome couple, unmindful of the conversation happening just a few feet from them, looks at the painting of an unknown german master painter. They admire the trees and the landscapes and the imagery before them as if seeing these things for the first time in their lives. They imagine walking around the landscape, feeling the fresh dew of the grass on their bare feet, the soft caress of the wind on their bare bodies, and the soft moans of the animals around them.
Aton stares at the painting Sam has been fixed upon this whole time.
“You always look at this piece when you are depressed.” Aton breaks the silence. “What is it that you see?
“My greatest triumph, Aton. My greatest triumph over you and your master.” Sam looks at Aton, glaring. Boastful.
“Hah. But that triumph has always been credited to YOUR master. Not you.” Aton replies.
‘And more to the point, it is just as planned. That isn’t a triumph.” Aton continues, refusing to even look at Sam. “That was merely the beginning of everything. It was meant to happen. If not for that single event, there wouldn’t be a purpose to anything that has followed since then. Surely you know that”
Sam laughs loudly. The couple looks around them, as if hearing something else entirely. A wolf’s cry. Thunder.
“Yes I do. And THAT is why I am sick of it all. All I’ve done afterwards has no meaning. Hell, people destroy their own lives without my help. My coaxing. They do it for the fun of it.” Sam said in a mocking tone.
“Don’t you see? I long for this again.” Sam points at the painting. “A temptation most vile. A feat that resonates throughout time.”
Aton sighs. “Always the impatient one.” He places a hand on Sam’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, you’ll have your chance. He’s working on the details as we speak. When all is destroyed and remade, when all becomes dark and the light is rekindled, he will have need of you again.”
“You’re always late.” Sam shrugs off Aton’s hand.
“Very well. Be that way. I have to go.” Aton stands up. “Things to do.”
Sam doesn’t even turn to watch Aton walk away. “See you around, Metatron.”
The couple finally reaches the painting by Tiziano. Even before they get a chance to talk about the fascinating detail, the Man feels the urge to go to the bathroom, leaving his beautiful wife alone.
“Excuse me.” Sam approaches the woman from behind. You can almost call it slithering.
“Would you like an apple?”
The Fall of Man, 1570 by Tiziano Vecellio