"The Box Of Temptation"

Art Produced by William C. Johnson 


  Photo by Derek Prospero

"You never loved that Harlot, Toymaker.
You loved the pain you inflicted upon her.
Now, shall we begin?"

~ Baron, Duke of the Order of the Gash

This was LeMarchand's tenth puzzle construct.  The surface panels were designed to be manipulated in the same manner and order as the bones in Anna Carter's body were removed by LeMarchand following her rejection of his marriage proposal.




"...Anna was horrified at my entry into her chamber.  Clearly she had expected Madame Turtledove to keep her promise to keep me away from her.  She screamed and threw various objects in my direction.  She was no longer the lovely sad eyed girl that I had fallen in love with.  She was still covered in heavy bruises and numerous scabs from my previous visit.  Her sad eyes were now filled with hostility."

The Journal of Philip LeMarchand 



It is said that working this box brings an intense
feeling of depression to the manipulator.

Baron - Unknown oils, 1811 Philip LeMarchand

"Baron appeared to be quite intrigued by my designs, and asked whence came my inspiration.  As I was uncertain how to respond, I told him that they were constructs based on my fascination with order and geometry.  He handed me back my design and related to me that 'You will serve us well.'"

LeMarchand completed his last painting twelve days before his disappearance.  Titled Baron, historians believe that it is a portrait of what LeMarchand refers in his journal as a "Coenobyte,"  beings of a super-natural order not unlike demons or angels.  LeMarchand writes in his journal:

"...His skin was nearly blue, and pulled taut across his skull , giving him a most dreadful grin.  His cheeks were rouged, and he seemed heavily perfumed.  I inquired as to whether or not he was a Coenobite.  He informed me that he was Baron , Duke of the Order of the Gash."

The Journal of Philip LeMarchand

Photo by Mědus ěperandi (The Collector)

A Tale of Love's Easy Tears

by Richard Langston

"Temptation" -  Blair 2002

February 25th, 2010

I couldn’t believe it.  She was no stranger to doing cold and hurtful things but even for her it was a new low.  She threw this guy in my face like a weapon, knowing how I felt for her, and she tells me she is getting married to him.  After spending 4 months telling me and anyone else who would listen to her incessant babbling that she would never get married.  I remembered the last time I saw her, in October.  After a night of partying, dancing, and drinking, she told me she didn’t want to see me anymore.  Devastated, but trying to ignore it, I’d not spoken to her since.

Now in early May, I bump into her at a gas station.  She said hello to me, like everything between us is fine.  Like last year never happened.  Considering her addiction to cocaine it’s quite possible from her perspective that was true.  She introduced me to her “fiancee”.  My anger boiled within me.  I did not let it show.  I shook his hand and played nice.  Outside the store, I day dreamed of running them both over with my car.  Just to get rid of that smug look on her face.  That bitch look, that look that says “I know how to hurt you and I enjoy doing so.”

I went to the gym to put the rage to good use.  Later I thought of ways to make her pay.  Anger not tempered by patience and reason is unfocused and self-destructive.  I’d bide my time and wait for the right moment.   It was then a memory occurred.

It all started the summer before when we met at work.  Mixing work with pleasure leads to trouble, but I couldn’t help but feel the trouble would be worth it.  If only I knew then what I know now.  She was a tall brunette, with a body to kill for, a charming personality and large dark brown eyes that made weak men like me into her slaves.  She’d done this many times before.  I was smart enough to recognize this but dumb enough to think I’d be different.

We went out a few times, she knew my feelings for her and though they weren’t totally reciprocated, they were at least appreciated.  I felt that she could be mine.  This went on for a few months.  Those few months were spent totally on her.  She didn’t have a car at the time, so I helped her get back and forth to work and took her to run errands she needed to do. in turn, she played with my affections, alternating between hot and cold. It was mentally exhausting but exhilarating and terrifying to feel so strongly about someone.  I felt alive for the first time in years.

That fall I left the place we worked at hoping it would open her mind to having a relationship with me.  The week after I quit, I asked her to accompany me to wedding party for one of my family members.  She accepted my invitation.   It was a beautiful, cool, enigmatic evening that held both the promises of great things to come and the looming haunting prospects of shattered dreams.  It was an evening that could only take place in the early autumn of October.  We ate.  We drank.  We danced.

I’d longed for this since I met her.  The feeling of her body close to mine, looking at me with respect, making me feel like I was someone worth a damn.
I should have known better.

She asks me if I want to go downtown to see a band she liked that was playing at one of the clubs.  I readily told her yes.  Before we get there she decided she wanted to stop off at a bar she worked at to say hey to some friends there.  And so we did.  Anything for her.

Soon after our arrival, I watched her embrace a girl she knew and fall down to the floor with her.  Lying on top of her, kissing her, stroking her hair as though they were passionate lovers.  She looks up at me and her eyes say “This will never be you.”.   We drink some more.  Everything is fuzzy, but I’m a happy drunk.  She then tells me she doesn’t want to see me anymore.  The heartless bitch then leaves with another guy she met while we were there.

I was talking with another patron there who suggested I find someone else there.  He told me that love is love and cum is cum, a statement I did not disagree with but did not want to debase myself with just anyone.  I’d rather be alone.  I left.

I’d parked in an alley beside the tavern.  On my way to it, I was accosted by a filthy, smelly vagrant.  With his long scruffy hair and disheveled clothes he approached me.  A strong smell of excrement, urine, and stale sweat fell off of him and though I was drunk I knew I was not imagining that underneath the foulness was the sweet smell of vanilla.  He fell into me and stuffed something into my jacket. I could fell his mouth against my ear whispering words that were implicitly registered but instantly forgotten.  I watched him walkaway until he disappeared around the corner at which point his footsteps turned into the rattling of wings.

As I sat in the car I reached in my coat for what he had put in it:  ...a puzzle box.

My first impression was to laugh at the insanity of the situation. A closer look at the box though changed my mind.  It was gold with very precise circular designs on each of it’s four sides.  I traced my thumb across one of the circles in my drunken state and felt the inebriation dissipate.  Not thinking that the two events were related, I put the box in the backseat and decided to drive home while I felt I still could. It’d lain there, forgotten, until the day I saw her again.

I left the gym and put my gym bag in the back seat.  Looking at the floor board, I saw the box again and remembered that night.  I picked the box up and heard a faint trace of haunting music.  Bells, chimes.  I traced the circle again with my thumb and I remembered the words that were spoken in my ear, in the that strange voice that had a buzzing sound underneath.  The voice said “You don’t love the harlot. You love the pain she inflicts on you.  Enjoy this…”, he said as he slipped the box into the pocket of my jacket.  The box smelled of vanilla.

Much like the girl, the box was an evil enticement.  It was a trick meant to make weak men it’s slaves.  I had a vision flash before my eyes of chains and torments, suffering more exquisite than I would be prepared to face.  I fell victim to such cruelty once before because I ignored my instincts.  Not now.  On-line I did some research on the box hoping to see if anyone knew more about it.  I found exactly what I was looking for.  I came across a website for the Pyramid Gallery in N.Y. which specializes in the research and collecting of boxes such as these.  I also found out that the box I had wasn’t the only one of it’s kind.  An exact match was already in the collection at the gallery.  According to the site, the boxes were made by a French toymaker in the 1800′s to open up gateways to another world.   The people who opened the box were never seen again.   The way the box made me sober, the message given by the disheveled man, and the upcoming wedding were all pieces to a puzzle that fit easily together.  I was not meant to own this box.  I was meant to give it to someone else.  Not just on any day though

I decided to let her and the box cancel each other out.

Photo by Derek Prospero

At her wedding shower, I gave the box to her with a note attached saying “Take it. It’s yours. It always was”.  I watched as she opened the gift box it was contained in.  She smiled when she saw it.  She always did like puzzles.  I watched as she greeted people, talking about how happy she was.  I knew she only married him for the money, so I doubted her happiness was an act.  As things quieted down, she sat at her table running her fingers along the box.  Perhaps she felt a kinship with the insidious enigmatic thing.  I grew impatient and doubtful that the box would actually work, or if it did that she’d be able to solve it.  I watched her trace her finger along one circle, and press it inward.

The room went suddenly went dark.  Not like the lights were out but as if light never existed at all.  Her and I were alone.  I heard chimes.  I heard the bells.  I saw a faint blue light encircle her, like a spot light.  She screamed for me to help her as the hooks went into her flesh. I gave the box to her; in turn the box gave me a glimpse of her fate.  As she was torn apart, she never looked so beautiful.

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