The Painting

“Until the day I die, I’ll never forget those glassy, unblinking eyes,” said Jose’ and shuddered.

“Come on Junior, it’s been almost six months and its time you put that behind you, “commented Juan wryly.

“I know Pa but  I just can’t shake that image from my mind. It was as if he was accusing me of betraying him!”Jose stared at the fire burning in the grate, his eyes full of an unknown fear.

Juan came over and put his arm over Jose’s shoulders and squeezed lightly-a rare gesture of affection from this seemingly unemotional man. José understood and on an impulse hugged his father.

Looking a bit embarrassed by this show of emotion, Juan quickly strode towards the table where the blueprint of a floor plan was spread out.

“I know you do not like bloodshed and this was your first time. Possibly this is the reason why you feel the weight on your conscience. Our times were different. By the time I was your age, I had already dumped half a dozen bodies into the sea. Your Gramps, as you know, formed this gang when he was just 19 and he has killed more men than he can remember. It’s our family business son.”

“Yes Pa and look where it sent poor Pedro even if he was a bad ‘un.” grumbled Jose.”Then there is cousin Moe doing time and cousins Alberto and Francesco are missing since the past ten months .If all the males in the family keep falling prey to this business, where will our women and children go?”

“Juan and I have been discussing this for the past few months. Drug dealing is losing its sheen. There is too much competition among the cartels and not enough to go around. The cost of shipment and the blood money that we have to shell out is neither satisfactory nor desirable. On the other hand, the Policia has become more active and is not so easily bribed. The need of the hour is a change of business,” said Carlos.

José looked at his Grandpa in astonishment.

“You mean a new business Gramps? What else can we do?”He asked excitedly.

“Hold on to your horses’ young lad”! His Grandpa chuckled. “Yes, we have decided to branch out .Our clients are high end consumers. They may be private collectors who love the risk involved in acquiring something which nobody else owns. Then again, they may be just interested in the exorbitant money that would exchange hands if such a deal went through.”

Jose whistled.

“Wow!”

“We thought you would like it. The risks are high but the returns are sweet-sweeter than anything we could have ever imagined,” said Juan with a smile.

“There is more good news. We have already been commissioned for one such deal. Juan continued, “The job is to “spirit away” a painting by Albrecht Dürer from Casa Guidi, in Florence. Here is the replica of the painting which you have to use as replacement. You are in charge of this mission José. Juan will help you.”

José came forward to have a look at the panting and almost screamed. Somehow he steeled himself to look at the replica. “Those eyes remind me of Pedro’s glassy stare after I throttled him-ugh! Who would want to own such a creepy piece of art?” He mused.

Next Friday night Juan and José were at their destination. The four uncooperative guards had been dispatched -temporarily. The last one was inside the surveillance room. Juan stood guard while Jose entered the museum.

Shining his torch on the painting José shivered. The light fell directly on those eyes. He was sure he was being watched. He shook his head. His imagination was playing tricks. Suddenly he heard a familiar voice from behind, “Hello José! I have been waiting for you. Did you miss me?” Shocked to hear Pedro’s voice, José turned to look back, only to feel icy hands grabbing him and pulling him up.

After waiting for 30 minutes, Juan sneaked in to the surveillance room where the unsuspecting guard was put to sleep. Strangely, he could not find any trace of José in the museum. Puzzled and worried, he decided to have a look at the CCTV footage. What he saw was so eerie that he fled……

Next day there was a big brouhaha at the museum. Experts scratched their heads in bafflement at Albrecht Durer‘s painting where a new blurry figure had made its appearance.

0B55DF830F1859FEC725A6BAC20AC476

 

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This is my response to Speakeasy’s weekly prompt #162 which required us to (a)write a response(fiction or poetry) in 750 words or less (mine is 748, including the title) (b) using the following sentence as the first line in your submission: “Until the day I die, I’ll never forget those glassy, unblinking eyes .” and (c) make some reference to the media prompt,which this week is a painting  by Albrecht Dürer  . For more details and rules,please click on the url below-

http://www.yeahwrite.me/speakeasy/fiction-challenge-162-open/

 

The collectors

avond-evening-the-red-tree

The collectors

Looks can be deceiving. Her mother, Simone, never failed to drill it in to Donna and her sister Felicity’s psyche when she told them how she had met Dan, her husband and their Dad at an art gallery and had taken him to be the janitor. He was so unassuming that very few had an idea about his brilliance and that he was already a millionaire at 25. His business acumen became legendary in the later years and by the time their beautiful and sophisticated mother married him at 30, he was almost a billionaire.

Yes, Donna nodded her head in assent to her mother’s mantra as she added the final touches to the painting. Years of training, dedication and a steady hand, made her work picture perfect. The blue background and the storm swept tree looked majestic, yet bowed down with deep sorrow. She smiled .An apt cover for the Van Gogh which had been at the receiving end of her expert manipulations this time. She stood up, stretching her lithe and supple limbs.

Time for a break and she also needed to make that call.

“Hello Darling!”

“Hi, there! Missed you.”

“Me too. Finished my painting.”

“Wonderful. Will come down tonight to have a look then and we can have dinner somewhere?”

“That would be lovely. See you at 8 then?”

“Okay, see you.”

Richard, her fiance, was a Professor of Art history and she had met him at a party. His extensive knowledge on the subject had fascinated her and he was smitten by the strong woman hidden behind that fragile lissomeness. Her father’s art collection made their meetings more interesting and they started dating. After two years, they got engaged and now plans were on for a Christmas wedding.

“This is brilliant work, my love,” Richard beamed; his warm brown eyes looked almost dark in excitement.

“Thank you Richie. I will hang it in Dad’s room .I think it will cheer his spirit,” Donna smiled mischievously.

“So, what’s the next plan?”

“Next week, the Rockweller’s are throwing a party. Their collection will be on view. I have already seen it twice and I have my heart set on their Monet.”

“I believe they also have that Picasso we have heard so much about?”

“Yes, you heard right but remember “restraint” is the key to success.”

“You are the Boss, Ma petite,” said Richard, drawing Donna into his warm embrace.

She snuggled into his arms and responded,”We are a team-a formidable one.”

The Rockweller’s Art Deco party was a huge success and they basked in the pride which every art collector worth his salt lives for. They had no idea that every night from then on, their mansion would be under surveillance. Two hooded figures, dressed in black, followed their every move. One such night, when the Rockwellers had gone out and the servants had retired to their quarters, the two figures entered the mansion. The burglar alarms and the CCTV cameras had already been compromised-these two were no amateurs and neither was this their first-or last-such heist.

Next morning, as soon as the newshounds got a whiff, the heist made headlines. But no amount of detection could reveal even the slightest hint as to who the Art thieves could be or how many were there. The agencies involved including the Interpol and FBI knew that the stolen work would probably resurface some 3 to 5 years later in some part of Europe but by then it would be impossible to prove that it was stolen because of the different laws in the two continents.

 Six months down the road, enjoying a quiet dinner, Richard and Donna were chalking out plans for their Honeymoon.

“Mom thinks we should go to Italy.”

“Ha! Ha! Now how did she read my mind?”

“While we are away, our last two year’s fruits of labour will be auctioned off.”

“Your Mom has her uses, eh?”

“Definitely! Thankfully, she never cottoned onto what Dad’s real profession was.”

“I really respect your Dad. That man sure knew how to build a reliable and foolproof network.”

“True. Wish you two had had more time together. He would have been proud to see you as his official son-in-law.”

“I do hope our kids will inherit your sense of adventure and his discerning eye for real art, money and…”

“Yes, yes along with your brains, charm and my mom’s practicality”, giggled Donna, looking at Richard coquettishly.

 Richard burst out laughing.

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This was written for Speakeasy’s weekly writing challenge.The challenge was to(a) write  a piece of fiction or poetry in 750 words or less(mine is 748 words,including the title),(b) the FIRST line of our submission must be: “Looks can be deceiving.” and (c)make some sort of reference to the media prompt- a painting called Avond (Evening): The Red Tree by Dutch artist, Piet Mondrian.If you are interested in participating,please click on the link here http://www.yeahwrite.me/speakeasy/153-open/

A touch of colour

Friday Fictioneers

It is Wednesday everywhere,except for FF lovers who enjoy their Friday fare starting on Wednesday.Confused?Don’t be.Hop over to our  beautifully talented host Rochelle Wisoff-Fields page  (http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/friday-fictioneers-2/) and check out for yourself how over 100 talented writers from all over the world ,flock  to this contest and spin amazing tales of 100 words or so woven around the given photo prompt.Read,enjoy and join the fun:-)

 

This week’s photo prompt( below), has been provided by Danny Bowman and really made me scratch my head.Finally I came up with my 100 words,which follows just after the photo.Hope you all find it enjoyable 😉

 

Copyright - Danny Bowman

                                        Copyright – Danny Bowman

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A touch of colour

 

Stan gazed at the landscape on display.

His critical eye was not pleased.

It lacks boldness, he decided.

A dab of red would make it perfect, he mused.

An art lover, he always carried brushes, but where to get some red paint from?

He scanned the art gallery but it being late, no one was around.

Then Stan saw him.

He beamed.

The guard was immersed in a racy thriller, an empty mug at his feet.

Stan slashed the guard’s throat.

Holding the brush, he looked appreciatively at the red hot lava spilling from the volcano.

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The Crusader

Speakeasy #149

MurielStreeter

 

The Crusader

“Don’t blame the sinner, “whispered the cloaked figure, bending over the terrified, supine girl, a dagger poised over her heart.

“CUT!” shouted the Director.”Robert, for Pete’s sake put some menace into that whisper. You sound like you have a bunch of tadpoles jammed up your throat!”

The unit sniggered. This kind of scenario was common when Robert was shooting.

Robert shuffled his feet, looking like an errant school boy, embarrassment writ large on his angelic features. His face was his biggest asset and helped him get some bit roles. This time it had been a meatier role as he was playing the Villain.

“Take 22! Let’s roll-Robert, no mistakes this time”, the Director growled at him.

Robert sighed and took his position.

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It was drizzling and the streets wore a deserted look.

The inky darkness of the night pressed on from all sides, making visibility poor. The atmosphere burgeoned like a pregnant woman, on the verge of giving birth to some evil spawn.

Through the gloom, the lights looked almost feral.

The dark figure stood in front of the cottage in the second lane. There was something about the stance which made even the street dogs stay away. The hood was drawn over the head  and there was no trace of anything below-as if darkness had swallowed it whole, leaving behind an empty shell.

A woman‘s silhouette could be seen through the lacy curtains on the window. She was reading.

After a while, the figure moved and disappeared into the house through the shadows.

The figure entered the room and silently went and stood behind the woman. Sensing a movement, she turned and opened her mouth to scream but before she could, the figure held her swan like neck and snapped it and her head lolled.

Picking up the body, the figure moved out of the house and dumping it beside the neighbour’s garage,walked away.

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 He is 10. He has been naughty and so has been sent to his room. But there is a party at the house and he loves parties and good food. So he decides to slink into the dining hall before the guests arrive. As he enters the passage leading to the dining room, he hears strange noises from his parent’s bedroom and peeks in. He is surprised first and then angry to see his Uncle and Mom kissing each other. Then his heart jumps to his throat as he hears them plotting his Dad’s murder. That night he hides and watches helplessly as his handsome Dad sips the poisoned wine, standing under his favourite painting, “The Chess Queens”.

When the Police arrive, well placed clues lead them into believing that the butler has a hand in this murder and so he is jailed.

His mother acts the bereaved wife perfectly, looking oh so fragile and heart -broken. To him, she looks eerily like the lady in the black gown and veil in his father’s favourite painting.

Ironic, for soon she will look like the ghostly white one standing opposite the lady in black.

Six years later, he kills his Uncle in the same manner and manages to pin the murder on his mother. She rots in jail for a murder she did not commit, mourning for her lost love, yet unable to express her grief openly. He enjoys seeing her lose her rosy hue and gradually become ashen and frayed, falling to pieces like a moth eaten blanket.

Vengeance is his.

Growing up, he realizes that there are more Moms and Uncles in this world than he cares for and they all need to be taught a lesson.

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Sometimes it is his angelic face and at others his bumbling manner which makes the needle of suspicion always point elsewhere-lucky Robert!

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This is written for speakeasy writing challenge #149.For this week’s challenge we were required to use  the following sentence as the FIRST line: “Don’t blame the sinner.”Secondly, we had to let the artwork above ,”“The Chess Queens,” by Muriel Streeter, influence our writing and last but not the least ,submissions had to be fiction or poetry and be under 750 words.(mine is 633,including the title).If you are interested in reading more submissions or joining the challenge,click on this link- http://www.yeahwrite.me/speakeasy/149-open/