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.

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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/

 

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Winter’s child

 

“Winter seemed reluctant to release its hold.”As Eve stood shivering on the bathroom mat, looking at the red streak snaking down her legs, the chill rose up to freeze her from within and outside. She fought the tears tottering on the slippery threshold of her consciousness, wondering why this was happening to her.

 
She had followed the Doctor’s orders and she and George had seen to it that they did not miss the days marked on the calendar. It had not been easy but neither of them had demurred. Yet, it seemed that the seed she desperately hoped would bloom refused to take root. Her womb continued to be barren, month after month. At times, she wondered if God was punishing her for something that had in no way been her fault.

 
Shoulders drooping, she dragged herself back to bed. George stirred but then snuggled back under the warm covers. Sleep evaded her though she tried her best to court it. Ruefully she let it slip away and resigned herself to a few more hours of “mind-hoopla” as she called it. Her mind flitted from thoughts to memories to thoughts in a never ending loop.

 
She was born into a wealthy family but her parents were too busy playing to the gallery to really care. The children were just trophies to be exhibited on certain occasions. Her elder brother Josh was a carbon copy of their Dad and idolized him. Their younger sister was a wallflower, with no opinion of her own and content to live as directed. Eve, on the other hand was a rebel.

 
Thus she was happy to leave home for college at nineteen. There she met Matt. He was a pleasant change from all the people she used to meet in her pseudo life at home. Both felt an instant attraction, which over the next two years developed into deep love.

 

Eve knew her parent’s reaction to her choice and so she hid it from them till the day Matt joined the hospital as a full time Doctor.
Matt promised to take her to meet his parents during Thanksgiving. They both wanted a Christmas wedding.

 
The meeting however never took place, nor did the wedding. Driving to work next week, Matt met with an accident and he died on the spot.

 
Eve was beyond herself with grief and went home for the first time in four years. She was sick so often that it took her some time to realize that she was pregnant. She was shocked at first but then overjoyed .However, her joy was short-lived for her family did not approve of her having a baby out of wedlock.

 
She could still remember the conversation word to word.

 

Her Mom had looked at her with utmost distaste as if she was something the cat dragged in “Why must you insist on bringing shame to the family name?”

 
“After all that we have done for you is this how you repay us?” shouted her Dad, his swarthy face turning purple.

 
Not to be left behind, her ineffacious brother declared, “We can’t let you have his bastard.”

 
Her sister of course had nothing to say.

 
Eve decided not to bow to their pressure tactic but she had underestimated her parent’s guile and wickedness. One night, they drugged her and spirited her away to a private nursing home. When she came to, it was already too late. As soon as she could walk, she left home and never looked back.

 

 
Even George believed she was an orphan and she had no intention of revealing these dark secrets to him, ever.

 
She sighed and decided to get up as dawn crawled in slowly. She put the kettle on and watched snow drifting down relentlessly. The sky looked dull, just like her mood. She called her Doctor around noon from her office-she did not want George to be privy to this setback-at least not today. Her Doctor told her to come in the next day.

 
Next morning Eve woke up and was taken aback. She had not bled at all during the night-what was going on? Was she ill?

 
With trepidation she walked into the clinic. The shadow of uncertainty loomed large as she lay down on the examination table.

 
A few hours later, she was driving back, a smile on her lips. The miracle of spring was accumulating in her womb and she could not wait to celebrate its arrival with her beloved George.

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This is my response to Speakeasy’s weekly prompt #157 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: “Winter seemed reluctant to release its hold.” and (c) make some reference to the media prompt,which this week the  drawing above, by Leonardo da Vinci, entitled Study of a Womb.

The challenge is open to everyone,so if you want to join in or read the other entries,please click on the url http://www.yeahwrite.me/speakeasy/fiction-challenge-157-open/

 


The survivors

Lion

 

The survivors
Without a word, she dropped to the ground. She had no energy left. Her half naked body shivered and her mind telescoped within itself. She was oblivious to the hushed murmurs that rose from the group of women surrounding her or of the midwife cleaning and covering her up. Her eyes were fixed on the small, immobile bundle. Her fourth child had arrived into this world without any noise, as if protesting against the atrocities of the past. A still born…

 
She was not sure if she should be relieved or sad. She, Radha, the third wife of the village Chaudhary had failed to give him a male heir yet again. Her three daughters had been killed as soon as they had uttered their first cry. Radha had been told of the fate a new born girl would meet in the Chaudhary household by Lalita and Amodini, the first two wives of Chaudhary. They had undergone the same pain and had finally been thrown out of the house.

 
The first time it happened, Radha had cried for months but this time, she was numb. She wondered if this little one already knew that she was going to be killed-was unwanted and so had decided to end it all before it began. The Chaudhary was too egotistical to even harbour the idea that a woman was in no way responsible for a child’s gender. Not that anyone in this village knew or understood such things.

 
She knew that her time to be evicted had arrived when she saw her husband eyeing the Priest’s nubile daughter, Pallavi. His hungry gaze reminded her of a cat she had once seen, climbing a tree slowly, stalking its prey-a young bird. She thought that it ironic that the Chaudhary did not want any daughters, forgetting that it is finally a woman who gives birth to a man!

 

 

When she heard that a marriage proposal had been sent to Pallavi’s house, she shuddered at the fate that awaited the poor girl. She wished she could do something to save the young girl from her husband’s clutches but her husband was a powerful man. No one could help her and anyway all the men in the village had the same attitude. The date for her husband’s marriage was fixed .It was going to take place in three months time. She prayed for a miracle.

 
Unfortunately, nothing happened and the marriage took place on the scheduled day. Chaudhary decided not to throw Radha out simply because she was still young and beautiful. It also gave his ego a big boost to have two young wives at his beck and call, to satisfy his every need.

 
Two weeks after the marriage, the Chaudhary had to go to another village for campaigning. Panchayat elections were close and he wanted to win again. Meanwhile, Radha and Pallavi became good friends. Then, one day Pallavi confessed that she was in love with a young man. However, he belonged to a lower caste and though he was very intelligent and was going to college, they could never be together.

 
Radha got an idea .She knew there was a chance that the Chaudhary could be beaten, God willing. She remembered reading in “Mahabharata”, the epic. Kunti and Madri, the two wives of King Pandu had conceived children by invoking different Gods as their husband had been incapable of having coitus.Though, this was not really the case, and a little twisting of the original tale may work wonders here. It could also mean salvation for her and Pallavi.

 
She decided to talk to Pallavi about her plan.Pallavi was scared at first but then she caught on to it and became excited. For the two weeks Chaudhary was absent, Radha helped Pallavi meet her lover and they cohabited. Her lover was leaving for the city after the two weeks and Radha and Pallavi decided he need not know anything about their plan.

 
A month later Chaudhary was given the good news that Pallavi was expecting.

 
Both Radha and Pallavi prayed and eight months later, their prayers were answered.Pallavi gave birth to two bonny babies-both males. Everyone rejoiced and the Chaudhary threw a huge party. The two wives looked at each other and smiled, knowing that they would take this secret to their graves.

 

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This is my response to Speakeasy’s weekly writing prompt #155. The challenge this week is to(a) write a piece in 750 words or less (mine is 718 words,including the title) (b) using “Without a word, she dropped to the ground.” as the first sentence, and (c) make some sort of reference to the photo prompt (which is posted above).

Speakeasy is open to everyone and if you are interested in participating or reading what other contestants have submitted for this contest,please click on this link http://www.yeahwrite.me/speakeasy/155-open/

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A life extraordinaire

A life extraordinaire

 

“This is your last chance, Myra,” thundered Magdalena.
No one in Neverland had ever seen Magdalena, the Fairy Queen lose her cool in last 600 years. But Myra brought out the worst in her. She had been training to be a wish fairy since the last 150 years but she was always messing up.

 

“Remember,” Magdalena continued,” you can grant three wishes to one human and this spell has to last for a year. Till that time you are to remain earthbound. In case you fail, you are going to be transformed into a butterfly fairy and that’s final.”

 

Myra nodded meekly and picking up her wand and the pouch of magic dust, took off in search of her quarry.

Harry sat at his ordinary dining table, eating an ordinary breakfast and looking forlorn. For the nth time in a week, he wished for an extraordinary life. Till recently he was quite satisfied, if not happy with his life. At 30, he held a good job at a small firm earning enough to live in comfort. He dated once in a while but did not have a steady girlfriend. Then, about ten days back, he happened to meet his friend George and the unrest started.

 
Now George had been a pudgy, pimply fellow with little brains and so to see him looking quite dashing with a sexy siren type of wife hanging on to his arm, while they walked towards their swanky Porsche was difficult to absorb. Then George invited him home and the sprawling, luxurious country house with golf course and swimming pools made Harry’s head swim. George was a businessman and hobnobbed with the jet set.

 
Since then, Harry had been moping, wishing for a hi-flying life. Sighing, he got up to get ready for work, totally unaware that Myra the intern, had landed at his window and decided to pick his brains at that moment. She smiled and said to herself,”Easy does it Myra! No goofing up-this is your last chance.” She concentrated, trying to remember the right spell and then flew inside Harry’s house. She pointed her wand at Harry and waved it, blowing some magic dust towards him.

 
Harry immediately felt very light and happy. That evening, he met a beautiful girl named Sara and could not believe his luck when she seemed interested in him too. They got talking and discovered that they had same likes and dreams. Promising to meet next day, they parted. Harry hardly slept that night.

 
Next morning he was taken aback to receive an email from a very reputed company, asking him to come for an interview. He believed that Sara was his good luck charm and went joyfully to give that interview. His new found confidence and positive demeanour got him the high paid job easily.

 
Soon Sara and Harry were inseparable. It turned out that her father was a very well placed politician and with his help, Harry was soon scaling new heights in his career. Six months down the road, he proposed to Sara and she accepted. The wedding took place with a lot of pomp and show.

 
Myra watched all this with gleeful anticipation. She was looking forward to completing her internship successfully and flying back home in six months time. Funnily, she was beginning to enjoy her life among humans-they fascinated her. Thus distracted, she forgot to sprinkle fairy dust on Harry one morning and everything started unravelling.

 
On his way to his newly acquired business Harry met with a minor accident. Thought he was at fault, seeing his new Bugatti damaged, he lost his temper and berated the driver of the other car, not noticing that it was the police chief. He was jailed for committing a public nuisance.

 
Myra flew in to rectify matters but though her intent was to resolve the issue, in her panic, she mixed the spells and this caused so much complication that Harry was not only refused bail but was imprisoned for 3 months.

 
Meanwhile, Myra lost her wand and this worsened matters. Sara started seeing another man and soon she eloped with him.
Harry returned a changed man. He came back to an empty home and was not really shocked to learn that he had been dismissed from his job. Looking back he pined for his old life. Myra was recalled to serve as butterfly fairy.

 

Through the clarity of retrospect, the obvious conclusion surfaced: things don’t always turn out as planned.

 

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This is my response to Speakeasy’s weekly prompt #154, which is to(a) write a piece in 750 words or less (mine is 750,including the title & the required quote) (b) with some kind of reference to the media prompt, a short film by Tanmay Shah, entitled Intent, and (c) use the last sentence of: “Through the clarity of retrospect, the obvious conclusion surfaced: things don’t always turn out as planned.”

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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/

Duped

Duped

 

 Ben felt irritable. He rubbed the back of his neck but his rigid muscles dismissed the placatory move. His stomach rumbled and knotted in protest.

He had no idea what he should do. The blue file on the desk beckoned him but for once he had no wish to be enticed by its enchanting contents.

He started pacing, raking his fingers through his hair. He had to find a solution. After all he, Ben Bradshaw was the CEO of this company.

A soft knock on the door startled him and he barked a sharp, ”Come in!”

Naomi, his personal assistant came in carrying a cup of coffee and a plate of fruit salad.”Ben, time to stop starving yourself,” she said clearing the coffee table. She added,”Mindy had called. She told me to remind you that it’s your turn to pick Stacy up from school. I will be back in 20 minutes to clear the table.”

 Ben smiled. Naomi had been a great find-reliable and trustworthy-her only weakness, a taste for handsome, high flying executives, like Ben. Not that Ben minded. Naomi was young, sexy and had no demands. She knew when to keep her mouth shut and was not clingy. And Mindy need never know.

 “Naomi, you go have lunch and yes, I will have the papers ready for the Board meeting by 4-will brief you on that too.”

Naomi smiled, winked at him and left, swinging her hips,encased in a beautifully tailored, slim red skirt, knowing well the effect it had on Ben.

Ah, but no point in dwelling over those forbidden pleasures now, Ben told himself, that’s for this weekend when Mindy flies off for her annual fashion show at Milan. For now, he needed to eat first and then get back to work.

 

Wolfing down the fruit salad Ben realized that he had been ravenous. Good no one could see him eating like a pig, he chuckled. Satiated, he started sipping the coffee and mulled over the contents of the file. He had hired a special agency to look into embezzlement from company accounts and they had come up with shocking facts.

Ben had all the facts, figures, dates and the names behind the racket. He was shocked that it had been going on for over a year and no one had had any inkling. But, tomorrow morning, in the board meeting all the masks would be off and a lot of heads would roll. He was waiting for the last two names on his hit list.

The intercom on his desk buzzed.”There is a special delivery for you Sir.” It was Robin, the lobby manager. “Should I send the package in?”He asked.”Do that Robin and please see to it that I am not disturbed for the next ten minutes. Naomi is out for lunch.”

 

As he read the last report, Ben frowned. The more he read the more his eyes widened. How could it be? His lips pursed into a thin line as he read the last words.

Where was Naomi? He needed to talk to her.

Ben stood up and the room swam. He clutched at the table, trying to steady himself. Queasiness clutched at his innards. His stomach heaved and he stumbled into the bathroom and threw up. Everything that he had eaten came up in stringy gobs. He lay there drained, seeing black spots, unable to move. He clutched at his heart, sweat soaking his shirt. He was being sucked into a black hole of excruciating pain.

 

The door opened. It was Naomi.

She was smiling.

Mindy stood behind her.

She looked grim.

Ben tried to speak but no sound came.

“Hush!”said Naomi,” I know you found out the last name was mine.”

“Why don’t we tell him all before he breathes his last, Naomi?”

“Poor dear! He has no idea that he has been had  by both of us working hand in glove,” clucked Naomi.

“I think the poison is working. Today’s dose has triggered the heart attack we were waiting for.”

“Yes, let us rehearse the last act once more, before the ambulance arrives.”

 

At school, six year old Stacy waited for her Dad to come pick her up. One by one all her friends left and the hall emptied. Stacy sat on the steps outside the school, forlorn, clutching the card she had made that day. Her small mouth quivered and a sob escaped her as she waited for someone to tell her what to do next.

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The above story is my entry for the speakeasy at yeah write #150,this week.The challenge was to (a) write a work of fiction in 750 words or less (mine is 749,including the title) (b) use the following as the last sentence:  “She waited for someone to tell her what to do next.”  (c) make some sort of reference to the video short The Black Hole (click on the high-lighted title to watch).For more details click on this url http://www.yeahwrite.me/speakeasy/150-open/

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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/