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The Painting Talked

Story ID:2886
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Fiction
Location:New York New York USA
Year:2007
Person:Veronica
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OurEcho Preface This post deals with a mature theme or contains explicit language. While the post is not extremely violent or pornographic, it does contain language or explore a subject matter that may offend some readers. If you do not wish to view posts that deal with mature themes, please exit this post.
I was entered in the Writersweekly.com 24-hour short story contest this weekend..

Writersweely runs the contest every three months. For those intereted, check out the web page and sign up for their winter contest

I love the challenge of working with a given thought and word range. However, I warn you, this contest will take you outside the box.

I love to write stories to touch your heart, but this contest always brings out the dark side of my mind.

This story is particularly dark. Please do not read this if you are not a murder mystery fan.

I've never won this contest, or even placed in the top 3, but for the $5 dollar entry fee, I managed to sell five of my entries to another publication for ten times the entry fee.

Here's what I was given to work with. Below that is my entry.
Mike

TODAY'S TOPIC!

The vivid hues of the foliage seemed to bring the painting to life.
Intrigued, she leaned closer. Blowing rapidly down the cobblestone
road, the artist's yellow leaves were a dazzling gold, the red leaves
burned a deep, unnatural maroon, more beautiful than reality, and the
dark orange leaves faded around their edges, as if they couldn't decide
which color they wanted to be. She peered closer still, desperately
wishing to be there, in that place so far away, and so long ago. Her
senses seemed to respond to her subconscious desires and she blinked
back startled tears when she suddenly inhaled the scent of wood smoke,
felt a cold wind stirring her hair, and saw a movement in the
distance...


~~~~~

WORD COUNT Stories for today's topic must not exceed 1100 words. (Your
story's title is *not* included in the word count. We used MSWord's
word count function to determine the final word count in submission.)


*Very Important* Type "24 Hour Contest" in the subject line of your
email entry! This will enable us to pull any wayward entries out of our
sp*m filter.




The Painting Talked

“It’s a shame.”
Detective Davis, engrossed in dusting for prints, didn’t hear the comment.
“So young and beautiful.” Detective Harris continued.
Davis looked up. “Did you say something, Harris?”
Harris knelt close to the body. “I was just saying it’s such a shame. She
was so beautiful. What do we know so far?”
Davis surveyed the disheveled room. “It’s obvious there was a struggle.
Her name is…was,” she corrected herself, “Veronica Steiber, twenty-seven and single.
She was an artist of some fame. The only prints I can find match just the victim and her
boyfriend.”
“According to her neighbor and close friend, her boyfriend, Darren,” Harris
checked his notes, “Darren Smith, is out of town on business. He’s been on the road for more than a week.”
“Are we sure of that?”
“I have someone checking. We have his cell number” He turned back to the body.
“Someone really wanted her dead.”
“Why do you say that?” Davis asked and began to dust the cordless phone she’d
found on the floor.
“Well, if you slit someone’s throat, it kills them. Whoever did this went beyond
that.” Harris slipped rubber gloves onto his hands. “Her nose has been broken and her
teeth too. Look here.” He carefully turned Veronica’s head. Her long blond hair stuck to
the large patch of blood that soaked the white carpet.
“See here.” He pointed to a dent in the back of Veronica’s head. “She was hit over
the head with something heavy. This alone would have killed her.”
Harris unbuttoned Veronica’s tattered and bloody blouse. Veronica’s once
beautiful breasts had been slashed repeatedly – almost removed from the body. “It’s
like they wanted to disfigure her.”
Harris’ phone rang. “NYPD, Harris here.” He listened. “You checked with the
hotel staff?” He paused. “What about the university?” In the silent room, Davis heard the
answer from Harris’ phone. “OK, thanks.” Harris closed the phone and turned to
Davis. “Well, Darren’s out. He’s been lecturing at a university in San Diego all week.”
“What else do we know?” Davis asked.
“The only source we have is the neighbor.”
“Name?” Harris checked his notebook again. “Can’t you remember anything!”
Davis snapped.
Harris ignored the remark. “Her name is Michelle…Michelle Strange. She said
Veronica was new to New York. She moved to Soho three months ago, to be part of the
art scene there. There’s no family close by and only a few friends.
“Apparently, she met Darren at a showing of her art in a small gallery in
Midtown.”
“Doesn’t leave us much to go on, does it.” Davis surveyed the room, the broken
sculptures, and the slashed paintings. “From what’s left of her work, I know she was
good.” She picked up a broken painting and spread it out on the floor.
The vivid hues of the foliage seemed to bring the painting to life. Intrigued, she
leaned closer. Blowing rapidly down the cobblestone road, the artist's yellow leaves were
a dazzling gold, the red leaves burned a deep, unnatural maroon, more beautiful than
reality, and the dark orange leaves faded around their edges, as if they couldn't decide
which color they wanted to be. She peered closer still, desperately wishing to be there,
in Veronica’s mind, in that place so far away.
“She was good…very good.” Davis picked up the painting and stood. “Let the
lab boys in and let’s pay a visit to Ms…”
“Strange.” Harris filled in.
“Good for you. No notebook this time?”
“Would you stop busting my balls? We have work to do.”

*****************************************

Davis let Harris play the good guy. He suited the roll – always referring to his
notebook, made suspects feel superior. As Harris questioned Michelle, Davis studied
the friend – tall, slim, boyish figure, with her hair pulled back into a bun. She reminded
Davis of a librarian – a young woman destined to be a spinster.
“What do you do for a living, Ms. Strange.”
“I’m a librarian.”
“Can I guess it right or what?” Davis thought to herself.
Harris continued to question Ms. Librarian. Davis realized she still held the rolled
painting. She unrolled it and stared. Her senses seemed to respond to her subconscious desires and she blinked back startled tears when she suddenly inhaled the scent of wood smoke, felt a cold wind stirring her hair, and saw a movement in the distance.
“What the hell?” She thought.
“Harris!” she interrupted her partner’s questions. “Let me take over.”
Harris growing tired of his partner’s treatment snapped back, “Fine, I’ll
check on the lab boys.”
“Ms. Strange, how did you know Darren?”
“We used to be friends.”
“Really?”
“Yes! Why?” Michelle pulled a pillow onto her lap and held it tight.
“Are you nervous, Ms. Strange? May I call you Michelle?”
“Michelle’s fine.”
“Michelle, let me show you something.” Harris placed the painting the chrome
table in Michelle’s kitchen. “Come here, Michelle. Look at this painting.”
Michelle stood and looked.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it? Veronica really captured the colors. Look in the
background, Michelle.”
Michelle stared and saw nothing. “What about it?”
“Right there, behind that tree. What do you see?”
“I see…” Michelle paused. “It can’t be!”
“It is though, isn’t it? Veronica knew. That’s you partly hidden behind a tree.
If I’m not mistaken, you have a knife in your hand.”
Michelle reached up and pulled the hairpin from her bun and lunged at Davis.
“Freeze! You’re under arrest for the murder of Veronica Steiber.” Reliable
Harris stood in the doorway – gun drawn.
“She was a bitch!” Michelle screamed. “She stole the only man who ever
loved me. He did love me. I know it. He was all mine until she came here. Her and her
blond hair and perky breasts. She stole him. She’s not beautiful anymore! Darren will
come back to me now!” she screamed as Harris placed the cuffs around her wrists.

Word Count 977