The Painting

He stood back, looking at what had just spilled out of him. He knew nothing about art, but he had never seen anything like it before.

Nine hours ago he was standing in the store when he wondered into the arts and crafts section. The blank canvas caused something to stir deep inside him. $346.79 later he was standing in his basement with a brush in his hand. At first, his strokes were cautious and filled with doubt, but gradually he became more bold. Soon the brush took on a life of its own as it slowly pealed back the façade of life and revealed something that lie hidden beneath.

The brush was still now. After placing his initials “CS” in bottom corner he dropped the brush. There was nothing more to add. It was complete.

Awe filled him as he stared at the painting. It was as if emotion was given a face. He knew that this was something that needed to be shared with the world.

The next few weeks passed with an anxious anticipation until at last he stood in the back of the auction house. He did not care how much it sold for. He was here to see if others could see what he saw.

With a flourish, an assistant unveiled the painting as the auctioneer began.

“Our next piece is untitled. We will start the bidding at…”

Life slipped out of the room, and in an instant the stillness of those gathered there resembled the art they had come to buy.

The weight of hope, which had held him up since the day his hands had finished this work, now crushed his heart. He slipped quietly out the back door.

Suddenly the auction house felt small. All he wanted to do was reach fresh air.

“Excuse me sir, but you will need to fill out the forms completely in order to receive the commission.”

The echo of steps off the marble was the only response she received.

_____

The auctioneer stood looking over the crowd. Not one person in the room was looking at him. It was the painting that held their eyes captive. A quick tap of his gavel marked the start of a symphony of bids that would not crescendo for another thirty minutes.

_____

Robert Garrison sat staring at the paperwork that accompanied the latest acquisition of the museum. Being the curator for the J. Paul Getty Center was a stressful job, but one he took great pride in. This new piece would only add to the center’s reputation as one of the world’s most prestigious art museums. Robert loved pieces that had great stories attached to them and this was the crown jewel of the collection he maintained.

In the 17 years since the painting had been in circulation, no one had been able to find the painter, which had slowly driven the worth of the masterpiece higher and higher. Many researchers had undertaken the task, but much to Robert’s delight, none had been successful. Now his 4.3 million dollar mystery hung in the east wing for all the world to enjoy.

______

The joy of Cade’s running feet quickly turned into the folded arms of a sulking boy. Staring at pictures was boring enough, but being banished to this bench by his father was the cruelest form of torture for a 7-year old vacationing in California.

He looked around for something to do and for the first time noticed that he was not alone on the bench. An older man on the far end sat staring at a painting the way Cade stared at the tv on Saturday mornings before his mom and dad woke up. He looked at it too.

“Do you like it?” The man asked the question without ever taking his eye off the painting.

“I guess. It’s better than lots of the other ones.”

The man’s face cracked into a grin and he laughed as he looked at Cade for the first time.

“What do you like about it?”

“It’s got nice colors.”

He nodded and began scanning the room as if realizing for the first time that there was more than one painting in it.

“Hey! This one has my initials on it!”

The man’s face broke into a wider grin as he chuckled under his breath.

“Well then we have the same initials. Would you like to hear a story?”

Copyright © 2011 Adam Drake

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13 comments

    1. I need to be honest. I don’t like this story very much. It was the fourth story I’ve tried to write this week and I wrestled with all of them. But I am committed to writing and so I did.

      But I did want to tell you thank you. I love your blog and such praise from a woman as intelligent and honest as you means the world.

  1. This is an awesome story. I love that we never get to see what the painting looks like. On the one hand, I really want to know, but on the other hand, it really doesn’t matter. It’s beautiful.

  2. Actually, I loved this story. I see that you didn’t feel the worth in it yourself – much like the artist and his painting! I love the child’s input, so simple but so beautiful. Now I have to go back and read your other work – just think how much I’ll enjoy the other stories if this wasn’t your best!

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