a short story by Cult
The interpreter's accent was thick, English though it was obvious the speaker was not and none too pleased to be in his current career field. Glen smirked looking across at his Father.
They were both thinking the exact same thing. Follow me, Follow me! Nein this Vay!
The small group came to a halt, “I'm bored I want ice cream Daad!”
With a sharp curt cough the group's host in an unflattering dress brought the petulant child's complaints to an end then continued with her everyday oft repeated spiel, interpreted as, “This piece of art is a rarity indeed...” The group's attention was brought to a simple picture, cartoon-like in appearance, raw in detail and framed in dark unpolished wood, “...not since a brief period in the nineteen fifties, an after war effort reuniting rightful owners with their lost art, have we displayed a work such as this. This piece remains unclaimed and hangs shrouded in mystery.”
“He has big feet and a huge nose Dad!”
Following an abrupt burst of laughter, whereupon the lady rolled her eyes visibly short on patience, she continued. A scowl darkened her angular features, “...although the artist of this piece remains unknown it bears a date scrawled in the corner, here.” A dot of crimson light darted for a moment around the paintings base.
“That's neato! Mr. Kibbles would love a toy like that, think they sell them in the gift shop?”
“This wing is usually reserved for original works bearing historical significance however the curator still believes this piece warrants further display in hopes to perhaps prompt details to aid in unraveling it's past.”
Glen could barely hear a mumble from the rear of the group, “Utter schite! I could draw like that after consuming a barrel full of Heinekens.”
The ragtag gathering followed closely as the host marched briskly onwards, “This piece...”
Glen and his Father stayed in place however held enrapture at the painting's lack of detail, mystery and it's aura of obscurity.
“What do you think Dad?”
A bearded face poked out from around a heavy curtain held aside, “You seem interested in this piece. I can add more lurid details if you'd like.”
Glen glanced at his Father excitement spread across his face, “Yea, that'd be great.” Although to be honest he wasn't sure.
The person that stepped out from behind the curtain was gangly, disheveled in appearance and somewhat awkward in movement but exuded intellect and enthusiasm. “The name's Brian, I'm but a lowly archival slave. I rarely get to see the sun, often buried as I am in cobwebs cataloging items of aeons past.”
“I would shake hands but mine are blackened by centuries of dust ‘n' God knows what else.”
Glen looked at his Dad and shrugged. “This painting has an interesting history, various subtle brushstrokes and if you look closely hidden imagery.”
“It certainly is unique.” Gary, Glen's father, thought it best to add a vote of interest prompting more details.
“A piece without a name, who knows to blame. Hey, that rhymes. Perhaps I'm in the wrong business after all.”
“Just like Pappa the Rappa Dad.” Gary smirked. The remark certainly wasn't meant as a compliment. Brian however beamed and carried on.
“I have it on a reliable source that this piece has survived a house fire, Nazis and a long distance UPS delivery.”
“Hey that was clever Dad. Did you see what he did there?” Glen was full of it. Gary had and was about to turn on his heel to walk away.
“If you haven't guessed the figure in the painting is Rasputin, Gregori Efimovich Rasputin, the one and only, though rendered rather crudely. As to who scrawled it, it could well be any one of the Jack of Diamonds artist collective. Who incidentally disbanded after Rasputin's controversial demise.”
“Why does it seem he doesn't want to leave?” Gary was now weirdly intrigued.
“The crosses on the door. It's believed by many that Rasputin was of unholy origins. A Warlock meddling in the affairs of Mother Russia. It's rumored he had an illegitimate son birthed by the Tsarita herself.”
“Anastasia's brother?” Glen was following suit.
“Clever lad. Yes, Alexia, it was said that their bodies were found years later in a mineshaft burned, dismembered and partly eaten away by acid.”
“I think it was one of this centuries first major cover ups, a bonafide conspiracy.” Brian tossed Glen a sly wink.
“Brian Hannemann, artifact room two please.”
“Sorry, it appears I have to go, pity as I was about to offer you two some genuine Egyptian honey. Glorious stuff!” As quick as he had appeared he was gone.
Behind the curtain Brian skillfully traversed the dark labyrinth of unopened crates and oversized boxes with comparative ease. In his haste however, he quickly became entangled in a length of packing plastic. An unfinished string of curses accompanied him in a rapid descent as did a vicious splinter of wood. It saved him from a jarring connection with the floor, a predicament that might well have been preferred in hindsight.
Meanwhile in a dark corner of the museum a form turned from the meager flickering light furnished by a small monitor. Approaching an untidy desk heaped high with leather bound volumes and signed affidavits of authenticity the form carefully placed a crude print within a shoddy wooden frame inside of a copiously stamped envelope marked fragile. After hastily scrawling an address in large print, ensuring the words, “Care of the Louvre Curator in Chief”, were legible in the uppermost top corner, he left the room satisfied his work was complete. The door closed softly behind him.