Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Apparent Stain (a 3MF entry, round 11)



Constable Harish sighed deeply and stared forlornly at the portrait propped on his office chair. Slowly his gaze drifted from the intent eyes of it's subject to where the oily outline of a sandwich dominated the dark background. Surely his superiors would have plenty to say about this gaff. He did not doubt he would be passed over for promotion out of this remote Punjab village. Such indiscretions were most reprehensible regarding such an expensive item. The frame alone might be equal to his entire month’s salary. Now he mourned the dreary prospects of finding a proper bride, once demoted.

Effortlessly he had deduced the likely thief, solving the crime with only one visit to the hut of Tuka the handyman. Inside, he wallowed about in a drunken stupor, his entire haul strewn about the shanty, his eyes deliriously fixated on this painting. Curiously he denied nothing but sublimely trudged the long path from his riverbank hovel. In route to his inevitable cell he offered no resistance, but now whined in low weeping since locked away from her, Josefi the girl in the painting.

“I beg of you, silence! Punishment shall arrive sooner when I myself begin slapping you for quiet, just so!”

Harish settled down to examining the manifest, checking where each item had, in his own hand, been marked “inspected; condition good.” Save for the half empty gallon of wine, the likely origin of the crime. The new missionary had arrived less than a week ago. The association of the handyman revolved around some unpacking and had now turned criminal.

Harish again studied the painting. His thoughts drifted about the face, young, vibrant, delicate. Her intent eyes were captivating, dark, full of a curiosity. But most assuredly, he felt they gazed serenely at him, seeing right into his soul. Tuka was odious in his behavior though he had felt mesmerized for a spell, discovering thirty minutes later the unholy event. The result was the apparent stain.

He felt ill, but quickly regained his composure, noticing the Missionary cautiously mounting the stairs to his office. He rose and surreptitiously placed the painting behind the waste can, and calling for the elderly man to “please, come right up.” Formalities were briefly exchanged and just as quickly he realized the man was blind. Harish offered him tea, guiding him to the chair. He only inquired as to the recovery of the painting.  

“Tuka has proven to be an intolerable scalawag.” Harish’s voice carried throughout the cell. “However, I am pleased to announce the recovery of all save half your Communion wine.”

“I do not despise his theft of the Polynesian girl, I too have known such an offense.” he confessed, “I witnessed similar events in her young life, during my island services. We consider this 'Lolita Complex' to be a kind of passion weakness. Her image haunts my  penitent sinfulness. From within my dreams I yearn to be free.”

“Are you not blind?” 

“Aye, truthfully, one might first need to know how my blindness came about.” Pausing, his silence filled the room. “Pluck out that which offends…” he answered resolutely, softly he chuckled and rose to leave. “Your attentions are appreciated” he added.

The painting in hand, his smile trembling slightly, he asked, “Did you not see who the artist was? The same signature I have placed on your property manifest.”

Escorting the old man out, he felt his heart rebound knowing he had not to fear having stained a blind man's painting. He considered the long row of steps to the street and decided to have Josefi, always.

1 comment:

JdSchooley said...

"Oh my! I love a story written in gestures. So much for the reader to take on and be immersed in. Too many times I've been thrown into cold water. Your story has an elegiac quality to it gently bound by to all that does not need to be said. well done Jim." RS