Monday, August 29, 2011

Magpie Tales: Wet paint (conclusion)

"Here he is now," the voice thunders across the marble floor to the door where Jason stands.

Immense, the room expands before him, lit by torches that lick hungrily at the air, casting an eerie glow on hundreds of grotesque faces contained within picture frames that burnish the walls. A lone shadow by a seating area in the center of the room, separates into two, one closing the distance to Jason, in mere heartbeats, taking his elbow as if to escort him into what awaits. He winces, arm numb, at the cold firm touch.

Golden irises cage his gaze, the face around them crawling in constant movement. Jason gasps, realizing he had been holding his breath and finding himself now in the center of the room, arm released. Shaking his head, Jason looks again into the face of his benefactor, skin smooth as marble. Maybe it was flickering flames he justifies for what his eyes could not have seen.

"Mr. Durant, this is the artist I was telling you about," Jason's benefactor gestures to a rotund man, wrapped in a three piece suit, trimmed with all the finery of luxury, "He has brought us his most recent creation."

"Most excellent," Durant's voice is a hiss, "I can not wait to see it."

The room spins, the weight of all the eyes, both real and in portraits weighing on Jason. He stumbles a bit, the handle of his portfolio biting into the flesh of his palm, and lowers himself into a leather couch. He places the portfolio on a knee high table and rubs the offended hand.

"Mr. Malphis, I am sorry, it has been a difficult morning. My apologies to you as well Mr. Durant," Jason offers, weak as if with great exertion.

Mr. Malphis, the benefactor, and his guest, Mr. Durant settle easily on the opposing couch, "Mr. Durant, Jason has been working for me for some time. All of the painting you have been admiring on the walls as of his craftsmanship. When I found him, he was a meager painters boy, dabbling in art on the side. His works really were nothing of consequence, but I saw in him a hunger."

Jason casts his eyes around the room at all he has done. Grisly faces stare back at him, souls captured in a moment of submission and weakness. They would come to him at night, on nights when sleep finally found him, and whisper their names. Each month when he visits this room, he can feel them and the final moments they spent together.

"He is revered for his ability to create paintings that seem to come to life. This is the gift that I granted him all those years ago," Mr Malphis pauses to let the promise and potential settle settle, "Each month he brings me one painting to add to my collection. As you can see they are very different from the paintings he sells to the public."

Mr. Durant's eye's twinkle as he admires the portraits around the room, the gash of his mouthing widening into an excited grin between his jowls. Jason had never met the man, actually this was the first time Mr. Malphis had ever brought any other person into this room with him. Revulsion embraces Jason, then settles as a heavy discomfort in the pit of his stomach.

"Show us," Mr. Malphis' full attention once more on Jason.

Jason peels back the flap of his portfolio, sliding the unframed canvas from within its mouth. Sarah's eyes catch his and threaten to violently disrupt the delicate balance he has found internally. They are not terrified as those in the other paintings, hers are disappointed, but mostly filled with loss of something precious. Jason is burning inside, sweat bursting across his face.

"Mr. Malphis," Jason begins, then falls silent as the canvas is no longer in his hands but being admired by the two men across the table.

"Oh, I like. This will make a fine addition to my collection. You really have brought me something fresh Jason. My, she seems to almost have genuine feeling for you. The taste of her heart breathing is intoxicating," Mr. Mathis croons, "It will receive a place of honor above the mantle."

Durant fails to restrain his own exuberance, a mongrel before a cut of steak. He rubs his hands, running a thick tongue along his think lips, waiting his turn to hold the portrait. Jason nearly doubles over with pain at the though of Durant's fingers upon her. Malphis though rises and slowly crosses the room as he continues to admire the artwork.

"No!" Jason howls, "No! Please, sir. Please, don't. Let her go!"

Turning slow, Malphis' smile threatens to engulf his face, his voice still, "You do care for her don't you."

"I...I..," Jason stammers.

"You know our deal, Jason. One a month. This is your finest work, surely you don't have a substitute?" Mathis' golden eyes move from Jason to Durant, carrying their own message.
_____

Rain spatters the hard stone beyond the back door to building, wet grey paint covering all color, except red. Thunder cackles from above, angry lightning rippling the darkly mottled clouds.

"You will need this," an umbrella passes hands and opens from within the shadowy mouth of the door.

Shoes clap the stone, as a lone individual exits, turning left along the road. There is no intention in the direction, just somewhere to go. Nothing but questions churn within the chambers of their heart. Once far enough that the shadow of the building is no longer upon them, they stop, removing a canvas from the simple store bag in their fingers.

The portrait seems nearly alive. Striking the canvas, a raindrop runs down the face from the corner of the eye.


This is the conclusion to my three part Magpie Tale. Who is it that holds the portrait? I will leave that up to you. Smiles. Hope you enjoyed the trip. If you missed the previous chapters, they are here, Wet Paint 1 and Wet Paint 2.

51 comments:

Magpie said...

Oh, Brian, this is a cruel ending to your story. I'm going to choose to believe he had a self portrait in his portfolio to offer in exchange. Great storytelling!

David Allen Waters said...

from the thundering forst line to the tearful finish I was captivated. I need to learn how to capture an audiance like this....amazing work dude :)

Pat Hatt said...

Nice! how you left the ending a bit subjective
To ones own mind elective
Great tale when all is said and done
Playing off each pic was sucha nice touch too, now off I run

Heaven said...

I hope it is still with Jason...heart breaking ending to this lovely story. You left a few details out so we have to work out our imagination on how she felt about this. For me, Jason cares deeply about her. The sadness in her eyes though hints she couldn't stay with him.

I enjoyed the journey Brian ~

Happy day ~

Daniel said...

Oh this was a fun ride. You could have taken this is several directions, but this was quite intriguing. Great word pictures developed here.

hedgewitch said...

Well, you did it, and quite a twist at the end to explain it all--or not. Your sinister imagination was working overtime on this one, and now you make us put our own imaginations in gear. I'm choosing to think he returned his "gift" in some personally fatal way to Uncle Meph here and let the chick live, but that's just me.

Steve E said...

I'm guessing he had to leave the bloody two joints of thumb from his favored hand as ransom...Oh! (I cannot throw up breakfast, since I didn't eat any!) Well...coffee-grin!

When I begin a story, I like to pick out "who-done-it" early. But with some writers, King, Grisham, Koontz, Crichton, Patterson I have no clue where they are headed--maybe because even they do not know! A blogger-guy named Miller (Brian) fits right into that list, albeit his 'suspense' is not as yet very bloody.

I SO appreciate your sharing on these blogs pages...and the work you have put into creation of Dverse Poetry Pub is a wonderful gift to this poet-community. You must love the action, the Peeps, and the cooperation of your team--all experts!

Brian, I guess this is my big public "Thank You"!
Sincerely,
PEACE.
Steve E

Brigid said...

Great conclusion, Brian. Its nice to leave your audience guessing. Great pacing and a clever use of this weeks Magpie, really well done!

Brian Miller said...

smiles. in my mind it is her at the end with his picture...it is hopefully inferred but with more space i would have explored how he captures people in the pictures...and their relationship a bit more...perhaps i still will elsewhere...

i also cut an ending where it is revealed as her in a creative way...and that he is not gone completely...perhaps that will show up in the final manuscript...

Mama Zen said...

These have been really entertaining, Brian!

Helen said...

I went back to read all three Magpie posts .... you do write great stories, my friend!

kaykuala said...

Brian,
A fitting end to a short story - leave it with a lot of question marks. Even though this a final of the 3 parts, going from your parting shot it may not be the end all. Another sequel in the offing?

AmyLK said...

Interesting....

Paul Andrew Russell said...

I wish I had known where the other parts were before I read this. I was hooked, Brian. Great storytelling!

thingy said...

LOL, yes, I prefer to know for sure, too. Ah, well.

Wonderful writing.

Doctor FTSE said...

Excellent third part . . . and you fitted the umbrella in after all!

Baino said...

You do have a knack for horror. Who was in the painting? Was the woman set free? It's a little ambiguous but I like the concept. Touches of Twilight Zone meets Dorien Gray.

Tara Miller said...

CREEPY!! I could feel my skin crawling with this one. I'm guessing it's Jason - couldn't let her go so he substituted one of the men....not sure who yet (still thinking on that one).

Mystic_Mom said...

Sigh...argh...thpbt...nice! :-D

Goofball said...

it felt so creepy I wanted to close my eyes..

Lena said...

Jeepers! I had to read this last part with the light on....! That was a fabulous trio, Brian!

Reflections said...

Great conclusion! You have gone from tender possibilities to very dark possibilities... yet you leave for the reader to determine which way they will take this in their minds.

Masterfully crafted!

robkistner said...

this was wonderfully dark and engaging Brian, nice work...

Cheryl said...

I honestly don't care how this end. The joy was in the journey.

Fred said...

Excellent conclusion. Well worth the weight. Kind of like the way you ended it, in a day and age where direction is sought, tidy bows and trim and what not, but directionless, we are free to pave the endings way. Wonderful work

Pat said...

This was a great story, although it was painful to wait 3 full weeks to read all the parts! I'm glad I read your comments to see who was holding the portrait!

Titanium said...

Fantastically well written, Brian.

blueviolet said...

Durant is a creepy, creepy guy. I especially like the raindrop tear at the end.

Pastor Sharon said...

The tear at the corner of the eye. . . great ending. Leaving the hands who hold her a mystery.

Nice work.

Laurie Kolp said...

I do hope that he proclaimed his love for Sarah and that they lived happily ever after. But I guess I'm just a sappy romantic.

secret agent woman said...

What a creepily chilling story!

lori said...

I have emerged from my coma to find the end of the story :) I went back to read the other parts first, and I can't believe how you ended it! C'mon! lol, no it's great. It really is. I suppose it's better to be wanting more than to want it over, right? You did such a great job of creating conflicting emotions in the reader for Jason. Well done :)

adeeyoyo said...

Love the raindrop becoming a teardrop, Brian. Eerie story, selling souls? Can one sell another's soul, or is it ones own? Need to read it over and over... decide on my own interpretation of the end... Love it!

sharplittlepencil said...

Brian, amazing write. I love that you left the ending up to us. I believe the portrait is in Jason's hands and he is leaving in the rain. The rain "teardrop" belies for me that this is Sarah's portrait. I may be totally wrong, but you know me, I'm always out on a limb somewhere! Great stuff. Peace, Amy
http://sharplittlepencil.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/la-bella-luna-poetic-bloomings/

oceangirl said...

Scary. Grand writing with the conversations. I missed part 2, and will go look for it. Enjoyed it Brian.

Lydia said...

Damn! I should have written my comment immediately after reading wonderful #3 and the marvelous conclusion. But, no, I had to stop to enjoy some of the comments. I was thinking each was an interesting concept of the the end's meaning, but held fast to my belief that it was Sarah--that she and the painting had somehow merged into a power able to break free. Or something like that. Then I started reading your comment and saw you meant it to be her. I did not finish reading your comment and am returning now to see the rest of your explanation.
Your Magpie(s) of this story were totally riveting. I think you are a remarkable writer.

Valerie said...

This was edge of seat reading and definitely book material. I'm sorry the story has reached the end but you have left it that at some time you can continue.

Did you know that you can make a book out of blogs?

Claudia said...

now my phantasy is jumping in all possible directions....but i like to think that he couldn't stand losing her...and they plotted against mr. monthly deal...so she trusted him and agreed to risk her life to help him getting back his...i was breathless with the read bri...

rel said...

Brian,
Masterful way you have of making us turn each page and even at the end leading us on to a continuation.
rel

otin said...

I'm such a simpleton! LMAO! Well written but I'm lost as usual...

Hope said...

you write brilliantly Brian. Thoroughly enjoyed this one!

just so you know...I have been visiting you for the month of Aug and trying to comment on your blog but it hasn't worked for me. Not sure why but it's been that way for me for a few other blogs too.

anyways it worked this time and I look forward to reading more from you.

hope all has been well with you and your family!

Everyday Goddess said...

an eery tale woven brilliantly! hate to see it end.

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

Hi! Brian...
Once again, a story very well-written,with well-developed characters, very descriptive and I think that Mr. Malphis, is the "devil" incarnate.
I feel that he [Jason] must have "sold" something?!?

All I can say is some story, some ending.
Brian, the feedback [comments]is/are great too!

Thanks, for sharing a three-part story that held your readership attention to the conclusion.

I too must say, that the photograph compliment your story too!
deedee ;-D

Jehanne's doodles said...

Oh my! A potential romance turned dark. I was hunched over reading the last 2 installments with my imagination going very wild and dark all over the place :)

Zuzana said...

I love the ending with the rain turning into tears...
I always enjoy to see your romantic side dear Brian, even though this one was with a twist and a hint of melancholy.
Sorry it took me a while to visit, not as much spare time as I used to have.;))
xoxo

haikulovesongs said...

i'm going to stick with my interpretation of Malphis wanting Jason to paint Durant.

this is a wonderfully written and engagins story in its own right. the fact that you wrote the three parts based upon the Magpie Tales' image of the week is even more extraordinary.

as much as i love your poetry {and i do} it's quite enjoyable to read your prose as well.

Deborah said...

Oh my .... Brilliant!

Trellissimo said...

Fine conclusion to a fine story. Thank you

Syd said...

Good story. I hope that it is her in the end.

ds said...

Oh, brilliant! "Mr. Malphis", indeed. Great reworking of the tale, and I love the way you took three such disparate prompts and made one fresh, seamless story from them.

Am hoping that the one who left did not have golden eyes, or hiss. Thank you. (Just read your comment with your thoughts regarding the ending. Perfect. The clue was there in Part 1. Do try to get this one published.)

Tess Kincaid said...

Great conclusion, Brian...well done!