#FinishThatThought – “Eye of the Beholder” #flashfiction (UPDATE Special Challenge Runner Up)

Got Runner Up for the Special Challenge Award

Alissa Leonard has created the “Finish That Thought” Flash Fiction compo, which usually provides an opening line and some ‘special challenge’ words to include, and must be less than 500 words. This week’s compo opening line was “She was the most beautiful woman I had never met.” and the special challenge words were: Academy, clandestine and nebulous.

This is my story, but please check out the original submission and read other entries.

“Eye of the Beholder”
by Dr. Mike Reddy (@doctormikereddy) [500 words, special challenge accepted in one sentence. Word!]

She was the most beautiful woman I had never met. It sickened me to think that somewhere a model had lost income because a painter had ( I retched) used his imagination. However, the idea of the Academy of Art being the clandestine home of Impressionism was nebulous at best. A long shot admittedly, but years as a police artist had taught me to leave no stone un-Turnered.

It had been bad enough rooting out the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood from the Academy, but the PRB were nothing to the militancy of the Impressionists. Their militant wing, the Post-Impressionists, or Poster Boys as they were known, didn’t even use real colours in their daubed protests. Thank the Gods for digital media and the return to Realism.

The porter greeted me with the usual disdain, but my aesthetically heightened senses raised the alarm. He had Rose Madder under a fingernail. I nonchalantly turned my back, preparing for him to attack, drawing a pallet knife from my boot. When the porter jumped me I wasn’t as ready as I thought. He was heavier than he looked, and I had to smash his fist three times before he dropped his weapon. He sank to the floor panting, while I picked up the pencil he had tried to stab me with.

“This is a 2H! You sick bastard…” I couldn’t resist a swift kick to his ribs before my partner cuffed him. It was pleasing to see her roughly shove him into the waiting police car.

I took a look behind the reception desk. There it was. All lines and smears of oil paint. It was only the man’s strong cologne that had masked the Linseed smell. That had been close. I grabbed the canvas and headed for the vehicle.

“What IS this?” I spat, “You call this ‘Art’ do you?”

He sneered across at me. “It’s in the eye of the beholder. I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve got artistic licence.” Forgetting he was cuffed to the seat, the porter tried to reach for his breast pocket. Trying must have hurt, as he winced when the chain snapped taut. He must have broken a rib. I made a note to make sure I recorded his ‘fall’ in the arrest record.

As I reached to retrieve what was in his shirt, I made sure to lean on his bruised chest. He whimpered. “Who are you working for, Sam?” The man started in surprise, forgetting he had a name badge on his jacket. “You’re not PRB, and far too weak to be a Poster Boy.”

” I am not telling you a thing, you sellout. Since you went ‘commercial’ you wouldn’t understand.”

I opened Sam’s battered Identification Card gingerly. “This is a Poetic Licence, and that…” I shook the painting. “…ain’t no prose.”

“Isn’t… That ISN’T prose. A ‘double negative’ Detective? I trust your papers are in order?”

I had to admit, he had me there. I sighed. “It’s worse than I thought, boys. He’s a writer!”

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