Flash Fiction Friday Number 16: A Portrait In Red

Hey guys. It’s that time of the week again. This week’s offering comes with a warning. Parts of this story are somewhat gruesome. So if you’re the squeamish type, particularly when it comes to blood, you might want to look away. For the rest of you, I present…

A Portrait In Red

An out of breath Anton looked around at his now trashed studio and smiled angrily. Broken paintings lay everywhere. The entire room was spattered with a galaxy of color radiating out from a sun of smashed paint tubes.

“There. Much more fitting for a trash artist like me.” He said to nobody in particular.

Anton turned to the one survivor. A blank canvas supported by his trusty easel. The easel he’d bought in a junk shop eons ago. He’d tried all sorts of fancy new easels, but always came back to this one. Sometimes he thought that maybe the easel was the true source of his talent.

“What talent?” He said to the trashed room.

The critics had hated his work. One had described him as another piece of street trash pretending to be an artist. Another had simply called his work forgettable.

Anton looked down at his right hand which still clutched the large kitchen knife he’d used to slash his paintings. He approached the blank canvas.

“I’ll show them. I’ll give them something to remember.”

He drew the knife up his left wrist, severing the artery. The first gout of blood spattered the pristine white canvas and he laughed maniacally. Knowing his time was limited, he snatched up the first brush to hand, dipped it in the freely flowing blood and got to work.

He painted frantically. Only pausing for a moment at a time to glance at the mirror before attacking the canvas once again.

Finally it was done. He stumbled back from his painting to admire his work. The vibrant red was already fading to a dull brown, but it remained an almost perfect self-portrait. Then the painting began to blur, finally becoming completely black along with the rest of his studio.

When Anton awoke, he was staring at his still trashed studio, although the angle was a bit funny. He couldn’t tell if he’d been out for minutes, hours, or days. He tried to look at his watch, but found he couldn’t move.

“Great, idiot. You didn’t kill yourself, you just somehow managed to paralyze yourself.” Anton thought to himself once he discovered his lips wouldn’t move.

Then he saw it. Laying on the floor was a large lump that vaguely resembled him. He realized he was looking at his own dead body. Was he a ghost? Why couldn’t he move?

Just then, the door to the studio flew open and his agent, Kathy, breezed in, followed by her weaselly assistant, Kyle.

“Anton? Are you home? I do hope you’re not still sulking over a few bad reviews.”

Kathy paused, taking in the carnage.

“Ugh. What’s that smell?” Kyle asked.

Kathy strolled over to the lump on the floor, surveying his dead body.

“Oh, Andy. What have you done?”

“Who?” Kyle asked.

“Anton. Andy was his real name. He thought Anton sounded more artistic.”

“I’m over here.” Anton tried to say, thinking it as hard as he could.

Karen turned, as if she’d heard him, and walked over, staring him right in the face. Kyle followed.

“Ugh. What the hell is that?” Kyle asked, wrinkling his nose.

“His last statement. One final middle finger to the art world.”

It was then that Anton realized what had happened. He was trapped  in his own self-portrait.

“Should we get rid of it?”

“Are you crazy? Call the gallery. Let them know we need the space for another auction as soon as possible.”

“For one painting? What are we going to fill with?”

“Look around.” Karen said. “This room’s filled with paintings.”

“Destroyed paintings that nobody liked a week ago. Should I at least have them repaired?”

“Oh heavens no. Leave them as they are. Those art snobs may not have liked them before, but now they’re filled with the artist’s dying rage. They eat that crap up. And this monstrosity will be the jewel in the crown. Thank you Andy. You’ve just made me a very rich woman.” Karen said, laughing.

Anton was forced to watch as the cops came and the coroner loaded up his body. As his landlord sneaked in and raided his private possessions. And finally, as his paintings were repaired with strips of duct tape and loaded up before he was finally snatched up and put in the crate with the rest of them.

The auction went well. Anton watched in an amazed sort of rage as people paid thousands of dollars for paintings he hadn’t been able to get five for just a few weeks before.

Anton was bought for an ungodly amount and hung on the bedroom wall of an elderly art collector who liked to wander his house naked.

.     .     .

So that’s it for this week. I know some of you might not find the ending very scary, but I can’t think of many things more scary than that. Anyway, I hope you liked it. I’ll see you next week with another Flash Fiction Friday.

Remember to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

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Justin M. Kelly

I tell lies about things that never happened to people who never existed for the entertainment of people I've never met.

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