The first stab was dead center between the eyes. The scissors were plunged all the way to the pivot joint then dragged downward slowly, deliberately so. Incision after incision followed. He held the handle so tightly his hand began to turn purple from bruising, but still he stabbed and tore.
Shards of canvas fell to the floor until a tiny pile formed at his feet. The Gericault was dead, a hollow frame was all that remained. The scissors clanked as they hit the wooden floor. His hands were swollen, and he was in agony, but the anxiety had not dissipated. Desperate for any relief, he grabbed a handful of his salt and pepper hair and tore at it, his eyes filling with tears of pain. One small clump came out. Than another and another until he couldn’t bear it anymore, his head now pockmarked by barren patches.
All the while the eyes followed him.
No matter which room in his apartment he tried to escape to, they watched him. Not even the sordid solace of his bathroom could offer respite.
Why are they watching me? WHAT DO THEY WANT?
He tried to distract himself by cleaning, sweeping up the clumps of hair, along with the shards of ripped canvas that were once his favorite Gericault. Now that he was done, and his place was clean as could be, he was dismayed that it too did little to ease his tension. What could he do to find a moment of sanity? Go out? Where? Should he continue to ravage parts of his body? Would that sate the anxiety? He stared at his fingernails, discolored from clawing the paint off the Klimt the night before. He had to, he couldn’t look at it anymore. There were painful memories attached to it:
“Mrs. Gloria Tricker, 71, longtime resident of the Dakota Apartments and well-known patron of the arts was found dead yesterday morning, the result of an apparent suicide. According to her close friend and neighbor, Mrs. Janet Maldonado, Mrs. Tricker had been suffering from depression as the result of the theft of her private art collection, valued at nearly five million dollars. Mrs. Tricker is survived…”
He paced around his apartment. Destroying the Gericault and the Klimt had caused such anguish he couldn’t bring himself to enact more devastation upon the rest of his family. What could he do? He thought about returning to work but taking on any other clients would only drive him closer to the abyss. His work bag sat off to one corner and he wondered how he forgot to put it away during his cleaning spree. Despite the pain in his hands, he rummaged through the bag to make sure all its contents were there: center hole punch, wire cutters, set of pick locks, slim jims, crowbar, bolt cutter, and the piece of ceramic off a sparkplug people in his field referred to as ‘ninja rocks.’ Each item had been crucial in providing his clients with their orders, as well as helping him gather a few pieces of his own to enjoy. His clientele had included a reclusive billionaire often referred to as a modern-day Charles Foster Kane. There was the prince from Dubai who requested a certain Lichtenstein. His best, most gratified customer, the one from the Upper West Side, the one he’d liberated the Picassos that were collecting dust in the storage room of the Met for, had paid him most handsomely of all. The DeGoya was payment from that pair in Manhattan, the last bastion of old money New York. He used his pay to purchase a few pieces from auctions. All shared a common theme: portraits. Why was I so obsessed with portraits? Portraits have faces and faces have eyes, eyes that seem to be calling to me, whispering my name. I couldn’t have bought one landscape?
Evoking the memory of the Picasso brought more anguish for it resulted in the accidental blinding of a security guard. That story made the front page:
“Last night, a theft of rare Picassos that were being stored for an upcoming exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art resulted in serious injuries to a security guard when shattered glass from a storeroom window fell into the guard’s eyes. The guard, whose name is being withheld, was rushed to New York hospital where doctors operated for nearly seven hours to repair his eyesight. However, doctors fear that the damage to the retinas was too substantial to be saved. They have not ruled out further surgery. The director of the Met issued a statement…”
I could get rid of the rest of them and be free, but how? How does one go about breaking up a family, even one as haunting as this? Who would be first to go, to whom would I bid the last goodbye? Why do they look upon me with such disdain? Why?
It had taken a while, but he finally knew why. He realized what they were looking upon him to do. They were telling him nothing could bring Gloria Tricker back to life or give the security guard his sight back. As much as he loved them, he knew they’d been once equally as loved by someone else. Each of them had come with their own story, their own memories. As painful as it’d be, he’d have to find the strength to destroy them and free himself of the memories, free himself of their eyes. He went to his desk and pulled the scissors back out. Now came the agonizing decision of whom to kill next. Warhol? Velazquez?
A new solution arose.
What if he couldn’t see them?
How would he know if he was being watched if he couldn’t see?
That makes sense, right?
How bad could it be?
He smiled. It was the first smile he’d managed in days.
He drew the scissors toward his eyes.
Scott Sinclair writes in Fanwood New Jersey. He has one published novel titled Murder Me My Darling. He has also has covered the NFL and Women’s Soccer for Sports Illustrated and Vavel USA.