Behind the Easel

“Don’t move,” she mumbled under her breathe as she peeked around the large canvass and held up the paint brush in her right hand to gain perspective of the subjects.  Soft guitar love songs  rolled gently out of her laptop on the coffee table.  Several flies darted past her as she returned to painting.

The natural sunlight was traded for large parking lot lamps emitting enough light through the picture window to light up her canvass.   She stood perpendicular to the canvass to avoid a shadow while she applied small touches of paint, slowly, like the melted watch in a Dali painting.  “Perfect,” she whispered again.

The efficiency had a single pole lamp in the main space with three lights pointing variously at the far wall with her subjects and ceiling to cast an overhead glow upon them on the blood stained leather couch.  Old cartons of oriental food and pizza boxes were strewn across the floor, covering the remains of the broken plates and glassware.  The microwave light flickered through the unclosable door hanging over the empty countertop below.

“Oh, you’re going to love this,” she broke the silence again as she stepped back to view her work.  She pushed a large strand of her messy dark, brown hair back around her ear and continued, “remember when we took the kids to beach to watch that beautiful sunset?”

Before there was an answer, she mumbled again, “of course you do, it was gorgeous.  Simply gorgeous, is what you said.  And it was, just like us, our family, gorgeous…”  her excitement trailed off.  A loud slam sound echoed through the room as a broken cabinet door finally fell to the floor.

“i’ll fix that,” she said with her startled eyes wide open.  “As soon as I’m done here, just a few more final touches.” Her eyes nervously darted around the room as a few more flies buzzed around her painting.  She began comparing the subjects and her painting for any last minute detail changes.

Her hands fell to her side, her mouth opened like a large yawn and the realization began sinking in as her front door crashed open with a rush of city police yelling demands.

“On the ground. On the ground.  Jesus Christ, what the fuck happened here!”  Sargent Collins stared at the couch overflowing with two small lumps and one large hump of blood and mangled body parts.  The air was filled with the smell of iron and decaying flesh.

Two of the deputies picked up the handcuffed,  small framed woman wearing a smock covered in a mix of old paint and dried blood.  Her head hung down in shame as her messy, dark brown hair hung lifeless towards the ground.  She said nothing.

“Sarge, look at this painting she was working on,” called another deputy from across the room.  The Sargent looked at the placement of the easel and the pile of bloody bodies.  He question his deputy, “was she painting them?”

The deputy shrugged as the Sargent walked over to the easel.  On the upper left corner was a photo of sunset over a beach and a family waving at the camera.  The woman, her husband and her two children, all with large smiles like the experience was perfect.

The painting was a photographic  replica of the sunset and beach.  In place of the family, there were red shadows, with the tops of the receding waves a crimson blood color.  As if washing away her sins and crime.

The Sargent looked at the Deputy and replied, “she nailed the gorgeous sunset”  and turned away to follow the parade of police and entering EMT with black body bags.

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