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RedPaper.in – Short Story
By: Nidheesh Samant | RedPaper.in

Harry was having a field day at the art house. There was an exhibition of rare renaissance art put up by a famous collector. Harry enjoyed renaissance art. He was an esthete and considered himself quite well read on the matter. He had spent the entire morning at the exhibition marveling at the collection put together. He wanted to congratulate the collector, but he had not been able to get the opportunity. Mr. Bonucci had been quite busy with phone calls. But, getting a meeting with him was not much of a concern with Harry. Harry was well connected. A meeting with Mr. Bonucci was only a phone call away.

It was half an hour past noon. Harry figured he had enough time before lunch to view the pride of the collection – Percezione. He was in luck too. No other viewer was present. He had all the time to gaze upon in his opinion, one of the most magnificent examples of creativity. Harry crossed his arms as he observed the renaissance-age painting.

“Do you like it?”

Harry was startled for a second. He turned to his right. The source of the question was a tall, thin man staring at the painting with narrowed eyes. His hair was unkempt and he sported stubble which suggested a lack of grooming. He wore a black t-shirt and a pair of torn jeans. The stranger’s outfit seemed quite out of place in the opulent surroundings, much unlike Harry’s attire. Harry was dressed in an immaculate custom-tailored suit that he thought was much more suited for an exhibition like this. The man turned towards Harry. Harry had been so engrossed in the painting, that he did not notice the stranger walking up to him.

“Oh, I’m terribly sorry, mate. Should have introduced myself first. I’m Jonathan. But, everyone calls me Joe. And you are?”

“I’m Harry Livingston.”

Harry shook Jonathan’s hand.

“Well, Harry. Do you like this painting?”

“Please Mr. Jonathan. Don’t insult it by calling it a painting. It is a masterpiece created by..”

“Linguini, I know. But, do you like it? And please call me Joe.”

Harry hated being interrupted. But he kept calm and replied politely.

“Yes, Joe. I do like the painting. The intricate strokes of the brush, the selection of the palette are all so exquisite. The hues add a nice surreal atmosphere of the painting.”

Joe looked back at the painting and smiled.

“Is that what you see?”

Harry was growing increasingly annoyed at Joe’s attitude.

“It is what I see. It is my perception. Just like the name of the painting suggestions.”

“Ah, then my perception is that this painting is shite. It does not deserve to be here. In fact, it does not even deserve to be called real art.”

Harry was boiling now. He could not take any more insults about his much beloved art.

“It is because of you uncultured people that art is not understood and is losing appeal. You don’t deserve to be here. You…”

Harry’s rant was cut short by the sudden rush of armed personnel into the room. One of them moved towards Harry and Joe.

“I’m sorry, sirs. You need to step back. Mr. Bonucci is coming in.”

Harry and Joe did as they were instructed. As soon as they had done that, an old man walked swiftly into the room and rushed towards Percezione. He peered at it with a magnifying glass for a few seconds. He gasped, dropped the glass and almost fainted. He was supported by one of the guards. He screamed at the top of his feeble voice.

“Call the exhibition off. Percezione has been stolen.”

He turned towards the head of the armed personnel.

“Summon the police immediately. I want the thief caught.”

Mr Bonucci walked out of the room, still supported by a guard.

Harry and Joe were asked to vacate the premises. As soon as they were out, Joe walked up to Harry.

“I told you, Harry. It was not a real work of art, after all.”

Joe shot him a wink, before he walked away.

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