Powder Burn Flash # 203 - Paul Phillips

Painting The Past
by Paul Phillips

It has been many years since "the incident" in the back lane behind Baker Street . As far as I was aware, it was still marked as “unsolved” in the police files downtown. I had been interviewed many times by the local authorities and, much to my amazement, once by the Feds. I wasn’t to know that she was the estranged daughter of a high-ranking government official, and even if I had of, it would have changed nothing. There was a part of me then that was always trying to be outrageous and popular, but on that night, even I had to admit that I went much too far.

I have tried to come to grips with the guilt and shame by immersing myself in work....I have a part-time job at the local charity store, helping sort and catalogue all incoming goods, and to assist in the handing out of vouchers for the needy, deciding who is entitled to what - it helps to keep my mind occupied and stops me from dwelling on the past and the seeming lack of a future. I have not been able to completely move on from this and the memories of that day still haunt my waking hours as well as my dreams.

This morning, an old man shuffled in under the weight of a huge cardboard box, the strain apparent on his twisted face. He dropped the box at my feet as I came around to meet him - dust flew from the box and I stood back and waited for it to clear, obviously it had been a long time since the contents of this weighty container had seen the light of day. I began to search through what were very obviously excellent paintings and I looked up to ask the man whether he had done this wonderful artwork but he had suddenly vanished....he didn't seem to have been able to move so swiftly, but my eyes told me a different tale. I scanned from left to right but was unable to locate him.

I shrugged and returned to the artwork - landscapes, portraits, abstracts - until one in particular caught my eye....it was a young woman, in a country lane, being sexually assaulted. I reeled back in shock. The painting was so real to me, I am sure that anybody else would be able to see the truth and history in that image. It brought back all the awful memories and feelings, dredging them up, filtering out only the strongest, most painful ones, until my heart ached and my mind burned. I had to get rid of this painting and I had to do it now. Feverishly, I scratched and scraped, using just my stubby fingernails to remove the layers of paint, the layers of the truth, until I hoped there was nothing left. As I was removing the last layer of paint, I discovered a message, written in blood-red marker..."I know who you are…"

Detective Siddons had been called in early this morning to what had appeared to be a simple solve. Definitely suicide, he thought, if it wasn't for the mirror. The coroner would have no trouble deciphering what had happened here - one gunshot wound, entering through the lower jaw and leaving a rather large exit wound through the top of the victim's head - the victims index finger was still trapped inside the trigger guard. The only troubling thing, and something his boss would also want answers to, was the mirror. They had found no evidence of forced entry, no evidence of a struggle, not even any evidence that someone else had even spent time in this cold and sparse room - except for the mirror: "....and I know where you live....."

BIO: Paul Phillips is a full time parent, self-employed bookshop owner and part-time writer. He lives in Australia, loves crime fiction and one day hopes to be able to eat kangaroo steaks!!



Oooooooo, that was good. Definitely a creepy ending. Your imagery was excellent, Paul. I hope to see many other works from you.