A Secret Grave 81: As Providence Would Have It

 

Of course I immediately wanted to contact Betsy and sneakily let her know I’d been in touch with her sister, Janet, for weeks and pretty much had her whole story down. Don’t think I didn’t try. But as providence would have it, Betsy and her husband, Malcolm, were on their annual trip to Anguilla where they rented the same condo for a month every February. So that confrontation was put on hold. In the meanwhile, plenty of other stuff was going on.

The police had contacted me about the missing portrait of Victor. They had no leads on Charlie Diaz, the art mover whose body had been found in a swamp outside Miami. Obviously there was a connection between the murder and the portrait, but whoever had orchestrated the theft seemed to have receded into the darkest of shadows. The big question: What was it about the portrait that made it so desirable? I was a decent painter, but not famous, not someone whose work had such value it risked being stolen. The portrait itself had a dreamy, slightly mysterious quality, showing with soft, blended strokes the face of a man who didn’t want anything about himself known, who seemed to gaze out thoughtfully at the world, eyes holding the slightest hint of challenge, while maintaining a permanent and almost defiant aloofness.

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Victor

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My theory was that the person behind the theft of the portrait wanted it for the power it might intrinsically carry since its subject, Victor, had been such a masterful healer. The fact that Victor, himself, had disappeared so mysteriously gave the painting even more power. The police were very interested in Victor’s story and wanted a list of the people I knew who’d known him, though it was highly unlikely any of them would have committed a crime to get their hands on the painting. But it was the same theory as my investigation into Victor’s past and the people who populated it: you never knew who knew someone who knew of someone else who might be able to fill in the blanks. I did not mention to the police the possibility of a secret grave beneath my studio floor.

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Gothic Rest, Don, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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I decided to get back in touch with Emil, whom I hadn’t spoken to in several weeks, to see if he had more light to shed on the story.

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To be continued…

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Cover photo ~ blackhole, Adam Lofting, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

 

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