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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Honorable Mention

Snow Jewel 2014 Flash Competition


The Artist


by Daniel Ta Hyun lee



“Ma’am, would you like to take a closer look?” The Artist offered as he tilted the easel to the woman’s direction. Turning her head away, she refused – she was already exhausted after recalling memories shattered from terror. The sketch of the perpetrator was, of course, too much for her to handle.

The Artist loudly cleared his throat twice. The drooling officer quickly lifted his plump chin off his chest and pretended to scrutinize the illustration.

“Well…uhm…yeah. I think we’ve got a clear picture of the culprit right here. Let’s call it a day and we’ll call you in tomorrow for further investigation.” He was barely awake from his doze. As if she was awaiting the signal, the woman rose from her seat and headed to the door.

This is too easy. It can’t end like this. The Artist swiftly rose to his feet. He could not help but ask flippantly:

“Mrs. Jordan? I know it’s hard for you, but if I may. Could I ask what happened to your daughter?” The Artist pulled on a reptilian mask of sternness over his face as he silently anticipated a delightful answer. For more than a few seconds a cold silence crawled throughout the room. The police officer was wide-awake, dumbfounded by the unsettling tension.

Yes, yes. I remember. It was this very feeling. The Artist had thrived on this visceral experience of thrill. Looking peculiarly at the Artist, the woman curtly replied.

“It’s been four days, since that devil took my daughter. I’ve never heard of my daughter since. Did that please your curiosity?”

It was the first time the Artist heard his deeds from a victim’s own mouth. The irony was strangely satiating. In a series of exploding flashes of excitement, he was reminded of the electrifying night he took the freckled girl to the creek. The fierce struggle. The cloying droplets of blood. The desperate tears. It all came back to him in a searing surge of pleasure. The Artist’s heart pounded with bravado. It was a pity the mother still thought she was alive.

“I’m sorry ma’am. I really didn’t mean to rub it in,” apologized the Artist softly. The woman left without another word.

Triumphantly wearing an unctuous smile, the Artist began to pack his briefcase. He retrieved his slender charcoal pencils and picked up the sheet of cartridge he had worked on. The operation was to finish with him handing over the misleading sketch to the imbecile officer.

But it was then. Something stopped the Artist. An intriguing sight lay in front of his eyes.

On his left wrist the Artist could spot a fresh scarlet valley of blood a scab had barely begun to cover. The gash left a conspicuous splotch of red on his white sleeves. It was a silky hue of vermillion - more of a carnation’s crimson. With delicate dabs of dark brown burgundy on the outskirts of the painting, there was a balance of both levity and gravitas.      

Elegant, chuckled the artist.