Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Painter

Tim was an artist. That was all he ever wanted to be from the time that he was five. On the first day of kindergarten all the children were asked to draw a picture of their house, and they were given crayons to do it with. Tim was amazed by this, the creation of something that was more than himself, and from that moment on decided that all he wanted to do with his life was be an artist. Tim however was not a normal little boy. His mother and father knew it for a long time, but they didn't tell anyone.

When he was a little baby Tim never cried. His parents thought it was odd but were grateful for it, as their previous child, Oliver, had cried for days and days. Tim never made a sound, even when something bad happened; Tim was always so quiet. However when something bad would happen to someone else Tim would laugh. From a very tender age Tim laughed at any cause of pain, any source of anguish. He didn't mean anything by it, he just delighted in the pain of others and could not be convinced otherwise.

That was just the start of it, as Tim grew older he stayed just as quiet, as introverted as before, but now he also disappeared for long periods of time. From the time he was two he began to toddle off into the backyard and into the street, but he always came back for dinner, and when his parents looked for him they never seemed to find anything. No one seemed to notice Tim, they just never knew where to look. His brother noticed though, as siblings tend to do. Sometimes he followed Tim, to make sure he didn't get into trouble, or at the very least they were equally involved in whatever mischief the young boy would get into.

Most of the time Tim still managed to get away, but one day he didn't and decided to show Oliver just what he had been doing. He was older now, almost five and a half, and talking more eloquently than boys twice his age. Tim lived in suburbia, far from the dangers of the city and there was a small forest behind his house. His parents had made sure the forest was safe, with no dangerous animals, only squirrels and rabbits and maybe the neighborhood cat. The cat was named Patches for his discolored fur, and was beloved by all the children of the area. Tim loved the cat just as much as any other child, perhaps even more, playing with it at every chance, tousling its fur and playing with its tail.

Sometimes we destroy the things we love though, and as Tim and his brother traveled through the forest they eventually came upon a clearing. Hidden out of site by a veritable wall of bushes and trees it seemed that no one besides Tim had been there for many days if not months. Unlike the well-walked path of the rest of the forest the ground was rough and uneven. In the middle of the clearing was a large stone upright and white as the the full moon on a clear night. Lying next to it was Patches, dead.

The bottom of the cat had been opened from groin to neck, and all the organs had been extracted and placed in a meticulous fashion in a small pile just to the side of it, almost like a medical practitioner dissecting a corpse. Stowed neatly beside it was a large knife that had mysteriously disappeared from the kitchen a few days earlier. The cat had been drained of blood completely and the stone had been decorated with it, showing the cat as it had been in life. The drawing was crude but Tim stood confidently, proud of his creation. Oliver could do nothing but stare, and after almost half a minute he turned away and vomited, spewing brown sludge all over the ground.

Tim looked disappointed at this, and asked "Did you not like it? I know I'm not that good yet but I will be soon, I just need more practice." Oliver just turned at him and stared, before shouting.

"You killed Patches!" Oliver was a worldly boy and understood the concepts of life and death having lost his goldfish just a few weeks previous. "You're a monster! I'm telling mom and dad."

"No you can't!" Shouted Tim. "I want to tell them myself, to show them my drawing. It's mine and not yours. Patches was going to die soon anyway, they all are, I just helped it a bit."

Oliver could only stare as Tim started picking up leaves carefully and arranging them into a sort of basket. Carrying it over to Oliver he stepped away, and Tim scooped down and picked up all the vomit, then he left the little hideaway leaving Oliver alone with the painting and the dead cat. Oliver knew that Tim would be in trouble, and that what had happened was not right. However he wasn't sure if he should tell his parents, because it seemed like it was such a big thing, the kind of thing that might get reported to the police, and he didn't want that for his brother.

Looking around shiftily Oliver moved over to pick up the cat and move it to somewhere that neither Tim nor his Parents could it. As if on cue the bushes rustled behind him and he jumped and nearly shouted, only for Tim to emerge from them dusting his hands off. They both stared at one another for awhile then and Tim asked "What are you doing?"

Oliver gulped and said. "I'm getting rid of this, it's dirty and you could get sick. You can't show this to mom she'll get angry, and it's not very good anyway, she wouldn't like it. It doesn't even look like a cat." Tim looked disheartened and stared down, tears forming in his eyes. Oliver never followed his brother again.

It took Tim a long time to build up his confidence again, because one of the few people he actually cared about in the world was his brother, and his disappointment almost drove Tim to depression. Eventually though he was drawn back to his art, and began creating grander and more intricate paintings. He didn't show his parents until he was ten, and by that time his projects had grown to bigger animals. It had started when the neighborhood dogs began disappearing, not very quickly but over the period of several months almost a dozen dogs disappeared. Some were small and some were large but they all went missing equally.

The parents blamed wolves in the woods and had a large search party look for them, but found nothing. Tim believed that if anyone found his works before they were done they wouldn't be appreciated in the way he wanted them to be. He was creating a masterpiece, and he knew that if anyone saw something so amazing before it was done it would ruin the effect. His canvas was various canvases stolen from school and various art stores all around, though some were bought by his parents to encourage his burgeoning talent. He hated drawing with paints or pencils though, it was so limiting compared to the lifeblood that he found elsewhere.

After almost six months his best work was done, and Tim decided it was time to show his parents. He gathered up all the canvases from the small cave in the forest where they were hidden, and made sure the corpses were sorted and stored in the proper places. The Great Dane had been the most difficult and he was sure that someone would find it, but no one looked up, and Tim was a good climber, especially when it was in pieces. Arriving at his home his parents were out with his brother at some sort of movie or event that Tim did not care for, as he spent almost all his time walking in the woods and painting or imagining.

When they came home he showed it off, displayed stacked one on top of another lying against the living room wall. His parents were dumbfounded and his brother stared at Tim scared that he had been up to his old tricks and terrified of the consequences. The painting he had created was a multicolored rendering of the forest with crimson forming the outlines and other liquids adding depth and shadow. An image of a deer feasting on a dead dog was the center piece of the image. That had been the most challenging for Tim to take down, and to recreate, but Tim was happy how it turned out.

They asked him how he had made it and he told them the truth, he used the elements of nature to color in and add the sense of realism that he had strived for. They shared a look and wondered what to do with their boy who was obviously disturbed by the image he had seen in the forest, they thought he would never do something like that normally. They sent him to a psychiatrist who saw him for several weeks before deciding there was nothing more he could do, as from what Tim said there was no issue, just a strange painting. He told Tim's parents that it was probably nothing, and encouraging creative development was good for the boy, and it was normal at that age.

Tim didn't tell him the things he did, he always kept those to himself, as he had decided that it would be no one else's business how he made his art, especially after the reaction of his brother. Despite the doctor's reassurances though his parents worried about him and encouraged other pursuits like sports and academics, anything but painting. Tim didn't listen though, as he knew he was destined to be an artist. He grew up like this, grew into a strong teenager who was thought of as perfectly normal at school, not picked on or hated, nor particularly liked or cared about, he was simply Tim, the normal boy. This is the mask he put on so people wouldn't treat him differently, because he thought of himself as normal.

He still painted with found materials, though they got harder and harder to find and Tim grew more and more frustrated. During his Sophmore year at school animals just didn't seem to cut it anymore as he thought he had developed as much as possible. He showed his paintings to his teachers and they complimented them, telling him how vivid the colors were and how much emotion they conveyed, but he wasn't satisfied with them. At the end of the year his brother was set to go off to college, and on the day just before he was left after the parties and the celebrations they had a very serious talk.

His brother told him that no matter what they would always be brothers, and that he may have messed up animals when he was younger but that it was okay, and that he had grown up into a great man, and he hoped he would continue to grow and become a great artist. Tim had always confided in his brother, and he knew that without him it was possible bad things would happen, that all his restraints might be gone. It was something he had feared and expected. He told his brother that he hadn't changed too much, and that is where he left it. He wanted to beg his brother not to leave, to stay and keep Tim safe, but he couldn't ask that, it would make him weak.

Tim's junior year was when he began experimenting. His art teacher was a sculptor, and she told him how she used power tools to carve, to create life from something that was merely stone. Tim loved this idea, that of using power tools to paint, to create, and after not too long he decided to try it out. His father had a selection of tools that he had acquired over many years and never used, including a number of power drills and circular saws. This was everything that Tim had wanted, and wading through the garage he thought of the possibilities, not for simply animals but also for something more, something grander.

Tim created his own life then. On his way to school he passed a large number of beggars, lying on the street with no house and no home. He did not feel sorry for them, he was just disgusted by them. Tim figured that if they had taken life and thrown it away like that maybe it was possible for him to do something better with them. It took a great degree of planning but eventually Tim managed to find a sufficiently isolated and abandoned warehouse outside of town. He slowly moved his father's power tools there, and set up a place to create life.

He though of himself as Frankenstein, and knew that before too long he would create something great, not a monster, but something beautiful. One by one he lured them to his mural. He offered them food or drinks or drugs, whatever it took, and they all came eventually. Some were suspicious but they followed their personal addiction thoroughly enough that Tim knew he had nothing to worry about. The first was a young woman who's teeth where stained from years of drug abuse. Tim had bought some drugs at school and promised that once they got back to his home away from home they could smoke it together. He never bothered to learn her name.

Once they got to the warehouse she looked around and wondered aloud what it was. That was when he hit her, hammer crushing the back of her skull. The bits of bone splattered on the newly laid canvas, and his great work began. Drills for the torso, saws for the legs, and hammers for the head. He whistled as he worked, creating a facsimile of life, in all its beauty and deceptiveness. It took him many weeks to pay for and lure enough people but once he was done he stood back and admired what he had created. It was an image of the alleyways of life right by his school, with the children frolicking in the playground and the tramps and whores begging just to eat.

It stood almost ten feet high and twenty feet across, and only with careful planning was he able to move it outside. He waited until night to move it through town, only when he was sure no one would be around or awake. He left it beside the school, propped up and protected from the elements. He signed his name at the very bottom and made sure that everyone would know that this masterpiece was his. Tim liked to think that he didn't care about recognition, that getting his art out there was the only important thing, but he knew that it could not remain anonymous, and that if anyone else tried to claim his art he would have to kill them.

When the painting was found it was examined thoroughly and know one could quite tell how it was made. The stench was covered by a particular blend of chemicals and when all the fluids and solid matter in the human body come together to form a paste it is difficult to tell what is what. When he got to school he was proud to see all the commotion he had caused. Stepping forward proudly he proclaimed to anyone listening that he had created the piece. They all believed him, they knew that he was different, that he was special, but few knew to what extent Tim really was.

He wanted to tell them all how he made it, how much effort had gone into it and how he had covered up the bodies. He knew the people wouldn't be missed because he specifically chose the ones who didn't have families, that were always alone when the others gathered to eat food and tell stories. He also made sure that the bodies would never be found, as they were buried deep in the earth in the warehouse he had found. It's floor had never been completely finished and he had found a good shovel and created a deep, deep body pit. He had found the right materials to preserve them as well. Well, what was left of them anyway.

Tim wanted to say all this, to show his perfect plan but knew he couldn't, because then it would all be pointless. Besides, he wasn't finished, this was just a start. Of course the piece resulted in a long period of therapy, and some discussion about what the school would do with it, but he knew that the whole world had seen his creation, and soon someone would want it. Within a month of his initial show several artists had come crawling around the little town and were prepared to pay ludicrous sums for his art. He didn't want the money, though he took it, but when he did he knew it was more than just a physical transferal, but a spiritual one as well.

Tim had power now, the power to send his work out, and to create things in his own time. He didn't need school, he already had his goal, his career. His parents complained, they begged him to stay in school and to continue his education but Tim knew it wouldn't be needed, that was not the way his life would read. Once he had found a buyer he had a steady source of income from his dozens of paintings throughout the years of animals and plants and death. Of course all of his works were about death in one way or another but Tim liked to think that some were about much more than that, they were about life.

Tim moved to the big city, and left his warehouse for good, burning it down and making sure there was no evidence left, and if there was the trail would lead to someone besides him. There were a number of possibilities for the lessening homeless population but no one cared to investigate. The whole community sighed in relief when Tim left however, though no one quite knew why.

When Tim moved to the big city nothing changed. Thousands of people go missing everyday, and no one remembers their names, what are a few more in that mix. Even with his own studio Tim was not content though, and often went for walks to the bad part of town. The city he moved to had a large homelessness problem and Tim saw all their pain. He knew that they didn't care what happened to themselves, that's why they drank their alcohol and did their drugs, to hide from the reality that was slowly caving in around them. He could deliver this to them, this sense of purpose. They wouldn't even know it until they were gone but he made them famous.

Sometimes he even showed a picture of them, not that it was needed, for he knew his art was perfect, but sometimes the critics wanted to know what he painted, so he showed them. Tim was happy then, he felt he was doing some good in the world, and he knew that even though some of the things he did were not appreciated by society they would understand even if they found out, and even if they didn't he would make them understand.

One day there was a boy who came to him, he was younger than Tim, though not by much. He said that he was unhappy with his life, and that Tim's work had given him purpose. He was from far away and had journeyed across the country to find Tim. He said he understood. Tim wanted to know what he understood but the boy wouldn't say, he just asked for a portrait of himself, then he would be gone. Tim considered this proposition. He had never had commissions before, no one had asked him to make anything. He knew this boy would not be happy with what would have to be done though, so Tim said no. The boy looked so disappointed when he said that, but turned and walked away. Just before leaving though the boy said something, barely above a whisper, though Tim heard all the same. He said, "I know what you are."

Tim knew that something would have to be done about this boy, he thought he had left no trace, there was no way some boy could have figured him out. Even still this made Tim very nervous, and for days he tried to paint, wandering around the city trying to find someone to inspire him, something to do to keep his mind off the boy. He found nothing though, and before too long Tim realized that there was nothing else he could do, he would have to find that boy and paint him. There had been no contact information, so Tim did not know how to find him, especially in such a big city, but soon enough the boy arrived at his front door/

Tim demanded to know how he had been found, but the boy merely smiled, unafraid. He said "You are not the only one who sees death in people. I am not as proficient as someone like you, but I am also not alone. There are many of us, I talked to them online. It's all anonymous of course, and we wouldn't ever dare to reveal you, but you are the master, and we worship you." With these words Tim was stunned. He thought his work would be impossible to identify, that no one could tell, but now he was hearing that people knew what he was, knew what he had done. This boy would only be the first, Tim knew that for sure.

He agreed though, the boy had to go. The boy walked into the studio and twirled around amazed by what he saw. However what he didn't see was what killed him, and after a sharp pain in the back of his head he fell unconsciousness. Tim did not feel right about this kill however, and the painting showed it. It showed a fragile little boy who was amazed by pain, who embraced it, but it also showed dark clouds billowing on the horizon, as Tim realized that everything would soon come to an end for him.

He had prepared for the eventuality of being found out, there were contingencies, and hidden passports and money, but it was at that moment Tim decided he didn't want any of that. Even if he ran he would be found out someday, no matter how much he payed to people someone would talk. There was only one exit, but he couldn't finish without one final portrait. After that encounter with the boy Tim began creating a great machine. It was more than a death-trap, it was an artist's final design and desire and dream. He knew that the only way to create a perfect painting was with his own body, and so he created something to do just that.

After his masterpiece was done he waited, and waited, and waited. In the meantime he grew more sloppy, making more and more open kills, leaving splatters and witnesses, but it didn't matter. People loved his work just as they always had, he was revered as a new god in the art world, one with paintings so daring in execution that he was called a genius, and one of a kind. Tim knew all of this, he knew all of it before he showed his work to anyone, but they wouldn't appreciate his true genius until they knew how he made his work, until they knew all the pain and suffering that went into it.

Eventually he decided the world was too stupid to figure it out on their own, and Tim set up a special gallery to showcase all his best work up until that point. He set up his machine as well, so they would know, they would see, and they would realize what they had been lavishing praise upon. The night went well, with hundreds of art critics and connoisseurs alike, and as the evening drew to a close Tim went out on stage and talked to the people. He said how they were all so special, that they would be his final exhibit. His work wasn't complete until someone had seen it.

With that he activated his machine and he was lifted up to stare down at all the onlookers who oohed and awed. His hands were then impaled with huge nails and blood splattered across the white canvas behind him. It was only then that people realized what was happening, though many still thought it was part of the show. For Tim it was. His machine was then activated and in a flurry of strikes and flourishes the canvas behind him was quickly filled up with his final moments.

The terrified onlookers then began to panic, and the final bomb dropped. He had kept the bodies of his kills for many months, and with his final breath their bodies dropped in front of the artists who loved his work even though they didn't know what it really was. When they saw the truth they were sickened and disgusted, but some still applauded him, even as they wretched publicly. He had done something that no one else would ever do. Tim had created life after death, and in his final moments he had created a masterpiece.

No comments:

Post a Comment