Things That Are Not ...


Chapter 7

by Stace Burroughs


"No problem, but perhaps a bit of curiosity."  Diana smirked as she took another sip from the I Love Lucy mug.

"Curiosity?" Jenny smiled as she noticeably perked up. "That seems to happen a lot with Mr. Gentian. Cathy was even quirky about him."

She'd forgotten how kind Diana was and was reminded of her work on Catherine's murder case a couple years ago. Even then she'd had a good feeling about her, contrary to Joe Maxwell's doubts.

The detective leaned forward on the couch and set her coffee mug on the table.

"Well, it doesn't sound like Cathy could accept or reconcile that Kristopher had been dead for two years before those paintings sold."

Jenny's shocked expression momentarily melted to a wry smile. "You'd think she'd believe in that sort of thing more." Her mind briefly flashed back to a few months later. "I'd had a nightmare about some weird guy stalking her; I and just had to call her and tell her because I was afraid for her."

Diana retrieved her mug and followed Jenny into the kitchen when she beckoned.

“Lunch,” she explained as they walked.

Diana rubbed the handle of her coffee cup between her thumb and index finger in thought. "She didn't listen to you, just like she wouldn’t believe the police report or Mr. Smythe's positively identifying Kristopher's body."  Her mind was lost in thought as she walked toward the window displaying the living city. "Because to an extent, she couldn't entertain thoughts outside of sensory or logical understanding. There was no paradox to deal with if Cathy believed Kristopher has staged his own death, or that your nightmare was simply a weird coincidence."

Aronson laughed. Cathy just never could let herself believe what was right in front of her. "That's the truth, and hardly the first time…but she'd rarely admit it. Cathy was stubborn like that."

Except, apparently, the paradigm of meeting Vincent; defying everything Catherine thought she knew, Diana thought to herself. Although, perhaps only because she couldn't just explain it all away.

"Catherine sounds like she was more inclined to be looking and thinking inside the box as opposed to outside it," Bennett thought aloud as she looked back at Jenny who was assembling cheese sandwiches to grill in a cast iron skillet.

"Want one?" asked Jenny as she motioned towards the sandwiches she was about to start grilling. "I’m going to heat up some leftover creamy tomato-basil soup with them."

Bennett's mouth almost started to water at the thought of hot, tomato-basil soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. She'd not really eaten much since she'd been sick and that sounded fantastic. "How can I resist, when you twist my arm like that?" Diana grinned as she nodded in approval.

Jenny laughed. "Seriously though, Cathy wasn't willing to entertain the idea that Kristopher Gentian might really be dead." Aronson set a cheese sandwich to sizzling on the cast iron pan, nodding to herself and the detective. "You know, a ghost, a spirit, that sort of thing," she stated matter-of-factly, shrugging her shoulders. She proceeded to flip over the grilled cheese sandwiches one by one. "It was more likely to her that he had this elaborate plan to fake his own death and go through this charade, than to  see the truth right in front of her. I saw it; but she was stubborn, and I know when to stop pushing."

Diana grinned and nodded. She knew the type; she dealt with them all the time. "And, if all you're willing to see is what you've seen before, you'll miss half of what's going on."

"Exactly!" exclaimed Jenny as she rolled her eyes. She ladled soup into bowls and plated the sandwiches. "You are though, so let me ask--why are you asking about Mr. Gentian's work?"

"Mysteriously, a painting of myself, in dress I wouldn’t normally wear, appeared by the door to my apartment…with his signature." 

Well, that was mostly the truth, Diana thought, without telling the woman a number of things that she really didn’t need to know at the moment. Like anything about Vincent. 

Jenny set up little Drew with his own warm, cut up, grilled cheese sandwich. He eagerly started eating as she handed Diana her bowl of soup and gooey grilled cheese sandwich.

"Thank you! This smells delicious." Diana smelled the tangy tomato soup and put a spoonful of the creamy goodness in her mouth. Divine, and tasty with the basil.

"You're welcome, I could tell you've been sick, and who doesn't love a steamy, hot soup paired with an ooey-gooey, melty, grilled cheese sandwich?" said the mid-thirties mother as she took a bite of the aforementioned sandwich. "So seriously, this is because the artist didn’t catch your good side?" Jenny asked jokingly.

"It’s not that it isn’t a good painting," chuckled Diana. It was a good painting, no lie. "But in my line of work, if he has any more paintings of me for sale; that could be embarrassing." 

Jenny nodded. "But like I said, I haven’t seen these new paintings."

"Well," began Bennett as she dunked a torn off part of her grilled cheese sandwich in her soup and popped it in her mouth, "I was wondering if there'd be any way to see those paintings before they're shown."

"I don’t see what it would hurt," replied Catherine's friend as she took a bite of her sandwich. "Honestly though, I don’t see how anyone could prove who the subject in a painting is."

Both women contemplated the situation as they worked on their soups.

"You've been trying to figure out if you're really looking for a dead man, if he's just harassing you, or has other paintings of you that might be scandalous," added Jenny as she finished off her soup and picked up the remainder of her sandwich. "I can see that. Let me look at my schedule and see if I can get us into the warehouse."

"Give me a call if you think you might be able to squeeze giving me a peek at those new paintings into your schedule." She finished off the remainder of her sandwich, gathered both their dishes, and set them on the counter.

"No problem. I should know something tomorrow morning at the latest…after I’ve looked at my schedule and talked with Mr. Smythe." Jenny grinned as she walked Diana through Drew's rubble maze of Legos and matchbox cars. "I'd imagine they're being stored at the same facility as before."

Granted, even if someone saw the paintings and Vincent was in any of them, it was pretty likely that they'd be taken as an artist’s flight of fancy, and any resemblance to Diana could be speculated till the cows came home. 

"Thanks a lot. I really appreciate the help, Jenny. I'll look forward to talking to you soon." She smiled as she shook the woman's hand.

Diana's mind wandered as she rode back home on the subway. On the way she stopped by the library to familiarize herself with events surrounding Gentian’s death and the articles on the two prior art gallery showings. Thank God she was finally on her way home after her detour. Hopefully the information about his paintings likely being at the same warehouse was correct. If they were at the same location as that last batch of paintings from three or so years ago, maybe she could get a little preview. She kind of wished that he'd show up so maybe she could ask him things directly. Well, if he was anything like his rumors, that might not make it any faster; but it was a nice thought. If worse came to worse, Vincent had been at the warehouse before and surely remembered how to get there and get in.

Ugh. Suddenly she was feeling tired and needed a cup of coffee. Mmmmn coffee… Diana thought to herself as she unlocked her door and walked straight to the stove and put on the kettle. The smell of coffee grinding drowned out her thoughts for a moment before she turned the grounds into the French press with a pinch of kosher salt. That flu/cold is probably why she was feeling tired already. Diana walked back over, and locked and latched her door. She dropped her jacket on the sofa as the tea kettle whistled. She poured the hot water into the press and took to her corkboard. Since she didn’t have a case at the moment, why not? 

Diana managed to copy some of the file on Gentian earlier. She walked back to the counter and depressed the plunger on the French press and poured a cup of coffee.

"Elixir of the gods." Diana said aloud.

"I always thought so," replied a chipper, yet unfamiliar voice.


contact the author - dsrtangel007(at)yahoo(dot)com


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