This Friday will mark the debut of a new column, as Princess Kate joins us with her monthly article about the world of art. To get us in the mood, I’m re-running a short story of mine that originally ran on June 18, 2010.

On this particular evening, Sylvester Barnes traded his palette and brushes for a different set of tools. He stopped for a moment to collect his breath, and then swung the maul with all the strength he could muster.  The door resisted the first blow, but when Sylvester’s second blow landed on target, the lock yielded and the door sprung inward.

When Barnes stepped into the gallery, he was tempted to use the maul to smash every single piece of so-called “art” that had found a home in this third-rate gallery.  He’d be ashamed to use any of the statues as door stops and most of the paintings were worse than the garbage kindergartners brought home after a day of finger painting.  Certainly, all of this deserved to be destroyed, but he could not lose focus from the true mission.

Barnes came upon a door marked “Staff Only” and once again presented the maul as his key.  This door, too, allowed him entrance, and he strode into the back room studio.

Upstairs, above the Cherry Tree Gallery, Kailey Bell awoke from her deep slumber.  She was fully awake when Sylvester battered down the second door.  Kailey grabbed the pistol from under her pillow, slipped on her pink bunny slippers and snuck down the stairs.

When she arrived at the foot of the stairs, she saw the intruder plunging a hunting knife into the heart of one of her favorite paintings – Farm Pond By Full Moon.  She gasped with pain, as if the dagger was plunging into her own heart.

The man heard her and wheeled around to face her.  She recognized the man as Sylvester Barnes – an impressionist painter with a massive ego and a miniscule amount of talent.

“It’s for the best,” he shouted.  “These paintings deserve to be put out of their misery.  Moonlit lakes?  A sun setting behind mountains?  A boat adrift in the ocean?  Where’s the substance to this?  Where the creativity?  Where’s the meaning?  I’ve had piles of vomit that were more important to the world than these paintings.

“Get out, Barnes.  If you’re not out the door in ten seconds, you’ll regret it.”

“Regret it?” laughed Barnes derisively.  “What are you going to do – make me hang one of your paintings on my wall?”

Kailey pulled the gun from behind her back and pointed it at Barnes.

“Get out, or I shoot.”

“Kailey, you don’t have the balls. Go ahead, shoot me.”  Barnes laughed again as he lunged at another painting and cut it to shreds with the knife.

Kailey pulled the trigger and was devastated to hear a click as the hammer fell on an empty chamber.

She pulled the trigger again and the click was deafening amid the silence..  Barnes brandished his knife and took a menacing step toward her.  “Stupid girl.  The gun’s not even load –“

His words were cut off in mid-sentence as the hammer hit home on a live chamber.  An instant later, the bullet exited the back of Sylvester Barnes’ head, depositing a chunk of his rather small brain on the back wall.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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