Short Stories

 

This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, incidents, and places are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, business enterprises, or locales is entirely coincidental.

   All rights are reserved to the authors. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronically, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owners.  

 

 

                 The Replacement

    

     It was Sunday evening and in ten hours the Spanish museum, El Prado, would open its doors, launching its special exhibition of Picasso and Vincent van Gogh’s paintings. The icon’s works were to be exhibited during the entire week and security was expected to be tight.
     The crew of construction workers had endured a grueling month in an effort to complete their works before the upcoming event. Each day, they arrived at the museum at ten p.m. and left before the museum officially opened.
     Tim, Mike and Luke were opening their gallons of paint when Domenic, the last of the construction workers, strolled in. Domenic had a hoarse cough and was barely able to mumble greetings back to his co-workers. Luke politely asked him if he had caught a bug, and Domenic simply nodded, coughing once again.
     Standing on ladders, they worked fervently when surprisingly the alarm bell sounded and the room went dark.

     “What the heck,” Tim hollered, nearly falling off his ladder. He carefully climbed down and stepped into the hallway, with Mike following behind.
     “Be back shortly, I’m going to find out what’s happening,” Luke stated using his key chain light to guide him.

     He moved quickly wearing night vision goggles. At most, he had five minutes to complete the task. Wearing gloves, he tripped the sensor and removed the original. The painting being relatively small fit in a concealed pouch of his overcoat. He then attached a sensor to the back of a painting and hung it on the wall. Briskly, he walked back, quickening his pace upon hearing footsteps, probably guards approaching. Applying some force, he folded the secret compartment open and stacked the original between Styrofoam sheets. He closed it shut and with long strides made his way into front foyer, and just as he had the lights flickered on.
     Richard, head of security, approached the gathered group. “We ask everyone to wait here until further notice. Mathew, my assistant will remain with you.”
     The guards strolled into each room. Richard couldn’t figure out what triggered the alarm off, but the maintenance worker had managed to restore the lights. Noting that everything was in its proper place, Richard granted everyone permission to return back to work. The construction crew strolled back together.
     With three hours still remaining, they had successfully given the room its final coat of paint. They tore off their gloves, washed up, and packed their items.
     Domenic wheeled the company bin to dump the garbage, being his turn. Prior to entering and leaving the museum, each worker was required to perform a thumb scan and needed to wear his photo badge at all times. The guard checked his badge against his own photo list and performed a thumb scan before rummaging through the bin. Satisfied, Domenic as well as his co-workers were given clearance.    
     The next day Annie, the museum’s art connoisseur strolled through gallery H, when her eye caught something odd. “Oh no,” she cried. She ran to inform security.

     Police received a report that a construction worker by the name of Domenic Tripper had been gagged and tied at his home. After much investigation, the police with the help of the museum’s security and the construction crew put the pieces together. They deduced an imposter posing as Domenic, with a facial disguise, had stolen the painting. They also deduced he must have somehow placed the painting in the disposal bin upon leaving. They also suspected someone on the inside was in on it, but were still investigating.

      By: Imma Argiro © 

 

                 Deception

 

     A loud applause took both Derek and Ingrid by surprise. What was supposed to have been a simple dinner invitation at their parent’s house, instead turned out to be a lavish 25thanniversary party. Both friends and family mingled nicely, while sipping champagne. The festivity was quite elaborate with plenty of food, drinks, and a beautifully decorated three layer cake.
   Everyone’s attention turned to Derek’s mom, Emily, who raised her glass, preparing to toast. She looked lovingly at her son and daughter-in-law, and announced that her husband, Jim, and she were giving them their cottage for this milestone occasion. Everyone applauded.
     Stacey, Ingrid’s sister-in-law, was consumed with envy, although she put up a false front. Over the years her parents favored Derek and Ingrid for making them grandparents. Stacey, unable to conceive, felt great resentment and was now consumed with bitter rage. This was the straw which finally broke the camel’s back. Everyone left elated, except Stacey of course.

     The outing would rekindle their passion. Emily dropped by the morning of, with fresh coffee, and muffins, handing Derek the double sugar. Also, she had marinated some steaks for their lunch. They exchanged pleasantries and Emily drove off with her two grandchildren.
     While sipping his coffee, Derek figured they needed this getaway, since he traveled throughout North America leaving his wife alone for days on end. Finally after an hour and a half drive, they arrived at their destination at 11:30 am. They started lugging their stuff inside the modest size cottage, which was flanked by trees on both sides.
     Feeling groggy, Derek’s yawning had Ingrid suggest that he take a nap. While he was resting, Ingrid tidied up. A couple of hours later, Derek was still snoring. She made nothing of it, but decided to go out back and light the barbecue. With steaks in hand, she unlocked the patio door and walked towards the barbecue. It was covered overhead by an awning, and it was still secured by a nylon cover. It appeared awfully tight and she pried vigorously. When it became free, like lightening, it struck with such brute force that Ingrid didn’t even flinch. Staggering helplessly, her balance dissipated into thin air, sending her crashing to the ground. Her cries fell upon deaf ears as Derek was sound asleep and no one resided within miles.

     A few hours later Derek awakened, still groggy. While making his way haphazardly towards the kitchen, to his dismay, he shrieked, seeing his wife sprawled on the patio. But it was little too late.
     The funeral was quite somber, with tears spilling from devastated family and friends. Emily felt a touch of guilt rush over her, observing her devastated son.
     It had been quite the shocker. It was purely by chance that she caught Ingrid in bed one day with another man. Being stealth and vigilant not to let her presence known, yet her disgust and rage intensified with each passing day, as the affair continued unabated. It would tear Derek apart, and she didn’t have the heart to break such news to him.
     The plan had been in the works for some time. A little sedative inside Derek’s coffee the morning of, had kept him out of harm’s way. An angry and hungry cobra lay snuggled under the barbecue, having been tranquilized the day before. The encounter proved to be quite nasty, with any evidence slithering away. Emily’s plan had worked quite nicely, with no one suspecting anything, no one the wiser, and lastly no more smug daughter-in-law.
     And who says you can’t get away with murder!

        By: Patrick Argiro ©