Onion: Chapter 2) Night Of the Painting.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
What is believable and what is not? A hostel warden after an unsuccessful inspection spends a mysterious night only to question what is believable.....

Submitted: June 11, 2019

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Submitted: June 11, 2019

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“Dr. Hungry Bone” returned to his quarters dejected. He was assured of catching the boys in their act by his informant, but despite his quick response they had managed to give him a slip. It had been a gruelling week for him, first lawsuit threats for negligence, secondly a notice of warning from the dean regarding increasing narcotic use in the hostel, and to top it was a struggling marriage that has reached to the stage of divorce.” Any man would be troubled by these happening all at once” was his excuse to open a bottle of single malt whisky on a hot Sunday. His wife had gone to stay in her own home three months back which created a sensation fuelling the Nurse’s gossip for a long time, but it gave him the freedom of drinking and smoking in his quarters.

As he was opening the lock on his door his thought was tracing back to the events of the afternoon: Just as he brought the glass of whisky to his nose to get a smell of single malt, his cell phone rang. The informant was brief:  Few third year students were indulging in a narcotic activity and if there was to be a surprise inspection they would be caught red handed. Reliability of such sources was an issue, but the informant had informed him earlier about this particular group of medical students who named themselves as The Syndicate and had the audacity to name him Dr Hungry Bone, which he guessed was may be due to his specialties in Orthopaedic surgeries or his obsession of nabbing them. He kept the glass down with such force that it spilled most of the light chocolate gold liquid, there was no telling he was angry and it was justified; twice this week he was summoned into the dean’s office and educated about the rising narcotic abuse, after all he was the Warden.

The smell of single malt whisky greeted him as he entered his quarters and slammed the door shut. Thinking about the various possibilities about his informant’s allegiance he slowly moped away the spill from the floor with a mop stick. He went back to the kitchen from where he got it and placed it back in its place. The rooms were very tidy where everything was properly arranged and placed. He then opened his refrigerator wiping his hand and searched for food. Although he could cook but the fidelity of depression had momentarily burned out the passion, and he took out the cold pizza slice and munched on it while walking back to his small study, where he poured himself a glass of whisky and gulped it straight.

He stood for a minute while the alcohol burned his throat which he thought was the sweetest burn he had experienced this week by far. He took another bite from the pizza slice on his non dominant hand, replaced the slice with the empty glass and went into the kitchen where he took out a few ice cubes and dropped them in his glass then returning to fill it with more alcohol and took a small sip and smacked his lips as if in relish. He took another bite of the pizza and went to the kitchen again, this time to fill his ice jar. Finally after substantial drinking, the study table had: A glass of Whisky on the rocks, a half eaten pizza slice, a packet of hot nachos half empty and a bottle of seven year old Single malt whisky bottle (1/3rd left of the whisky in it).  

Drunk and sad, his thoughts were predominantly focused on his wife, although the recent troubles did sneak in at times but eventually his wife would pull the thoughts back towards her by aggressively and at times dangerously invading it.

She was his high school sweetheart and they had qualified the Pre medical exam to get in the same medical college. They believed then, that a divine fate was written for them and their romance would never end. How wrong were they! She studied Child specialties for her post graduation degree while he chose surgery, and though their long relationship was stretched for the first time it withstood the harsh climate. They got married when he was doing his fellowship in Trauma surgery and she was working in a private establishment, and the sunshine and rainbow in the marriage was marred by the dark clouds of a brewing storm six months after their marriage when he informed her of his job opportunity.

He had completed his specialty Surgery training and was offered job in a medical college far from where they stayed now. She was livid; 4 years of set practice was hard to give up but she did with a sour tooth nevertheless. The couple arrived in the college two years back and were assigned residence in the staff quarters. At first she hid her resentment by busying herself in turning her quarters into a home and acquainting with the new city but frustration, like love drives a person into a state of frenzy if kept inhibited for long time.

He picked up his cell phone and grazed through his contacts to find her number, but when he did he hesitated; his drunkenness wouldn’t please her at all. He pocketed the cell phone back and took two large swigs of whisky. He could think of nothing to say to her or anything that might make things better. All he ever thought about was the good memories he had of her and not of the angry dismissive abusive woman that she had turned into. They never exchanged gifts, never really did feel the necessity to do so except on their last anniversary when he had gifted her The Painting. He stood up with the glass in his hand and stared at the painting hanging directly in front of him.

He was out attending a surgical conference. The Hotel on whose plush garden the conference was being held, was also hosting an art exhibition that evening in one of its lobby and just out of curiosity he walked in. He was never really an art enthusiast, was bored quickly and started to head out when quite suddenly a painting grabbed his attention that was somewhat different from the others. While most of the paintings were contemporary and modern, this painting had a medieval aura to it. Dr Hungry Bone was drawn to it as if by an unknown hunger or lust he could not define specifically. It was a beautiful painting of a Victorian mansion, big, imposing two storied mansion with multiple windows and a single closed door on the lower floor. The artist painted a very lavish garden with well maintained and trimmed bushes lining the boundary and the pavement consisted of stones reaching the front doors. The brushwork, colouring and proportioning was stunning and life like and the condition it was in made it hard for him to believe that it was more than 300 years old. He bought it for a mere 1000 bucks and presented it as an anniversary gift to his wife who placed it in his study.

Now that he thought of it, he suddenly realised that it was after this purchase that things took a drastic turn in his life. His Wife turned extremely violent, his practice was constantly scrutinised by his patients, superiors and colleagues, his wards were constantly practising narcotics upon themselves and he had an intense desire to burn the painting. He again found himself drawn towards it but not in awe, a sense of vengeance was consuming him, he felt angry, he felt murderous. And suddenly he splashed the whisky from his glass into the painting. He recoiled in disbelief: The painting had absorbed all of it, it wasn’t even wet. And then something happened which made him stagger back in fear. He tripped and dropped to the floor, all his anger was melted by the sight before him: A stone from the pavement upturned and a gnarled hand emerged from underneath. Slowly and steadily the silhouette of a short gnarled hooded creature draped inblack with a cross mark on its back could be seen emerging from the pavement underground, crawling its way to the mansion it scaled the walls like a lizard to reach the top window and disappeared behind it.

It was like a movie unfolding in front of him and he gave a shriek of horror covering his eyes. He removed his hands from his face and glanced at the painting, it was normal like it was on the day he purchased it. His glass was full and was neatly kept in the table. He realised he was sitting in the chair; he stood up hastily and moved towards the painting. It was dry, no whisky stains neither wet, there wasn’t any spill either. Surely the alcohol made him dream or hallucinate and he laughed out loudly and continued uncontrollably. The tenacity of mankind to alter the conscious mental state by whatever means had given a strong performance today and kept the doctor away from glum moods for the night.

Monday morning brought with it the usual rush. People fought the hangover of the weekend to get back into the routine of professional life and Dr Hungry Bone was scrubbing for a surgery like any other day at 10:30 AM. He walked inside the Operating room coolly and as a nurse tied his OT jacket he asked his post graduate student to explain the case details. “The patient, a male aged 40 was brought into the emergency ward with multiple lacerations in his body, he had lost a substantial amount of blood and was given blood intravenously along with a tetanus shot and immunoglobulins, Vitals are weak, possible internal hemorrhaging, respiration diminished, on X-ray he has Flial Chest, Severe crush injury on right leg, Fractured humerus on both sides, flesh chunks missing from the flanks at multiple locations, broken third and fourth lumbar vertebra and a broken maxilla. No other systemic ilness, The Maxillofacial trauma specialist will be here shortly sir.” Said the post graduate trainee. The Surgeon gave a nod and said “Looks like we’ll be spending the day here, let’s take a look at the wounds first and then decide where to start. Yes! Okay! Nurse, remove the drape please” and nonchalantly he moved towards the OT table. The nurse did as she was told and the sight sent a chill down the Surgeon’s spine. “What happened to him?” he asked without blinking. “Sir, there’s a police report attached” said the Trainee “it says” he continued “The patient was attacked by a black hooded burglar at his house yesterday night and.....He hesitated “.the report states that the burglar entered the room on the second floor through an open window 30 feet from the ground”.

 


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