September 30th, 2017 by Patrick Starks
(Episode 2) / Plus Bonus quote!
Ron and I still had the painting of Mona Lisa—the painting would maintain its mint conditioning, but I would fear for how long. And so, I kept it close, pressing it against my sternum, but gently, I didn’t want to ruin the one reason to why Ron and I were here—a world magical to only the books I’d read to my little princess, Dalila. And I didn’t trust Ron, my so-called partner in crime—crime was a thing he was champion at, but a partner I’d always second guess. He’d always reek of dishonor and lies, the very traits a criminal should have; however, Ron still had a heart, he wanted to be back home just as much as I, to try and win back the heart of the woman he’d lost—the painting would be his ticket back in her heart.
“This world, it’s like Jurassic Park, except with no dinosaurs of course, I hope—I’d hate to be found on the toilet, only to be eaten by one of those things, a t-rex or something, and if so, at least let me finish. But man, do you know how wealthy the guy was that discovered it, we’ll be just as rich as he was,” Ron said.
Ron had me at rich, I thought about it, and how my wife Cindy and our daughter Dalila struggled, all because of me. Any other day I would have disagreed with Ron, but greed would consume the both of us as I would think of throwing away the painting, I felt the world we discovered would be worth more, but bringing our world to this one made me hesitant, it wasn’t at all safe, I felt.
I would give the painting one more glance before doing so. I stared into the eyes of Mona Lisa—I found myself lost within them, and I would give more description about those eyes, but they were too dark to depict any coloring—maybe I could’ve called them the blackholes because you get lost in them, I would laugh, but it seemed the joke would be to corny for even Ron. But the thing I noticed the most was her smile, it reminded me of Cindy’s—faint, yet remarkably hypnotizing. I’d ponder on their taste, but doubt there would be any flavor or taste anything like Cindy’s—I’m usually not one to assume, but I don’t think back then there was any gum, or flavored lipstick, not even toothpaste, but I won’t be rude, let’s just assume they had the taste of chardonnay if that even existed; although, Mona Lisa never struck me to be a drinker either.
Out of all the rambling in my head, and Ron apparently talking to himself, I decided that I would keep the painting, being that I had now grown attached to it as memorabilia of Cindy—something far more precious than even the mysterious land I embarked. Ron had no clue to where we were going, or what we were doing. The paths we walked were like a horde of snakes, paths that reminded me of the tube slides that I would ride as a child at waterparks. But through these paths the terrains were the worst—they weren’t the best for Mona Lisa’s condition, as they consisted of nothing but mud, sludge, or manure we thought, and by the smell of it, our assumptions would be rewarded their validity.
Ron and I decided to take a breather, I didn’t want to leave the Mona Lisa on the ground, I couldn’t, not with all the shit on the ground, so I lied on the ground myself as disgusting it was, and rest Mona Lisa on my chest, just as I had always done. Sleep was overdue, I’d try to get some, but couldn’t get the thoughts of Cindy or Dalila out of my head—family was always a challenging thing for any man to forget, even when some have passed—that’s what dad would tell me, before even his time of passing would come. I didn’t want Cindy or Dalila to feel I abandoned them, that I wasn’t coming back, a tear would then roll down my cheek making its way to the painting. For the moment I didn’t care, hoping that my sorrows would wash away the smile of Mona Lisa, that she would now feel as I did, but guilt would stop me from doing so—the painting was the reason I was here, including Ron, who probably would have killed me if I had done such a thing.
“What are you doing here! Get out! You’ll never catch me!” an anonymous one said. Ron and I would say nothing, only stare at each in confusion as we awakened from partial sleep. “Well if you’re not going to pull out your balls and say something then leave me be, leave this place before I make you leave” they said. We still didn’t move, the person yelling would lose patients, now piercing from the shadows. It was a man, thank god, and one of an average height as well. His mustache was thick to the point even his own fingers would get tangled in them. He wore a suit or what looked like one, I could see he was a formal man, but the rips and tears within his clothing would make Ron think otherwise. They were filthy, and smelt of whiskey and sorrows—a suit that no man nor woman would ever find attractive or would want to borrow.
“Oh, now I see,” the man said. I didn’t understand, he must have mistaken me for someone else. He stared at Ron and I as an owl would do, head turning in all directions, confused to why there was no response. But it wasn’t us he was gawking at I realized, it was the painting, I clinched onto it even tighter, this time where my nails would almost scrape out the blackholes of Mona Lisa. I asked the man who he was, and where he came from. For a moment, there was an awkward pause, but soon all explanation would be told.
“My name young man is Vincenzo Peruggia, and that painting your holding is the very painting I was to cash in, until the bastards turned down my proposal. Who the hell turns down a deal, goes against their word. I had that painting for nearly two years, I didn’t have to bring it back, and when I come back to sell it, they don’t give me a penny for it, only handcuffs and a cell—a room in which felt like hell, in some ways I’m still living it. So many years lost, all for nothing. But now, now you angel of men have brought back to me what was taken,” the man said. I couldn’t believe my eyes the famous Vincenzo, the man who made the Mona Lisa such a prized possession; although, I wondered how he got here, and how he was still even alive out of all these years.
“Vincenzo fucking Peruggia! Sir it is a true honor,” Said Ron, shoving me out of the way. He shook Vincenzo’s hand, but Vincenzo’s eyes never left sight of the painting. I’d ask Vincenzo where were we, but still there was silence, he was still locked onto the painting, eyes glimmering like diamonds. Ron once again was found talking to himself as Vincenzo ignored.
“We are in a world of no end, a world where the past is irrelevant, we are still in the museum,” Vincenzo said. Ron’s smile would be erased, as I wanted the Mona Lisa’s before. “What do you mean a world of no end, that we are still in the museum, you’re crazy—the past is always relevant, it’s got to be,” Ron said. And with a blink of an eye Vincenzo was gone, we looked everywhere, there was no trace of him, not even his smell of whiskey. “Aye! What you do with the painting?” Ron yelled. It was just in my arms, embraced by my kung-Fu grip I thought, there’s was no way he could’ve taken it, but the son of a bitch did, and he was nowhere to be found. My heart would nearly leave my chest as frustrated and sick I became.
By the time the sun had set, Ron and I would wonder how we would make it, how we would get back to our loved ones, how we would get the painting back; by the end of tit all we would lose the one thing that mattered, the reason we were here, the painting—my reason why.
“Cindy and Dalila, they were all I wanted to protect, my queen, my little princess, but I let my ego get the best of me. Could I have done more, giving them a better life than this, what remains a whisper in the wind, a distant kiss. Although, the painting of Mona Lisa was all I had, the one thing to cash in, my reason for leaving them, the only reason I’d sin. I felt the money would change our lives, pulling out all struggle, all pain, the blades of knives. But Vincenzo Peruggia would later teach me it was not worthwhile, for that the Mona Lisa had ruined his life, taking away even his smile. But it was his own fault, one he would deny, and everyone knew that he was once the king of thieves, the king of crime. And as watched this poor man crumble, as well as mumble profusely in the night, I had now found my reason for being humble, my reason why. Daddy will be back home, wait for me, do not let me fade, my love, my little angel, because from the world I now stand I can see life for the better—life in many angles.”