Time: 10 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.
“Blame someone else” (This list is an awesome source of completely silly prompts.)
The painting was covered in a thick layer of soot. I read the documentation. For years, it had hung next to a fireplace in a small poorly ventilated room. But the composition and the brushstrokes had the right look. My boss believed it was an authentic Vensammer. Tina the wonder employee, said that it probably wasn’t. When I cleaned this painting up, she’d see.
I looked at the painting for a while. It depicted a middle-aged woman sitting next to a young boy. In my mind, I guessed at the age of the painting and the techniques that would have been used at the time. Which paints would react to which treatments. If it was a Vensammer, we could auction it for twenty times what we bought it for.
I reached for the solvent, but instead I knocked it over onto the painting. I picked the painting up and tried to let it run off. If it had the proper oil finish, it would be okay with such a brief exposure. I turned the painting back over. It was not. Paint ran in ugly rivulets. Vensammer would never have been so reckless. It wasn’t a Vensammer. It was a worthless piece of junk that I had further ruined.
Quickly quickly, I dried the painting. I slid it back into the storage slot. I carefully redacted my name from the sign in list, and put Tina’s in instead. I took another painting that needed light cleaning and hurried off with it. No sir, I’d never touched that Vensammer.
Tina came in later. She studied the log; she seemed puzzled by it. I said nothing. She pulled out the faux Vensammer.
“Mert, what happened to this painting? I didn’t do this, I swear!” Her eyes were wide, pupils dilated.
The boss walked in. I suppressed a smile. “Is that the Vensammer?” she bellowed.
“Y-yes,” Tina stammered. “I can’t explain.” Tina stared at the painting, desperate. Then her face settled. “Wait,” she said. “Do you see this shape underneath this smear?”
The boss leaned in. She grunted.
“There’s another painting under here!” Tina cried. “And I’m even more certain the surface painting wasn’t a Vensammer.” She pulled out several tools and carefully set to work on the painting. “This shade of yellow… I bet this is an Artello!”
“An Artello! That’s better than a Vensammer!”