“I was ruined. I had made some bad investing decisions and lost almost all my money. When the museum acquired Van den Broeck’s masterpiece, I saw an opportunity. Can I have some water, please?”

“Yes, of course,” the cop said, and made a signal towards the mirror. “Please continue.”

“I… I used a contact I had made once to get in touch with an expert forger. I’d order a copy of the painting, substitute the original, and sell it. I… I had also managed to reach a possible buyer.”

“Will you please give us the details of those contacts?”

“Yes, yes. I said I’d collaborate.”

A uniformed officer entered with a plastic water bottle and placed it on the table, and left. The detective opened the bottle and handed it over.


“You were saying?”

“I got in touch with a prospective buyer. Always via email, of course. We never met. In fact, I never met the forger, either. I commanded the copy via email as well and received it at home. The most difficult part was to actually place the new canvas in the antique frame, but I managed to. Not the best of jobs, but I didn’t imagine anyone was going to look behind the painting and see the purple splotch I left there.

“Imagine if you will how I felt, when I finally had the Van den Broeck in my hands. Weaver Girl and Loom is… is perfect. It was as if an electric discharge passed through me. Those were the days when the Flemish masters rose above all others. Its sense of balance, the way Van den Broeck composes the image. How he captures the light’s reflections in the girl’s hair! I had to touch the paint with my own hands…”

“Can we get back on track, please?”

“Yes, of course, sorry,” a sip of water. “I don’t know much more. I thought I had taken every precaution, and… I even got a bit ambitious, and tried to renegotiate with the forger. The next thing I knew, you officers arrested me… and here I am. And now you tell me the painting is not at home!”


Nia Denyse went over the events of the previous day again. She had used a burner phone to send the email to the police. As usual, she had signed into a disposable email account, and had sent it using the public wifi from a cafe she had previously scanned. She had been standing on the outside corner, at the right spot where neither the entrance nor the parking lot cameras could catch her, but the signal was strong enough. And the email itself contained enough details for the cops to investigate.

And they had.

She felt a wild exhilaration. Her plan had worked perfectly, and that pompous director was now having a hard time at the police station. Not Nia’s problem, not any more. But she had to get away as soon as possible.

She drove her Toyota to the warehouse she had rented. She checked her booby traps, exactly like Dad had taught her, just to make sure everything was OK. Satisfied, she switched on the lights.

She felt dazzled by the magnificence of the Van den Broeck. Of course, the director had never contacted a real buyer. Not only was she one of the best forgers in the country, but also a first class hacker: a useful asset in her line of work these days. It had always been her, and the man had never known.

But Nia did indeed have a buyer. She grinned.


This is my entry for the Weekly Writing Exercise: October 19–25, 2015 on the Writer’s Discussion Group in Google+. The challenge this week was:

Use at least four (4) of the words in the image in your story this week.

So I went ahead and decided to use all of the words in the picture that I could clearly make out. In order to do that, I wrote them out on a paper, and then I also wrote alternates for those words that were half-hidden (which in the end I decided not to use). Next I grouped the words loosely: I tried to put together words that clicked. As groups of words formed, the plot formed as well: what would happen around a forged painting.

The funny thing is that, given the time I spent looking at the words and analizing them, grouping them, and working on the inspiration to come from them, I still managed to forget using two: capture, that can be seen quite clearly up there, and aesthetic. This last one cannot be seen clearly and, frankly, it can also be prosthetic, for instance, but given the theme of the story I stuck with the first option… and next forgot to use it.

In all, I’m also quite happy with this story. I liked the characters, if I may say so, and the balance between the things I tell and the ones I show.

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