SoCS — The Frame

506CEE64-AFD4-4F5E-A104-8B79C45172F6For this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt, Linda G. Hill has given us the word “frame,” and instructed us to “use it as a noun or a verb or any way you like.”


A man with a heavyset frame walked into my shop. He came up to counter and unfurled a canvas on which was a clearly old, but beautiful painting. “Do you have a suitable frame for this painting?” he asked.

“Of course I do,” I responded. “This, after all, a frame shop. What did you have in mind?”

“Something fancy to reflect the era of the painting,” the man said.

“I think I have the perfect frame for you,” I said. I went to the back of my shop and came out a moment holding a large, gold-leaf, ornate, baroque-style frame.

“Yes, that will do,” the man said. “But when you mount this painting in the frame, I want you to put this other painting on top of it,” and the man unfurled a second painting.

I gave him a quizzical look and started to ask him why he wanted two paintings in the frame, especially since the one he wanted me to put on top seemed to be of far less quality than the one that would be hidden behind it. But before I could ask, he held up his hand and said, “No questions. You’ll be paid accordingly.” Then he asked me how long it would take for me to frame the paintings.

I considered my existing workload and framed in my mind how many hours the job would take. “Give me a week,” I said. He agreed and said he’d be back in seven days.

One week later two men walked into my shop. One man introduced himself as a police detective and the other as an insurance investigator. They asked me if a man with a heavyset frame had come into my frame shop a week earlier and had asked me to frame a painting for him. I affirmed what they asked. They explained that the man was an art thief and that the painting was stolen. I told them there were two paintings that he wanted me to frame, but they were interested in only the one that was to be hidden, which they said was extremely valuable.

A few minutes later, the man with the heavyset frame came into my shop to pick up the paintings I had framed. But as I brought the frame to the front of the store and handed it to him, the detective and the insurance investigator confronted the large man. The detective handcuffed him while the insurance investigator grabbed the frame with the paintings mounted in it. The large man was livid and shouted, “I’ve been framed!”

As the three men left my shop, I smiled. I did frame two paintings. The one in front was the worthless one, and the one underneath was actually a decent knockoff of the valuable one. The original painting that the art thief had given me to frame was still in the back of my shop, waiting to be picked up by the guy I had sold it to on the dark web. He’d agreed to my price of half a million, which would be enough to allow me to retire in style on a small Caribbean island.

Scruples

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“The guy at the art show assured me it was authentic and worth much more than he was asking for it,” Dean said.

The art appraiser at the small shop continued to examine the painting closely, using a magnifying glass to study the painting’s details.

Dean was getting anxious. “Well, is it the real deal or not?”

The appraiser put down his magnifying glass, removed his bifocals, and looked up at Dean. “I’m afraid, young man, that you have been taken for a ride. I wouldn’t even call this a good forgery. I’d call it a clumsy copy.”

“Are you sure?” Dean asked, disappointment in his voice.

“Quite sure,” the appraiser assured Dean. “The brushwork has too many incorrect characteristics. The techniques used do not match those of the artist. And I’d even venture to say that the colors used in this painting were not available during the artist’s lifetime.”

“Shit,” Dean said. “I paid 250 bucks for that piece of crap.”

“Well, son,” the appraiser said. “The frame is worth that much. I’ll give you $300 for the frame to ease your pain just a little.”

“Thank you,” Dean said. “I’ll take it. You can have the frame, but can you take the painting out of it? I like it and will reframe it. My unsophisticated friends won’t know it’s a fake.”

“I wish I could,” the appraiser said, “but that would likely damage the frame.” Taking three hundred dollar bills out of his cash drawer, the appraiser waved the money in front of Dean. “Take it or leave it, son.”

“Fine,” Dean said. He grabbed the money and left the small shop.

The appraiser picked up the painting and took it into the back room of the shop. He picked up his phone and punched in a number. “Hello,” a voice answered.

“Simon,” he said. “You won’t believe the incredible seventeenth century masterpiece I just scored for three hundred bucks.”


Written for today’s one-word prompt, “authentic.”