I’ve been told that my fascination with blood is odd, but blood is just a gorgeous medium that should be celebrated instead of feared. Some have said that I deserve the accusations because of my methods, but the true artists—my fans—can’t help but worship me for the very same reason. Women love a dashing young man who can show his emotions through art, and that’s why I’ll be a millionaire within the next five years.
It was perfect. My eyes assaulted the hallway as we stepped in. The carpet was a rusty red with gold embroidery around the edge, almost as though they knew what was on my building checklist before I did. I can finally strut on the Red Carpet every day.
“Here we are,” my new landlady said without looking at me. Her hair reminded me of a steel wool brush; I wanted to feel it, hold it, and maybe use it in one of my pieces. She pulled out a cluster of keys, held each key up to the hole and eyed their dimensions. “How come you only got that one little bag? You’re not one of those wanderers are you? I can’t have you skipping on rent.”
“On the ad you posted it said it's fine to pay monthly without a lease, and that’s what I was counting on when I rented this room.” She stopped fiddling with the keys, then turned and looked up at me. “You see," I continued, "I’m waiting for a call from a museum, or university, or maybe the Queen asking for me to do some pieces for them.” Her eyes widened, and she started to open her mouth but before she could say anything, the elevator dinged. A young woman in high black stilettos, a short striped skirt, and low cut white blouse appeared with a middle age man in tow. She had her eyes forward, as though on a mission, and he was tumbling after her with a grin plastered on his unshaven face. I looked at the dark eyes of the woman, but she passed by without hesitation. The man however was desperately licking and pulling at his ring finger as they entered the room down the hall.
With raised eyebrows, I turned back to my landlady, but she seemed to have missed the whole event and was more impressed that she had found the key.
“Finally! Dammit, I should really get these things numbered,” she murmured. The room looked nothing like the pictures online, but was still a decent place to do my work. There was a large window on the back wall allowing a lot of natural light in, a table which I could make my work desk, and a bedroom that could be used for storage if necessary.
“That'll be all, thank you,” I said, shutting the door, almost nipping her toes as she jumped back into the hallway, looking offended. What can I say? I don’t like being duped.
I was lying in bed, and caught myself sighing unintentionally. The pair from the elevator were making a lot of noise, and it was ruining my concentration. My bed is usually the place where inspiration hits me; it’s a time to reflect on the day and warp it into something I can use. The moans and yelps not only kept me awake, but also killed my imagination. They must have been doing some creative relations, because the noises were becoming violent. I looked around my room for something that I could pound against the wall, but there was nothing. I returned to staring at the ceiling with hands cupped over my ears when a little blinking green light caught my eye. It seemed a little extreme, but the fire alarm was my only chance to have peace. I dug through my bag and found some emergency matches. I struck one, and waved it underneath the smoke detector until it started screaming. I heard doors open and close in the hall so I went over to the peephole and counted the tenants run by. It seemed like I saw everyone else in the building except the couple. I cocked my head to the side and walked into the hallway, past the flowers that looked so beautiful before but now seemed dull next to the dark wallpaper. I was careful with every step even though there shouldn’t have been anyone still in the building. A flickering light led me to the open sliver of the young woman’s apartment. Maybe she had been so panicked she ran out before I got to my peephole? At any rate, it wouldn’t be polite to barge into a stranger’s home without the decency to knock.
“Hello?” I called through the crack. “That sound you hear, yeah, that’s the fire alarm. You have to leave the building.” There was no response from the darkness on the other side. I pushed open the door and took a step in, inhaling a metallic smell that you wouldn’t expect in a young woman’s home. I flicked on the light switch. My mouth dropped open as I saw the blood displayed all over her once virgin white living room. It was sprayed on the walls and couch, with drops hanging on the edges of a lampshade. My eyes met the empty eyes of the man that had been dragged along earlier, but now, instead of wearing his previous smirk, he was dressed in blood. I stumbled backwards, not taking my eyes off of the scene, grabbed the door handle and stepped into the hallway careful not to close the door fully.
“Sir,” an older looking fireman said. I jumped, turning my back to the door, and rubbed my eyes. “You shouldn’t still be in the building.” When I didn’t respond he came closer, put his hand on my shoulder, and leaned in towards my face. “Sir?”
“Yeah, sorry, I was sleeping,” I said with a yawn.
“If you can sleep through these sirens blaring, you might want to get your ears cleaned,” he said with a dry but serious laugh. “Luckily for you there was no fire. Must have been a false alarm.” He shrugged. “I’m just clearing all these rooms, and then everyone will be let back in, so you can just stay in your room until we are finished.” I nodded, waited until he turned the corner, and then went in to my room to get my supplies.
“You know that by telling me all this, you look more guilty than ever. You’re saying the young woman did it? Why should I believe what you’re telling me? And why wouldn’t you tell the fireman what you saw when you had the chance?” The detective asked, pushing to maintain eye contact. Meanwhile, I was studying his eyebrows and thinking that they looked like poorly drawn seagulls.
“I needed to make sure no one tampered with the scene before I got a chance to at least sketch it down, and collect some of the blood.” This comment got the reaction I had always hoped my audience would have—the look of complete bewilderment to the point of almost being impressed.
“And that’s the painting we found hanging in the hallway. It was a depiction of the murder made out of the actual blood of the victim,” he said, still staring at me but I could see his eye was on the verge of twitching. “Why?”
“It was a perfect scene. The white of innocence, being smeared by the red of infidelity… It’s rather poetic, don’t you think? The art community is already speaking about me as though I’m a god.” He finally broke eye contact with me, stood up with both hands on the table and sneered.
“You’re a sick bastard. Even if I don’t charge you with murder, I can at least promise you an arrest for tampering with evidence.” He grabbed my collar and dragged me out of the interview room.
“Sounds good. My fans will love this!"
Marta Zwart lives in Ottawa, Canada, and is intrigued by writing, acting, and sarcasm. Her greatest accomplishment is being able to blow a bubble with a whole pack of Hubba Bubba gum in her mouth. Marta’s dream is to briefly concern the public by writing for The Beaverton or The Onion.