As I stared at that painting, granted I had a deepening fear at work on my senses, I swore those eyes all glared into the depths of my soul. Reaching and prodding with increasing urgency, looking and wanting . . . Needing and pressing . . .
I tore myself away from that peculiar artwork and bolted like a frightened cartoon mouse. True raced along right behind me, for once, but he whooped and laughed like a chimpanzee. True chortled and snickered behind me, but I didn’t stop pedaling until my bike shot into my front yard with the force of a major leaguer sliding into home plate. Breathlessly I turned to face my still cackling friend True.
“Bernie, you sure were a sight.” He gasped between big huffing breaths of air. “I thought you’d spray your jeans when you saw those eyes.”
“Something was wrong back there, didn’t you feel it?”
“Naw, it was just a painting, Man, just a really good painting.” True stopped laughing and looked thoughtful for a moment. “I’m gonna do a painting like that someday. A really great painting. One that grabs at you like that one did. I know I can do it. Didn’t you just love it?”
“N-no . . . No, Man. I didn’t see nothing great about that picture. It was wrong somehow. Can’t put my finger on just what was wrong with it. It was evil-like. Scared me shitless.”
True shrugged, we didn’t talk about the painting again that day. I wanted to forget I ever saw it, but its burden will remain with me forever. To this day I have never been able to shake those eyes off of me. It’s like the eyes became a part of me that day, I may never be able to cast them out of my mind.
The eyes haunted me, but not like they haunted True. He became obsessed about recreating that painting and he went about it in his old True style. He no longer asked questions about the abandoned houses or their occupants. It was as though he somehow already knew the answers. Now he asked questions about paint, and colors, and canvases.
Hester and John Mister’s house stands empty and forgotten now. People around here don’t talk about it. It’s almost like they don’t even see it. Likely, they don’t know what happened and they don’t want to know. I wish I didn’t know.
Continued in the next post
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