A police car rushed to the scene of an accident where a young man committed suicide by jumping from a window of a high-rise building. A woman, who was the young man’s neighbor, had informed the police about the accident. Detective Sean wondered what could have made the man kill himself. His first thought was that it might be due to drugs.
By the time he drove up to the scene of the accident many people were gathered there. Some of the women felt bad about the young man’s death. One of them pushed her way through the crowd towards the detective.
‘Hello, the detective. It
was me who I informed you about this accident. We were next-door neighbors so I knew him very well.
He was a kind man, calm, and refined. He never argued with anybody and his home was always a quiet place.
He was a very good painter. Once he even painted a portrait of me. The detective listened to her very attentively.
A few other neighbors came up to the detective. Everyone respected their dead neighbor. No one could think what could have had happened to him that caused him to make such a decision.
One of the neighbors even suggested that he might
have been pushed from the window.
‘Everything is possible’. thought the detective. The detective went to the painter’s apartment. His name was George; he was living alone in his flat. His flat was kept clean but it sharply smelled like paint. The woman came with the detective to the painter’s flat.
‘This is his door and this is mine. There is no one on this floor except us. I would invite him often to my place to have tea together and he would always show me his paintings. Now you can see them yourself; he was a very talented artist.’
Detective Sean noticed paintings of the same young woman. She looked stunningly beautiful.
‘Who is this woman on these pictures? Do you happen to know her?’ asked the detective.
‘No, I don’t know her. I have never seen her here at his place. George has, sorry had, a friend, named Peter. Perhaps he knows her.’
‘Do you know where he lives?’
‘I don’t know where he lives I know that he is a history teacher.
I remember George telling me that he works in the archives and teaches history at a university. So it won’t be difficult to find him.’
The detective was scrutinizing a picture with great interest.
‘What castle is this? Am I right
that he didn’t just paint portraits only?’
‘No, he didn’t.. He painted anything he wanted. Like I said, he was a great artist.’
The detective kept observing the room. If he committed suicide there must be a letter or at least a note left. So far, the detective wasn’t able to find anything.
‘Thank you very much for the information that you shared with me. You helped me a lot.’
The detective was just about to leave.
'I just remembered something. I was going to take out the trash and then call on George when I noticed that the front door was open. I heard him talking to a young woman. I think he was painting her. Of course I came back because I didn't want to disturb them.'
'Thank you very much, ma'am, once again. Goodbye.'
The detective decided to go the university to find the dead man’s friend
He was told at the university that Peter didn’t have any lectures that day and that he might be at archives, or at his friend George’s place. They had been friends since childhood. No one knew about his tragic death at the university and the detective decided to withhold the information.
He went to the archives right away.
‘Hello, my name is Sean, am I a detective from the local police department. I need to talk to one of your co-workers, his name is Peter.’
‘Hello, it’s me. What can I do for you?’
‘Your friend George committed suicide by jumping from his flat’s window this morning.’
‘What? He committed suicide?’ He turned away from the detective. He was crying.
‘I am sorry, detective. He was my close friend.’
‘What can you tell me about your friend? One of his neighbors told me that he had a guest in the evening yesterday, a young woman. Do you know who it might have been?’
‘No, that’s impossible.’
‘But his neighbor heard them talking.’
‘You might consider me crazy, but I am quite sure that he never knew the woman you are talking about.
'He didn’t have anyone, especially the woman. The conversation that his neighbor heard was a monologue. He was talking to the picture of the woman.’
‘Do you know her, Peter?’
‘Yes, I do. Or maybe I don’t?’
‘What do you mean, maybe you don’t?’
‘The girl we are talking about got lost, disappeared a long time ago. But her paintings are still here and George was talking to one of them.’
‘So when did she disappear?’ asked the detective.
‘Many, many years ago, in the seventeenth century.’
‘What? That’s nonsense. You are pulling my leg.’
‘That’s not nonsense I told you that you might think I am mad.’
‘All right, Sir. You had better go home now and have a rest. Can we meet at 3 o’clock tomorrow? I would like you to accompany me to his flat if you don’t mind.’
‘No, I don’t mind.’
The next day they both met each other at George’s place as it was arranged.
The detective walked into his room first.
'Come in, Sir. Were you talking about this girl on the picture?’
‘Yes, this is the woman who disappeared in the nineteenth century.’
‘Here we go again’ said the detective.
‘I received a letter from George yesterday.’
‘Yes, he wrote it, then sent it to me, came back home and killed himself.’
‘Show me this letter, please.’
‘I will, but not now. I am afraid you won’t understand. I need to tell you something.’
‘All right. I have one question. Whose portraits are these?’
‘Please, listen to me.’
‘A few weeks ago George decided to make some sketches in nature. He would often leave to paint landscapes, staying for a long time there, however he came back quickly in two or three days for the last time.
George called me and said that he wanted to meet me in the archives immediately. I was surprised. He came to the archives. He was anxious and extremely excited.
He showed me the sketches for one of his paintings. The picture depicted an old castle. I recognized it at once. There were only four castles altogether including the one on George’s painting. One of them was here in our country.
It belonged to a very wealthy and powerful prince who lived in the seventeenth century. I easily found some information about him in the archives. He was married and the only heir to his huge fortune was his beautiful daughter.
I showed him the portraits of the prince, his wife and daughter. His daughter mysteriously disappeared. No one could find her neither in the castle nor around it. The prince was looking for her everywhere. But she still couldn’t be found neither dead or alive. In time, after their death the castle fell into decay and shortly after collapsed.
It’s a desolate place now where there is nothing except for a forest. It is all the information I found in the archives. George told me that he had seen the prince’s castle. It appeared suddenly. He saw many people inside and outside the castle and horse-drawn carriages. I even told him that it must have been a mirage. The scientists admit this natural phenomenon.’
He was looking at the princess’ portrait uninterruptedly.
‘George asked me what was her name and I told him that her name was Ann and that she was only sixteen when she went missing.
George told me that he wanted to go there hoping to experience the mirage again. It seemed to me that something was wrong.
On the other hand it is quite possible that if one witnesses such a thing it might cause such a reaction in him. I hadn’t seen him since he left. Take his letter please he describes everything in details in it. Now you will understand what he is talking about in his letter. It’s not easy to realize everything that has happened, but I still think that his mind wasn’t able to bear the stress.’
The detective took the letter and went home where in a peaceful environment he was going to read the unusual letter.
THE PAINTER’S LETTER
I am going to tell you everything as happened. I still can’t realize what has happened to me. Do you remember when I left to make some sketches for my pictures?
I myself didn’t know where I was going. I did like that spot I chose, as there was a river to cool myself after work. So I decided to put up a tent there. There was
nothing around except for a forest, a glade, and the river.
I even thought that I stayed there for nothing as my eyes wouldn’t land on anything interesting to paint.
I sketched the river, glades, and then I would take a bath in the river, have supper and sleep.
I actually thought of finding another place. When I woke up in the morning and went out of my tent I was not able to understand at once what had happened. My tent was located near a huge castle. I saw people inside and outside of it and horse-drawn carriages. I was looking at all of this and I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was like in a fairy-tale.
I was curious to scrutinize everything closely and if possible to talk to the people.
I got closer. The castle was gorgeous, apparently it belonged to some rich man.
I called the people that were near the castle, but they didn’t answer and I thought that they couldn’t hear me and I came close to them. But they didn’t pay attention to me , this was when I understood that they couldn’t see me. I decided to touch one of them but I couldn’t feel them. I had the feeling that they were airy. I could see them, but they couldn’t see me, I could hear their voices, but they couldn’t hear mine. I decided to see you right away and inquire about this castle in the archives.
I came back again, again to that very same place. Owing to the information you provided, I knew whose castle that was. But when I came back everything was just as before that is to say there was no castle anymore. I had been waiting for three days and it appeared again.
I wanted to see the princess’ daughter. I was fascinated at her beauty, but she didn't show up.
But, lo and behold, I had the luck to see her finally. I was standing on a side of the river sketching when I heard some rustling behind me.
And I turned. It was his daughter and she was coming towards the river. She was alone.
Oh, God how lovely she was! An idea flashed across my mind, what if she can see me. I came up to her and I spoke to her.
Peter she heard me and looked at me!
‘Who are you? What are you doing here?’
‘I am an artist. I came here to make sketches for my pictures.’
She looked at me like people look at something amusingly incomprehensible. But it was nothing she could see and hear me that was above all. I was so afraid all the time that she would disappear.
‘May I ask Your Highness to make a portrait of you?’
‘Oh, I am bored that everyone wants to draw me. All right, I don’t mind, draw me, but I would like to appear on the picture with you.’
I was surprised . How could I paint her with me! But she slipped her arm through mine , turned to me and said that this is the picture she wanted to see. I started to paint her immediately still scared to lose her. Three days later the portrait was ready. Everything disappeared later, but after four days appeared again. We became best friends shortly after. I knew how crazy it was to be madly in love with her. When I said that I loved her she told me that she had been engaged and was going to get married soon. I was shocked. I didn’t think about four centuries that separated us at all, but I was thinking about her husband that was going to be between us after their marriage. I was willing to live there in my tent and meet her just like we were meeting each other in the way that was like a mirage or a fantasy. No matter how it is called, what counted was that we could see each other. I didn’t want her to marry him. I was sure that she loved me too although she never told me anything about her feelings.
‘I should be going. It’s late already. I must return to the castle.’
‘I will be waiting for you tomorrow, Ann.’
She looked at me. I was not able to resist it. I kissed her and she kissed me back. Then she put her head on my shoulder I knew she didn’t want to leave. At that very moment I noticed people with torches in their hands. Obviously, they were her servants who were trying to find her. I took her in my arms to my tent, as she was invisible to them there. She fell asleep in my arms. I put her on my improvised bed staying awake all night long looking at her. I was afraid that she would disappear.
I went out of my tent in the morning. Nothing again, the castle disappeared. I worried about her at first, but then I was so happy at the thought that I could take her with me. But then I thought that if the castle disappeared she must have disappeared too. I rushed to the tent. She was still sleeping there. I approached her quietly and bent my head down to kiss her, but what I saw there made me recoil sharply. She was not breathing. I tried to wake her up by shaking her and slapping her face, but in vain. She was dead. I couldn’t understand what had happened to her why she had died. I even thought that perhaps she wasn’t dead and that she would remain in such a state until the castle appeared again. Unfortunately, I was wrong. It appeared but she was still breathless. I saw people looking for her and calling her. I was terrified. What if they found her and blame me for her death. I was so scared. The castle was remaining visible for a while and as soon as it disappeared I decided to bury her. The only one place they couldn’t see was my tent. So I buried her under my tent. The burial place wouldn’t catch attention and I decided to come back home. I felt so depressed that I didn’t even call you. I painted about ten portraits of the princess in a few days and hung them in my flat. Our joint portrait was my favorite one. I was spending hours looking at it. Now I am going to let you know something terrifying. Once when I was sitting and looking at the picture just like I usually did, it suddenly came to life. I saw something that made me grow cold with terror. I didn’t want to live. Then suddenly I heard some rustling, that very same rustling I heard when I saw her for the first time. I looked round but there was no one. Feeling breathless I came up to the window, opened it ………..
At this point the letter was interrupted.
Detective Sean finished reading the letter.
‘Well, I think he was sick’ he concluded, after reading George’s letter. As the detective wanted very much to see their joint portrait he went to George’s place again. He himself felt a change in him after reading the letter. That change made him look at the painter’s pictures differently then. Their joint portrait was kept in the wardrobe this is why he didn’t see the portrait when he first came there. He took it out of the wardrobe carefully and started to scrutinize it.
Oh God! The picture depicted the princess’ murder. A man was strangling her and that man was George. The strange behavior of the painter seemed no longer as strange as it seemed before to the detective, but still it could not have been completely clear to him. The detective felt breathless and went out to the balcony. He leaned against the balustrades to look at the view out of the balcony when he suddenly felt that some inexplicable force was trying to throw him down but he managed to jump aside from the balustrades and literally fell down on the balcony.
And then he heard some strange sound of rustling.
The detective was reporting on closing the painter’s case. A suicide note found in his flat said that he had no desire to live anymore.
It’s a pity that such a talented artist decided to end his life this way.
The detective arranged for the pictures to be handed to the painter’s only friend Peter. It was going to be up to him what to do with them then.
The detective was coming home thinking, he was thinking about the painter.
Nothing was really clear to him in this story. Why did he kill her? How could he kill her, though? But still he managed to do it somehow.
One thing was obvious. She took revenge for her murder and killed him. She even tried to kill the detective too.
But whom is it possible to tell this to? Who will believe?