Sonal Bhatia Randhawa

Crime Drama Thriller


Sonal Bhatia Randhawa

Crime Drama Thriller

The Apparition

The Apparition

8 mins

Mr.Smith's opulent mansion was abuzz with hectic activity. Today was the day for the auctioning of one of the rarest paintings "The Apparition" by the renowned artist Mr.Mark Rutherford. The creme de la creme of art aficionados from a number of countries had flown into the picturesque countryside home and Auction House of Mr.Smith.

Mr.John Smith was the biggest dealer of rare paintings made by renowned artists. He was a short man with a round moon-like face. His golden rimmed Cartier glasses rested arrogantly on his hawk-like slightly crooked nose. The piercing pair of eyes peeping through them bore a testimony to his acumen and sharp wit.

The elite buyers dressed in all finery and designer labels slowly trickled into the central auction hall. The coveted painting had been placed on an ornate sturdy wooden stand. The bidders were being allowed to have a closer look at this marvelous masterpiece one by one.

It was Mr.Carlson's turn next.Mr.Carlson was an ardent art lover and would often go to these auctions despite the fact that he did not have the means to bid highly for them. He had retired as Commissioner Police about five years ago. He was one officer who had been dreaded by criminals throughout his tenure. Many of them must have lit candles in the Church the day he retired. Even now, at the age of sixty-five, his tall well built, an athletic frame and bursting biceps could put any young man to shame. The most striking feature of his magnetic persona was his sparkling blue eyes which people said had the vision of an eagle.

The painting was beautiful, depicting few men seated in a room with one of them superimposed by an apparition of a woman hence the name. However, it was not the painting but its unusually big sized ugly bulky box-like frame which caught Mr.Carlsons eye. He swore to himself and thought "Damn !who the hell thought of putting this shit on such an intricate piece of art!"

He gently tapped on the frame curious to know what was it made of. As he did so, a powdery material sprinkled all over his coal black trousers.

"Probably sawdust, " he thought as he took out a handkerchief from his pocket and cleaned it while walking back to his seat. As he was about to sit he felt a sudden urge to sneeze and reflexly placed the handkerchief quickly over his nose and mouth.

He settled in his seat and started going through the details of the painting in the invitation letter sent to him but somehow he could not concentrate. There was a peculiar uneasy feeling that somewhere something was not right. The feeling seemed familiar yet he could not place it. He tried to ignore but still felt restless and decided to just walk around in the hall. As he paced back and forth, it suddenly hit him! "Gosh! it can't be!" "This is ridiculous! " "Hope I am not conjuring!" but he was sure his premonition was right, his instinct and years of experience could not go wrong.

His heartbeat seemed to go haywire as he felt a rush of adrenaline. His head reeling with the impact of this sudden revelation. Without wasting a minute, he rushed out of the hall pulling his coat from the back of his chair, frantically searching for his car keys in the pockets as he almost sprinted through the driveway into the parking lot.

Hastily picked up his car and drove with complete disregard to the speedometer needle. He still could not believe what he had unraveled accidentally. With his eyes stuck to the road ahead, he gave a swift glance at his watch and muttered "Still an hour for the auction to start "

He stopped the car and without bothering to lock it he dashed into the police station, hurriedly introduced himself and requested to see the officer in charge as there was something urgent and serious. The officer, Inspector Joe Fernandes was there within minutes.

He quickly explained everything to Joe Inspector Joe's eyes widened with shock."Holy shit!this is unbelievable "

but he lost no time in summoning his subordinates.

As Joe rammed out fast instructions on the wireless to his juniors to gather all the manforce available immediately, irrespective whether on duty or at home, Mr.Carlson left the police station and drove back to the mansion. He calmly entered the hall and took his seat, his poker face dexterously camouflaging his pounding heart.

The auction was to begin in a few minutes.Mr.Smith came in with a cavalcade of his aides and they occupied the special seats in the first row. The auctioneers came in and the auction process was about to start when hordes of armed policemen swooped in like eagles from all sides into the hall and took guard at all entrances and exits.

The participants looked at each other confused and shocked! Fear and panic gripped them. Some tried to leave their seats to go out but were directed back by the policemen.

Joe quickly reached to the front, took the mike and announced ."Everyone please remain seated and do not move lest you get shot by my men" An eerie silence prevailed as all just sunk into their seats and sat like statues.

Mr.Smith was taken aback by the whole scenario but he gathered himself and shouted ."What is all this Officer?"

"I am sorry Mr.Smith, I have a search warrant for this place," Joe said and handed over the papers to him.

Mr.Smith looked bewildered "Search warrant ! for what?"

"I need to examine the painting first and then we shall discuss. Till then please be pinned to your seat and do not dare to move" Joe warned.

Joe then walked swiftly towards the painting along with Mr.Carlson .Mr.Smith tried to follow them but was pushed back to his seat by one of the gunmen."No movement or you go to jail for obstructing the investigations buddy" the gunman said looking menacingly at him.

Mr.Carlson once again tapped on the frame on the same side and the powdery material poured out from the corner of the frame. Joe then ordered one of his men to slit open the frame with an electrical saw."Please stop officer" Mr.Smith shouted !" You cannot do this!this is worth millions, you will have to pay for it! I am warning you!"

"Please do not interfere with the investigation Mr.Smith, I warn you! Joe turned back and answered.

As the frame was split open multiple small packets of the same powder fell out as everyone looked in utter dismay.Mr.Smith and all his men were put under arrest immediately.

All the guests were escorted to the police vans waiting outside and taken to the police station for further inquiry. However, most of them were let off in an hour or so after questioning and recording of their statement as they were found to be ignorant and had no role.

Smith and his aides were taken in for a thorough interrogation. After ten hours of gruesome grilling session, one of the men finally gave in and spilled the beans.

The next day, early morning, the conference hall at the Police Headquarters of the small town was packed to the hilt with reporters and journalists. All were waiting with bated breath to get the briefing from the Police Chief Mr.Rick Martin on the sensational incident that had shaken up the entire art community internationally.

Chief Martin began his address with Inspector Joe and Mr.Carlson sitting by his side.

"Good morning! We are pleased and proud to share with you that our small town police force has attained a remarkable feat. However, at the same time, I will like to add that we owe this success to the vigilance and sharp acumen of our ex-commissioner Mr.Carlson.It was because of him that we have been able to unearth an international Drug Cartel being headed by none other than one of the most prominent art dealers and the elite citizen of our town Mr.John Smith.

The investigations are currently on however we have got some information on the modus operandi of the gang.m which we can share with you

They were using auctioned paintings as a mode for smuggling drugs into different countries."

After a brief pause, he continued "The paintings or artwork being sold were fake and were being advertised as lost works of some great artists. The advertisements for auctions would be placed in different countries wherein they wished to smuggle the drugs. They purposely chose huge paintings or bulky artworks. The paintings were then framed with hollow frames that were stuffed inside with different varieties of narcotics."

Once the painting was bought, the auctioneer would offer the buyer free service for transportation and installation of the painting in the buyers' premises. Their men would then remove the drug packets from the frames during installation."

"Some smart ass guys earned both ways selling fake art and drugs!" one of the journalists remarked.

"Indeed! It was their misfortune that Mr.Carlson happened to be at the right place at the right time or I should say for them at the wrong place at the wrong time. With his sharp eyes, the experience of years and of course the quick recognition of the flowery odour emanating from his handkerchief as he sneezed into it, made him realise within minutes that the powder in his handkerchief was pure cocaine!

We are highly grateful to him, he has once again lived to his eagle eye reputation even after retiring !" The Apparition of this mission will haunt many for years" "Thank you all for being here! I wish you a good day!"

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