The Conceiting Portrait (Part 5)
The Conceiting Portrait (Part 5)4 mins 97 4 mins 97
Jo and Blake finished reading Clara’s diary. “Pretty short.” Blake said flipping through the empty pages. Jo was lost in her thoughts. She abruptly stood up and walked towards Clara’s bookshelf. She brushed the books searchingly. “What are you searching for? This was our last clue.” Blake said He raised an eyebrow and walked towards Jo who paid no attention to him. Jo picked out a book, a brown thick book labelled ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’. “Found it.” She remarked. “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer? It’s a storybook.” Blake said perplexed. “That’s how Clara hid it, in plain sight.” Jo said and opened the book. There were several newspaper clippings pasted on every page, each one showing a different case from the other. She nearly reached half the book when she found
newspaper articles related to ‘The Blue’ portrait. “Look!” Jo pointed at a woman’s picture. She wore navy-blue gown and black slacks, high blue heals, a net let down on her face and long gloves with stitched roses on it. Jo picked up the photo and flipped it. It read Michelle de la’ Vanilli. Jo fished out her phone a clicked a photo on her mobile phone. She kept the photograph back in its place and moved on to the next item. “Michelle de la’ Vanilli: The Next Leonardo da Vinci?”, “Michele de la’ Vanilli: Social Activist takes charge”, “Michelle de la’ Vanilli: Overpowers men”, “Michelle de la’ Vanilli: A heroin for women”, “Michelle de la’ Vanilli: Mysteriously found dead”. Jo read all the titles of the newspaper cut-outs. Jo clicked the pictures of each and every resource she found about Michele and saved it in a different folder. Blake did the same. The bell rang and Jo opened to door to find a nun and a couple of workers standing behind her. “Sister Emilie? I suppose you’ve” Jo’s voice trailed off as she refrained to take out the words. “Yes, dear.” Sister Emilie hugged Jo and gestured the workers to take Clara’s books, stationery and clothes to donate them in the same orphanage Clara and Joan grew up. After about thirty minutes, when Jo sat beside Blake weeping, Emilie walked up to her and handed Jo a couple of books along with the fat book labelled ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’. Jo looked up to the nun. “Clara told me never to give this to you but after recent events, I believe that giving them to you would be the only next right thing to do.” She patted her head and left with a soft smile. Jo held the books tightly, close to her chest as she burst into tears. Old memories flashed in her mind. Blake stood up to leave feeling that it would be right to leave Jo alone for the time being. He closed the door behind him and left the hostel. It was nearly half past eight. Blake’s stomach rumbled. He decided the stop on his drive back home at a restaurant. He opened the door and was greeted by a jovial attendant. “Just me.” Blake said. He pointed to a seat in the far corner and said that it was the only seat not reserved for the night. “Why, is there a meeting scheduled here?” Blake asked although he was sure that this particular restaurant was no place to keep an important meeting. “I do not know anything about the people or the purpose about their gathering.” he said looking up to him.
Blake, without any further thoughts, sat on his seat for his stomach rumbled loudly. He picked up the menu place beside him and started reading the dishes when a crowd of men entered the restaurant and occupied all the vacant seats. The attendant quickly ran to them to take their order. They didn’t even look at the menu and ordered their preferences, as though they were regular customers. The attendant quickly ran inside the kitchen to pass on the orders to the chefs. He came out sooner than expected and stood beside Blake to take down his order. The attendant found it difficult to note down Blake’s order due to all the constant chattering and laughs the men let out in regular intervals. Blake raised his eyebrow in suspicion and took out his phone when the attendant left with the guide’s order. The guide started recording the scene around him until his dish arrived. The men had left before their order had come. It seemed as though the men had not noticed Blake sitting in the far corner. Suddenly the chefs came out to see that no one was there except for the attendant and Blake. They yelled at the man for being the cause of wasting so much of food and money. Blake stood up to protest but he did not want to involve himself into a fight and quietly left the place after paying the bill. The attendant felt bad that despite of being an eye witness, Mr. Blake never protested for him or at least say politely that the waiter did not give any false order. He sighed and left the restaurant. He walked down the dark, lonely alley as he tried to recollect his thoughts about how he got fired on his first day of work.