The Evanescence: A Short Story Act Two

circa 1980’s The Bay Area

 

As she turned and walked swiftly away, Samuel watched her vanish in the growing twilight shadows.  He felt a sense of lost as if he knew that Rachel Harrison would never enter his life again.

 Picking up Rachel’s portrait, he walked home to his shop, Donnee Galerie.  Samuel wanted to hang Rachel’s portrait behind the counter for all to see after it was framed.  The portrait, like the young lady, had a mystical aura about it.  To him it was strangely enigmatic.

 Today, he pondered, has been just like a dream.  Maybe, I was dreaming all day, but how could that be?  No, it was real.  Rachel is real.  I’m real, and most of all this portrait has a reality not found in dreams.  If anything should convince me, this canvas should.  No doubts . . .

 At ten the next morning as Samuel busied himself in his gallery, two visitors entered the shop.  The man and the woman appeared to be in their late fifties.

 “Good morning!  I’m Samuel Taylor.  May I be of assistance?”

 “Would you mind if we looked around at your fine art pieces?”  The man asked.

 “No, please let me know if I can be of service.”

 After a few minutes, they began to behave oddly –whispers, glances at Samuel and definite stares at Rachel’s portrait.  This made Samuel apprehensive.  He felt threaten, yet he could not explain why.

 Finally, Samuel decided that he must inquire about the nature of their business.  “Pardon me . . . Are you sure that I can’t be of service?”  His tone was firm.

 The lady spoke, “Yes, young man, I am Rachel Stapleton, and this is Charles Jenkins, my personal assistant.  I was referred to you by a dear friend, Mrs. Jonathan Goodfellow.”

 “Ah!  Yes, Mrs. Goodfellow, a very charming lady.”

 “True . . . I want to purchase one of your fine art please.”

 “Which one would you like?”

 “I would like to have that one.”  She pointed to Rachel’s portrait.

 A sickening fear gripped him.  Somehow, he knew this would happen.

 “That is out of the question . . . I promised the young lady that I wouldn’t sell it.”

 “‘Tis a pity . . . I am intrigued by it . . . I will pay you ten thousand dollars.”

 Samuel’s professional demeanor disintegrated as the amount rang in his ears.  He gulped.

 “Please agree to my offer,” she earnestly pleaded.

 It was then that Samuel noticed something singularly familiar about her.  As he studied her face, her green eyes seemed to leap at him.

 Those eyes, he thought, resemble Rachel’s, but they are different.  They are colored with sadness, a deep sadness.  Rachel’s eyes sparkled with joy, a sincere, youthful joy.

 “Young man, what do you say?”

 “I’m curious . . . Why do you want that one?”

 “I told you.  It intrigues me, and a person of my age has little intrigue.  Don’t begrudge me my idiosyncrasies, young man.”

 “I would not dream of it, but a promise is a promise, Mrs. Stapleton.”

 “True, but think about my generous offer . . . I will send Charles tomorrow to receive your final answer.”

 Samuel started to object but conceded.  “I will consider it, “he promised.

 After they left, he turned to Rachel’s portrait.  He stared at it for several minutes.  Those eyes are the same as Rachel Stapleton, yet they at the same time are different.  Somehow, I believe Rachel Harrison is behind this . . . Who are you, and who is Rachel Stapleton?  He wondered.

 To be continued…

G. D. Williams       © 2011

 

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