|The Portrait of Antoinette (standard:horror, 5619 words)|
|Author: Tom Soukup||Added: Jan 06 2002||Views/Reads: 2482/1579||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|An international art thief pulls off the greatest art heist in history. Every villian reaps what he sows, however, and his world shatters around him in a most unusual way. (Please read my older stories. Comments are greatly appreciated.)|
THE PORTRAIT OF ANTOINETTE By Tom Soukup The dim lamp along the rue de Rivoli forced his shadow against the centuries old stone of the building. He pressed himself tighter to the wall trying to become a part of it until the slow moving vehicle turned away to leave him alone once more in the midnight darkness. He clutched the package near him, its valuable contents protected by his grasp. He had escaped the same way he got in, using the cunning mastery of his trade to breach the security of the Musee du Louvre, the most prestigious art museum in the world ... the Louvre. Darkness fell on the street again and he stole the opportunity to break for his car parked quietly at the top of the street. His black form blended into the background perfectly. Neil Hamilton was a thief. He had made a successful career of it, traveling the world in search of treasures. He worked alone, unable to trust accomplices who might turn on him for reasons that may only be known to themselves. They could get in the way, complicate things and then sing loudly to the authorities if it would save their own necks ... even if it also meant that his would be sacrificed in the offing. And tonight he had made probably his greatest "find". The guard had come dangerously close to discovery twice while Neil tiptoed through the eerie silence of the galleries. Each time he held his breath, finding cover behind a statue or a bench, disappearing into the darkness until the sleepy guard shuffled around the corner on his rounds. Neil was not anxious for confrontation; he had success-fully avoided it through these past twelve years so far and he did not want to have to defend himself against a frightened cop who was most likely more heavily armed than intelligence safely dictated. But Neil was prepared both mentally and physically to handle such a confrontation should it be presented. His hand rested gently on the grip of the cold nine-millimeter pistol as the guard passed, and Neil knew that he would have used it if pushed. It was really just a law of his profession; kill or be killed. But other than those two moments of tension, this mission had gone quite well. He found the hall easily even in the dark, his reconnaissance of the previous week etching paths deeply in his memory. The painting hung where it had for years and Neil deftly disabled the security devices dedicated only to this piece of art. He slid the razor from its sheath, the dim glow of the security lighting catching its honed surface, and he slid the sharpened edge slowly along the frame to free the canvas. Da Vinci's Mona Lisa curled in response to its freedom, rolled neatly to a scroll that slid effortlessly into the cardboard tube, her mystical smile caught within the coils. He had done it. Neil swelled with pride at having stolen one of the world's most prized possessions. He started the small car now and cut into the street, the west wall of the Louvre disappearing slowly behind him. The night was a beautiful one and Neil lit a cigarette, the strong smell of French tobacco stinging his eyes. He motored carefully ... no sense in calling attention to himself now ... and wound through the empty streets to the tiny flat in the center of the Ile de la Cite. * * * "Is that you, my darling?" The sleepy voice came from the partly closed door of the bedroom. "Did I wake you, Toni?" Neil said as he pulled the black sweatshirt over his head. "Come to bed," she replied. "I've been waiting for you." Her words were soft and inviting and Neil was glad he had made this particular change in his life. It had happened so fast. Barely three months ago, he had been strolling the wooded paths of the Bois de Boulogne, thinking deep thoughts and planning his next deception. The shouts of children could be heard among the trees, the foreign sound of French lost in the playful sound. It was little different from the same scene in his native Long Island Click here to read the rest of this story (605 more lines)
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