Michelangelo

25 Comments

[One more losing entry in a creative writing competition. The stipulation here was that the story had to be about 500 words. So without further ado, let me present one more reason why I should stay away from fiction]

He walked up the steps.

He was happy—another job well done. Within moments, he would be with his ten year old son and his lovely wife.

He knew he was not like any other dad or husband. A life of sitting behind a desk was not for him.

Ever since he was a kid, he knew his calling —-to be an artist. But not a painter or a musician—-those had been done to death.You go to an art gallery. You see a painting. You move on. Listen to a tune. Move it from your mind for another. Too ephemeral. He wanted his art to leave a lasting effect—once you would be touched by his “brush”, there would be no going back.

And what, he reasoned, could leave more irreversible impact than personally drawing the line between life and death?

His art was murder– and vocation.

And today he was coming back from a “hit”—oh how he hated that word. He much preferred the word “execution”. A “hit” implied a hodge-podge job whose success depended on fortune—hit or miss.

However when he did his job, there was nothing left to chance. Every execution was meticulously planned, all emergencies accounted for. Even the person executed suffered the minimum pain possible—a clean bullet through his heart. Nothing messy, nothing unaesthetic.

It was because of the perfection he brought to his work that he never had a police record. As far as the law was concerned, he just did notexist.

But he did. And there is nothing a true artist hates more than anonymity. So he signed each of his masterpieces by leaving a picture of Michelangelo on the dead body—-a calling card to tell the world that the master was here. He always carried a Michelangelo picture card in his jacket pocket because Michelangelo was his talisman. He was Michelangelo.

He knocked on his door. Today had been his sixth execution. A darkroom, a sleeping mafia boss, one muffled shot and then silent death.The streets however will not be silent. Soon they shall burn as the vendetta wars begin. He would be out of it though, reading his son a bed time story.

His only regret was that he could never tell his family what he did for a living. The ones he loved most would never know how great he was.

The door opened and his son ran into his arms shouting “Daddy”…………His wife was behind him smiling.

” I told him to go to sleep but he is so excited about some prank he has pulled that he insists on telling you about it.”

Yes he thought. His son is at that age when they begin playing pranks. The age of innocence——–he wondered when that passed him by.

Giggling uncontrollably, his son said “Papa papa, today I saw you put a card with the picture of an old man in your pocket. And while you hugged me in the morning, I put my hand inside your pocket and replaced his picture with this picture………ha ha you did not even notice.”

Clasped in the child’s small hands was a signed family group photo that he had printed out as a card to fit into his wallet. He had printed out two of them—one of which was being held by his son.

The second family group photo lay drenched in the blood of a 60 year-old mafia don.

The master had made a mistake.

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25 thoughts on “Michelangelo

  1. Good story with a great twist in the tail. Why not post it on the soc.culture.indian newsgroup? I found this funny story there, narrated by a gorilla!

  2. To be honest, this wasn’t a good story. The characters weren’t interesting, the twist was predictable. It does not, of course, mean that you shouldn’t continue writing fiction.

    Maybe you should try a humorous short story- that would be fun.

  3. I like all your posts. But honestly, this was the worst. The story is predictable and stereotype. The biggest let down was, “His art was murder — and vocation”. I wanted to stop reading at that point itself, but for the sake of loyalty and my immense respect for you (thanks to previous posts) I continued reading. Just one suggestion – whatever you do, please! don’t lose originality!!

  4. Interesting story, though not necessarily the best you can write; the twist was good, though there is a small problem there.

    It comes off as a trifle unrealistic that the master doesnt realize what pic he’s put on the dead man was not of michaelangelo – being a master himself who works out murder to smallest detail, I am sure he would see the pic to be sure before he put it on the dead man 🙂

    Suyog

  5. Hi Greatbong:
    Now here is a plot change in the story: The boy merely writes ” To daddy, love Laxmivenkataraghavan” on the back. The murderer panics. He thinks, “They will know that the murderer has a son named Laxmivenkataraghavan” and tie the murder to him. So he goes back to the scene of the murder. No one is there yet. He quickly grabs the card. There is nothing on the back. He reaches into his pocket and finds the other card – the one with his son’s message. And then the police arrive.
    Still, a little contrived and cliched.

    I got an ice cream from a guy named Laxmi last night. I figured his name had to be longer.

  6. @Ramesh,Malik,Joy For Ever, Anon: Thank you for the rare words of appreciation visavis this post.

    @Anirudh: It’s slightly difficult to make characters within 500–600 words. Anyhow.

    @Dandy: Abhe Dandy, mera naam Bongi nahin hain.

    @Anthony: 😐

    @Kandarp: Okay…well it’s original in that its not stolen from anywhere.

    @Supremus: Well I disagree. Someone who is so used to murder, if he is going to make a mistake, it will be at the very end–doing something that has become a conditioned reflex to him. The same reason why 70% of all accidents involving us happen within 2 miles of where we live– because close to home, we tend to relax and put our minds on autopilot.

    @Michael: :-)…

    @Asterix: Forsyth’s short stories—ewww

    @Devdutt: No need to duck for cover—I take criticism well. Or so I think.

  7. That’s true. One can’t really develop a character in 500-600 words. But this fellow didn’t affect me in any way. And as I said, the twist wasn’t interesting either.

  8. Arnab, Hi!
    I am new to your blog. Actually, found it just a week ago… probably wasn’t looking hard enough… whatever! However, in the past one week, I must have read about 4 months worth of your work and trust me (never trust people who use that phrase!)… I have a pretty busy life and if I read 4 months worth of your work in 7… or so, days it speaks something about your writing style… I normally have an attention span of a 4 year old… my wife will vouch for that.
    Now, having said that, it is my opinion… not that it counts… not that it should count… but blogs are just that – “aaa bayl mujhe maar”! (btw, I have learnt putting three dots after fractional sentences from my teenaged niece, it is the electronic equivalent of using “like” after every third word)… oh yeah, I almost forgot… my opinion… right… you should refrain from writing such cheesy stories!!! Yeah, 3 exclamation marks! Anybody can write such stories. You are not in that league man! Your writing style (no matter if people tell you you are one- dimensional or pro-bong or whatever pseudo-intellectual sounding defamations are in style these days) outside of fiction is unique and intelligent. When you write about your own experience or opinions, you are so original, sharp witted and eloquent that either the audience is completely at awe (like yours truly) or they make a complete fool of themselves (like that Akash fella in Nov last year… no! what am I saying? He made a fool of himself without any help… I was actually surprised that so many of your otherwise sane readers like “yourfan” and “shabbir” actually bothered to respond to his incoherent blabberfest 3-4 times in that one post about “One down, a million to go”, and that too at great length… I have started having doubts about their intellect… I apologize, I am just trying to be deliberately mean, I guess! But no offense guys! It is just an effort to try to pull you out of a future conversation with a hopeless character like Akash).
    Arnab, please do not go into that fiction lane, again. It is not for everybody, you know? You have a lot to offer in the realistic space. That’s where you have the expertise. Leave the fictions alone to the experts in that field. But then that is my opinion and I could be wrong.
    I just can not believe I used the Dennis Miller line!!! I hate that guy!!!
    Arnab, your piece on Mithun was just great. Your piece on Saurav was good (the scaling down is just due to the fact that I always had a very low opinion about Saurav besides his captaincy… just because I do not have patience for picturesque cover drives… I am a sucker for just blitzkriegs… never was a great fan of cricket but who can ignore “ashfaqing” Pakistan in cricket? Dhoni is from my homeland. Your piece on your grand-dad and Andaman was awesome to say the least. Your article on your wedding was smile inspiring. See? These were all the pieces that I-the-sole-critique-of-good-and-bad-writing approve of were good enough! So what do you do? Keep doing what you are good at! Write and publish what you want to. It is your own freaking blog for chrissakes! We are just the fans and will be! (You think? … That was put for measure!) Who knows? The paranthesis is not closed –> see? –> see? –>
    Love you man!
    You rock!!! But no fiction please!! You suck at those!!! Baat to sunn!! 🙂

  9. @Vurdlak: Sure go ahead. You actually liked it? Or is your site kind of like the “worst of” ?

    @Debashish: Thank you for your words of appreciation and criticism. However I had one question. Did you form your opinion about my capacity to write fiction based on only this post? Or did you for instance read my 55-word story or -1-900 HOTTIES? However the larger point is that if indeed I don’t write decent fiction, then does that mean I should not write it or write it even more so that I “improve”. There are always 2 ways of looking at a thing: don’t you agree?

  10. Arnab,
    First of all, it is Debasish not Debashish. I am very touchy about that :-). I take great pleasure in throwing my now stale punchline at the uninitiateds who ask me ‘how come you spell it as “sish” when you pronounce it as “shish”‘. My response to them is ‘how do you spell “sugar”?’. After all this time, though I still cannot resist my pathological flair for repetition, I wince every time I say it.
    Also, I hope you are not confusing me with the other guest of your blog who goes by the “h” version of the name. I am sure you are intelligent enough to detect that but wanted to clarify anyways just in case it was overlooked. I don’t think the extra “h” guy will want to be associated with any comments I ever make.
    Now going back to your question… firstly, do not take me too seriously (as if anybody would!) as the comments from others show that there are mixed feelings. Of course there are two ways to handle it as you mentioned but consider this (story time!)…
    In my school back in India, here was this guy who aspired to be a professional cricketer. He bowled medium pace and had a, what we thought, pretty good arsenal… in-swing, out-swing, off-cutter, leg-cutter… the works. When finally he found a bowling coach, his coach wanted him to drop the in-swing since he was mediocre in that and asked him to concentrate on the rest. Not that it is a great success story because the boy vanished in thin air. Nonetheless, my criticism was based on similar thought process. Also, I will not be truthful if I do not mention that my criticism stemmed from a rather selfish objective as well. I like your “other” pieces more, would like to be fed more of them and would hate to see you churning out stuff that I do not care for as much.
    Yes, I read your 55 word story and my reaction was “ummm, okay! Let me see what else he’s got.” And no, I have not read 1-900-hotties.

    Debasish

  11. GreatBong, I quite enjoyed the piece; ignore the hatin’ in the comments above.

    I’d reckon the ppl who did not like this are the same ppl who hate Quentin Tarantino.
    A bit of flourish here, a homage there, a tinge of hyperbole: some of these subtleties zoom over the head of many ppl like the flourish of a Hatori Hanzo sword.

  12. Hi!
    I am also new to your blog.And I’m very happy to read your novel,honestly to say.
    I am a chinese student who always read chinese novels on Internet. Maybe your fiction is the first one written by English I’ve read on the net. Yeah,I have some opinions toward it. I quite appreciate your comparison between the murderer and Mechelangelo.Though this ,I can understand the murderer’s thoughts quite clearly. He is lonely,and sorrow for that he could not be understood.And also proud of the job(I dont know whether it can be called as a job) he is doing.Yeah,quite a complicated and unique man.—-
    But I also want to say that this one is much too simple.and the scenerio is quite predictable.It’s just like some other fictions I’ve read before.It need to be improved to be more unique.
    hehe,it’s just my personal opinions.But hope you can accept it quite pleasely.

  13. GB really i thought i have read all of ur posts and then i was randomly searching “Interviews with Greatbong” and it threw this post….I quite liked it….and as usual comment space is the best …..

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