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Addendum to the Art Loss Register

SPRING 2017 THIRD PLACE

Drexel relaxed in the beat of swiping inner seams of jeans as the heft of cans tapped a pattern against his spine. In the chill air of just-before-dawn, the route to the underpass glowed oily orange.

Warning came in a muted grunt. Without losing his beat, Drexel slung with his shoulder into the crosshatches of a wire fence. The resident wino, shrugged beneath a sketchy carpet, pointed around the next corner. When Drexel saw the policeman, sans smiley-face, and a huddle of folk with flash cameras hustling around his imperfect artwork, he tugged his hood further forward.

“Bugger Bansky,” muttered the drinker and then shuffled on, a yarn flailing loose from his carpet in a rat’s tail trail.

Drexel crouched beside the shipwrecked ribs of a shopping trolley, edged off his backpack and tucked its strap around a dislocated, disengaged wheel. He had no desire to be caught red-bagged and red-handed. He thrust paint-stained hands into his pockets and padded nearer.

“What’s up?” he asked the uniform, lifting his chin towards the underpass and those hipster types with their LED lamps and thick-rimmed specs.

“Famous artist or some crap. Now piss off before I mention trespass.”

Drexel shifted himself into the shadowed concrete canvas and sidled closer. Harsh lights silhouetted his wan beauty. The missile-infant she cradled still suckled at her breast. She sirened out to him for the crimson-in-a-can that he’d abandoned, and she wept at the stenciled-on signature that stained her, that claimed her, for another.

A voice resonated by the agency of the underpass acoustics. “A deviation from his past work, a maturing. Pure genius!”

Drexel wavered half-in, half-out of the shadows.


Flash Fiction by Heather McQuillan

Published in Spring 2017

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