A loud bang startled the man sitting on the couch. He looked up from his reading to see that a large painting on the far wall had fallen onto the floor, and was now leaning against the wall. The glow from Earth in the skylight illuminated the painting like it sat on display in a museum.
He set his flexscreen down and picked up the half-empty wine glass from the table in front of him, then stood up. He walked over to the painting and stared down at it, slowly sipping his wine. He didn’t question why the painting had fallen. It wasn’t the first time. Nor would it probably be the last, he thought.
It was an oil on canvas work depicting his hometown, a riverside village on the outskirts of Buenos Aires called Ramallo. It was a poor slum, commonly referred to as a villa miseria, with tents and shanties scattered amongst cheaply made prefab housing units and textile sweatshops. Ramallo was where he and his three brothers and one sister had grown up, trying to scratch out a life without falling prey to the gangs and the stims and the gunrunning and the thievery. He, as the oldest, had taken over his mother’s role after she disappeared following a civil war, and had raised the others as best he could. Yet he still saw his sister and one brother die at the hands of rival gangs. He had blamed himself for being weak and passive, and swore then he would never allow such weakness to interfere with his life. Or his plans.
The villa miseria was long gone, having been swept away by the massive asteroid-induced tidal surges that began the Dark Days. Many towns nearby had pulled through because their structures were newer and stronger than Ramallo’s. That was in no small part due to Ramallo not giving in to the corruption and gangs, and therefore not having the means or funds to improve their small village. And it had perished because of that. He had seen what power and influence could do, and what the lack thereof could lead to. And it had guided his life ever since.
He had the painting commissioned a few years before the Shanghai asteroid, and the artist had done a superb job of showing Ramallo in its finer days. The various colors of the rooftops were shown in beautiful contrast to the stark prefab units, with the sun gleaming over Rio Paraná in the background, and there were no signs of the ragged tents and corrugated metal shacks. The artist had signed the lower right corner without any flourish, just a simple “Ekaterina 2138.”
He brought it with him wherever he had gone, including the isolated and cold moon. But as he stared at it on the floor, he remembered the last few times it had fallen. Each time, it had preceded some disastrous downturn in his life, almost like the old wives’ tale of if you straighten a picture on a wall, someone close to you would die. He had always thought of that tale as absurdly negative, but this painting almost seemed to sense what was coming — whether it was the mining incident on Ganymede, the death of his wife Marianna in a car accident, the Poliahu mission Tevez had fouled up resulting in their self-imposed banishment to Luna, and others — so he had learned to listen to it.
He snorted as he stooped down to pick up the frame. Listen to a painting, he thought. I’m turning into an old woman.
Enjoy the genre, like the scene? Gabriel’s Revenge is now available for all e-book platforms. Get into the trilogy with book 1, Gabriel’s Redemption, and book 2, Gabriel’s Return. Thanks for stopping by!