He wasn’t interested in the upper class, so Stan said, on many an occasion. Although, he was curious as to who was influencing his new city, particularly if it involved sport? Football, hockey, basketball, baseball, they all held his interest, but, occasionally, stories of people not associated with sport would grab his attention. Reading the newspaper was a distraction, in between orders. Some days he’d indulge the social pages, but only when alone in his apartment.
The painting had become a distraction. “It’s drivin’ me crazy. I’ll get rid of it.”
With a beer in hand, and a photo of Conrad staring back at him from the newspaper, an idea came to him. Maybe it’s worth something. I’ll sell it. A few bucks at least . . . better than nothing.
It was late afternoon when he approached the receptionist in Conrad’s gallery, with the painting in hand.
“Do you think anyone would be interested in buying this?” He held it up for her to see.
She glanced at it, but replied, nonchalantly, “Not really.”
That was a fucking waste of time. Stan, not one for readily accepting rejection, walked out to the sidewalk and the sunlight, to consider his next move. “Now what?”
Without being aware of it, the same receptionist was standing behind him.
As she tapped his shoulder, she said, “Excuse me. I can have someone look at it, but you may have to wait until he returns. If you don’t want to wait, you can leave it. I’ll give you a receipt to say it’s yours, and you can pick it up whenever it suits you.”
“Who’s he and how long will he be?”
“Conrad Krarmer, and he’ll only be about twenty minutes. He’s just rung. How about coming in and I’ll make you a cup of coffee? I’m sure he won’t be long.”
If that painting leaves here without Conrad looking at it I could be looking for another job.
Instinct was telling Stan to go inside and wait. “I won’t wait long. Twenty minutes, you say?”
“That’s what he said.”
The painting Conrad hadn’t seen before, but he certainly knew who the artist was, even though it was unsigned.
“Sorry to have kept you, Stan. Can I ask where you got it from?”
“It doesn’t matter where I got it . . . I didn’t steal it, if that’s what you’re thinking.”
“Not in the least. It’s just that it’s an unusual painting. I was wondering if you knew who the artist is.” I’m not comfortable with this situation. Why does he have it?
“I haven’t got the faintest idea who painted it. It was given to me. Anyway, do you want to buy it, or do I take it to someone else?” Stan’s voice indicated his agitation.
Conrad, aware of it, asked, “How much do you want for it?”
“Make me an offer!”
He gave Stan a look that a card player would give another when making the next bet.
Stan’s face gave away his hand. His mouth was agape. Fuck, a thousand bucks! I don’t believe it. This guy’s a schmuck. A thousand bucks for that rubbish. “Make it two!”
Conrad knew he had made the correct bet. “Okay. You will have to give your details, that’s the law, just in case the police want to investigate. If it has been stolen, then they can talk to you.”
“For two thousand bucks, who’s arguing?” Stan was overjoyed.
After giving his details, and collecting his money, he walked to the gallery’s entrance door, but before exiting, he re-counted the money. “You paid too much. I would’ve taken five hundred.” His wry smile was deliberate. Another sucker, he thought.
Conrad decided to return the smile. I can play this game, too. “I would have given you five thousand.”
Again, Stan looked stunned. He looked at Conrad for any indication of mockery, but Conrad held his poker face. With a stony look staring back at him, Stan thought, I don’t care, I got it for nothing, and I’m two thousand bucks in front. Five grand, the guy’s crazy!
The receptionist, shocked by the figure mentioned, asked, “Mr Krarmer, would you really have paid five thousand dollars for it?” She was still trying to come to terms with her ignorance of art.
“It’s probably worth twenty thousand.”
Still flabbergasted, she watched as he, and the painting, disappeared into his office.
It’ll take pride of place in my office, he thought, as he placed it on the easel standing in one corner. The easel was for displaying paintings he regarded as worthy. As his searching eyes closely examined the painting, he thought, with Katherine and Barbara both adamant none had ever been sold, how did he come to have it? Maybe he received it as a gift. Did he take it from Katherine’s apartment? Who knows?