Thompson shook his head, surveying Ariadne’s works upon the wall. All her photographs hung from their frames where she had earlier placed them, all save one; the picture of the man with the albescent jacket.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Campbell, I’ve no idea where it went. It must have been…”
Ariadne nodded gravely, “Stolen. Its alright, Mr. Thompson. Wasn’t your fault. It doesn’t matter, I didn’t like it anyways, lets just focus on the show.”
He turned to her and gave a wry smiled and nodded and left off to answer the phones and order catering.
Campbell hadn’t seen him coming. She hated how silent he was.
“Now that you’ve finally got your gala-showing, do you look upon your work any differently?”
She turned furiously to behold Lynder Partridge standing behind her, a lit cigarette in his left hand, his right in his pocket, dressed all in a dark, sleek suit of diamond-patterned blue. She knew he’d show up sooner or later given that Thompson had invited him; had been waiting for him to do so. She dug the photo of her eye out of her pocket and thrust it in his face, “Mind telling me what the fuck this is?” He raised a brow slightly took a drag and then removed his right hand from his pocket and slowly took the photograph, examining it methodically.
“It is a photograph of an eye, Ms. Campbell.”
“No shit. You know whose eye?”
“It appears very similar to your own.”
“It is. Why was it in my house?”
“I’ve no idea what you are talking about,” She could tell he was legitimately confused which in turn confused her, “Explain precisely what happened from the beginning.” She told the tale and upon finishing he nodded, more to himself than to her and flipped the photograph around such that she could see it.
“I induce you believe this is the photograph I took of you at my last gala?”
“Yes. Obviously. What are you playing at?”
He shook his head fractionally, a movement so slight it was almost imperceptible and would have been had he not been standing so close to her, “You forget how flustered you were during our last encounter, your gaze were quite narrow, besides, this is a digital photograph, not analogue. Like you, I hem to the Leica, it is the only camera which I presently own. In fact, I was utilizing Mr. Thompson’s darkroom in place of my own, which is currently under construction. I can show you, if you should like.”
“If you didn’t take it than who did? You were the last person to take a picture of me.”
“As I said, it is digital. Consider how many pictures of yourself are presently available on the internet. It would be a matter of the moment to seize one, download it, crop it, blow it up to such exaggerated proportions and then print it. As for who delivered it to your abode, I could not say, but I can say that whoever it is they’re no artist.”
“On that we agree.”
She was angry. She had been positive Lynder was at the bottom of it, yet the more she considered the situation the more she realized how ridiculous her accusations must appear. He was one of the most popular up-and-coming artists in the entire city and given his previous comments on her lack of ability there was no reason for him to pursue her. She shook her head, hell, even now he looked disinterested. His comments about the internet and the ease with which one might obtain a photograph of her also rang plausible. Lynder was too much an artist to craft such a shoddy composition, there was no life in it, no message, no force or vitality. She took the photo from Lynder’s outstretched, black-gloved hand, gazing at it fixedly. He was right. It wasn’t art, it was graphic design. It wasn’t him. Then still the question: Who had left the photo? Was it the man with the white jacket? If he was indeed the killer of Greely perhaps he believed she had seen too much. Perhaps he feared she could identify him…
“Are you quite alright, Ms. Campbell?”
“No… no I am not.”
She turned to leave but he stepped forth, his presence of sudden interest restraining her like an invisible lasso.
“Congratulations on your first showing.”
She turned and smiled a hollow, cold smile, “Thanks.”
“I know you resent me because of my critiques of your work but know this, if I critique it is only because I believe it will aid your improvement.” He gestured to her artwork where it hung upon the wall, now swarming with students and professors and journalists and socialites, “As it clearly has.”
His face registered no emotion at the insult; he merely raised his cigarette back up to his mouth and took a drag and expelled a puff of smoke respectfully to his unoccupied left.
“Hubris is a sword, Ms. Campbell, be sure you don’t fall upon it.”