300-word story: A businessman finally fulfils his life's ambition.
The businessman removed the outer packaging, the inner padding, and then the protective layer that surrounded the framed painting. Placing it onto perfectly aligned hooks that had been waiting patiently for weeks, he stepped back to admire his latest acquisition. It truly was exquisite; the artist's finest work by far. Commissioned by a nobleman, it had hung in a manor house's parlour for a century before entering the market last month. The price tag had been extortionate, yet worth every penny.
His gaze slid across the room. Beneath the painting was a marble fireplace; in front of that, a genuine hand-knotted Persian rug, its shades complementing the numerous first editions that filled the adjacent rosewood shelves. Indulging in a conceited smile, the businessman walked through the enormous penthouse suite toward his antique liquor cabinet. It presented him with many options, but this occasion called for a superior whisky.
Pouring a generous measure of a single malt that was bottled before his birth, he lifted the crystal tumbler and gently swirled its contents. The rich, golden hue was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, its lustre rivalling that of his solid gold watch and matching cufflinks. He took a sip, allowed the aromatic flavours to roll over his tongue, and swallowed. It was liquid silk, crafted by artisans who never got to taste their own masterpiece. Thoroughly pleased with himself, he let out a sigh of pure satisfaction.
The businessman had now fulfilled his life's ambition. After many years of betraying principles, stabbing friends in the back and looking out for number one, he was completely, utterly content. Surrounded by the luxury of authenticity down to the smallest detail, he could finally rest easy in the knowledge that he, and he alone, was the only fake in the room.
Copyright © 2020 Rich Sutherland
Image: Jonathan Francisca