Faces of the Lost

Faces of the Lost

A Story by Craig2591
"

Thought I'd try my hand at a little noir fiction.

"

Alex parked her car along the curb and got out. She zipped up her windbreaker in a vain attempt to block out the chill, damp autumn air. Something cold and wet touched her face and she looked up at the grey sky to discover it was beginning to sleet. Alex hunched her shoulders against the cold and started across the street toward the shabby apartments that had once been a grand Victorian home. Brown, dry leaves chased one another down the street.


She trotted up the crumbling concrete steps to the giant double doors and entered into a long, large hallway. She stopped at the first door she came to and read the sign mounted on it.


Jackson Reims - Artist

Studio visits by appointment only.


She brushed her shoulder-length red hair back from her face and knocked. About thirty seconds passed before it opened to reveal a tall, thin man of about thirty. His blond hair was disheveled and he hadn't shaved in several days. He was wearing a paint stained t-shirt and faded jeans. He looked at Alex expectantly without a word.


“Jackson Reims?” Alex asked with a faint smile.


“That's me,” he replied with a touch of impatience in his voice.


“I'd like to come in and look at your paintings,” she said.


“Studio visits are by appointment only,” he responded sullenly, pointing to the sign on the door. “I'm kinda busy.”


“I promise I'll only be a few minutes,” she pressed.


He hesitated a few moments, then sighed with resignation and stepped back to allow her in. “I guess I could use a short break.” He gave her a strained smile.


The studio reeked of paint, turpentine and linseed oil and was littered with an eclectic mix of small tables piled with jars of brushes, tubes of paint, sketchbooks, pencils and other artist supplies. To one side stood an easel with an unfinished painting mounted on it. On the opposite wall hung two large paintings with two more leaning against the wall beneath them. Alex walked over to study the paintings while Reims leaned against one of the tables and watched her with his arms folded over his chest.


Jackson Reims had become somewhat of a sensation in the local art scene with his paintings of the lives of street kids. His canvases depicted everyday scenes from their existence - dumpster diving for food, sleeping in cardboard boxes under bridges, shooting up with heroin or crystal meth. They were painted with dull shades of ochre, umber and grey with touches of dark, lifeless red and slate blue. The paint had dripped down the canvas in places and made it look as if the paintings themselves were weeping for the plight of the poor kids. In every painting the faces of the kids were obscured by something - their hair, a hand, a tree branch or the head turned or looking down. It made them anonymous. Alex had to admit, the paintings had quite an effect on her and moved her to pity.


“Are these from real life?” she asked, “Have you met these kids? How well do you know them? Do you talk to them?” She winced inwardly as she realized too late that she was asking too many questions too fast.


He gave her a side-long look. “Are you a cop?” he asked suspiciously.


She shrugged and nodded.


“Got a badge?”


She took her ID out of her pocket and held it up for him to see. He took it from her and studied it carefully before handing it back to her.


He waved his hand at the paintings and said, “Yeah, I've met some of them. But I don't know them very well. These paintings are all from photos.”


Her face remained expressionless, but her heart skipped a beat. Photos? Could she be that lucky?


“I'd like to see those,” she said.


He gave her another side-long look. “Is this about that serial-killer the cops are trying to catch?”


She hesitated for several seconds before giving him an almost imperceptible nod.


“Am I a suspect?”


She stared at him as she considered her response. He didn't look anything like the mysterious figure in the grainy, fuzzy security-cam image they had of the man they were sure was the killer. But the public didn't know the police had that picture and she sure as hell wasn't going to tell Jackson Reims about it. “We're looking at several people at the moment,” she answered.


“But my name's on that list,” he said. It was a statement rather than a question.


She didn't respond.


He sighed and gestured for her to follow him. “C'mon, I've got nothing to hide.”


She followed him to a corner of the studio where a sheet of plywood lay atop some concrete blocks creating a make-shift desk. The surface was covered with papers, pencils, empty beer cans and a laptop computer. He pulled up a folding chair and sat down at the laptop. As he clicked on files and loaded the pictures he spoke, “I didn't take these pictures. They don't trust me enough for that. Hell, they don't trust anybody. It took forever just to get some of them to even talk to me. A girl called Luna took these. I'm sure that's not her real name. Just a kid. Probably not a day over fourteen. I let her use that camera.” He nodded toward an expensive looking camera sitting on the desk. “It looks nice, but it's actually old. It's not worth much compared to the new ones that are out now.” Once the pictures were loaded he stood and let Alex sit down.


She had a theory. A hunch. She didn't suspect Reims of any wrong-doing, but she wondered if the killer might be using his paintings to select his victims. She needed to identify these kids. See if there was a pattern.


Her heart sank as she started clicking through the photos. All of the faces were obscured just like the ones in his paintings. Every one of them. It was nearly impossible to recognize any of the kids in the photos.


“That's how she took all the pictures,” he said as if reading her mind, “They don't want anyone to be able to identify them and send them back to their homes where they came from. Some of them come from nightmarish situations. They only trust Luna to take the photos like that.”


Alex was deeply disappointed. Still, there might be a clue among these photos that could help them in their search for the killer. Something subtle that would be easy to miss. She would have to go through them thoroughly.


“I need a copy of these,” she said as she fished in her pocket and held up a flash drive.


“Not a chance!”


She turned and looked up at him. “Or I could go get a warrant and confiscate your computer and your paintings and your sketchbooks and whatever else we think might be useful,” she said matter-of-factly.


He gave her a withering look as he snatched the flash drive out of her hand and started copying the images onto it. Once they were loaded he removed the flash drive and handed it to her.


“Please don't let anyone else see these,” he said with a slightly pleading tone, “If the public saw these photos it would ruin the mystique of my paintings and lower their value.”


She stared at him. Someone was torturing and killing these kids and he was worried about his paintings? “I'll try to be discreet,” she said with a slight edge to her voice, “But I'm not guaranteeing anything.”


She stood up and, with a nod to him, started toward the door. When she was halfway across his studio she heard him give a derisive laugh. She turned to look at him.


“It's kinda funny, don't you think?” he asked.


She furrowed her brow. What could possibly be funny about any of this?


“My paintings,” he said as he waved his arm at them, “All the art critics and gallery owners and patrons just rave about how I paint these kids with their faces obscured. They say I'm making a statement about how society doesn't want to see them, doesn't want to know them. If we don't know who they are than we can pretend they don't exist. But the reality is... I don't paint their faces because I don't know what they look like. Isn't that a hoot?”

© 2014 Craig2591


Author's Note

Craig2591
Suggestions and constructive criticisms are always welcome.

My Review

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Featured Review

It's been awhile, Craig and I am so glad your page was my first stop. You are such a great writer. So far, there hasn't been one word I haven't enjoyed reading. Your words convey space, time and mood so well. The inner dialogue and the dialogue between characters is very realistic. I am going to treat myself to more!

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Craig2591

8 Years Ago

Thank you very much, Barb. I enjoy your writing, too. Unfortunately I haven't felt like writing mu.. read more
Barbara Walker

8 Years Ago

For some reason I couldn't read your entire comment on my phone but I know it's our loss when you do.. read more



Reviews

I really enjoyed the noir aspects of this story. I think that it is strongest when those details are confronted head on. The only suggestion I would make is really go all out with the noir style. I think that it could benefit from going full Sam Spade. Great work!

Posted 6 Years Ago


I love the little details here. The way the characters act and react fell very authentic and lifelike. Additionally, the crime investigation is very intriguing and unique.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Craig2591

6 Years Ago

Thanks for reading and reviewing.
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Cy!
Interesting. I like this, because I to be specific , like art. This is very suspenseful. Very well done.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Craig2591

7 Years Ago

Thank you.
You have a great writing style and storytelling ability. I think this has a nice ironic ending to it. At least that is how it felt to me. I enjoyed reading this.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Craig2591

8 Years Ago

Thank you.
Good story. I like your style. As before, you have a good narrative voice. It pulls you into the story. Good use of imagery. I suppose it helps to be a visual artist.
Great job.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Craig2591

8 Years Ago

Thank you very much.
I'm wondering what happens next? Will you be adding more to this? It has really captured me.
Very skillfully written. :)

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Craig2591

8 Years Ago

Thank you very much. I don't know if I will continue it or not. I have been thinking about some id.. read more
It's been awhile, Craig and I am so glad your page was my first stop. You are such a great writer. So far, there hasn't been one word I haven't enjoyed reading. Your words convey space, time and mood so well. The inner dialogue and the dialogue between characters is very realistic. I am going to treat myself to more!

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Craig2591

8 Years Ago

Thank you very much, Barb. I enjoy your writing, too. Unfortunately I haven't felt like writing mu.. read more
Barbara Walker

8 Years Ago

For some reason I couldn't read your entire comment on my phone but I know it's our loss when you do.. read more
[send message][befriend] Subscribe
K.
I really liked this!! The descriptions and details were described perfectly and made me feel like I was a bug on the wall, watching the scene play out. I love the dialogue between the two characters, and especially what he said at the very end. Love the title too; it adds mystery and detail. I haven't been on here enough to know if this is part of a story or not, but that's what I like about it. It could easily be a chapter to a story, or placed separately as a short story. Great write!

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Craig2591

9 Years Ago

Thank you. It's just a story, but I am thinking about turning into a novel. I already have a good .. read more
K.

9 Years Ago

Yay! Excited to read more!
I liked the descriptions of the studio; it was easy to make a mental image. Also, I was interested in his popularity, and his paintings of the street kids. I think that’s a big societal deal right now; they’re numerous, cause a lot of problems, and no one really wants to address the issue that parenting has gone down the tubes. It would be nice (in real life) if more artists brought attention to our youth. I was surprised to learn Alex was a cop, though I had been wondering why she wanted to see his paintings so badly. I felt kind of bad for him when he asked her not to show the photos, and I really hoped she wouldn’t. The last paragraph was the kicker; it was brilliant. It tied the story together perfectly, and made me kinda go ‘damn’. I’m glad I read this piece, it was cool.


Suggestions:
-No grammatical or spelling suggestions-

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Craig2591

9 Years Ago

Thank you. I appreciate the comments. Thanks for reading.
This comment has been deleted by the poster.
Meat of Dog

9 Years Ago

Sure, any time!
I absolutely love this story. I'm an artsy person so I really loved that the story took place in a studio. I would love to read more of this story if you ever continue it. Thanks for sharing!

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Craig2591

9 Years Ago

Thank you very much for the review.

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1188 Views
12 Reviews
Rating
Added on September 24, 2014
Last Updated on October 6, 2014
Tags: noir, mystery, artist, detective, serial killer, street kids, crime, murder, painting, runaway

Author

Craig2591
Craig2591

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About
I am a visual artist with no formal training in creative writing. I get stories knocking around my head and sometimes I write them down. I decided to join this site to share them with other writers .. more..

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