Proestukkie: The Gauguin Connection

I shrieked. Sadly, no other word would be apt to describe my undignified reaction. I closed my eyes for a second to regain control. When I opened them to glare at Colin, I allowed all the annoyance burning in my stomach to seep into my voice. “How did you get in?”

The art re-appropriator was lounging in my reading chair. How did he get in and walk past me without me noticing? His denim clad legs were stretched out in front of him, crossed at the ankles. This high comfort position was not lost on me. He felt confident and safe. It annoyed me even more. While I was studying him, he simply sighed and tilted his head to the side with an amused smile. “Superglue? Really, Jenny, you should’ve known that was not going to keep me out.”

“Genevieve. My name is Genevieve. And I didn’t have anything else to seal the windows with.” I stopped abruptly when I realised I was justifying myself. “Why did you not just ring the doorbell?”

His only response was one lifted eyebrow and a sideways glance. “Moving on. Why are you so frustrated?”

“Because you are in my apartment. Again. Without an invitation. Again.” I got up and walked to the kitchen. Almost imperceptible footsteps alerted me to Colin following me.

He groaned. “That’s not quite what I meant by moving on.”

I spun around, ready to give him a mindful, but didn’t get the chance.

“Let’s not hash through our last arguments again, Jenny.” He winced at my fierce look. “Genevieve. I’ve had a few days to think this over and have made a decision. I’m totally committed to working with you and finding out who the bastards are that killed my … these artists. Wait. Before you argue again. I know that one of your main arguments is that you can’t trust me. So, as a show of my trust in you, I will give you this.”

He reached into his designer charcoal jacket. Out came a folded piece of paper that he held out to me. I looked at the white paper as if it was a snake ready to strike. “What is that?”

“My trust in you.” He shook it towards me. “Please take it before I change my mind. I’ve never given anyone this.”

I took a moment to move past my distrust of this man and read him. The piece of paper in his hand quivered very lightly, indicating a surge of neurotransmitters and hormones. Most likely adrenalin, causing the uncontrollable quivering of his hands. Why was he stressed, nervous? There was also no trace of any deception to be read on his face. Combined, all of these unmanipulatable cues led me to only one conclusion. He was being truthful about never having trusted anyone with whatever was on that piece of paper. This made the accomplished criminal infinitely nervous.

Without a word, I reached out to take the piece of paper. I realised that with this gesture I had just sealed an agreement with a criminal. I accepted his trust and in return had given some of mine. I took the paper and wondered how this piece of pulped, pressed wood was going to change my life.

“Open it.”

I looked up from the piece of paper in my hand and regarded Colin.

“Oh, stop reading me. Just open it or I’m taking it back.” He pulled his arms closer to his body and his eyes narrowed. He was exhibiting signs of discomfort with his decision to trust me and my hesitation to see what was on the paper. It gave me no pleasure to cause him such discomfort, but it went a long way to soothe my mind. I unfolded the sheet of paper. On it were written, in strong masculine handwriting, five addresses, one of them in Strasbourg.

“What are these?”

He swallowed and then looked me straight in the eye. “My homes. All of them.”

“Your homes,” I repeated while trying to find the significance of this gesture. “Oh. Wow. Oh.”

“It’s not so many homes. Most of them are rather rustic.”

“I doubt that. But that is not why I am surprised.” I refolded the piece of paper and unconsciously pressed it against my heart. “You’re willing to trust me, a complete stranger, with your freedom?”

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