The grey sky hung over the city like a cloud as Bast walked down the rain soaked alley towards Kings Cross station. A newspaper hawker waved a wet paper in the air and screamed, ‘East End Murderer Strikes Again.’ Bast rubbed his chin as he flipped a pence at the hawker who nodded and handed Bast a paper. The station bustled with people. Peddlers stood at the entrance hawking their wares, the downtrodden milled about seeking a pence or two for a bite to eat. Bast ignored the commotion as he stood at the station entrance reading the story. A smirk formed on his face. The ground vibrated ever so slightly, alerting Bast to the arrival of the train. He ran down the steps of the tube tunnel eager to get home and devote the evening to artwork.
Intently reading the front page story again, the train bell sounded at the arrival of Whitechapel station. Bast looked up from the newspaper and squeezed through the train doors, barely missing being crushed. Like an ant trail, everyone flowed from the train onto the street clambering to get to their evening’s activities. As Bast trotted to his flat, the rain made dripping sounds while it dribbled off his brown felt hat. Letters and flyers littered his doorstep. As he entered, he bee-lined it to the kitchen and made a cup of Earl Grey tea to warm his chilled bones. With the steaming tea in hand, he looked around the living room. Sketches of dresses littered the tiny sofa. In one corner stood his Singer sewing machine handed down to him by his aunt. On the fireplace mantle, next to a framed picture of his mother, sat one of his more troubling art pieces called, ‘The Head.’ The piece wasn’t complete even after six months. The auburn hair was brittle and faded. Also on the mantle was his last piece titled, ‘Baby doll Head.’ The eyes had rotted and he couldn’t figure out the nose. It had been damaged when he acquired the subject. Many of his works were damaged upon acquisition. He couldn’t get anything right. No matter how quiet or stealth he was, there was always a ding or nick he had to fix. Bast shook his head and turned his attention to his current project, ‘The Masterpiece,’ which lay supine on the Oriental rug.
The young girl of twelve was dressed in a knee length baby blue dress with intricate orange flowers embroidered on the hem. It was a favorite among his closet full of dresses. Her hair was curly, black as a raven and combed down over her shoulders. Her face the color of porcelain. Bast grabbed a thin paint brush from his art box and a dab of fire engine red paint. He painted her delicate lips then stepped back to admire it. Studying the color wheel had paid off. The colors were perfect. But something else was missing. Bast had been working on her body every day for a week. The dress took two weeks alone. He pondered for a moment then it dawned on him. The facial expression was wrong. She looked too happy. He moved her mouth into a frown and stepped back. Not right either. Bast threw his paint brush down. A long walk in the rain would clear his head.
The rain pelted Bast’s face and the wind howled in his ear as he wandered the desolate streets. The trash blew around the sidewalk like a tornado and a black and white flyer whipped up in the air. It caught Bast in the face. He peeled it off and it read, ‘Great Artists Wanted.’ Bast’s heart skipped a beat. The art salon was being held by one of the greatest London artists of all time. Bast’s mind went into a tizzy as he imagined everyone praising him for the groundbreaking art. Reporters would write glowing reviews and people would clamber to buy his art. Bast bit his nails. The salon was tonight. An idea flashed in his mind while running back to the flat. Bast looked down at the girl. He grabbed his touch up brush and went to work. Beads of sweat ran down his neck as his hands shook and stomach churned.
The girl’s pale blue eyes were partially open and they stared at Bast blankly while he worked on her mouth. The mouth wasn’t perfect but time was running out. The other artists will love this, he thought. While an artist’s work is technically never done, Bast had no choice but to call it quits. So he gently wrapped the girl in a sheet of canvas. He slung ‘The Masterpiece’ over his shoulder and walked out the door.