A smile was etched on his face as he sat there contemplating and mumbling. His crimson face was tilted and his eyes were fixated at something. The walls of the room used to be white, no creamy, not white, never white. But now he’d painted them, with his favourite colour using his favourite paint. He slowly stood up, staggering as he gained control of his motor nerves. He turned around with an intention to leave, to work on his next painting. But before leaving he wanted to have a last look. His first work as an artist. The creamy canvas dyed with crimson splotches, splattered with globules of blood, fresh red blood; still warm emanating from the body that was crucified over the opposite wall. A gaping hole on its chest was the sun and the room was the solar system with confident red strokes that painted the red planets. His eyes fell on the naked man. The man was staring at him, smile mimicking his own grin. He limped over to the door licking the blood on his fingers, savouring the coppery flavour. The childish grin never leaving his face as closed the door behind him.


The room was painted red, vibrant red that screamed happiness. The artist in him scowled. This was supposed to be the masterpiece, the closing act, but the lack of contrast was spoiling everything. The trademark innocent smile was absent from his face. A pout was carved on his childlike features. He sighed and dragged himself towards the door, limping. Grumbling in annoyance, he never noticed the click and the door opening. “Who are you? And what are you doing in my apartment?” He raised his eyes to find a burly middle-aged woman staring at him in annoyance. She was clad in a white flowing gown that looked absolutely incriminating on her smooth alabaster skin. There was no contrast, or was there. A smile started dominating the frown on his face. A smile that soon turned into a grin and then into full-blown laughter.  His masterpiece was still on. He’d found the contrast that was missing. This was the beauty of white. He would call this one ‘The Angel’. The woman’s intimidated queries never reached his ears as he stealthily incapacitated her, this one would be clean and she’d never know what hit her. In the end the room will be smiling.


These four years have been heavy on me. My son’s estrangement after her death has hit me harder than I’d earlier thought. But these murders that have plagued the city are becoming the subject of my nightmares and the cause of my sleepless nights. Very few things can surprise a man at my position, that being said these serial killings are shaking every foundation of humanity I ever believed in. Everything is becoming out of focus, my life, my son, our drifting apart, my work. All that remains in my head is the blood covering the white walls, like the confident strokes of a painter. All these murders point out one common thing, the obeisance paid to blood. The corpse was positioned like an angel, all of them were. The whole scene was somehow an amalgam of life and death. The corpses always invade my dreams with the same infernal smile. Their beaming features soothe my haunted nightmares, until I realise that they have a gaping hole on their chests.


I’ve never liked the noisy downtown traffic. Come to think of it, I usually take a walk to my crime scenes. ‘Besides, it’s only two blocks away.’ I muse, as I help myself out of the car. Slamming the door, I speed towards the building, from where I’d received the call. My overcoat rustles in the cold winter breeze. It is that nightmarish case, the one that keeps me awake after midnight. The works of the famous artist, as the media had dubbed him now. The psychologists use some high-level-disorder jargon, punks on the street consider him a role model. Many a times, I’ve passed by smiling angel graffiti. He has become an urban legend, an inspiration to the aspiring serial killers.  But no matter how poetic or artistic his works may seem, I know what the man is, an animal. His murders are anything but art. The rooms painted with blood makes me puke every time I see them. The naked corpses hanging are the source of my ugly nightmares. The lament of the victim’s family, the eerily content smile engraved on their faces weigh upon my soul. I, mechanically, enter the building and make my way to the dreaded apartment. This crime scene seems different; it was reported, by a very young voice, a very familiar voice. I turn the doorknob, anxious as the loud click permeates the hallway. The room is dark, my hands, reflexively, grope the wall for the light-switch. The tube-light flickers as it lights, flooding the whole room with brightness. I find the owner of the voice, who informed me, smiling in front of me.


I forget everything after seeing that joyous countenance. The hideous red room, the corpse of the lady clad in pure white, her smooth alabaster skin, her robust appearance, even breathing. Everything lies forgotten. It is all trivial, nothing matters, not the lack of a gaping hole, or the unnecessary gore that the killer is famous for. All that matters is the smiling face of the child in front of me. I force myself to breathe as the child sucks on his thumb. His hands are dipped in blood. My legs give away and my knees buckle. “Hello Dad! How is my masterpiece?” his voice tears me from my reverie. It seems excited, as if he is showing his school project to me. “Rem!” I gasp as my legs no longer support my weight, and my consciousness fades. An image burns in my subconscious, an image of a boy, sucking on his thumb, licking the blood on his hands standing in front of a crucified woman, both of them peacefully smiling. The contrast of red and white beautifies my failure as a father and as a detective.