A Sketchy Character (Doggerel #17)

This was a submission for the Scribblers flash fiction for October 13th 2017 with the theme, A Stroke of Luck. The link with this story was tenuous at best, I’m sure you’ll agree, which might go some way to explaining why it came fourth out of six entries. Originally, I was trying for an homage to Julia Donaldson’s Monkey Puzzle but I ran out of steam and this is the result.

The sketch artist sat across the desk,

Brush in his ursine paw

Then leant forward, waxing Whistleresque,

“Tell me what it was you saw.”
At first the witness didn’t speak,

And scratched the bald spot on his head,

And gave his beard a pensive tweak,

Before, sighing, he sat back and said,
“I fell victim to a callous crook,

From the rogue’s miscellany,

And found myself brought quite unstuck

By an egregious felony”
The sketch artist smiled, said “There’s no rush,”

As he stood before his easel,

“With what you recall and my trusty brush

We’ll get a likeness of this weasel.”
The witness clutched his pallid throat

Said, “Respectfully I bid,

That you don’t compare her with a stoat,

Or some other mustelid.”
“How would you describe the miscreant?”

Came the sketch artist’s retort.

“I only saw her from the front,”

said his guest, “And our time together was short.
It was a cruelly brief but blissful visit,

From an angel dressed in human guise,

Comely, fair, refined, exquisite,

With the most alluring turquoise eyes”
“Turquoise eyes?” the artist repeated.

“And auburn hair,” the witness said,

“But if your paint box is depleted,

You could make do with blue and red.”
“So, this most decorous of ingenues,”

Asked the sketcher, at his art,

“Of what crime is it you her accuse?”

The victim frowned, “She stole my heart.
“l know to steal a heart is not a crime

On any country’s statute books, 

But the lawmakers will see sense in time,

And she could have killed me with those looks.”
As the victim shared his memories

Of the encounter that he’d had

The artist gave new life to these

I’m strokes of paint upon the pad
But as the hours went on a tension arose

As the sketcher felt a cramp in his hands

And they couldn’t agree on the shape of her nose

Or the victim’s exacting demands
“You told me of her pulchritude,

Enough to stall a herd of bisons

“But I refuse to main her in the nude?

There’s no place for artistic licence.”
“Alas it’s not within my gift

For I am a slave to truth

I can’t give burglars an eyebrow lift,

Or murderers an air of youth.
“The prisons would be full of handsome men

If I ignored my artist’s eye.”

“How about some cleavage then?

Or at least a flash of thigh,”
The victim asked frustratedly,

Taking a peek at the artist’s sketch,

Before he fell to his knees I’ll-fatedly,

Beginning to grumpily retch,
For what the dauber had achieved with his paint,

Was a second rate portrait at best,

But it was hard for the victim to raise a complaint,

With a pallet knife stuck in his chest
Above the artist’s mantel-shelf, 

The picture hangs with pride,

He fell in love with the image himself,

And he’ll yet make the object his bride
For every Picasso or Damien Hirst,

There are a thousand paint-splattered jokes,

But they all of them have the same unslakable thirst,

If you run into one, beware their brush strokes
***

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