The theft of the Mona Lisa got a hell of a lot of attention, at least until the press reported a decoy stolen instead of the real deal.
Now, I’m not trained in verifying art, but I do know a lot about lying. And I quietly confirmed the value of what I’d stolen with an untraceable phone call made to the Louvre.
I probably seemed like yet another dumb criminal when I called them up and told them I was the person who robbed the place. They laughed at me. Now I know why people hate the French accent. It’s a very punchable sound when they laugh at you. “I looked like a pretty young woman, then I punched my way through the glass case and stole it. I cut through the gate, too. And if what I stole really is some useless decoy, I suppose no one will give a crap if I eat it.”
“Pardon?” the voice on the other end of the line asked. “You would eat the Mona Lisa?”
“I’d eat this worthless painting. And you know I’m mostly an American, so I’ll put greasy bacon and mayonnaise all over it.”
The museum representative groaned.
“Ooh, and cheese. Got to slather on the cheese. None of those fancy European cheeses, either. Not even cheddar. Just American cheese. Isn’t American cheese just the best?”
“Yes. American cheese, with greasy bacon, mayonnaise, a hot dog, and mashed potatoes on top, all between two deep-fried bald eagle patties. And I’m going to eat this thing standing naked on the Eiffel Tower singing ‘God Bless the USA’ with an American flag shoved up my ass for everyone to see, ok?”
“Don’t you dare, you fiend!”
I laughed, hoping I sounded punchable in the process. “What’s wrong? It can’t be that valuable of a decoy, can it?”
After choking off his moaning, the rep tried to salvage the situation. “We still put a lot of work into creating such an exact forgery. We would pay for its return.”
“Trust me, someone’s going to pay for its return. But I think I’ll hold onto it right now. I might get hungry later. Thank you for your help from the bottom of my future heartburn.”
After that, I figured I had the real deal. With that in mind, I prepared a few presents for anyone stopping by unannounced. I certainly wanted visitors or else I wouldn’t have stolen the thing. With it being the real deal, my guests were likely to grab it and go.
I sent Moai off to pick up some more souvenirs. Just a little something to remember Paris by that I thought he would be ideally suited to picking off. Nothing big; just a couple gargoyles from Notre-Dame. He seemed eager at the prospect. If it’s for the reason I think, he won’t be excited for long. Those gargoyles are old, and gargoyles by their nature are grotesque. If I remember correctly, that’s the actual name for some of the stuff hanging off that building.
While he did that, I sat back at our nice hotel room and enjoyed a sandwich. I don’t know about the rest of the food here, but they make some damn good bread. Like a lot of European population centers, things were located either within convenient walking distance or in range of public transportation, a throwback to when cities were built to accommodate people not having cars or even reliable horse travel. It made for an interesting tourist experience for me.
Standing out didn’t matter, though. I wanted to attract attention, and there are somethings here I’d like to see. I hear the catacombs have lots of dead people. That sounds fun. A jazz bar on the way back to my room sounded tempting as well. Hey, it’s worth a try. As one of the forerunners to the wonderful music that is rock n’roll, it’s bound to feature certain similarities that could pique my interest. Like the presence of easy women. Or even easier men, but I find even fewer of them attractive than the women. I mean, there was this model named Andrej Pejic, but then he decided to become Andreja. And David Bowie, but then I sometimes here he and this one actress dress up as each other, so maybe I have a thing for feminine men.
Then again, as a serial killer who likes to shove things up people’s asses to slay them, it’s possible I have a complex relationship between my homicidal and sexual desires. But I’m sure that has no precedent in the relevant psychological literature or in my own personal history. Not even that time with the sexahol.
I got back to the room with more than enough time to call up Carl again and work on some new ideas for the Mastermind Cafe. Like having those stupid contests where you fill out personal information, then using it for identity theft. I might even offer a special Bitter Almond Frappucino people can order when they have to meet someone annoying. If I want to be really evil, it won’t even be poisoned. Bwahahahahahaha!
That’s where I was, eating a sandwich in the dark, when the first thief slid my room’s window open and poked her head in. It being the window right next to my chair, I turned to watch. A giant flyswatter shot up from the floor and popped her in the face, knocking her out of the window. She had a set of lungs on her, I’ll say that. She used them all the way down to the ground. I held out my hand to catch the flyswatter with a low five as it fell back to the floor and reloaded itself.
I liked that one. It’s always good to have something to keep any pests from bugging you through the window. I mean, yeah, I wanted them stopping by. Didn’t mean I intended to make it easy on them. Besides, they probably had reinforcements.
Like the person crawling in through the air vent over there. What really impressed me is that the vent was maybe big enough to slide a human body through one limb at a time if you chopped them up. That’s what it looked like at first. The grate opened but didn’t fall, then an arm scrambled out, followed by another arm holding a head. The first arm crawled back in and fetched the legs. The head checked around for any sign of me, but by then I’d thumbed the holodisc in my hand and disappeared, another shadow in the darkened room.
Yeah, I brought those old things back. It could be a useful bargaining tool, a hand-sized disc capable of generating holograms with my armor’s proficiency.
He didn’t bring his torso in. Instead, he operated as just a head, arms, and legs. His free hand patted down one of his legs and opened a pouch to pull out a smartphone, which caused the arm holding the head to swivel around and give him a view of the bathroom door.
Ah, a tracking device hidden in the painting itself. They hid so many things in the old lady, no wonder Mona Lisa smiled.
The bodiless man opened the door and found a security measure that seemed like a good idea at the time: red lasers moving in a pattern in the door frame. It left a small hole that only the most agile of thieves could hope to pass through without tripping anything. Or, in this case, a thief who didn’t have a body. The free arm tossed the arm with the head right through the central gap, triggering the invisible laser that covered the gap.
If I’d made them all invisible, limb man probably would have sprayed something to find them all. By showing them most of the lasers, he didn’t stop to think about finding any more. It’s the strangest thing; even if you’re a known liar, thief, and murderer, a lot of people will still take you at face value. Not everyone, of course, but plenty of expendable people.
Bodiless man himself was expended when the shower door flew open and the hungry squid I’d been keeping in there lashed out at the closest moving potential food item it could find: a human head held in an arm. With a scream that would make Wilhelm proud, the unfortunate thief’s head disappeared into the shower. With a crunch, his limbs fell uselessly to the ground.
Just in time, too. I needed to visit the little villain’s room myself. I deactivated the holodisc and the door sensors, shutting off the squid’s door in the process. I winked at the Mona Lisa hanging over the toilet before my attention was drawn to all the activity happening below.
Gooey black slime shot out of the toilet so hard, I momentarily wondered if the friendly girl and boy from Japan had followed me. In which case, I hoped France wasn’t as paranoid about grown men peeing on underage girls as the States was. It slammed into the ceiling before pulling itself back down and thickening up, revealing a round top the general size of a head. A slit opened up and asked. “Why couldn’t you have held it a little longer?”
I raised an eyebrow. “Trust me, holding it is about all I can do without another firefighter behind me to help control the pressure.” I shook my hips to emphasize the point as well as the rest of the head and shaft. “Here for the painting, I presume?”
“Yes,” the goo thief said, pulling more and more of itself up through the plumbing. “Be a dear and move out of the way, or I shall eviscerate you.”
I reached down and grabbed. “Oh yeah? I’ve got a club here that says otherwise.”
The body of the goo thief split into a dozen tendrils that all took on the appearances of weapons: maces, spears, curved blades.
I shook my own weapon. “Mine’s bigger.”
“It’s not the size, it’s how many times you- no, no, no, NO, NO!” He shouted the last couple of “No”s as the swirling sped up. I’d hit the handled and flushed while he talked.
The tendrils lashed out, trying to hold on to the bowl, the tile, the toilet paper rack. I pulled the gun I keep behind every hideaway toilet and fired into the bowl as I usually do when flushing. As I’ve mentioned before, it helps clear up blockages. It helped push his slimey body back down along with the suction of the toilet.
I guess you could say he seemed pissed.
Still, that’s three of them down. I thought I might need to go find the hotel’s septic system and pump him out of there so I could talk to somebody about my thief problem, at least. After a hygienic hand washing with soap that would aid my evil plans by not hindering me with sickness and disease, I finished being a good role model to children for the evening.
As I turned to leave the bathroom, however, I saw a slim man standing there in a skintight dark blue catsuit and domino mask, holding the Mona Lisa. I turned and looked back at the wall I’d been facing a moment earlier. The painting that’d been literally just in front of my face was gone. I checked the man again, who stood there with a confident grin on his face. Then I checked the wall again and reached out to make sure it wasn’t hidden somehow. I looked back around at the thief, who undressed me with his eyes. “It seems I caught you with your pants down,” he said.
I pulled them back up. “Trust me, that isn’t good for your health. You could lose an eye.”
He snorted in punchable French laughter. “You are too arrogant for the man who lost the Mona Lisa.”
“I didn’t come here to steal the Mona Lisa,” I told him, hands on my hips. “I came here to find a thief good enough to help me steal a grander prize. Something that’ll really make a reputation, and something I’m willing to pay a lot for, including one priceless painting as money down. Know where I can find any good thieves?”
I almost didn’t see the painting vanish into a bag only just wide enough and far too shallow to accommodate it. “You have the honor of speaking to the greatest thief in Paris, sir. I am Chat des Combes.”