The Portrait by Sean Cunningham

Quite recently, come in to my possession is one of the twentieth century's most infamous portraits. I can't say too much about it, but I trust you know the one I'm talking about. The one painted by him. Yes, him. And everybody knows that this portrait, whilst bearing resemblance to a certain prominent political figure, is really of that game show host. Surely, you remember? He became embroiled in that scandal, something to do with potatoes and export taxes. No? He walked from John O'Groats to Lands End in platform shoes with goldfish in the soles and ended up being taken to court by the RSPCA. Well, yes, everybody remembers that one. But, as I was saying; I have it, the original. The power it has is immense, it fills the room ā€“ no, it invades the room. The closer you get, the more intense the sensation becomes that you are doing something you shouldn't. It's hard to describe. You're only looking at paint on canvas, but it barrages the senses, all of them. I'm feeling a little nauseous just thinking of it. Oh, but it's magnificent. Mystifying, even.

This morning, not long after I woke, I found myself just sitting, staring at it and I couldn't shake the thought ā€“ do you remember when there was all that trouble about whether or not he had said cā€”, live on television? It sounded like it came out randomly in the middle of a sentence, so incongruously. I'm still not sure, myself, I'm not sure that anybody is. So many different people, even the news, were picking it apart, theorising on it like it was a defining moment in human history. I couldn't stand it, personally. I'm not sure about you, but I couldn't stand it. It was such a farce. I had all of that on my mind, looking at the painting, detecting a sort of wry smile in it, like the painting knew he did it, because, of course, only he actually knew. He did do it, that's what I think. Just for a laugh. He wanted all the controversy. Free publicity, isn't it? That's what I think. The sly bastard.


Sean Cunningham is a writer of very short prose and poetry, from Liverpool. His fiction has appeared in venues such as Bending Genres, Gone Lawn, and Tiny Flames Press, and is forthcoming in Fugue and LOLLIPOP Magazine. He can be found on Twitter @sssseanjc.

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