by Tubal Cain
It was the "cleavage" that brought him into limelight.
Like all shapely cleavages, it attracted everyone privileged to behold the mounds. On sighting it, one was overcome by a rising but subtle emotional desire; it however evoked different feelings on different people.
The feeling it evoked on men had a clear cut pattern, making them behave in a similar way. It however evoked a more complicated kind of feeling on the women who cared to look at it. Women's countenance changed as soon as they glanced at it, they quickly walked away looking elsewhere as if scandalized.
The men on the other hand preferred to linger longer as they stared.
The human anatomy is often taken for granted, but potentials in human natural attribute usually bring immeasurable gains to those who identify, harness and exploit them. It was after the "cleavage" was stolen that patronage at the gallery declined.
The "Cleavage" was a painting. Henry, its painter had consistently refused promptings to sell or duplicate the painting, he however allowed its exhibition at Array Gallery for a fee.
It was not uncommon to see a crowed gathered around staring at the painting all day long. Those who frequented the gallery always came back to look at it.
It is always embarrassing when one is caught having an affair or making love under circumstances considered as inappropriate. It is even worse when such an individual is in a position of authority or placed highly in the community. But sexual urge as a primitive biological impulse is a timeless affliction. Only a few individuals caught under such circumstances usually overcome the trauma associated with the embarrassment, others are often forced to go under permanently.
Henry was ensnared under such a circumstance.
Brother Henry as fellow members in the End-Time Believers Church where he was a deacon called him was well respected. With his six feet frame, baritone voice, gift of speaking in tongues and consistency in admonishing those who faltered, the members trusted relying on him generally for advice.
Part of what endeared him to the Pastor apart from his uncompromising lifestyle six years earlier was his retentive memory, he could recall Bible passages from previous fellowships readily. The pastor first recommended him when on the first visit to Henry's residence in Lagos along with leaders of the church committee; he saw four posters on opposite walls of the lounge bearing the same message.
The quotation on the posters written in bold red Italics read:
There is a way which seems right to a man,
Henry's midlife calamity had a root in a passion he developed in his younger years after graduation at his hometown of Akure.
Henry loved painting. Unable to secure a job two years after graduation, he had experimented with various painting methods during the years that followed. It was a visit from a family friend residing in Lagos that later changed his life. Admiring the paintings greatly, the family friend had decided to convey them to Lagos for exhibition at an art gallery for a fee.
The family friend later invited Henry over to Lagos. Few weeks after relocating to Lagos, Henry met and fell in love with a lady. He moved in with the lady a few days after.
Henry secured a job in a paint factory eight months after his arrival in Lagos. It was the lady that introduced him to the End time believers church, they settled down in marriage raising three children in quick succession. Years passed and Henry no longer painting dwelled encumbered with demands of family, church and work.
Henry's paintings at Array Arts Gallery where it was exhibited became very popular with time. He became very well known in social circles though neither the church nor his family knew about the nature of his paintings and the monthly income he earned from the gallery.
It was after a burglary incident at the gallery that temptation came Henry's way. Some of his paintings were stolen along with others, among the stolen paintings was the "cleavage." The burglary occurred about 21 years after his paintings were made.
Having received indemnity settlements from the insurance company, the management of the art gallery gave Henry a generous payment and in addition a proposition with an offer equivalent to his six years salary at work to re-paint the “cleavage”.
The offer or rather the amount of money involved in the offer weighed upon Henry's mind wearing him down for weeks till he consented.
Craving for wealth can ensnare the most faithful of individuals, it is absolutely necessary that an individual venture prudently in his or her schemes relating to acquisition of wealth.
Struggling with inner impulses of guilt between the impression he felt his wife would have of the obscene painting and his usual pretentious moralistic admonitions at home and church, he decided not to carry out the painting at home.
Henry secretly schemed a devious plan after collecting half of the money.
He had obtained permission to travel at work, church and home feigning illness of a cousin residing at Ibadan and traveled to the ancient city alone.
Henry took up a lodging in a hotel and set up a painting studio within the suite. Next he went into the town in search of ladies with passable cleavages. Locating one promptly, he went into the ancient but timelessly subtle task of wooing. It is being rumored that the best cleavages west of Saharan Africa are to be found in this ancient city, though none has testified boldly as to the veracity of this claim.
It took three days of coaxing, showering with gifts and money for the buxom maiden to accept to pose in the nude for him to paint.
The painting was almost ready in the afternoon of the fifth day when Henry and his guest had visitors.
Henry had responded to a knock on the door only to be pushed to the floor instantly by two burly men that forced themselves into the hotel room. One of the men introduced himself as the husband of the nude lady pointing at the lady shortly before a fight ensued between the Henry and the man. The other assailant hurled a bottle, which landed on Henry's forehead before he bowled over.
Henry was found dead in the hotel room by one of the stewards who invited the Police.
The uncompleted painting or rather the new "cleavage" stood on an easel few paces from where his lifeless body lay. While the police are still searching for clues in attempt to unravel the mystery behind the case, you, dear reader can lend a hand in helping the police apprehend Henry's assailants. Should you set eyes on a fair complexioned lady with an attractive cleavage, do not hesitate to call the police.