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Brushstrokes of Intrigue

A Mystery in Four Coats

Mild-mannered paint seller Harvey Fiedler  leads a happy but uneventful life. But that all changes one day when a woman in a red dress slinks into his store. Suddenly Harvey finds himself embroiled in a mystery that involves high-speed car chases, dangerous henchmen, blood harvesting, and a diabolical scheme to  take over the home décor industry (not to mention the world)!

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After a series of wrong turns, Harvey finally found the address he was searching for and turned down a long, curving driveway.  He pulled up in front of a big eggshell-white house and popped the trunk.  He grabbed two of the paint cans and walked up the steps.  Putting the cans down, he rang the doorbell.  He heard the pleasant tone ring through the house but didn’t hear any movement.  He rang the bell again.  After another moment he knocked.  The door opened a little.

“Hello?” he called. “Ms. Rogers?”

He picked up the paint cans and stepped inside.  Before him stood a large, winding staircase.  To his left, down a small hallway, was the kitchen.  There was a shuffling sound to his right and he headed that way.

“Ms. Rogers? It’s Harvey from the store. I have your paint.”

Again he heard kind of a thumping sound that seemed to be coming from a back room.  He slowly walked down a narrow hallway and opened the door at the end.  The room was dark and he fumbled for the light switch.

“Ms. Rogers?”

When the lights came on, Harvey froze and dropped the cans, they thudded to the floor.

“Oh, my God,” he muttered.

He couldn’t believe what he was seeing.  It was like his worst nightmare had come true: the chipped paint, the uneven lines, the splatter on the moldings.  He suddenly felt sick.  He walked over to one wall and gently caressed it.

“Who did this to you?” he whispered.

He heard a rustling and turned around.  In the corner next to the bed was Ms. Rogers.  Her hands and feet were bound with a cinnamon-colored rope and there was a small mauve towel stuffed in her mouth.   He rushed over and grabbed the towel.

“Ms. Rogers! What happened to you?”

Her hair was a mess and her lipstick was smudged.  Her look of relief quickly changed to terror.  “Harvey, behind you!”

Before he could turn around, he felt something hard slam down on his head and he sank to the carpet.  Prussian blue was his last thought before things went dark.

When he awoke he slowly sat up and glanced around.  The room was dim but he could see that Ms. Rogers was gone.  Harvey rubbed the sore spot on his head and started getting up.

Just then he noticed something wet and sticky covering his arms and hands.  I think I remember spilling the paint, he said to himself as he stood.  He glanced towards the door.  One can was still there unopened.  The other one was by his feet and although it now had a dent in the side, it was also unopened.

He stepped closer to the window to get a better look at what was on him.  It certainly resembled paint – it was a dark red, almost a maroon.  He held one hand under his nose.  It didn’t smell like paint though, it had a metallic odor, kind of like an old penny.

Just as it dawned on him what the substance was, he heard the sirens.