‘The painting must have been stolen from the museum in broad daylight, but the security cameras malfunctioned and no witnesses have come forward.’

Simmers read on the daily newspaper one frosty autumn morning. “I wonder who stole it,” she thought. “And how the person got away,” she mumbled. It was indeed most baffling. The country’s best detectives were on the case but none were able to unmask the robber who had been able to pull off this very daring burglary. It had all happened on the 17 September, ‘The Starry Night’ a stunning work of art painted by Vincent Van Gough was stolen from its place in the Museum Of Modern Art. Of course, this had caused quite the hullabaloo, as no one had witnessed the painting being stolen and it so happens that the security cameras malfunctioned.

The museum co-workers had been thoroughly inspected but none had been found guilty of stealing the painting. The manager of the museum claimed that he had no doubt that none of his staff members would do such a crime. So, the police started inspecting the townsfolk who resided in close proximity to the museum but none of them had the valuable painting either. But the cops were able to state with certainty that it was stolen by someone who worked in the museum for the security cameras had been most conveniently switched off and because there seemed to be no disturbances near the wall where the painting had been hung. After a couple more weeks the prospect of finding the painting was fading more than ever. And the babble amongst the people of the county seemed to die out as well.

Three weeks after the painting had been robbed, the police had received phone call saying that the picture had been found in the household of a rich civil engineer. As the strode past the old manager with his waist long silver beard shining in the morning sun, he couldn’t help but notice the anxious look on his wrinkled, grey face. What if…? No, surely the museum manager wouldn’t be involved in this, would he? If only the deputy general knew how much the old manager had been involved! The civil engineer had been arrested and was taken for questioning. But, the civil engineer kept on protesting that he was innocent and that he had bought the painting from an old man.

But, after being thoroughly scrutinised it was discovered that the painting was a fake. The civil engineer was outraged. “You mean I spent all that money into buying this thing when it was a fake,” he spat. “Who sold it to you?” a cop asked sternly. “I don’t know… He was an old man probably in his late sixties, had a long beard, waxed eyebrows, a weird tattoo on his forearm and piercing grey eyes,” the engineer replied slowly, his brows furrowed in concentration. The police were awestruck. The person the civil engineer had described was the museum manger!

The upcoming day, the police went to speak to the museum manager. “Oh why, uh…hello there Marcus,” he said clearly very flustered. This just raised more red flags for the police. “Are you involved in stealing the painting ‘The Starry Night’?” he asked briskly, getting down to business as soon as possible. “M-me… w-w-why I wouldn’t d…dream of doing s-s-such a…. thing,” the old man stammered, he looked as if he had seen a ghost. “We shall have to take you to the police office with us for further questioning,” the chief of police sighed. “N-n-no, you can’t,” the manager wailed.

“Oh, but we can” the chief of police replied grimly, his suspicions confirmed. But, yet again after inspection it was discovered that the painting the manager had been hiding in his closet to sell, the one which had been in the museum this whole time was too a fake. “WHAT?!” the museum manger roared when being told the painting was a fake. By now everyone was wondering where on earth the real painting was? The chief of police and his other policemen were questioning the engineer and the manager but they didn’t know a thing.

Then there was a loud yell from upstairs of the police headquarters. Everyone hurried upstairs and was a met with a shocking sight. Lo and Behold, there was the painting of ‘The Starry Night’ in the chief of police’s office! “I – I can explain!” the chief of police yelled in desperation. But, you could see the guilt flashing in his forest green eyes. But, after being inspected, it was concluded that the painting the former chief of police had was the real one. People were astonished to find out that the most unsuspecting person was the thief the whole time! So readers, always remember everything in life, is never what it seems to be! And everybody in life isn’t who they seem to be!

By Sayumi Wijesooriya