Credit: Painting by Joseph Mooney

A Painting of Satan
by Stephen Queen

It was day. The sun shone on a painting of Satan. It wasn't a particularly good painting, yet there it hung on Bill's wall. This was the first painting he had ever purchased, and how could he pass it up at the hilarious price of $6.66 at the J and J flea market just an hour earlier.

It was a funny little story to tell his co-workers at the very least. The painting was quite huge and heavy. The frame wood had some heft to it. Bill thought it looked cool next to his tall grandfather clock he had inherited years ago.

While still standing in admiration of his latest purchase, Bill heard his roommate, Seth, come through the front door of their apartment.

"Check it out, Seth!", Bill yelled with both hands raised in what they referred to as 'devil horns'.

"Holy shit! That's awesome!"

"Yeah, I got it for $6.66 at J and J!"


"Hahaha! Let me get a pic of you in front of it to show everyone how big it is!"

"Hell yeah!"

So Bill pulled his phone out.

Seth gave his best smile; as Bill looked through his phone screen, the painting dropped from the wall, and when it hit the floor, the thick glass on the grandfather clock shattered. Startled by the sounds, Seth spun around just in time to have a plank-sized piece of broken glass fall across his wrist. Blood spayed like a sprinkler all over the apartment.

Bill made a fine tourniquet, but Seth was still pronounced "Dead On Arrival" at the hospital. Detectives told Bill that they needed to bring the broken, bloody glass to the lab as it was standard procedure. A shocked Bill asked with all sincerity, "Shouldn't you guys take the painting too?", because in the several times he told the detectives what had happened, he tried to emphasize that the painting itself was what caused the freak accident.

But the detectives just laughed and said, "We'll be in touch if we need anything else, Mr. Cochran." They snickered as they left the apartment. Bill decided then that he would throw this painting in the dumpster first thing in the morning. He cleaned up as much blood as he could until he was exhausted and went to bed.

That night everyone in the entire apartment building burned to death. By sunrise, the firefighters had put out the last of the flames. There was nothing left of the structure, just black, smoldering heaps of destruction. The crowd and firemen gazed in awe at the heart of the rubble where, laying face up, unburnt and unscathed, was a painting of Satan.