by Jake Christie

a story.

The security guard had his hand on his gun as he entered the gallery, ready to stop any would-be master thieves with delusions of grandeur dead in their tracks. This was, after all, the Museum of Modern Art, not some podunk gallery full of local flavor, and anyone silly enough to break into a building full of legendary artwork deserved what was coming to them.

He was honestly surprised, however, when he saw that it was just one elderly man in a beret lifting Picasso's Three Musicians off the wall, completely oblivious to the alarms blaring all around him. He was a hundred years old if he was a day, and the guard was stunned into still-life as the lone thief placed the painting on the floor and began wrapping it like he was swaddling an infant.

“Freeze,” said the guard, coming to his senses.

The man looked up. He stood and stretched his arms. “The hands,” he said, in a French accent, “they are not as fast as they used to be.”

“You're in a lot of trouble, mister,” said the guard. He drew his gun to illustrate his point. “Art thieves go to jail for a long time.”

“You misunderstand,” said the man. “This is my painting.”

The guard squinted at him. He had to admit that something about him looked awfully familiar.

“Normally I would not resort to such measures,” said Picasso, “but things have been somewhat tough lately, seeing as I've been dead for almost forty years.”

“You can't--” stammered the guard. “You can't just walk in here and take are off the walls, even if you did paint it.”

“It's nothing but paint on canvas,” said Picasso. “There was a time when I burned them for heat. Stop being so precious.”

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