Devil Is In The Details

Her eyes speak volumes, assuring him it will be as it was; it will be alright. He knows it won’t be—it can’t be.

Nothing escapes the scrutiny of the incandescent lighting above their heads. No dark space exists for him in which to hide. He scrubs the stubble along his chin. “It’s coming out amazing, honey.”

He watches the artist deliver life to his daughter with thoughtful strokes, imbuing pallid skin with a fresh blush. He pushes a smile to his lips, watching his little girl watch him. She knows his nuances; the flutter of his lashes gives him away every time. She is his blood, after all.

Statuesque, she sits quietly for her portrait. It crushes his heart. Her beautiful lips, once so full like those of her mother, stretch like crinkled strips of weathered jerky now, the music silenced from her dancing eyes. She is tired, so tired, draining slowly from the inside. He scrubs his chin, weary as well, weary and broken witnessing the erosion of his child.

The artist half speaks, half clears this throat. “Sir… Sir?”

“Yes, I’m sorry,” he croaks.

The artist nods politely, aware he has trespassed across guarded domain. Brush hovering atop the canvas, he motions to a specific area of the portrait, then repositions himself atop his stool, respectfully waiting.

“What is it, Daddy?” his little girl inquires; the harsh lighting does nothing to conceal the flutter of his lashes. Quickly, realization dawns; she is his blood, after all. “Daddy, he can paint me as I was that day, it’s okay.”

The artist reaches forward, pats her knee, resumes painting once again. Before long, the canvas depicts wavy locks where no hair has existed for some time. It flows in luxurious strokes; the toe of the artist’s brush a mere whisper in the sea of her chestnut mane. At long last, the final touch—soft pinpricks of white to lend the gleam back into her eyes. The artist lowers his arm. “I believe I am done, sir.”

His vision blurs; he cannot quite make out the deft details of the artist’s conception, not yet. He wipes at his tears. “Baby, you look…”

“Yes, Daddy?”

He wishes to say beautiful, but the word fails to find his lips. Instead, her portrait seizes his attention, unwelcome details pulling his eye. Flustered, he swings his gaze toward the artist.

The man has already packed his tools, cleaned his brush. With a dispassionate tone, the artist states, “The devil is in the details, sir.”

Open mouthed he stares, beyond the depiction of her soft countenance, beyond the eternal capture of her cherubic innocence, he gapes at the jarring angle of her neck; the angry bruises that ring it, marring what should be a masterpiece. “She was terminal,” he barely mutters. “The disease, it was taking her.”

The painter turns to him. “Yes it was, and had you left well enough alone, I would have no need to take you, too.”

His hands flutter about his neck. The incandescent lighting above reveals long slits along his forearms; nothing escapes its scrutiny. “This isn’t… It was a mercy, she was suffering,” he pleads.

“Daddy, no one understands it was an act of love,” her gentle, childish voice intones. By the time he faces her, she is gone. A ghost of her ghost.

He lunges for the painting, but the artist seizes him by the neck. “Take a long, last look at her. She finds her peace in the form I have painted. As for you, peace will be but a memory where we are going.”

Slowly, the painter drags him away, until the incandescent glow no longer reveals a thing, and the pitch is all he will ever know.

~ Joseph A. Pinto

© Copyright 2017 Joseph A. Pinto. All Rights Reserved.

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About Joseph Pinto

Author of the poignant novella Dusk and Summer (2014). Horror author of the novel Flowers for Evelene (2005) as well numerous published works of dark fiction. Member of the Horror Writers Association. Cofounder of the Pen of the Damned. Rumored lycanthrope. New Orleans Saints fan. Pancreatic cancer advocate. Twitter: @JosephAPinto Share his unique spin at josephpinto.com Indulge in Pen of the Damned with Joe and the Damned at PenoftheDamned.com

28 responses to “Devil Is In The Details”

  1. John Potts Jr says :

    What a tale of gorgeous vengeance, Joe! The eye-for-an-eye aspect is such a fitting crime for the father’s twisted act of mercy and the fact that the artist denies the memory of her before dragging the father off really ties this together. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. afstewart says :

    An amazing, hauntingly crafted story.

    Like

  3. Veronica Magenta Nero says :

    great story Joe, really enjoyed it!

    Like

  4. Brian Moreland says :

    Beautiful and wicked, Joe. Love the eloquent prose, the vivid descriptions. I won’t be eating jerky for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joseph Pinto says :

      Hi Brian! Thank you my friend! Horror can be beautifully disguised; hence, I write it as such sometimes. I am very sorry, however, that I’ve destroyed your penchant for jerky 😉 Thank you for your support!

      Like

  5. Brian Moreland says :

    Reblogged this on THE CRYPT OF HORROR and commented:

    Here’s a beautifully written and creepy horror short story “Devil Is in the Details” by Joseph Pinto. You can read it at the Pen of the Damned blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rosanna DiCarlo says :

    Although I am not into horror Joe, your stories are always intriguing. Great story. Keep up the good work 🙂

    Like

  7. Christopher A Liccardi says :

    Joe – This is striking in its context. Simple, yet complex in the emotion and the drive to get others to see mercy as a blessing instead of the brutality that it is known for. Well done, Joe.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Angel with dirty wings says :

    Message de h – merci d’écrire et de partager cette belle histoire. Court, simple et douloureusement doux! Vous êtes un vrai poète monsieur! Awdw. Message de son mari, merci pour vos histoires que mes filles aiment tellement. Mais si quelqu’un qui déplace 3 femmes endormies hors de moi, je serais très génial. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

  9. John Potts Jr says :

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    Wrenching, beautiful, and vengeful. Joseph Pinto (author of “Flowers for Evelene”, “Dusk and Summer”, and “Memorial”), paints the canvas with haunting imagery and smooth prose that pulls you in from the first word. Come, and revel with the Damned.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lee Andrew Forman says :

    Loved this one, Joe! (Sorry I’m so late to comment!) I enjoyed the description and style you used. You literally painted the words into this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lee Andrew Forman says :

    Reblogged this on and commented:

    Beautifully emotive piece by Joseph A. Pinto!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hunter Shea says :

    As always, you are our resident darkly poetic soul. When I read your stuff, I always feel like you need a hug. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. jonolsonauthor says :

    Great one, Joe! On one hand I can identify with the father and couldn’t imagine watching my daughter being eaten away by a terminal illness. That being said, I don’t think I could be the one to end her life either. Brilliant tale, brother!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. jonolsonauthor says :

    Reblogged this on Jon Olson and commented:
    DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS by Pen of the Damned’s Joseph Pinto

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Nina D'Arcangela says :

    A beautifully sad and somber piece of horror, Joe. Very well done, Tale Weaver! 🙂

    Like

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