Pulling the note from his pocket, Lucious reread the postcard.
Come to the museum. Find the three paintings each with a mother and child and sit on the couch at six this evening.
Twisting his wrist, Lucious looked at his watch and mumbled, “Fifteen minutes early.” Crumpling the note, Lucious shoved the paper ball into his pocket and sat down on the couch in the middle of the little nook. He leaned against the back of the sofa, staring at the center portrait. He let his eyes dance upon every line of the woman and child glorified in the central canvas. While he absorbed the painting’s beauty, Lucious’s hand reached for the top of his head. Absently he rubbed at his bald spot and then removed his glasses.
As Lucious rubbed his eyes, a man with grey hair poking out from under a baseball cap sat down next to him. Lucious returned his glasses and joined the man in studying the portrait. After a short time, the old man asked, “How are you doing, Lucious?”
Lucious cocked his head and asked, “Do I know you?”
The man laughed, and it felt familiar. The old man stopped laughing as he pulled off his hat. Clenching the brim of the hat in one hand the man pulled his left leg up onto the couch and turned to answer Lucious, “I know you very well, my boy. Though you won’t know me for some time.”
Lucious scoffed as he pulled out the note, “Is this your handiwork?”
The greying man smiled and gave a curt nod, “I needed to speak with you.”
Shaking his head, Lucious stood up, but the old man grabbed his arm and pulled him back to the couch. “Lucious, I already told we need to talk.”
“I don’t know you,” Lucious stated as he tried to lean away from the old man. “And since I don’t know you I’m not going to talk to you.”
Flashing Lucious a smile, the old man pulled Lucious closer to him and whispered, “Do you remember what you did when you were twelve?”
“What?” Lucious asked as he tried to squirm out of the older man’s grasp.
“When you were fifteen,” the greying man said with a coy smile. “You snuck into your parent’s liquor cabinet and swiped a bottle.”
“How could you know that?” Lucious demanded as he ripped the older man’s arms from his shoulders. “Only my parents knew about that!”
The old man’s smile continued to spread, showing his teeth, “Of course, that’s not the interesting part of the story.”
“Yeah, yeah okay,” Lucious said tersely. “Who are you, and how do you know about that?”
The elderly man wrung his cap as he turned to stare at the center mother and child. After a few moments of reflection, the older man pointed at the painting, asking, “What does this painting say to you?”
“Your first thoughts,” the older man clarified.
Harrumphing Lucious stalked to the portrait stuffing his hands into his pockets. He studied the painting, and without turning around, he replied, “Love and beauty.”
“Love and beauty,” the other man repeated in a whisper. “Two simple words that have such meaning don’t you think?”
With his scowl deepening, Lucious glared at the man demanding, “Who are you?”
“You’ll have a choice to make in a couple of days,” the man said as he removed his glasses and started cleaning them. When he finished, he put them back on and added, “Remember those words when your choice is upon you.”
“Seriously, who are you?” Lucious demanded as he grabbed at his thinning hair.
“I hope we never meet again, Lucious.” The man inclined his head, continuing, “When the time comes, remember what you saw here.”
The older man pointed at the portrait, and then he tapped Lucious’s chest, “And remember to follow those words when your choice comes.” The old man turned and took a couple of steps before stopping to add, “Your choice will have a far greater impact than you can ever know, Lucious. Make your choice wisely.”
The man resumed his walk out of the hall. It took Lucious a moment to recover from the words, and when he did, he raced to find the old man. As soon as he caught up with the man, he grabbed the man’s arm and jumped in front of him, whispering, “Who are you?”
The man chuckled as he eased Lucious’s hand from his arm and pulled Lucious closer to him. With a wink, the old man asked, “Who do you think I am, Lucious?”
“The only thing I can think of doesn’t make sense,” Lucious quavered. Looking around the room for attentive ears, he stuttered, “Wh… What I think isn’t possible.”
“Of course you’re right, Lucious,” the older man agreed. Clicking his tongue, the old man pulled the cap on before pulling Lucious even closer. “As of right now, the explanation circling around in your mind is impossible. But that doesn’t mean that such an explanation is impossible for me.”
“How? Why? How?” Lucious asked as he timidly reached to touch the man’s face.
“I can’t tell you anything,” the elderly man said, waving a finger in front of Lucious. “As far as why? Well, I’m here to make sure you tread the right path.” The older man pulled a device from his pocket and went on, “Remember your first thoughts of that painting.”
The man let go of Lucious walking into a patch of shadows. Turning around, the old man gave Lucious a smile and waved goodbye.
Returning the wave, Lucious said, “Thank you, Lucious.”
“Goodbye, Lucious,” the old man said as he pressed a button on the device and vanished.
Lucious scoffed and shook his head. With a grin, he made his way for the exit, walking as if an enormous weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Muttering, “It’s not often I can thank myself for quality advice.”