A Nice Day
by Igor

When Igor Fabricant, antiquarian and high-class fence, woke up that Monday morning, he knew it was going to be a nice day. For the first time in months he woke up with the sun shining on his face, it seemed like the long Belgian winter had finally come to an end. After taking his shower, shaving and dressing, he ate the breakfast his housekeeper had prepared for him and read his morning papers, Le Soir and De Standaard, in his usual manner. He ripped out the Sports pages and the human-interest stories and threw them in the wastepaper basket. He scanned the front page and moved on to what really interested him: the culture-section. His eyebrows perked when he saw the main article:


The famous painting, Olympia, by Édouard Manet was stolen Saturday night from the Gotham Museum of Art’s “pARTody” exhibition. Olympia was on loan from the Musée d’Orsay and hung next to Titian’s Venus of Urbino and together they formed the main part of the exhibition. How the thief could circumvent the security-cameras, the lasers and the touch-sensitive floor is not known but a member of the Gotham City Police Department, speaking on the condition of anonymity, indicated the perpetrator was almost certainly the so-called Catwoman. How the GCPD came by this information is not known.

The rest of the article went on to rehash the importance of Olympia and its relation to Venus of Urbino, but Igor was no longer interested. He hurriedly finished his breakfast and left for work. Even though he could easily afford a house in the suburbs of Brussels, he preferred his Art Deco apartment in the inner city. It gave him the opportunity to walk at a leisure pace to his antique shop on the Sablon, without being held up in traffic. Walking through the Warande, past the Royal Palace, the statue of Godfrey of Bouillon and along Regency Street, his thoughts kept returning to the article and its potentialities. He therefore wasn’t surprised to discover a message on his telephone when he finally entered his shop.

“Bon jour, Monsieur Fabricant, this is Cora Colette. I was wondering if you were interested in buying some artwork I ‘came in possession of’ a few days ago. I would like to discuss this during lunch Thursday in Comme Chez Soi as per usual. I think it’s my turn this time. Au revoir.”

Igor smiled, he liked Mss Colette, she was excellent company and the artwork she “came in possession of” was of the same quality. Sadly, she was obviously unavailable even if she herself was oblivious of that fact. She was also the only one of his special clients who deserved and received pralines from Wittamer with her payment. His other special clients weren’t as trustworthy either, always trying to get paid more than he was offering despite the fair prices he set. Some were even stupid enough to try and sell him forged artwork.

He made sure to delete the message before he opened his shop for business. As usual he also opened the backdoor so Louie could enter and mingle with the objets and antiques. Louie was the Norwegian Forest Cat of one of the neighbours. One day Igor had found the magnificent cat among his merchandise. At first afraid that Louie would break something, he kept a close eye on him but after having seen the careful way in which the cat inspected everything, he had allowed the little narcissist to stay. By now Igor couldn’t imagine working without having Louie around. This seemed strange because Louie didn’t show or allow any signs of affection but Igor found his presence comforting and soothing.

It was a slow day, only a few normal clients and after the phone message of that morning none of his special clients, so Igor spent most of his day in his office arranging the renovation and restoration of the wine farm he had bought the previous summer in Tuscany. The Italian contractors he had hired were good but they weren’t exactly efficient or fast. He hoped the farm would be ready before the next winter so he could escape the cold Belgian winters.

Just a few minutes before closing time, he received another phone call:

“Good evening Mister Fabricant. My name is Lucius Fox, I’ve been informed you’re well connected “purveyor of stolen and lost artwork”. The Wayne Foundation is interested in retrieving or buying back Olympia for the Gotham Museum of Art. Can you help us?”

An enormous grin spread over Igor’s face when he heard these words. Today really was a nice day.
Judge’s Note:  A Nice Day was selected as the hands-down winner for number of reasons.  The inclusion of artwork and links was a very nice touch, as was the attempt to bribe me with Belgian chocolates.  But what really sets Igor’s efforts apart from the other entrants is that English is not his first language.