Realpolitik and Paint

Amidst the backstage politicking of a mediaeval state Machiavelli sat for an official portrait.  He was poised, serious.  “How do I appear?” he asked the painter, who craned around the easel.

“Austere, astute,” the painter remarked.

“Very good,” whispered Machiavelli, barely moving his lips.

“Although… sometimes I long to stop painting surfaces,” the painter moaned.  “Imagine the art I could create if I captured the inner workings of a man for all to see – his beliefs, his conscience!”

“Pah!” Machiavelli almost cracked a smile.  “Then your canvases wouldn’t sell.  A conscience looks like vomit.  So, paint lies and get paid.”

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This piece of flash fiction was written for Friday Fictioneers: a story in 100 words prompted by a picture that Rochelle Wisoff-Fields posts every Wednesday. Here’s the link to the stories and this week’s picture is below, copyright Madison Woods.

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29 thoughts on “Realpolitik and Paint

  1. “Paint lies and get paid” — yes, I can imagine Machiavelli saying this. (His modern counterparts, too.) “A conscience looks like vomit” — a brilliant line, really. It’s such a harsh piece – but you added the humor of seeing him try to speak without moving his lips – and that makes it so readable and enjoyable. 🙂

    • Hmm I hadn’t thought of that as humorous, but I suppose it is, really – if you give the characters a bit of nuance they end up doing part of the work for you 🙂

      I’m thinking you may struggle to give Owen and Abbie some closure with this particular prompt… 😉

      • Sorry I missed this comment earlier!

        Yes, I could hear him slurring and mumbling as he tried to speak and keep his mouth still — and it was a wonderful *human* moment. Had to chuckle. 🙂

        And you’re right — no closure with this particular photo. But it *did* pave the way for *acceptance*. As soon as I saw the photo it led to a discussion of his deteriorating spell-casting skills (“Identity Issues”). Usually I wait till the last minute to complete these – but this week was a bit easier, strangely.

      • Yes, I can see how, if a spell turned out looking like that, it would signal a deterioration in a sorceress’ powers!

        Oh I can take days to reply to comments – I sometimes have a big catch-up 🙂 although I think I still miss a few 😦

    • Thanks! True, for instance all fiction writing is essentially “painting lies.” And yet sometimes it’s possible for the painted lies to contain some inner truth somehow 🙂

  2. Hi Blake… Nice one 😀
    I really enjoyed the read … Your introduction and Machiavelli’ s words “Paint lies and get paid.” is raw but so clever… Realpolitik!.
    I smiled and nodded in agreement as I read those lines.
    Thanks a lot for sharing and all the best to you,
    Aquileana 😛

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