“He is down this way, last cell on the left”, the officer slurred in a thick Parisian accent, as he gestured toward a row of prison cells. Matt followed curiously. They walked briskly down a long hallway, the iron bars shining darkly in the dim basement light. The officer was dressed in dark police blues, tilted cap, pistol resting on his hip, ‘police’ lettering emblazoned across his back in bold white font. As he led Matt down the hall toward the cell, his hard black boots of leather clacked determinedly against the stone. Derrick had been reported missing many months ago, and had been arrested for the theft of a priceless Renoir painting from the Louvre. Matt had been searching for Derrick for many months, until he was contacted by Paris police department to identify him, and came at once.
The officer stopped at Derrick’s cell, and waved Matt closer. “You have a visitor, Australian”, he barked. A sleeping figure stirred under a woolen grey blanket, rolled over, and slowly walked to the bars, emerging out of the shadows like a ghost.
His brown hair was long and matted, his tangled beard a coarse, wiry mess. He had been here a while. “Yes?”, he asked, in a bored tone. He blinked and looked up, with eyes of sapphire blue. Matt knew at once. “This isn’t him”, he challenged. The officer’s speechlessness was interrupted as his radio crackled into life. He shouted a short reply, and looked at up Matt. “He struck again”.
The police car skidded to a halt on the slick cobblestones in front of the Louvre, a former castle, a glimmering glass pyramid watching over it’s cold courtyard. It was a cool night, smelling of fresh rain, a wispy moon beaming through sparse, floating rain.
Flashes of playful red and blue toyed off the glass and slick surfaces of the statues and stones, as the police lights illuminated the night. Matt ran inside the Louvre with the officer, coats flapping wildly in their wake. They ran downstairs, and into the great museum’s cavernous halls.
A small group of detectives were gathered in the hall of Dutch painters, clad in long coats spotted with fresh rain, dark brimmed hats, scribbling observations in notebooks. A photographer crouched by a wall, taking pictures behind a yellow-and-black ribbon of taut police tape with a flurry of shutter clicks.
A detective wearing a brown trench coat and silver moustache greeted Matt and the officer in French, and gestured toward the wall with his pen. The Rembrandt was missing.
In its place hung a crudely drawn cartoon picture of Matt and Derrick, still in the gilded gold frame. “He’s still out there”, grumbled the French detective, grinding his teeth. “Derrick, you crazy son of a bitch!”, Matt laughed to himself.