they never found the body
he lived on an estate up the road from the Yollafssens
(a spelling they inherited due to a scribal error a few generations back)
where he would occasionally host parties---
the sort where everyone stands around admiring the decor
and the lives of others and sipping wine selected from the cellar
where guests were keen to discreetly notice a locked door
he was exceedingly adept at one-sided conversation,
encouraging everyone's tales and yet telling little in return
it was said he never slept, although never by him---
the result of a fever when he was a boy.
he had come over from ireland at twenty
and made a living moving paintings for gallery owners in the city
his pride these days was a wide landscape painting from 1433
hanging in its own room, depicting a forest and a hillside
"supreme and ultimate peace" he would say plainly
he didn't own a car or any horses so he walked everywhere
with a metal-footed walking stick and an old overcoat
he would come into town and drift through the pubs
making odd comments here and there
"look at that lake, how beautifully the water shines
with the light of the rising sun"
"you can nearly see the boats bobbing with the tide,
and hear the tinkle of their rigging"
he knew how to admire a painting
but no one ever saw him produce one
when he died they found his mansion empty of any furniture or decoration.
even the locked cellar door was left open and unlocked
and within, a room with a stone floor and a vague scent of turpentine
but no object or clue was found anywhere, except for one room---
a bare room with a cushion, worn down from years of use,
and hanging on the wall a wide landscape painting from 1433
of a man standing at the edge of a forest