The Collector by Cat Pritchard

“Observe the detail in the headboards. Handcrafted by orphans. All dead now.”

Sarah paused to let her client soak it all in.

“And the bed frames. Rare Ebony from Madagascar. Almost extinct. Everything original, down to the wallpaper, hand-painted by slaves from Malaysia. I am told twelve people died in its creation. Apparently the paint was toxic.”

She stepped back, watching his eyes feast on the objects, like a vulture circling its prey. Slowly. Hungrily. His pupils darting between the broken and fragile.

Had he grown up here? She didn’t speak enough French to ask. She didn’t need to. She was fluent in a rare kind of greed, one that spoke to this new breed of collector that paid top Dollar, Yen, Euro to possess old world plunder.

She watched him touch the wallpaper with a gloved hand, drink in the smell of the blood-stained wood like a trained sommelier, his cold black shoes carrying him over the rubble.

Far, far away.

As they shook hands outside, the helicopter blades chopping the sounds of wild birds into tiny fragments, her curiosity got the better of her:

“What will you do with it?”

He paused, but did not hesitate.

“Burn it down”.


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