“What other famous individuals have you come in contact with on your journeys?”
Sgt. Janus replies:
“Your question seems to imply that I myself am a ‘famous individual,” but I assure you that I have never sought out nor am interested in fame or notoriety. If anything, I am perhaps infamous in some circles…
“Allow me to tell you a brief story, though, to answer your question. A few years ago I was asked to come to the house of a wealthy man who was, among many other things, a collector of art. I was astonished by the length and breadth of his collection and, upon seeing my interest, the man insisted that he give me a tour of the many paintings he owned. We walked past Michelangelos and Van Goghs and Cezannes and even a Degas or two, until we approached a small work at the end of one hallway. Pausing before it, the man indicated the signature on the painting. I looked closely to see that it was a Monet, one of his lesser-known achievements.
“The man then looked at me and explained that the work was the only Monet he owned and that he fervently wished to acquire more, but ‘the demmed things are too demmed elusive.” I told him that I was blissfully ignorant of such things and I was more interested in exactly why he had called me to his home – surely it was not to visit his art collection? He harrumphed and explained that he was quite certain that he had somehow acquired a spirit with the painting that hung before us, and that it was the lingering shade of Claude Monet himself. Before I could respond to this claim, the man urged me to contact the spirit and ask if it would not care to produce a fresh work or two for him. In other words, the art collector believed he had a line on wholly new Monets – exclusive to him and potentially worth a neat fortune.
“I told him that my profession as a Spirit-Breaker was to rid homes of ghosts, not parlay with them for a continuation of their earthly works, but the man insisted and I conceded that the exercise might prove valuable for future study. I asked to be left alone in the hallway and once my wish was granted, I asked the spirit for guidance on the matter. After several attempts, the spirit informed me that, to the contrary, he was not Claude Monet at all, but a simple painter of moderate skill who produced small works in his spare time. In life he was actually a chimney sweep, but in the afterlife, well, he had found some kind of fame…at least in the art collector’s eyes. Could he possibly go on without my ‘spilling the beans’?
“The lesson, here, I believe, is that fame is in the eye of the beholder. We are all giants in our own minds and we are also too often too easily blinded by the reputed fame of others. Still, better a famous artist in death than a simple chimney sweep in life…and my abject apologies to the real Claude Monet - REJ”
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