The Long-fingered Italian

One of my grandfather’s paintings terrified me when I was a child. I was afraid of one of the closets in my grandmother’s house, because I knew that the Long-fingered Italian lurked within, waiting to scare me.

The model was an Italian man who my grandfather hired to pose for him when he was on his grand tour of Europe in the 1930’s. My grandmother told us that the model was a very cold man – he dumped all the wood my grandfather had on the fire to make the room warmer while he posed! I kind of wish he’d tucked his creepy fingers in a pair of mittens, instead.

I imagine my grandfather, skinny as a rail, because he spent what little money he had on paint instead of food, sitting in a cold room after the man had left and the fire had gone out for good. When he looks at the painting, does he wonder if it was worth being cold for the rest of the night to paint such an image? Does he picture an art collector buying the painting and hanging it above a fireplace in a lodge somewhere? Does he imagine a little, curly haired girl opening a closet and shrieking to discover the long-fingered man staring back at her?

Without further ado, I present the Long-fingered Italian:

You know, now he really doesn’t look all that scary. Hm.

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