I’m on Rue Bonaparte, eight steps away from the gallery, Le Voltage. It has a black wooden façade, and stuck on the inside glass is a red and cream poster. It’s styled in Seventies font and reads, ‘Noah X Exhibition, jeudi, le 14 octobre.’
Could he get any more pretentious?
I reach for the handle and push. It opens with a creak. Hooray! I move inside, shutting it quietly behind me. The air smells like damp, dust and furniture polish and I stand still for a moment, listening for movement. But there’s nothing. It’s just me, and the canvases all covered by cloth.
Still, the door was unlocked, a light is on and there are two alarm sensors flickering red from the corners of the room, yet no alarm has been set: someone must be coming back. I don’t have a lot of time. I tiptoe over to the canvas in front of me, reach for the edge of the white covering and gently pull it off.
Plain black frame. A sheet of glass. And beyond it: a canvas. The edges are old, distressed Marvel comics stained in deep shades of burgundy and purple. Interesting. They’ve been torn away to reveal a woman, sitting on a shimmery golden background – think thirteenth and fourteenth-century Italy. She’s naked – aside from a red kabbalah string tied around her wrist and a small gold nose ring. She’s hugging her knees, ankles crossed as she stares straight out at the viewer. She has porcelain skin, light blue eyes, fire-engine red hair and a grey-metal gun lying on the floor beside her.
I reach for my phone, snap a picture and quickly glance down at it.
Shit. All I got was my own reflection and the flare of a couple of streetlights in the glass.
I snap a few more from other angles and the last one is strong.
I start to drape the cloth back over it but then—
‘What the hell are you doing?’ comes a male voice. American…