Placing my hands on the picture frame I closed my eyes and tried to look into its past. Something that would have been a lot easier, I thought irritably, if the valuer from the auction house wasn't standing far too close to me and if he weren't wearing the stinkiest aftershave ever.
I opened my eyes again and turned to him, before putting on my best 'I'm going to be professional about this voice' and said, "I really do need slightly more room to work, Mr Collins."
He nodded and stepped back. The aftershave lingered, but it was a bit more bearable, so I turned my attention back to the large painting in a gilt frame that was currently occupying most of the table top in the reading room. Which was both a stupid name for the place and an apt one too, as while it didn't have any books in it, it was where we carried out the readings on any larger objects that were brought in or ones where the client wanted a bit more privacy. Us being the people who work at Carroll, Sahota and Binns Licensed Psychic Investigators. Well kind of, I was the most junior member and as yet my name, Nathan Hale, wasn't there on the letter heads, but I had my hopes that one day it might.
The box-like bull with stumpy legs stared at me from the painting with a boss-eyed expression. It was by Thomas Weaver wannabe painter by all accounts, but whether it was a bad forgery or something done in the tradition of by the apparently now collectable Yorkshire artist Hubert Thwaites was the question. Not that I'd ever heard of him or Thomas Weaver before Mr Collins had arrived. To be honest I couldn't see the attraction of the cube-like livestock who all apparently looked liked they'd got a case of lazy eye. I wouldn't have wanted one in my house, not that my house was the kind of place you'd hang expensive old paintings anyway. There was a reason I referred to it as the pit to all my friends.
Not that critiquing the paintings artistic merits or lack of was my job, that was for whoever was going to do the write up for the auction house catalogue. No, I was there to provide provenance by the only means available Collins Auction Houses at such short notice - a psychic historical reading. Lucky me, just how I wanted to spend my Friday evening. Not.