• Published 2nd May 2016
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The Last Impressionist - CrackedInkWell



On the way home one night, Fancy Pants discovers a painting of extraordinary quality being thrown away in the trash in the poorer part of Canterlot. Curious, Fancy discovers a depressed artist who's down on his luck named Acrylic Brush.

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Chapter 16: The Dinner from Tartarus

I’ve always preferred to have quiet breakfasts, just to give a tranquil moment to myself before I set to work. In front of me at the table is my plate of toasts, deviled eggs, and a fruit salad. To my right is a glass of cranberry juice while on my left is the newspaper. I’m trying to pay attention to the news over the rain that’s coming down this morning.

It’s been about a week since I and Acrylic visited Hoity Toity, and I confess that I haven’t made up my mind about dating Mr. Brush as of yet. Since I have been busy with charities and setting up new exhibits, I haven’t found myself to have the time to do so. While Acrylic on the other hoof is still busy painting left and right. But I get the overall sense that we need to spend somewhere outside of Canterlot.

Even at this calm morning, a vacation would sound absolutely de-

Suddenly, there was a piercing scream coming inside the house.

“What was that?” I stood up from the table, turning to my butler.

“That sounded like it came from downstairs,” Gustav and I started to head towards the servant’s quarters. After asking where the screaming came from, we were pointed towards Mr. Brush’s room. Inside we found the bloke in a full panic, stuffing what few belongings he had into his bag in a mad dash.

“Mr. Brush,” I entered the humble room, “Whatever is the matter?”

“I- I can’t stay here! They’re coming up and I just can’t be here!”

“Acrylic,” I put both hooves on both sides of his shoulders, “Get ahold of yourself! Just stop for a moment and calm down.” His hyperventilate breath slowed in a matter of minutes. “Now, I’ve heard you screaming not too long ago. What’s gotten into you to make you suddenly pack up and leave?”

He pointed to the open letter on the desk, “I’ve just got the worst possible news.”

Curious, I picked up the letter. It said the following:

Dear Acrylic,

Before I give you the good news, I want to thank you once again for sending us some bits last week. Thanks to you, we’ve been able to pay off the Landlord along with just enough to get some new things such as a bathtub and a bed. We want to know that we’re doing pretty well so far that we’re almost well off.

In fact, we now have more than enough that just to let you know, your mother and I are coming up to see you. At the moment I’m writing this, we’re in a little town called Appaloosa in which we’re hoping to see you in Canterlot by five. We miss you and with the news that your job is going well, we’re coming to see it for ourselves.

Your mother says she’s interested in seeing your commissioner that’s gotten your career off the ground.

So with that in mind, we should be arriving in Canterlot as soon as Friday at around five if the train is on time.

Hope to see you soon,

-Dad.

I turned to my butler, “Gustave, I want to speak with Mr. Brush alone.”

“Very good sir,” he said before closing the door behind us.

“To be honest with you Acrylic,” I said sitting on the edge of his bed. “I don’t really see what the cause for panic is about. Your parents are coming here tonight.”

“No, Fancy, you don’t understand.” He sat next to me, “I can’t let them meet you because I already know what’s coming. They’re gonna come up here, and they’ll figure out what’s really going on.”

“What are you talking about?”

He took in a deep breath, “Mr. Pants, please listen to me for second. I haven’t told them that I’m working for you as a servant. All I’ve been writing them about is that I’m a successful artist. Now I know what you’re thinking, ‘Where’s the problem in that?’ The problem is that if they come right here to find out that I haven’t exactly told them the truth about what really happened to me here, they’ll drag me back to Lightning Falls for sure! They’ll think I’m a failure, a liar, that I didn’t become what I said I was-”

“What do you mean they’ll take you back?” I interrupted. “You’re in your thirties, aren’t you your own guardian?”

He shook his head, “In Lightning Falls, you are not considered an adult until you are able to do your trade successfully and honestly. If they found out that I was broke and homeless, they’ll know that I haven’t been honest with them, and therefore I cannot be independent.”

My jaw dropped to my withers, “Are you joking?”

“I wish I was, which is why I need to leave,” he returned to his bag. “As long as I don’t run into them, I can still live here in Canterlot.”

“Now Mr. Brush, let’s not be rush,” I asked. “Don’t you think you’re blowing this out of proportion?”

“Point is I’m nowhere close to ready to meet them,” he said as he stuffed a bag of bits into the bag. “And to top it all off, if either of them finds out that we’re dating, even though we’re not officially a couple, they are going to explode.”

Oh dear. “Well, I can see why you would be a little bit stressed out. But at the same time, I don’t think it’s wise to run away from your problems.”

“Easy for you to say, I’ve met your father, and trust me when I say this, he and my parents are nowhere close to being alike. I’m not sure how things are here in Equestria, but where I come from, we take family very seriously. Until you’re considered an adult by your parents, you have no right to say anything to the contrary, especially if you have failed by yourself. So if they knew, they can order me around like a foal.”

“So in other words, you’re considered an adult in their eyes until you’ve proven that you can be independent.”

“Exactly,” he nodded.

I thought for a moment, “Mr. Brush, if you want, I can speak with your parents and I won’t talk about your duties in the house but tell them about your rise to success as an artist.”

He blinked, “You mean that you’re willing to lie to them?”

“I didn’t say that. I’ll them how I came across your work and about the number of bits your commissions pay for. But I won’t talk about your history of being poor, a hoofcolt or a Valet. I’ll invite them over to dinner tonight where we’ll prove to them that you are capable of being on your own.”

“You’re… You’re willing to do that?”

I smiled, “Of course, anything to give my favorite artist a good recommendation.” At this point, I stood up and opened the door, “Gustav?”

A moment later, my butler craned his neck in, “Yes sir?”

“Would you tell Ms. Copperpot that we’ll be expecting to have Mr. Brush and his parents over for dinner? I want her to offer the finest cuisine that Canterlot has to offer.”

“Very good sir.”

_*_

Hours later that day, I and Mr. Brush stood there side by side on the front steps while the servants waited on the sidewalk. I admit that part of me was curious to know what Acrylic’s parents are like. This would be the first time that I would be meeting them and I’m hoping to make a good impression on them.

I’ve sent a cab to fetch them and whatever belongings they brought along to bring them to the house to give them a Canterlot Welcome. The dinner was prepared to be served hot and the Dining Room’s pictures have been removed temporarily to show off Acrylic’s finest work.

Now all that’s missing is for his parents to arrive. I confess that I’m not sure who’s more nervous about the whole affair: me who has no idea what to expect or Mr. Brush fully knowing what to anticipate.

About ten minutes after five, a taxi pulled over by the sidewalk and out stepped out a Pegasus mare with a white mane and a yellow coat while the other was a red stallion with a light green mane. Both Acrylic and I stepped forward towards the couple.

“Hello, Mom and Dad.”

“Acrylic,” his mother went up and hugged him. “We’ve missed you so much.”

“Hello son,” his father said as he was unloading a pair of suitcases from the carriage.

“Pardon me sir, but I don’t think that will be necessary.” I turned to the hoofcolts and asked them to take their luggage up to the guestroom. Once this was done, I went up to the father. “Good evening sir, my name is Fancy Pants; I’m a friend of your son.”

“Ah, hello there,” he took my hoof and shook it. “This is an amazing place you’ve got here. The name’s Dusty and that there’s my wife, Fan.”

“How do you do,” the mother took her turn to shake my hoof. “Acrylic has told much about you.”

“Has he?” I looked over to the Artist. “Well then, how about we all go inside and have some dinner?”

The parents looked at each other, “Oh we don’t want to be a bother,” Dusty said.

“Nonsense, when the father and mother of my most favorite living artist are in town, how can I not invite them to dine?”

“Well, before we do,” the father said as he took out from his suitcase a rock pouch. “Here, something from home.”

Acrylic opened up the bag and peered in it, “Opals, and uncut too.”

“Some of the best from the mines,” he said. “Consider it as a congratulations gift.”

We escort the newcomers towards the dining room in which I heard some “Awe’s” and “Oh’s” along the way. Together, the four of us sat down in which we were immediately served soup.

“Please don’t eat too much,” I warned, “we have a few courses to go before dessert.”

“So Acrylic,” Fan began, “How did you get to know your rich friend?”

“By accident,” I explained. “I came across him on the way home when I noticed that he was throwing away this picture,” I pointed to the painting. “I admired the craftsmanship that I seek out for Mr. Brush here to see if he would be willing to do more. You might say that I got lucky considering the attention he’s gaining now.”

“I’m hired by mostly rich ponies,” Acrylic chimed in. “With friends of Mr. Pants took notice of all the artwork that I’ve made, suddenly I’ve got commissions left and right to do this or paint that. In other words, I’ve been keeping myself busy.”

“So I can see,” Dusty said after a spoonful. “So Mr. Pants or can I call you Fancy?”

“Either one is fine.”

“Alright, what exactly do you do Fancy?”

“Well, to put it in the simplest of terms. I’m constantly on the lookout for the finest art there is from fashion to Acrylic’s paintings and give them attention. While Mr. Brush has done all the work in creating these masterpieces that you see, I was the one to get the word out, so to speak.”

His mother looked around the room, “I’m still surprised really, we didn’t think he would make it like this with his painting.”

I raised an eyebrow, “What do you mean?”

“I mean, Acrylic has always made paintings like these. A bunch of paint that isn’t very clear, not that detailed, and kinda messy. I thought that to be a good artist you have to paint something that’s, well, lifelike.”

My eye glanced over at the Artist who frowned but said nothing.

“Not to mention that they’re odd looking,” his father agreed. “For a while, we didn’t think he had the skills to be an artist.”

“But Mr. Brush has come a long way,” I said. “He has demonstrated that he has an amazing talent when it comes to Impressionism.”

“For you, sure,” Fan said, “But for me, it’s not really my thing. Some of them looked like something that a foal would make. However, if it’s something that you ponies like and makes a profit, who are we to object.”

“Can we change the subject?” Acrylic asked, still looking sternly. I don’t blame him really, what they’ve said was rather rude.

“Certainly,” I said, “so then, Dusty, Fan, is this your first time in Equestria?”

“It certainly is actually,” the father nodded. “We took the train eastward to see our boy. Although I must say, there are some major culture shocks here and there.”

“Oh? Such as?”

“Well you see,” the mother said, “now that Acrylic is sending us some bits in, we’ve decided to try to follow in his hoofsteps of his travels. Sometimes by train and others on hoof, you know. Anyway, the first place we went to is to Applewood, and we were surprised to see such a variety of, well, everything. We’ve heard a wide range of music, of food, and other creatures such as gryphons in which we don’t see that often in Lightning Falls.”

“Then we took a train north to Vanhoover,” Dusty continued. “We entered a bookstore there in which we saw more books in that space then what our little mining town has.”

“After that, we went towards the Crystal Empire,” Fan said nostalgically. “I tell you that although second to this city, it was gorgeous! I didn’t think you can make such structures from crystal.”

“Next we took the train to go south to Appaloosa, where we’ve encountered buffalo for the first time, surprisingly nice too.”

“It sounds like you two and Acrylic have traveled quite a bit, if I say so myself,” I commented.

“Quite,” the father nodded, “Of course, there’s one other thing we found really surprising.”

“And what’s that?”

“Well,” Fan leaned forward. “To be honest, I think on this trip, we’ve probably seen more queers here than we’ve ever seen in a lifetime.”

I suddenly paused at this, “Care to explain,” I said carefully.

“I mean,” Dusty explained, “when we were in West Applewood, I swear that we’ve seen more faggots walking together on one street. Holding hooves and kissing, in public, honestly, they have no sense of decency whatsoever.”

“And don’t let me get started with what we saw in the train up here from Ponyville,” Fan laughed. “Right behind our seat, there were these two dykes that talked about their anniversary, while foals were present in the car! I mean can you believe that?”

“I can actually,” I said returning to my soup. “I’ll have you two know that here in Equestria, we accept those ponies who have attractions to the same gender as something normal. I myself have very good friends who are homosexuals themselves, even transgender too that are well respected.”

“But don’t you worry though?” the father asked, “How do you know any of them are ready to take advantage of you? They’re perverts after all.”

“I don’t believe so,” I said without looking up. “You’d be surprised how many ponies in Canterlot alone are actually accepting of others. While not perfect, at least some of us have the common curacy to not jump into conclusions about a whole group of ponies based on foalish stereotypes.”

“But there must be some truth in it,” the mother insisted. “I don’t see how you can even tolerate something like this; it almost sounds like you’re a faggot lover or something.”

It was at this moment that all three of us jumped when Acrylic slammed his hooves on the table. We looked up at him as he stood up, “How dare you? Do the two of you have any shame whatsoever?”

“Acrylic? What’s the matter?” Dusty asked, “We were just talking about facts here.”

“Do you really have no idea what just came out of your mouths?” he asked angrily. “Both of you have just not only insulted what Equestria stands for, but you’ve insulted Mr. Pants as well.”

“What does Fancy get to do with anything?” his mother inquired.

“He’s Pansexual, which means that he’s attracted to all genders, that he can’t help it. And before you ask, no! He has never once taken advantage of me or any of the servants in this house! Fancy is the kindest, most open-minded, generous, and most wonderful stallion I’ve ever met, and to put him in the same category of perverts is downright insulting. So, let me ask you again, have neither of you has any shame?”

Dusty frowned, “We were just saying what we believe.”

“Well, from what I’ve just heard, do you want to know what I believe?” Acrylic asked. “I wish I was still in your loins! I wish that you and Mom have never met! I wish that both of you would have died before I was even born!”

Both of the parents gasped at this. “Acrylic, son,” Fan asked, “What are you saying?”

“You’re dead to me!” he marched over to the door that leads to the servant’s quarters. “So get your things and get out of this house! I am never sending you a single bit ever again! You two! Dead!” with that, he slammed the door.

I confessed, as harsh as it was, I cannot blame him for the outburst from over what I’ve just heard. “Mr. and Mrs. Brush,” I turned to the shocked parents. “I believe that this would be a good time for you two to get out of my house. I’ll have the servants return your bags and I’ll give you enough bits for the hotel three blocks down the street. Now, if either of you two won’t mind, get out.”

Thank Celestia, they did. While at the same time, I could have sworn that I heard the mother sobbing. But at this point, I’m not sure, and neither do I care.

_*_

I waited for an hour for things to calm down. To which on my back I balanced a tray of ice cream and I’m about to knock on Acrylic’s door. “Mr. Brush, can I come in?” From the other side, there was no answer so I let myself in.

There on the bed with a pillow over his head, the Artist lay there, crying. Place the tray down on the tiny nightstand; I too lay on the bed, hugging him. “It’s alright Acrylic.”

“How?” he choked. “I’ve just d-disowned my own parents! I-I didn’t mean to y-yell at them.”

I began rubbing his back, “Now, now. What happened back there… if I had more of a backbone to that sort of bigotry, I would have lost my temper too.”

“But,” he took the pillow off of his head, “do you know what this means now? I have no family anymore. I knew that they would say things like that, and I know they’re not as open-minded as you or your father, but they are still my family… or they were.” He implanted his face into the pillow, “I’m a terrible pony!”

“No, that’s not true. You stood up for what you believe was right. You stood up against their prejudices and denounced what all that really was. Ignorance. Look, I know what you did was hard, but the only ones that could change their minds is themselves, yet, you gave them a reliable voice in which that changes how they see things. Besides, I was rather touched too.”

He looked up at me with confusion, wiping away his tears, “You were?”

I smiled, “That you told them that I’m, as you put it: ‘the kindest, most open-minded, generous, and most wonderful stallion you’ve ever met.’”

“But it’s true, isn’t it?”

Chuckling, I agreed, “Oh quite. But the fact that in the face of such hatred, you stood up for me was very heartwarming Acrylic, and I’m honored to know a fellow stallion that is chivalrous. This is why I’ve made up my mind in asking you on a third date.”

Mr. Brush didn’t say anything other than he hugged me back. “If only there were more ponies like you.”

“Now, now,” I sat up, drying his tears. “Let’s not what happened at dinner spoil an evening like this.” With my horn, I levitated the tray over to us, “Ice cream?”

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