• 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 7: The Night Off

There are a few things about living the high life that has both its advantages and disadvantages. For example, spending your meal at one of Canterlot’s restaurants that have been serving years of award-winning food (that hasn't been touched by Zesty Gourmand) is undoubtedly incredible. However, when that said meal is spent with ponies that you don’t exactly want to be around, it is a different story.

Take for instance the couple sitting across from me: to my left, Jet Set; and to my right, Upper Crust. Or as I secretly nicknamed them: Mr. Pride and Mrs. Prejudice.

“The opera was interesting,” Upper Crust said, picking up a leaf from her salad in her aura. “The music was divine but the execution of the stage setup and choreography was peculiar.”

“I thought that it went too long,” Jet Set agreed. “I think I fell asleep around the second act.”

“You didn’t get the chance to see ‘La Morte Della Stella,’ have you, Fancy?”

I shook my head, trying to keep a polite, listening look on my face, “I’m afraid I haven’t gotten the chance to do so. Is it something you would recommend?”

“Oh heavens no,” Mrs. Prejudice rolled her eyes, “I think the only thing to look forward to that show is the water they sell between intermission.”

“I’d rather listen to one of Prince Blueblood’s speeches then hear that opera again,” Mr. Pride concurred. “But what about you Mr. Pants, have you been doing anything interesting lately?”

I sighed, “Oh, I’ve been keeping myself busy and what not. Father was here a while ago on the way back to Trottingham. He brought a few things from his recovery trip in Neighpon.”

“Like what?” the mare asked, picking up the glass of red wine.

“Well, apart from the expensive tea mixes that I’m saving for a rainy day, he brought home some traditional tapestries that I’m still trying to figure out where to put them. Three of them in fact: one is a panda, another is a warrior painted on black velvet, and the last is… what’s that word again? Oh I know, a geisha.”

Upper Crust raised an eyebrow, “Aren’t they Neighponie prostitutes?”

I frowned, “Not quite, they’re more like traditional dancers that perform in private tea rooms.”

“Oh,” Jet Set leaned back in his seat, adjusting his glasses, “are you planning on keeping them?”

“I’m not quite sure. They’re well made, of course, but the panda one is quite tall that I’m uncertain if I can hang it in my house.”

“At least there’s one advantage to Equestrian art,” he said, “the paintings here are actually in proportion.”

My right eye twitched, but I took in a calming breath, “But I don’t see how that makes it any better. After all, I’ve seen paintings that could be as tall and wide as most ponies homes.”

Mr. Pride huffed, while his wife asked, “What other things have you been doing?”

“Well… I am putting together a new art gallery that ought to be coming out within a month or two.”

This catches their attention, “What kind?” Upper Crust inquired.

“A collection of Post-Impressionistic paintings,” I answered before sipping my white wine.

Jet Set tilted his head, “Like what? Moneigh, Gaugin?”

“It’s more of a premiere of an artist that is alive and well, right here in Canterlot, one that he doesn’t know about yet.”

Upper Crust raised an eyebrow, “This raises many questions.”

“Go on.”

“For starters, what do you mean that this artist doesn’t know you’re putting up a gallery for his art?”

“I wanted to be a kind of a surprise since this will be the first time his work will be put on public display.”

“So that entitles that you personally know about this artist,” Mr. Pride asks.

“Oh quite,” I nodded, “In fact he’s-”

“But that can’t be right,” suddenly I hear Acrylic’s voice. Stopping at mid curiosity, I turned to the door where I found the stallion talking with the waiter, “I know I’ve made an arrangement tonight.”

The waiter looked back down at the clipboard, “Hm… I’m afraid that I don’t see your name on the list.”

“But I’ve come here a couple of days ago, I remember it.”

Now I’m curious, turning to my table, I told them, “Excuse me for a moment,” before I got up and went over to him. “Mr. Brush?”

Both he and the waiter turned to me, my hoofcolt blinked, “Mr. Pants? What are you doing here?”

“Well, I did say that I’d be going out to eat tonight, where you not told?”

“Yes sir, I have, only not as to where you’ll be eating.”

“But what are you doing here?” I asked him.

He looked down, pawing at the red carpet, “It’s my night off, sir. I have enough bits to come here and I could have sworn that I’ve made a reservation here.” He glanced over to the waiter.

“Are you eating here all by yourself?” He nodded, “Mr. Brush, why not you come to dine with me, Celestia knows that I’m in desperate need of talking to somepony interesting for a change.”

“Oh no sir,” he shook his head, “I don’t want to intrude-”

“Nonsense, I’ll have the waiters get you a chair at our table; hopefully you might lighten up the conversation. In fact, whatever you’ll have will be on me.”

“But I’ve got my bits with me,” he protested.

“No no, you are trying to rebuild your life, just dine with us so you won’t have to sacrifice your earned money on having a splendid time.”

He looked over my shoulder, “Are you sure, sir?”

“Just call me Fancy, you’re off work tonight after all,” I wrapped a hoof around his back and lead him to the table with Mister and Misses Stuckup.

“Fancy, who is this?” Upper Crust asked.

“Uh, hello there, I’m Acrylic Brush,” he smiled politely as another waiter was setting up his end of the table.

As soon as Jet Set had gotten that suspicious look, I quickly realized how big of a mistake I’ve just made. “I don’t believe I’ve heard of you.”

“What’s your names then?” he asked.

“I’m Jet Set and this is my wife, Upper Crust.”

“Well I’ve never heard of you either, so I guess we’re both even.”

“Are you from Canterlot, Mr. Brush?” the mare asked.

“I’ve just recently moved, with my new job and Mr. Pants here being my new boss.”

“Oh, so you work for Fancy Pants?”

“Yes ma’am, as a hoofcolt.”

Mr. Pride huffed, “Is that so, then why are you the one not weighing the tables?”

Oh joy, here we go. I looked over to Acrylic who suddenly had a frown, “Because I have the night off.”

“Fancy,” Mrs. Prejudice asked, “why are you having your employee sitting at our table?”

“Because Mr. Pants knows how to be a good boss,” Mr. Brush replied. “Why are you suddenly picking on me for, do you always do this to other ponies that come up to say hello?”

“Never to those who have a reputation,” she said.

“Upper Crust,” I interjected, “Is it an unwritten rule not to invite friends to dine, even if they work for you?”

“Fancy,” Jet said, “servants are meant to serve, not having them eat right next to them. It’s not something you do in public.”

Mr. Brush’s face soured, “Considering your behavior towards me, if this is the best you can do in public, then I cringe to think what you two are like at your worst.”

Upper Crust gasped, Jet Set hung his jaw, and I looked on impressed. He just summoned up all my thoughts and feelings about this couple in one sentence.

Then he stood back up, “Mr. Pants, I’ve changed my mind, I’m afraid that I won’t be eating here if it’s clear that I’m not wanted.” With that, he walked out before the waiter could give him his menu.

“Well at least we can get back to more important matters,” Mr. Pride said. “So Fancy, who was this artist you were mentioning.”

Frowning, I stood up, “You’ve just offended him.”

They blinked, “I’m sorry?” Upper Crust asked, “You mean that hoofcolt was-”

“Yes, that was the one I’m hosting a gallery for. You know, that was very rude, even coming from you two.”

“Fancy,” Jet waved a hoof, “I don’t understand, if it’s true that was the artist and has painted before, how come nopony has ever heard of him if he’s here as a servant?”

“I will say this, I have seen the talent that he possesses, and I’m shocked that neither of you can’t look past the job he’s currently working.” I took out my bits and set them on the table to cover my meal. “Now if you two would excuse me, I have to go to my employee to apologize for your behavior.”

With that, I too left the restaurant and went looking for Acrylic.

Luckily, he wasn’t too hard to find since he was down the street.

“Fancy?” Fleur asked who was watching me from the antique shop from across the street came up to me. “What happened?”

“It would seem that Mr. Brush was taken the night off, but my friends have offended him.”

“Do you want to go talk to him?”

“I do.”

“Give me a second,” she whistled loudly at the passing carriages, “Taxi!”

Just like that, one of them pulled over, we quickly got in, “Go up ahead and turn right, there’s somepony I need to talk to.” The driver nodded and rushed through the traffic, made the turn until Acrylic was in sight. “Stop for a moment,” I said. Getting out, I called out, “Mr. Brush, I am deeply sorry for what just happened.”

“What were you doing with them anyway,” he questioned, “They seem really unpleasant.”

“I was invited over because they wanted to make some deal with me, but after what I’ve just heard, I think I’m going to have to deny them that privilege.”

He snorted, “Talk about going on a bad start for a day off, huh?”

“Mr. Brush, I want to make it up to you. Here, come with us and let’s go someplace else.”

“Like where?”

I thought for a moment, “I know an excellent Istallion place that has good gelato. You can have your dinner there and I can still get my dessert. Besides, my offer still stands that I’ll cover your bill.”

He looked at the carriage, “I’m guessing that Ms. de Lis is coming along as well?”

“I have to whenever he goes out dear,” my bodyguard said. “But I think that you’re safe, now come along,” she waved.

I confessed that I smiled when he agreed. Stepping into the carriage, I instructed, “Driver please take us to the Fuoco e Ghiaccio.” He saluted, and we headed off. By now, I was in the middle, Fleur on the left and Acrylic on the right.

“Mr. Pants,” he said, looking at the passing ponies and shops. “Thank you for looking after me.”

“After hearing such uncivilized speak from my friends, it’s the least I can do.”

He looked at me confused, “Why are they your friends anyway?”

I sighed, “To tell you the truth, I hardly know myself. Perhaps one of the few things we have in common is that we both happen to have a fortune in a bank.”

This got a chuckle out of him, “That I can see. How do you think they got their wealth anyway? Charging ponies for the insults they give?”

“I wouldn’t be that surprised, to be honest,” I smiled. “Do you want to know what I call them personally?” He shook his head, “Mr. Pride and Mrs. Prejudice.”

Acrylic laughed, “Oh, that’s good! Those names really fit them, do they? ‘Dear, are we ever going to give our slaves a day off like that Fancy fellow?’ ‘Of course not darling, that would make us look ethical to society’s eyes! Being civil is so out of fashion these days!’

“That’s jolly good,” I giggled like a school filly. “That’s very accurate the more I think about it.”

We joked back and forth, so before we knew it, we were at the Istallion café. We took the outdoor seating since it was a lovely evening.

I heard my bodyguard clear her throat, looking over; I saw that there was a sly smile on her.

“What?” I asked.

“Aren’t you two rushing this relationship,” she said, “after all, it hasn’t been a month yet.”

Realizing what she was talking about Acrylic’s cheeks went scarlet red, “M-Ms. Fleur, it’s just friendly talk after all. What do you m-mean by relationship?”

She giggled, “Oh nothing dear. It’s just good to see you and Fancy enjoying yourselves.”

“You do know that Acrylic isn’t my coltfriend, right?” I deadpanned.

“Whoever said he was?” she teased, sticking her tongue at me.

I think I saw Mr. Brush’s eyes went as wide as the table before he quickly looked at anything else except me. “We’re just friends is all,” he muttered.

“Whatever you say,” she said picking up a paper menu.

Rolling my eyes, I turned to Acrylic, “Come now, she’s only teasing. She does that whenever the occasion calls for it.”

“Mr. Pants, could we talk about something else?”

“Of course, what do you want for dinner?”

He shrugged, “Maybe have one of their pies, that is if they cook pizza here.”

“I believe they do – although I haven’t ordered one from here myself.”

“Well, if they do, I hope I can get the kind with the red crust, mozzarella, and basil on top. Maybe have some peppered olive oil too if they allow it.”

“Don’t really go for anything fancy like the Supreme?”

He shook his head, “I often times find food that is at their best when they’re at their most simplistic. Have you ever found food like that, where despite how plain it is that it’s so good that it doesn’t need anything else?”

“Yes, quite. Like their gelato here for instance where they use very basic and purest ingredients to make their ice cream so rich. Like their lemon gelato for instance, ah, it’s to die for.”

Mr. Brush turned to look at me, “Really? A thing of ice cream that is that good?”

I nodded, “I recommend you make room for it, for it really is something worth trying at least once.”

“He’s telling the truth,” Fleur added, “even Princess Luna says so herself.”

Our waiter came and we ordered, a few minutes later, the cups of gelato were put on the table. I lit up my horn, grabbing a spoonful and hoofing it over to the reddish fellow, “Give it a taste.”

Taking the spoon into his own hoof, he looked at the yellow frozen glob with suspicion. Critically looking at it as if this bright substance had something on it, but a moment later, he popped it into his mouth and his eyes widen. “I’ve changed my mind,” he said, “Ice cream first, pizza later.”

I couldn’t help but laugh at that.

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