When Leonardo Met The Pope #blogbattle#shortstory

How The Reformation Nearly Failed (with apologies to historic accuracy)

‘How is His Holiness today?’
Cardinal Bunn looked blank. Then, ‘Papal?’
Leonardo sighed. ‘Yes, yes but his mood? Is it, you know, giving?’
Bunn frowned. ‘This isn’t about the bill, is it, because I told your man…’
‘No no it’s just Sandy said…’
‘Yes. He said Greg… His Greatness… was a bit put off commissions this term because…’
Bunn went back to his desk. ‘If you’re alluding to those awful Medici people – so nouveau – and their splash the cash painting by numbers, His Holiness – and Leo, sonny, stick to the right appellation, can’t you; we all know about you calling him His Starship, last Christmas. Not clever. Not clever at all.’
‘He liked it.’
‘Yes but what is a starship?’
‘I’m inventing it next week. Anyway, the Medicis? Commissions? They’ve just given Sandy a whopper. The Glory of The Kings.’
Bunn looked up sharply. ‘When?’
‘Last Wednesday. Cosmo Medici had a bit of a big one – you know he likes a couple of sharpeners before supper – and he had a turn, like he does. He said he had this vision thing, though we all think it was the squid and before you know it Sandy…’
‘What is it you want?’
‘I thought His Bossship might want to, you know, have his own version.’
Bunn looked suspicious. ‘You’re not playing us off against a bunch of usurers, are you? If I find out your motives are less than Godly I’ll have you ceiling painting and you know what that did to Mikey’s back.’
‘Noooooo. Just get me an audience with the Gov’ner and I’ll sort it.’
‘Okay smarty pants and how do I do that?’
‘Tell him we’ll call it The Adoration of the Magi. He’s a sucker for a cool title. And he’s not beyond a little adoring is he?’
Bunn blushed and said no more.

(Six months later)
Leonardo sat opposite the Cardinal. They both looked anxious. ‘What’s he want, Bunny?’
‘Leo, not here. You can’t use my diminutive in the Vatican.’
‘There’s nothing diminutive about your…’
‘STOP. You retched decorator. He just wants an update on the Adoration thingy.’
‘Christ, I haven’t started it. I’m inventing a helicopter and….’
‘Look, no one cares about automated haircuts. Your promised him…’
‘Okay. I’ve some sketches. I guess I can blag my way through those.’
‘He’ll not like it, if it’s not done. He’s not exactly buzzing just now.’
‘His piles?’
‘No, some German has been nailing scrolls to a church. You know what they’re like up north. All tweed suits and chilblains. Makes then get ideas. Just cheer him up okay.’
Leonardo entered the Papal office clutching his portfolio case. ‘Your, um…’
‘It’s Greg, Leo. After the Christmas party we can hardly go back to titles, can we?’
‘Are you walking okay? Has the ointment worked?’
‘I’ll be fine. What’s the story with the Adoration? Botticelli is boasting about his, you know’
‘Not a problem. Sandy is just so derivative. So last century. You’d think he’d not heard about the Reformation.’
‘Has anyone?’
‘Probably not. Look, I’ve got these sketches. Give you a feel for the work. I want to know if you get the tingles from it?’
‘After Christmas? And the corkscrew? I don’t think I’ll ever have the tingles again.’

Leonardo laid out his drawings. The Pope peered at the first one. ‘What’s that?’
‘The Baby Christ.’
‘He looks like a monkey.’
‘All babies look like monkeys.’
‘For heaven’s sake, Leo. He’s the sodding Son of Our Lord, not some carpenter’s spawn. Make him beautiful. How do you think they’d be adoring if you make him look like an orang-utan’s buttocks?’
‘Okay. Pretty the Bairn. Done. What do you think about the Magi? I’ve tried to capture the infinite variety in their glowing countenances.’
‘But they’re all white?’
‘Sure. Is that an issue?’
‘You know diversity was the subject of the last proclamation?’
‘I thought that was just a lot of Papal Bull. Anyway, I’m a bit behind on my reading. Can you give me the headlines?’
‘We want to celebrate all races and creeds and…’
‘It’ll not catch on, you know.’
‘I’m a moderniser.’
‘Sure you are.’ Leonardo held up a hand. ‘Fine, fine. I can change them. Add a bit of colour later. Otherwise are you happy with the, you know, direction? The general trend?’
‘I want it life-like. You know as it would have been. Accurate.’
‘So what’s that?’
‘I’ve called it a kangaroo. Sort of mythical beast. Hops, has babies in its pocket.’
‘Look, matey-boy, you might like this image you’ve fostered that you’re somehow ahead of your time blah blah but I don’t buy that bullshit. Stick to camels, cows and sheep, okay. Anyway why’d you need to add other animals?’
‘They fill out the canvas. You know, every one of God’s creatures looking up at the Star, following the lead to the Holy Child.’
‘This isn’t a bloody circus, Leo. It’s a significant event in the life of Our Lord. I commissioned Magi. I’m paying for Adoring and that’s what I expect.’
‘What about some artistic licence?’
‘I want a depiction of real events you pompous daubsmith .’
‘What you want is a bloody photographer?’
‘What the hell is a photographer?’
‘It’s.. never mind I haven’t invented it yet.’
‘You’ll be inventing your way into prison if you don’t get this painting done as I want it.’
‘You know what? You’re a bloody fascist. You can’t dictate to me. I’m a creative. A free spirit. A…’
‘I’ll tell you want I am. I’m the bloody Pope and I’ll have an Adoration of the Magi by Thursday lunch or you’ll be painting the Tiber Bridge for the rest of your days.’

This is part of Racheal Ritchie’s Blog Battle prompt. This week the theme is adore and the genre historical fiction. 

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in creative writing, miscellany, prompt, short story and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to When Leonardo Met The Pope #blogbattle#shortstory

  1. Pingback: #BlogBattle 5: February 7th “Adore” Entries & Voting | BlogBattle

  2. davidprosser says:

    I hope there’s an episode 2 Geoff where Greg gets to see the finished product and perhaps Leo’s helicopter.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Erika Kind says:

    This is just too awesome!!! You had me laughing all the way through the post! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ritu says:

    Brilliant His Geoffleship 3ship!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a cast of characters !! And, he should have kept the kangaroo. This is a story to “adore”. Thanks for the laughs.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. willowdot21 says:

    I don’t think he was listening !

    Everything is clearer now, you have explained it perfectly! …………. where are my glasses! Brilliant!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. If it didn’t happen that way, it should have! Wonderful!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is amazing. Love the irreverent banter and modern spin on this story, Geoff. Fantastic!
    😀 😀 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Mick Canning says:

    I’m sure it happened that way, really.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. noelleg44 says:

    Hail to the King of Historical Humor! This was so GREAT, the more so because I actually knew whereof you wrote. We definitely need another chapter – maybe with the prototype for the huge bronze horse and Ludovico Sforza?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. paulandruss says:

    Laugh out loud!

    Liked by 1 person

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