There is one incontrovertible fact, Vincent van Gogh (the famous and infamous 19th century painter) was shot and died. Was Vincent van Gogh murdered? That question can only be answered with logical supposition: when it is impossible to prove the truth or untruth of a thing then truth matters little. Therefore, what is known as the truth could be a lie and, contrary-wise, what is believed a lie may prove Truth. Let us begin this tale where all good murders begin: a body. Not Vincent van Gogh's, but a woman's. The Year: 1879. The place: Le Chat Noir...
Theo van Gogh was not hard to look at. He was blondeish. He had rather fine features (albeit a relatively fragile frame which, perhaps, impressed upon others more lastingly than any of his other physical aspects) yet carried himself with a combustible air of humility/arrogance. These characteristics
(physical and emotional) being both equally balanced meant women, in general, found him near-irresistible (particularly those at Le Chat Noir where some had even given him the pet name “little brother” because he’d managed to endear himself to their hearts…or was, which may have been more likely the case, simply so frequently present at Le Chat that it was as if he were part of their ‘family’).
So when Salis approached his newest entertainer (a young Dutch girl who went by the name of See) he assured her that Theo van Gogh was a gentleman, a charming man and—most importantly—a good (meaning: wealthy) customer.
See, however, was not easily swayed. She’d come from a middleclass family (or at least it had been. Her father was in the cotton business, which fluctuated like waves on the sea. And at that particular time—the tide was out which was why See had come to Paris looking for work. She had not told her parents that she’d secretly always wanted to perform on stage—just as she’d failed to tell them where her place of employment was; they’d been led to believe—by See—that she was working as a washerwoman).
See, however, made sure Salis understood that she was most definitely NOT a *****.
“Come, come,” Salis condemned, “Surely if Messr. van Gogh wanted a ***** he’d have chosen a much prettier one than you!” Still, it cost Salis more than what he’d wanted to pay for See to agree to spend an evening with the man. But Salis knew how to treat his best customers—he knew how to keep them coming back…again and again and again.
Theo waited in the audience for See to finish. It was close to midnight before the “Dutch Beauty” had changed and was ready to go. When Theo approached her she looked at him as a cattlebuyer looks at potential stock. She was not impressed. For unlike many of the women at Le Chat Noir, she’d grown up around respectable men and this young man’s “mixture” of personality (or persona) struck inferior or insincere—she could not, immediately, determine which.
“Hello.” Theo said, smiling. “I’m Theo van Gogh.”
“I know who you are,” replied See.
“And Salis made the appropriate arrangements with you?”
“That is correct.”
He could hardly believe his ears. She was a true beauty. Her manner. Her looks. He was smitten, besotted, and dumbstruck: he could not help himself—he touched her arm. She reeled from him as if his skin pored acid.
“I don’t know what you think our “agreement” is but I assure you, Sir, it does NOT involve you making inappropriate gestures!”
“I’m very sorry. I meant no offence…it’s just that I…”
“I will not tolerate you treating me as you might assume that you can. I am not that type of woman.”
“I know that. I could never think that!"
See wanted to leave him standing there. Nothing about him appealed to her…but Salis had paid her to spend that one evening. One evening only. And what he’d paid for her to spend the next 8 hours of her life with this small, sickly-looking man was more than what she’d make on the stage in three weeks. So she did what any levelheaded woman does: she slapped his face. Hard.