by Jason D. Moore

Two peculiar scientists researching paint pigments for the Department of Defense invent a unique device.

D I S C U S S I O N  F O R U M  |  R E T U R N  T O  S T  O N L I N E

Bookmark and Share



Dear General K. Richard Philips, Dr. J. L. Webster, Prof. Erika G. Abfall, and Mr. L. Thomas Haneford:

Although it has taken more than four years to complete, attached is my conclusive report describing the mysterious events regarding the Painting Gun. As a recipient of this report, you have previously agreed to the privacy statement and affidavit and, pursuant of previous agreements, you have accepted that under no circumstances shall the information contained herein be disseminated in any way including but not limited to telephony, fax, all E-Platforms, Quick Message, Inter Stat, and electrum copy. All proprietary equations and reaction sequences will remain unpublished throughout all attached documentation with the penalty for accidental or purposeful distribution of the information contained herein not limited to less than 35-40 years imprisonment and a $750,000.00 USD fine in accordance with Department of Defense R128, Sec 23. 5. In addition, Mrs. Iwa and her attorneys continue to express their desires for privacy and discretion with all future contacts and correspondence in light of the conclusions of this report. It has been a difficult time for all involved in these incidents, and I continue to stress sensitivity and confidentiality regarding all aspects of this unique case.

As this report is conclusive, there are those whom I would like to recognize for their hours of assistance and their expertise. My thanks and praises to the exceptionally cooperative General K. Richard Philips at the Department of Defense, Dr. J. L. Webster, Chair of the Physics Department at Hampshire College, and Professor Erika G. Abfall and all her staff at the European Commission on Museums and Antiquities in Brussels. This has been the most challenging opportunity of my career, and this account would not have been possible without the technical and principled support from the aforementioned individuals and their organizations. Thank you.

K. V. Stablesteade, Esq., MBA, Sigma Chi, Member North American Arts and Antiquities Association.

Attachments: The Painting Gun - Conclusions and Documentation



Much has already been publicized in the popular press concerning the activities of Professors Vete Iwa and Otto Von Lahn and their invention, the Painting Gun. Although the initial excitement surrounding this revolutionary technology has since diminished, an exceptional amount of interest remains concerning Mr. Iwa's disappearance and the subsequent flight, arrest, and incarceration of Von Lahn in Bavaria, EU. Because Euro Zone regulations forbid extradition for a capital offense, it is highly unlikely that Von Lahn will take the stand at his American trial and reveal the final fate of Professor Iwa. Therefore, the goals of this report are threefold: to detail the circumstances surrounding the invention of the Painting Gun, to address issues pertaining to royalties and patents succession, and to finalize and conclude the missing persons status still open on Professor Vete Iwa.


Vete Iwa's parents were documented refugees from Iwakuni in Japan's Yamaguchi-ken prefecture, having fled the ruined city following North Korea's low-level nuclear strike in 2050. Like other refugees of the Peninsular War, the Iwas immigrated to Los Angeles in 2051, leaving the West Coast for the Northeast soon thereafter. Vete was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts and was described by both his parents and his teachers as "gifted" and "bright," graduating with a PhD in experimental physics from MIT at age 24. After marrying his undergraduate fiancée Jill Kapuchinski, Iwa was hired by the Department of Defense Research Institute (DODRI) to study pigmentation adhesiveness and materials permeability at the Department of Defense Paint and Pigmentation Technology Lab (DODPPTL) in Brighton, Massachusetts.

Concerning Otto Von Lahn's youth, there is minimal documentation, and his early childhood and education in Germany are significant only in their banality. An adequate, hardworking student, Von Lahn was socially obtuse and rather solitary, spending the majority of his teenage years online under two screen names, "Kneipen101" and "!Wertewande!"

At age 36, Von Lahn finished his PhD in Metallurgy and Nano-materials and via alumni connections he was eventually hired to research carbon and nitrogen phosphorescence at a small Munich lab partially funded by the Max Planck Institute.

It was during these first six months of full-time employment when Von Lahn suffered a bitter and protracted divorce from his first and only spouse, Inalia Bey. An ethnic Turk, Bey's court documents describe Von Lahn as prone to fits of depression followed by furious bouts of physical and sexual abuse. When the divorce finalized, Bey returned to Ankara and served six years with the Turkish Army, earning a commendation for bravery at the battle of Kars against the combined forces of Syria and a post revolutionary Islamic Republic of Iraq. On multiple occasions Bey has condemned Von Lahn as "a manipulative sex pervert," stating her relief because, "finally there is a justice. Hang him without trial. He is beneath the dog for all he has done to me and others."

As part of the divorce proceedings, Von Lahn was required to undergo psychotherapy, with his treatment falling under the auspices of Dr. Isla J. Ansbach. Much quoted in both the EU and American press as an expert on the case, Ansbach recommended that Von Lahn take up painting to help with his cognitive and behavioral rehabilitation. Her copious notes now held by EU authorities describe Von Lahn as a "binge drinker" who commonly engaged in "high risk polyamorous sexual activities."

Von Lahn was prescribed a number of pharmaceuticals for his characterlogical disorder over his two years of treatment, and according to Ansbach's records, their oral and cognitive behavioral therapy sessions were labeled "moderately" successful. Although painting seems to have served Von Lahn well as a therapeutic device, his art career was short and relatively fruitless, selling a single landscape to a steel magnate from Berlin who allegedly demanded sexual favors as part of purchase negotiations.

Soon after this incident, Von Lahn abruptly quit painting and therapy and applied for a 504-B technology visa. Granted his visa as a "EU Allied National in a high demand field," Von Lahn sold his family home in Bavaria and immigrated to Boston, Massachusetts, for employment under contract with the Department of Defense.

Within six months of employment at the Department of Defense Paint and Pigmentation Laboratory, Von Lahn befriended Vete, their relationship blossoming over a shared interest in the fine arts with a particular fondness for European paintings. E-mail and Quick Messages recovered and reconstructed from their time at the lab recount a haggard and frustrated Iwa who was anxious about his future and his spouse, referring to her several times as "an ice princess," and a "withholding bitch." Von Lahn's responses are compassionate and supportive, offering advice over relationships, parenting, and workplace politics while continuously suggesting extra martial affairs or adopting a "swingers" marriage.

Because much of the Lothario styled camaraderie between Von Lahn and Iwa has been previously published, such salacious details will be omitted here. In addition, Mrs. Iwa continues to deny that she shared simultaneous sexual liaisons with Iwa and Von Lahn. It is certain, however, that the two professors engaged in questionable sexual practices involving multiple partners on several occasions, and Von Lahn was asked to be godfather to Iwa's son Marcus, much to the consternation and disapproval of Mrs. Iwa.


Von Lahn's private day-to-day diary described the original Painting Gun as a four-cylinder styled pistol made from three types of Nano-Fibers twice folded and layered for both form and connection. To maintain structural integrity, the pistol was sealed with a durable custom shell single cast from molybdenum and titanium. As it is now known, the cylinder cartridges stored and fired Y photons and W bosons, the firing pin a lower level element from the Lanthanide series initiating what the Nobel Committee has christened "The Iwa Sequence" or "The Von Lahn Rift," the award withheld until the conclusion of the forthcoming trial.

The first documented experiment with the gun was held at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) (Figure 1) in Boston, Massachusetts. Von Lahn has stated on multiple occasions that the museum was initially chosen due to its proximity to their laboratory, but my investigation suggests otherwise. Forensic computer analysis by the DOD confirms that Von Lahn had meticulously researched the MFA as a target after discarding other possibilities such as the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and the New England Museum of Heritage and Industry. The MFA was chosen because of its weak and ineffective security system, and Von Lahn was keenly aware that several pieces in the MFA's permanent collection had recently been damaged by vandals. Indeed, choosing to test the gun in the Gardner would have been disastrous as the museum had heightened security and installed video surveillance and ushers in each gallery following the second infamous heist of Rembrandt's "The Storm on the Sea of Galilee" and "Portrait of a Lady and Gentleman in Black" in 2077.

The first painting "shot" was an unlikely and uninspired target, "The Wreckers" by William Holbrook Beard (Figure 2). It appears this piece was picked at random and near panic as Iwa was nervous about arrest and the impact a trial could possibly have on his career and family. Von Lahn recorded two short films of their initial experiment, the footage grainy and marred by unsteady and poorly focused camera work, the audio limited and predominantly indecipherable. The first film is less than a minute in length and begins with Iwa aiming a pistol at The Wreckers. Following a dull sounding "pop," there is a flash of rainbow color and the formation of a yellowish haze. As the cloud dissipates, Iwa is nowhere to be seen, and the film comes to an abrupt ending.

The second film begins with a close up still shot of a diminutive white spot on The Wreckers. Slowly the spot expands outward in a spiral formation, and shortly thereafter Iwa is ejected outward from the painting, rolling into a hard landing on the museum floor. Audio in the second film is slightly more distinct than the first as Iwa rants directly into the camera, "Otto! Otto! I was inside! I was walking on (unintelligible) beach! I was on the beach! The beach!"

"Forty minutes! (Unintelligible)! Forty minutes!"

"We did it! We (unintelligible)!"


From their success with "The Wreckers" we can easily approximate Iwa's and Von Lahn's motivations, and following their initial experiment the two traveled to Europe to continue testing their unique invention. Airline bookings and receipts from various hotels have placed the two in London, Madrid, Paris, and Rome. E-mails between Mr. and Mrs. Iwa from the period detail a deteriorating marriage plagued by arguments and difficulties, sexual incompatibility, and a possible divorce. Video surveillance from the Tate and the Prado capture clear images of Iwa and Voh Lahn holding hands as they view various works in the galleries. They appear to be distinctly interested in oil pieces on canvass with surface areas greater than 2,500 cm2.

Von Lahn has sworn in a EU affidavit that Amsterdam was chosen as the second test locale for the Painting Gun as the Netherlands is "the world's bedroom, with spineless politicians and resort prisons." This statement seems logical since, having grown up in the EU, Von Lahn is familiar with legal frameworks throughout the Zone. It must also be noted that Von Lahn and Iwa had another reason for visiting Amsterdam, to patronize the notorious Red Light District. Interviews and sworn statements collected from numerous madams and prostitutes from several brothels throughout the District portray a nervous and drunken Iwa aside an overbearing Von Lahn with both men requesting exclusive services including ménage à trois, partner swapping, and highly ritualized bondage and discipline and sadomasochistic activities. ATM records prove the withdrawals of over 18,000.00 Euros from both Iwa's and Lahn's accounts, although it seems implausible that this total sum was spent all on such activities.

Evidence confirms that the second or third experiment with the Painting Gun occurred at the Van Gogh Museum. The painting in question is "Wheat Field with Crows" (Figure 3 and Figure 4), and analysis conducted by Professor Abfall and her staff at the European Commission on Museums and Antiquities includes argon spectrum examination, pigmentation hydration and decomposition evaluation, and photographic and microscopy comparative. The words of Professor Abfall best describe her conclusions: "It was clear when I revisited the painting that the black lines of crows, such a striking feature of the original Wheat Field, had changed. Somehow, they had moved, as if they had been erased or painted over, or redrafted elsewhere on the canvass. Now, this is impossible; a painting cannot change unless someone comes with a brush and fresh paint and alters it, but this is so. I compared the original to a full sized insurance mandated photograph and counted the crooked black strokes one by one. The alteration is obvious; the strokes are different. If you hold the painting and the photograph side by side, one cannot miss the differences. The crows, the sun, and clouds—all have changed in the painting. The works are absolutely different. A darker mood and palette permeates the piece now, the tenor utterly altered."

Although Professor Abfall's words seem incredible, an audio file reconstructed from Iwa's mp3 recorder is revealing. The location of the conversation between Iwa and Voh Lanh is unknown, but background audio enhancement by EU investigators place the two at Salome's Boudoir, a notorious brothel long recognized for its gentrified clientele seeking the risqué and legally questionable. What follows is an edited transcription of a selected portion of the enhanced audio.

Vete: I was in the field… surrounded by Van Gogh's harsh yellows and blues. The crows were all over, furious and angry, cawing at me like they were going to peck my eyes out! I was in a 3-D, Van Gogh, paintbrush world! I could feel his brushstrokes and desperation…

Otto: You were frightened, no?

Vete: A little, but I could see and feel everything. I was walking down that central path, the one in the middle of the painting and the (inaudible) followed me. They were dive-bombing me and (loud female laughter) into the wheat. The wind blew crazy. The crows came right at me, the birds, the storm- all of it! The grays, blues, cerulean- my shirt was umber! You could feel all this anger and hostility, pure terror (pause) whisky please. I couldn't believe it. The gun works so much better than expected.

Otto: (indistinguishable German phrase) We will win the Nobel and then you can say goodbye to your wife. I am free, free man now!

Vete: Yeah, if it was only that easy.

Otto: (voice rising) It is that easy, it is. Are you not her boss? Or does she tell you what to do?

Vete: It's just not that easy, Otto. It's not. She's my child's mother.

Otto: Oh, your son's mother, not this again!

Vete: You know it's true… You know how I feel.

Otto: Yes, you love her you don't love her. You want to go but you can't, I know. I wonder if (indistinguishable unknown phrase). God damn.

The two traveled to Museum de Brussels after this conversation, where the third and most notorious exercise of the Painting Gun occurred. Multiple witnesses including several museum attendees and two ushers attempted to stop Iwa but were held off by the impression that he was brandishing an actual firearm. Numerous observers stated that when Iwa reappeared from Breughel's 1558 masterpiece "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus" (figure 5), his clothes were wet and "bunches of eagle feathers filled the gallery." Four reported feeling a "wafting breeze," while others asserted that they heard "the jingle of a horse harness and splashing waves" and "baying sheep." Fortunately, a feather sample was recovered for analysis. The quills exhibited a remarkable rate of decay and decomposed within three hours into an inky daub of oil paint that dried within an hour. Argon dating of the sample concludes that the pigment dates to the 16th century and is an exact molecular match to the paint used in "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus."

Iwa fled the museum in the commotion following his emergence from the painting and he was seen later that evening drinking with Von Lahn at their hotel bar. The bartender reports that the two men argued and Von Lahn threw a drink at Iwa and then slapped him about the face as he stood to leave. Following an outburst of obscenities and threats, Von Lahn then chased Iwa around the table and eventually into the street.

Remarkably, authorities were never contacted and Vete Iwa has since vanished, with his disappearance inspiring American investigators to presume his murder at the hands of Otto Von Lahn. American investigators postulate that following this argument Von Lahn murdered Iwa, quartered his body, and dumped the remains into an undisclosed and, so far, undiscovered grave. Von Lahn has repeatedly denied all such allegations.

Not surprisingly, Von Lahn recounts these events in quite a different light. He admits to arguing in the bar and pursuing Iwa into the street, losing him down an alley. Frustrated, Von Lahn states that he purchased a liter of whisky, returned to the hotel and retired to his room to drink and contemplate an apology. Sometime after 1am, Iwa returned to their hotel room and, following a round of shared apologies, the two men argued again. Von Lahn admits to striking Iwa again, but states that Iwa fled from the hotel with the Painting Gun, disappearing into the Brussels morning.

Blood and semen issuances collected from Von Lahn's clothing and bedding certifies portions of this story, but recently discovered CCC footage suggests an intriguing addendum. The short film in question was collected from the archives of the Museum de Brussels, the footage showing a disheveled figure with the height and build similar to Vete Iwa entering the museum early that morning. Because the film quality is poor, facial recognition software is inconclusive; the bruised visage of this unknown figure might be Professor Iwa. The individual in question walks through the gallery and heads directly to "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus." Here, the unrecognizable suspect withdraws a large pistol from his jacket, aims at the painting, and disappears into a flash of color. As of this writing, the unknown figure has never been witnessed reappearing from the painting.

The Journals

With the recovery of Iwa's journals from his hotel, we have additional insights into his scientific theories, calculations, and daily ruminations and inner thoughts. Many entries in his spiral bound lab notebook describe a tumultuous relationship with Von Lahn, and undoubtedly the total of Iwa's diary will surface during his trial. The passages below have been evaluated by counsel and have been deemed acceptable for this limited release.

April 15, 2078

Christ! A never ending flight across the Atlantic, Otto drunk & grinning, his hand "accidentally" brushing my crotch the whole flight. His non-stop chatter about how much I'll love the Zone. So far, it's ok. Reminds me of the North End-- huddled brick buildings, small cars, all of it packed together & tight. Really, I worry about getting more cartridges but Otto says no problem, he has connections, he knows a lab guy here & there- don't worry. How can I not be worried? We need at least 28 Femto grams of Fermium, and you can't just get that anywhere. I suppose I should I believe him. He's been right so far. Pointless to worry.

April 27, 2078

So many paintings and galleries! Gilded frames, ornate & priceless paintings-- they all become indistinct and blurry-- a singular image in a spinning head. Otto is incredible. He knows the Zone and we don't need a translator for anything-not for the Rail Pass or the hotel. The French, as said, are terrible. Still angry. Two yelled at me on the Metro, How they knew I was an American is beyond me. As if I caused the Paris chemical drop in '65. All American's are guilty here-- now and forever.

Hyped for the Red Lght Dist, the half nude women for window dressing. Wondeful. I agree with Otto-- I'll spray until it's drained. Condoms for a sport night.

May 2, 2078

I kept telling him the adhesive ratios for acrylic can never work-- too low. He never agrees. He complains and then threatens. Arguments over calculations. Did he ever take calculus? I thought Germans were mathematic savants. All night about the blonde with the double D's and how he would break her. Break her? Lucky if he can even get stiff without some rope around his neck & duct tape on his chest. Not the rock he thinks. Get out your pills and check your blood pressure, Limpet.

May 4, 2078

When you leap into the painting it's a jarring, odd, a flash of color & you tingle. Dry mouth, a fine dust covering you. Then you're in the canvas-- vision & feeling, the emotions of the painter all encompassing. The tenor and colors matter, the crows in the VGogh came at me furiously and chased me through the wheat. The ground was muddy, damp-- more terror than from any childhood experience. It was luck getting out. Felt sick too, nosebleed followed, and another this A.M. when I woke up. Hungover? Thinned blood from too much aspirin or the herpes shot? Might be something, not sure. Radiation poisoning? No, exposure too low. At least it stopped.

May 5, 2078

Otto and the booze and the brothels. Where is science? Drinks and women, I tell him we're going to run out of cartridges and he says not to worry. That's all he ever says-"don't worry," & "it's fine." I put one aside for a last trial. As if the gun was all his idea & he should win the Nobel! Arrogant. Such ego yet he's hardly fluent w/ calculating Sigma. I'll be damned if he'll get the Nobel. My prize, mine.

May 11, 2078

Fight last night, cried, too much to drink. I miss Jill and Marcus. After this, I know she'll be gone. DIVORCE. My parents shamed. Not drinking tonight. One more test with the gun, then patent. To hell with Lahn, My glory. Wonder how Jill is. Must have called the police by now. This whole trip has turned to shit. Otto doesn't care. Nothing, nothing, nothing- it's all shit.


As Von Lahn's absentia trial commences, testimony will clearly illustrate that the Painting Gun was envisioned and constructed by two brilliant but damaged minds.

It is my recommendation that all Nobel Prize monies and honors should be equitably divided between the Iwa estate and Von Lahn's assets held by the EU. If both parties deem this compromise unacceptable, all such tributes should be returned to their respective committees until the conclusion of the trial.

Finally, as Iwa's body has yet to be discovered, I further recommend that he remain classified as a missing person. Having seen the CCC footage from the Museum de Brussels, I am of the opinion that the figure in the film is certainly Vete Iwa, and that at some unknown time Iwa will reappear from the "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus," with the Painting Gun in hand and answers to all of our questions.




Copyright © 2009 Jason D. Moore

A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R:

Jason D. Moore: Although I earn my living teaching high school special education, I spend my weekends writing and reading science fiction. My previous published pieces have all been non-fiction, appearing in such publications as Backpacker and The Maine Organic Farm and Gardner Magazine.

--  O N L I N E  |  F O R U M  |  P R I N T --