Edgar Allan Poe to the Rescue – a short story


Edgar Allan Poe to the Rescue

By Harrington A. Lackey

P. J. Morgan Soakenberg was a middle-aged millionaire who lived in the luxurious Hamptons. He collected rare paintings as well as a scholarly critic of Edgar Allan Poe’s literary achievements and had written extensively about the interesting author and his works. His library contained rare volumes about the master of American morbid mysteries as well as many other authors.

A few years ago, an old mansion in northern New York got the attention of many Poe fans when a painting emerged from the old home of one of Poe’s descendants. The large piece of work entitled “Ravens” had been painted and signed by Edgar Allan Poe himself.

As the news spread among aficionados of the art world, the painting received a lot of attention since nobody knew Poe also dabbled in painting – not even Soakenberg. The work itself appeared entirely black with evil eyes staring out at the viewer, which reminded whoever looked at it, saw into the darkness of the famous writer’s soul.

A month after the discovery, Sotheby’s jumped at the chance to auction off the large painting, which would take place in New York’s gallery. Of course, Mr. Soakenberg did not want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime auction for the chance to purchase E.A. Poe’s only known painting.

Long before the bidding started, other wealthy people came to try and take advantage of the sale.

When everyone was seated, the auctioneer announced to all the bidders. “We’ll start the bidding at $100,000.” “120..130..150… 170.” The auctioneer got bids from everybody who could afford it. Then, after “1 million” the competition had gotten serious, but Soakenberg kept raising his paddle.

“5 million!”… 7 million?… 10 million?” Soakenberg kept his paddle raised.

“50 million?” Now the competition continued between him and another wealthy gentleman.

“55..56..60? 100..110… 120..125?” His competitor dropped his paddle while Soakenberg raised his, wearing a big smile. “Do I hear 126… 127?… Going once… going twice… Sold to the gentleman for 127 million!” The gavel came down hard and the bid was final. Soakenberg had won the Poe painting.

His fellow bidders congratulated him, even though they had lost the painting to the triumphant owner. The sale made instant news in the art world as major newspapers interviewed the new owner.

Within the next few days, Soakenberg was driven by his chauffeur to New York City, where a Brinks truck awaited the tycoon’s arrival and ten police cars with NYPD’s finest had parked on the side at an undisclosed location. Soakenberg opened the door and walked confidently toward the truck with the painting. He pulled it out and nodded with approval.

Suddenly, attention turned to a woman who had been standing out on the ledge of a three-story building, threatening to jump. The Brinks truck was parked beneath her, and Soakenberg stood next to it holding the painting in front of him. He looked up and saw the woman, just as firemen were pulling up.

“I’m gonna jump!” the woman said as she cried about her miserable life. Just as she stepped off the ledge, a fireman ran in front of Soakenberg and grabbed the painting to catch the woman. When she jumped, she fell through the one and only Poe painting and destroyed it. Fortunately, it braced the woman, slightly slowing her descent before she hit the pavement.

Soakenberg’s painting had been completely destroyed with a huge hole in it. However, the woman lived and had been sent to the hospital in extremely critical condition.

The news about Poe’s painting that braced the woman “with the only painting by Edgar Allan Poe” received world attention. A press conference was called as soon as the story about the only Poe painting’s status was revised. The woman who had jumped was in intensive care at a local hospital and wanted to thank the man and his painting that saved her life. But the millionaire just sulked in his mansion; he did not grant any interviews.

The millionaire was asked if he would buy another painting by Poe if another painting by Poe was discovered. To which Soakenberg said, “Nevermore. Nevermore.”


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