Teaser Intro 4: Anonymous Portrait

Teaser Intro 4: Anonymous Portrait

While I'm still slightly surprised that "Remember Me" was published, this next story makes sense that it was published. I'm not one for bragging (unless I'm drinking) but this was probably the best story I had written at that time. 

It's no secret that I'm a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, so when I came across a call for submissions for an anthology of short stories inspired by the author, I jumped at the chance to write one. "Anonymous Portrait" is one of the few stories I've written that has no real roots in New Jersey, but instead was set in Baltimore, in honor of Poe himself. 

It would have been easy to write a sequel to any of his many masterpieces, or a pastiche on his style of writing, but I wanted to keep the story true to me and my writing. The story came together easily and quickly.

When Sir Malcolm Riley's automobile breaks down outside an antique store, he passes the time exploring the humble establishment's contents. He comes upon the titular 'anonymous portrait' and is drawn to it for reasons unknown. When the shopkeeper explains that it appears no one living knows the subject of said painting, despite the face being vaguely familiar to Sir Riley, he insists he must have it.

Later, hanging it in his home, the good sir realizes this isn't a story of mystery, but of horror.

Unfortunately, after I had written and submitted the story to the publisher, they closed up shop. That was when I happened upon NorGus Press, and their call for stories about lost and found items. I had been steadily expanding my portfolio of stories, but at the time it was a little more than lucky that I happened to have a story that fit the call. 

Onto the teasing part, here's the intro:

Mr Riley, what a pleasant surprise. Thank you for gracing my humble establishment.” Luis Feldman, proprietor of Feldman’s Antiques is unaware that Mr Malcolm Riley is there by chance. His automobile broke down just outside and Mr Riley entered in an attempt to escape the heat.
“Stop your cobbling man. Money and a title doesn’t make me a better person, nor is this a humble shop if it provides for you and yours.” Mr Riley stands at an impressive 6’2” with a good 300 pounds of supporting girth. “Now, why don’t you show me around your fine establishment, while I wait for my automobile to be repaired.”
Luis didn’t need any more of an invitation; he takes Mr Riley directly to his backroom of fine antiques that the average customer couldn’t afford. Hoping to make his first sale in a fortnight, he begins rattling off the history of each item Mr Riley even momentarily pauses on. “Ah, that chest migrated to Baltimore by way of Rio Jaina, originally brought across the ocean during Columbus’ fourth and final voyage.
Mr Riley replies more flippantly than Luis would have preferred, “hmm, interesting.”
“If that doesn’t suit your tastes, perhaps this credenza salvaged from the original White House when most of the interior was burnt beyond repair in 1814.”
As it appears that Mr Riley’s interest is piqued by the credenza, his attention is pulled through a doorway into what appears to be a closet.
“What’s in there? I’d very much like to explore that room if you don’t mind.”
Not wanting to outright refuse a man of stature like Mr Riley, Luis explains, “Ah, that is just a storage room for items labeled ‘undesirables’. Nothing that would be of interest to a man of your wealth.”
“Tsk, tsk. I didn’t become a rich man by passing up a good deal. Consider this, if I don’t find something of interest in there, I’ll purchase the chest.”
Unable to reject such an offer, Luis leads the gentleman through the clutter of coverless books, broken mirrors, scratched furniture, and....
“Who is that in this portrait?”
“Apologies Mr, this is an unidentified portrait, by an unrecognizable artist. That is the reason it is among the undesirables. However, in this portfolio, there’s a rare sketch by author H.P. Lovecraft.”
Unable to pry his eyes from the painting, “No, you must tell me about this painting. I know this man, I cannot place his face but I undoubtedly know this man.”
“I’m sorry Mr, but I’ve done all the research I can, but the subject and artist remain a mystery. If you know this man, I dare say you may be the only person who does.”
“Nonsense, why would you purchase a painting you knowingly couldn’t sell?”
“Again Mr, I must apologize, the painting was amidst a crate of paintings from a private collection. The bank auctioned off the entirety of the collection when Lord and Lady Williamson were found dead with no heirs.”
“How did they die?”
“It appears each of your inquiries lead to another mystery I do not know the answer of.”
Before Mr Riley can ask another unanswerable question, they are interrupted by his driver. “Mr, the automobile is operational. It needs extensive repairs, however it will return you to your home.”
“Very good. Load this painting as well.” Shaking Luis’ hand, “Thank you for indulging my elderly curiosity Mr Feldman. Please send me a voucher for three times your asking price, and not a penny less.

To find out what happens to Sir Riley, and what makes this a horror story, you can purchase Look What I Found with "The Anonymous Portrait" here

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