Elizabeth opened her eyes. Oh man it had been a hot day. Sitting up from where she was laying on the couch she looked around. Nobody was there.
Nobody had called her that since she was a child.
It was her sister who’d died in childbirth at nineteen. It was her two teenage brothers who’d perished in a fire. It was her other sister who’d been murdered by a jealous lover and left in a ditch under a winter hail storm.
The other siblings, the remaining three, another sister and two brothers, had lived long successful lives.
Elizabeth had run away from an engagement to a man she didn’t love and she become a Vampire. It seemed like a good choice at the time. Almost two hundred years later it still seemed like a good choice.
Her phone buzzed.
“Hey baby,” she said.
“Hi beautiful,” said her boyfriend Austin from the end of the magical line that allowed them to speak from far away locations.
“Are you coming over?”
“On my way.”
“I will. Love you. See you soon.”
She put down the phone and went in the bathroom to brush her hair. Austin wasn’t a Vampire but she still loved him. Maybe one day she’d convince him to take the step… maybe.
There was no reflection except her own in the mirror.
She turned around.
Her dog walked in and looked up with dark brown eyes. His tail wagged unconditional love.
“Hey baby. I love my good boy.”
The dog barked. She looked around and saw nothing.
“I don’t have time for ghosts tonight,” she said aloud. “It is too hot and I’m too tired. You made your choices, I made mine.”
“I have a dog. I’m in love. Just be happy for me. Just go away.”
She opened a bottle of wine, checked to see what was on Netflix, and waited for Austin to arrive. There were no more voices. Just the sound of the dog eating it’s kibble and the sound of her heart that had just started to beat for the night.
We will agree that we all know who Edgar Allan Poe was and are familiar with some of his work. I’ll have a reading list at the end for reference.
Don’t run off before you answer the poll below. It is fast and easy and the reason we’re here today. Just scroll down (but read the amazing story too.)
Welcome to the Next Great True Crime Mystery
In October of 1849, ten years before I was born, my parents were arriving in California with a baby boy and a group of Vampires who’d come out West to start a new life.
In the meantime, across the country on October 3, 1849, Poe was found delirious on the streets of Baltimore, “in great distress, and… in need of immediate assistance”, according to Joseph W. Walker who found him. Poe later died on Sunday, October 7, 1849 at 5:00 in the morning. Poe was never coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition and, oddly, was wearing clothes that were not his own. He is said to have repeatedly called out the name “Reynolds” on the night before his death, though it is unclear to whom he was referring. Some sources say that Poe’s final words were “Lord help my poor soul”.
All medical records and Poe’s death certificate were conveniently lost.
The day that Edgar Allan Poe was buried, a long obituary appeared in The New York Post signed “Ludwig”. It was soon published throughout the country. The piece began, “Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it.”
“Ludwig” was soon identified an asshole named Rufus Wilmot Griswold an editor, critic, and anthologist who had borne a grudge against Poe since 1842. Griswold somehow became Poe’s literary executor (no doubt through lies and bribes)and attempted to destroy Poe’s reputation after his death.
The story was fabricated by Griswold, and it was denounced by those who had known Poe, including Sarah Helen Whitman, Charles Frederick Briggs, and George Rex Graham. This account became popularly accepted, in part because it was the only full biography available and was widely reprinted. It also remained popular because many readers assumed that Poe was similar to his fictional characters and were thrilled at the thought of reading the works of an “evil” man.
A more accurate biography of Poe did not appear until of 1875 (Ingram). But once a lie is out it is difficult to retract it. Many writers used Poe as a cautionary tale against alcohol and drugs. In 1941, Arthur Hobson Quinn presented evidence that Griswold had forged and re-written a number of Poe’s letters that were included in his “Memoir of the Author”. By then, Griswold’s depiction of Poe was entrenched in the mind of the public, both in America and around the world, and this distorted image of the author has become part of the Poe legend despite attempts to dispel it.
The very fact that Poe, a snappy and fashionable man was found in worn out clothing in a gutter went against the nature of the man. I believe he suffered from depression, of course, but I also believe that the notion of him drinking himself to death is wrong.
In the 19th Century, in America, people, especially man, all drank copious amounts of alcohol. The temperance movement in the United States was well founded due to the amount of alcohol most people consumed. Drink did not agree with Edgar Poe. So we he drank it went right to his head in extreme ways, but yet, if he had passed up a drink that would have gone against the social norms.
A few months before his death Edgar Allan Poe became engaged to his childhood sweetheart Sarah Elmira Royster. There were rumors that her brothers, who were against the union, had Poe murdered.
Sarah Elmira Royster Poe’s Love Interest at the time of he is death.
Poe’s friend Sarah Helen Whitman, a poet, and woman of good standing always insisted he did not die a dishonorable man.
Sarah Helen Whitman Poet and Friend of Poe
He did die a brilliant story teller and the father of the modern murder mystery, and modern horror.
If you get a chance look up the different stories about Poe. You’ll be amazed at what is out there.
Or, on the other hand, Edgar Allan Poe might still be with us, having come aboard the ship to California with the rest of the Vampires.
Burning Question #18: Was Edgar Allan Poe Murdered?
The Black Cat Illustrated by Gris Grimly
When I was a child my brother’s and I used to read Poe around a candle at night. Well, they’d read. As the youngest child I’d just let them scare the jeebers out of me. Later I read the stories on my own. And of course we’ve all seen (much later) the Vincent Price movies.
So I’m digging away, trying to put in some sort of flower beds in my rocky garden. It is foggy. It is cold. And I am not amused. That is what happens when you live in a house built on gold mine tailings. Rocks. Nothing but river rocks coated in a tiny bit of dirt and a shit load of weed seeds.
I’ve got the pick ax out, and I’m jamming the shovel in a hole, with the cold nose of a ninety pound German Shepard in my face, when I FINALLY get the last rock loose before I can plant a small dwarf lime tree. The dog goes nuts. I push her away and pull out the rock.
It isn’t a rock.
It is a skull.
A human skull.
My son comes out with a fresh cup of coffee for me (did I mention it was cold.) He looked at the skull and then calls up to the house.
“Hey Dad, she found another one.” Then he turns to me. “This one is small. Man, woman, or child?”
I toss the skull in my garden gloved hands. “It might be a woman but you never know.”
“Want me to put it with the others?”
“Sure,” I said, handing the skull to my sweet teenager.
I could hear him in the side yard opening the 50 gallon Rubbermaid storage container, and dropping in the skull.
He came back to me after about a minute. “Hey Mom, the container is almost full.”
I took a deep breath. “That’s a lot of skulls.”
He gave me an uncomfortable look. “It sure is. Who do you think they are?”
I put my arm around his waist and gave him a hug. “I have no idea. But thanks for the coffee sweetie. Let’s go in. I think I’m done out here today.”
Ninety percent of my time as an undergrad was spent in weird Dr. Harrison’s biochemistry lab. The other ten percent of my time was living vicariously through my roommate Tony, who partied and got laid enough for an entire frat house full of horny guys.
Mavis stood up and stepped away from the keyboard. Earlier in the week she’d dropped her eighteen year old son Axel off at college – the same college she’d gone to. Now she was starting notes for her seventeenth novel in the popular Detective Star Landers Mystery Series.
She didn’t want her son to be like either one of the characters in her novel. She knew he wouldn’t be like Tony, but then again you never really knew what your kids were up to when they weren’t with you.
Axel was the youngest of her three kids. Jared and Zoe were also in college at opposite ends of the state. Axel was in the middle. She went outside with her coffee cup and looked at the backyard the kids had played in for years. Two dogs of unknown breeds were sleeping under the shade of the trees. Both animals were from the county shelter. The kids were helped pick them out. A lot of memories were in that yard and with those dogs.
After making more coffee Mavis sat down at her laptop again. She looked outside through the window and thought of her own college days. She didn’t think about it much. She didn’t keep in touch with anyone. After taking a sip of coffee she started to write again.
He did make time for Darcie. All he had to do was show up at her door and she’d screw him silly. She never expected love. Just friendship and sex. He was always up for that. One night he’d shown up at the little house she’d rented behind a bigger house. It was really more of a shed with a kitchen and bathroom added on to it. Anyway, it was 2:00 a.m. and Darcie was wearing a robe. Her face was red and swollen. It looked like her hands were covered in blood.
She told him that she’d been attacked by a guy named Clayton Jones. Sure everyone knew Clay. He thought he was God’s gift to women, but slutty Darcie would never sleep with him. Clay called her a whore. She shrugged.
Darcie had been to a party that night. Clay had tried to get her to fuck him. As always she said no. About twenty minutes after she got home Clay came to call. He beat her up and raped her. When he was done she hit him on the head with a lamp.
Mavis looked up and rubbed her eyes. Then she started in on her notes again.
He was bleeding. He called her a bitch. She said she’d take him to the hospital. Down the road, behind a warehouse, she covered his car with lighter fluid and dropped a match on it. Poof. It with up in flames with Clay in the passenger seat. She walked home, and that is where I found her, sitting in her robe, covered in blood.
Mavis saved the file. Then she deleted it.
She sipped her coffee again. Earlier in the week Axel had asked her about her college years. She’d told him it was sort of boring. She liked the classes but didn’t get into the social life part. Then her youngest son asked her if she knew that guy Clay who’d been murdered. She told him no. She didn’t know anything about it.
“You met dad in college. Did he know that guy Clay?” Axel had asked.
“He might have,” said Mavis, then she changed the subject.
She started a new page.
I never told anyone what Mavis did.
Then she erased that line, and called her husband. Not for any reason. Just to tell him that she loved him. That was all
St. Stephen was said to have been stoned to death by a group of pissed off folks who didn’t like his brand of religion. Some say he spoke Greek and took care of Greek speaking widows stranded in a world of Romans. St. Anthony is the Patron Saint of Lost things which would make him the patron saint of most busy moms and Vampires.
So this brings us to a mystery.
Aparrently Tony and Steve were bros and spent some quality time together before Stephen’s untimely and tragic death. Anthony died later of natural causes (not a lost cause, even thought he is the Saint of Lost Causes.)
In a painting by Italian artist Bicci di Lorenzo (1373–1452) Anthony and Stephen are hanging out together with somebody else. Look in the far left bottom corner. What is that? Seriously what is THAT? Is is a dog? A pig? A demon? A lost animal of unknown origin?
Anthony and Stephen hanging out together with a mysterious animal.
Seriously, WTF is that?
What is that animal? Is it friendly? Is it a pet? Is it Anthony’s or is it Stephen’s. Did Anthony adopt it in when Stephen died? Did they find it at the local shelter?
We looked around some more and found other interesting things. Oh, by the way, those are stones on Stephen’s head, apparently left over from when he died.
Around the same time another Saint was running around with his weird looking dog.
I’m not making fun. I’m always noticing odd looking dogs and cats in old paintings. Animals aren’t always easy to draw, but sometimes I really wonder about this sort of thing. Did artists draw certain styles because it was fashion, or did they draw that way because it was the only way they knew how to draw? This was way back right out of the dark ages, so maybe they just didn’t have the vision/skill/desire to make it look like a photograph. Yes, that was a joke I know they didn’t have photos back then – just like yesterday when I went to the store with my shirt on inside out and no less than four people informed me that my shirt was inside out.
We also saw this bit in the same painting, way up on the top corner. What was THAT ANGEL up to? Hmmmmm. No doubt he was up to no good.
My brother Val said we could just ask Tellias about it. He was around back then. He might know. But what fun would that be? Plus I know I’d get a long tale of BS and off the subject tales from Tellias.
As we roamed the museum I heard my daughter say to my husband, “Mom is having one of her religious experiences. Just let her look for a while longer.”
I look at the paintings and I can feel the breezes, hear the voices, see into the souls. I a room full of Rodins I can feel the touch, the kiss, the embraces, and the passion of the pieces. The rest of the world is lost and gone and doesn’t matter at that moment that I am with art.
We spent Monday at the Museum.
And we survived.
We more than survived. We came to life, again, and again, and again.
Thank you to Anthony and Stephen. Let us know what that critter is when you get a chance.