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by Sumojo
Rated: E · Fiction · Contest Entry · #2262951
Man buys painting but all is not what it seems
Words 1267

I am not a lover of art, I’ll put that out there now in case you may think I’ve a special interest or knowledge. No, it was fortune itself which took me to that place on that particular day.

Something about the day seemed weird, almost as if winter had suddenly turned into summer, disconcerting, however a welcome surprise.

The painting on the easel in the shop window urged me to stop in my tracks as if it insisted I walk no further. I stood there for what must have been twenty minutes, absorbing every detail. So long, in fact, that the door of the shop opened and an ancient man appeared.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

Startled, I replied, “Oh, yes, I’m just admiring this painting. What can you tell me about it?

”The man, who must have been in his eighties, shook his head, “I know nothing about it. I actually picked it up at a deceased sale, it took my eye too. It’s captivating, isn’t it?”“

Yes, that’s the word for it all right.” I said, “Captivating.”

I struck a good deal with the old man and purchased the piece of art.

“I still have the phone number of the family member who held the auction if you’d like to enquire from them about the origin of the painting,” he said. I took the piece of paper with the number, putting it in my wallet with the receipt.

You must be eager to know by now what attracted me so much to the painting? I’ll describe it to you. The composition is that of a nondescript man. His face isn’t visible as he is sheltering under a red umbrella in the pouring rain. He is wearing a black raincoat. There is no signature anywhere on the canvas. The artist a mystery, but somehow I knew I had to possess it.

I hung it in my hallway at the bottom of the stairs, and each time I looked at it I would burst into song, which is something unusual for me as I consider myself to be tone deaf “
🎶Singing in the rain, just singing in the rain. 🎶,” I sang repeatedly. It started to get on my nerves.

One morning after a poor sleep, I came down the stairs, pausing on the bottom step. I stared at the picture. Surely the man was facing in the opposite direction? I stood transfixed for a few minutes, wondering if I was going crazy, when I noticed behind the umbrella a faint figure standing in the teeming rain. I stepped closer and put my face up to the picture. Yes, there was a barely discernible shadow of a woman. I’d never previously noticed her.

Weeks and months went by and life continued much as before, but I found myself becoming happier, friends noticed that I seemed more relaxed and I found my voice, singing in the shower and even dancing around the house.
I still monitored the man in the rain, watching for any changes to his position, as I often imagined slight differences in the mornings.

One night I lay in bed searching for sleep, my sheets tangled from my constant movements, when I heard something. I stopped moving and held my breath. I heard a faint sound of music. It was that song again. ‘🎶Singing in the rain, just singing in the rain. What a glorious feeling I’m happy again.’

I climbed from my bed and quietly opened the door. The singing became louder as I crept down the stairs, careful to avoid the creaking tread. What greeted me was a sight I will never forget as long as I live. My painting had come to life. Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds were tap dancing and singing, the rain so real that drops of water splashed onto the hall tiles.Terrified, I ran back to my bed, cowering under the blankets. I stayed there until the first rays of light lit the sky and stealthily I made my way back down the stairs. Everything appeared normal.

I couldn’t live with the picture any longer after that experience and went back to the art store, the painting under my arm.

“Good morning, Sir, how may I help?” The assistant asked.

“I purchased this painting a few weeks ago. I’d like to speak with the owner, please.”

The young man seemed puzzled. “I am the owner, no one else works here.”

I tried to explain about the ancient man who’d sold it to me, showing him the receipt.

“The name on this receipt isn’t my establishment, I feel you must have come to the wrong shop,” he said.

I left the premises after failing to convince the man I hadn’t been mistaken and went home still carrying the picture.

Immediately I called the number the old man had given to me when I first bought the picture; I needed to be rid of this piece of art as quickly as I could.
A woman answered the call, her voice weak and shaking. I explained who I was and why I was calling.

“Oh, that’s so sweet of you. It was my sister who organised the sale after our brother died, I was extremely disappointed to find the picture had sold at the auction. It would be really lovely to have it back where it belongs.”

She continued to tell me her deceased brother, Tom, had painted it over eighty years ago after seeing the movie starring Gene Kelly.

“Our brother was an amazing tap dancer himself, he played at all the Broadway theatres you know,” she said, with obvious pride.

“I would love for you to have it,” I told her, “I’ll bring it to you.”

She gave me the address and although it was nearly a hundred miles away, I didn’t care.

The following weekend, I drove to the address she’d given me. I pulled up outside an impressive, stately house and rang the doorbell. A tiny old lady, barely taller than a child, answered it and invited me inside the beautiful home.Taking the painting from me, her eyes filled with tears of joy.

“You can’t possibly know how happy I am to have this back where it belongs.” She smiled. “Let me pay you for it.” She reached for her bag.

“No, I insist you take it, I’m just happy it’s back in its rightful place.” I wanted to be rid of it.

The woman gave me a lottery ticket from her purse, “Take this then, I hope it brings you luck,” she said, a twinkle in her eye.

I put the ticket in my top pocket and prepared to leave, feeling lighter and free, “If it wins, I’ll share it with you then.” I smiled and left.

You probably won’t believe this, but the lottery ticket won $200,000! I called her to share the good news, but there was no dial tone. I decided I’d take another drive out into the country to give the lady her share of the winnings, as I had promised.

When I reached the street, it was exactly as I remembered, but the house was no longer the stately mansion it had been weeks ago. It appeared to have been vacant for years, with broken windows and peeling paintwork. The ornate door hung off its hinges, and the pungent smell of neglect poured from the open entrance. Once more, I felt I was losing my mind. I turned to leave when I heard that familiar haunting music from inside the house. 🎶Singing in the rain, just singing in the rain🎵

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