THE AUCTION

August 3, 2009

The auctioneer with the unlikely name of Hoot Lystockler stepped to the podium, covered the microphone with one hand, and leaned down to consult briefly with his assistant. He muttered, nodded, and pointed at the curtain. Turning his attention to the gathered gentry, he cleared his throat, pasted on a smile, and spoke.

“Lot one,” he announced with creamy ease as his assistant drew the curtain aside. “This unassuming mound of clutter is nothing less than a literary trove of treasure. Tossed from the window piece after crumpled piece by the hand of the deceased himself over the final few years of his confinement, they were carefully collected by the gardener and stored secretly in the cellar. This treasure’s existence was unknown until the final and most rigorous interrogations. Rejected shards of genius lie before you, ladies and gentlemen. There are words, sentences, paragraphs, entire chapters even, all hand rejected by the deceased himself. Who will open the bidding on these last vestiges of genius, a scholar’s treasure?”

“I’ll bid a dollar for that sock on the side there,” said a toothless harridan. “By gimcrack, it’d make a nice glove.”

Flurry and flutter, the crone was swept from the room by a storm of angry troopers. Thirty seconds of time passed, and all was peaceful. Outside, the afternoon was bright and warm.

“My mother. What am I to do with her?” grinned Hoot Lystockler, shrugging and winking. “Shall we return to the task at hand? Shards of genius. What am I bid? Who will start with a million dollars?”

“Sixteen billion dollars!” shouted a many toothed octogenarian.

“Even better,” said Hoot, and things began to get serious.

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