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I have suddenly remembered with a painstaking level of detail a supernatural short story I have read in the late '90s or early '00s, most likely in Italian or - less likely - in English in a school anthology book, but my search engine skills have failed me badly and I can't identify it.

The protagonist is an artist that, after being struck by inspiration, draws a corpulent man under trial, in the defendant seat, nervously crumpling his hat among his hands and looking very disconcerted. Content with his drawing, the protagonist then goes to the city for a walk and sees a gravestone with his own name and the current date in front of a shop.

The owner of the shop - the sculptor - turns out to be the man he drew in his cartoon. Finding out about this incredible coincidence, they decide to have dinner together, after which the protagonist starts writing something in his diary about hearing the sculptor preparing his tools for something.

The story ended there, but the implication (never stated explicitly) was that the sculptor murdered him - effectively making the gravestone predicting his death and the cartoon predicting the trial that would have ensued.

I have tried several combinations of "suspense short story drawing trial sculptor gravestone" and other combinations of related words, but nothing turned out.

Any ideas on what that might be?

2 Answers 2

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If the story was in text I think it was August Heat by William Fryer Harvey. You can read the entire story here.

"The protagonist is an artist that, after being struck by inspiration, draws a corpulent man under trial, in the defendant seat, nervously crumpling his hat among his hands and looking very disconcerted. "

The final result, for a hurried sketch, was, I felt sure, the best thing I had done. It showed a criminal in the dock immediately after the judge had pronounced sentence. The man was fat -- enormously fat. The flesh hung in rolls about his chin; it creased his huge, stumpy neck. He was clean shaven (perhaps I should say a few days before he must have been clean shaven) and almost bald. He stood in the dock, his short, clumsy fingers clasping the rail, looking straight in front of him. The feeling that his expression conveyed was not so much one of horror as of utter, absolute collapse. There seemed nothing in the man strong enough to sustain that mountain of flesh.

"Content with his drawing, the protagonist then goes to the city for a walk and sees a gravestone with his own name and the current date in front of a shop."

Mr. Atkinson finished his work, spat on the ground, and got up with a sigh of relief. "There! what do you think of that?" he said, with an air of evident pride. The inscription which I read for the first time was this --
SACRED TO THE MEMORY
OF
JAMES CLARENCE WITHENCROFT.
BORN JAN. 18TH, 1860.
HE PASSED AWAY VERY SUDDENLY
ON AUGUST 20TH, 190-
"In the midst of life we are in death."

"The owner of the shop - the sculptor - turns out to be the man he drew in his cartoon"

A man was sitting with his back towards me, busy at work on a slab of curiously veined marble. He turned round as he heard my steps and I stopped short. It was the man I had been drawing, whose portrait lay in my pocket.

"Finding out about this incredible coincidence, they decide to have dinner together, after which the protagonist starts writing something in his diary about hearing the sculptor preparing his tools for something"

We are sitting in a long, low room beneath the eaves. Atkinson has sent his wife to bed. He himself is busy sharpening some tools at a little oilstone, smoking one of my cigars the while. The air seems charged with thunder. I am writing this at a shaky table before the open window. The leg is cracked, and Atkinson, who seems a handy man with his tools, is going to mend it as soon as he has finished putting an edge on his chisel. It is after eleven now. I shall be gone in less than an hour. But the heat is stifling. It is enough to send a man mad.

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    THIS! THIS IS 100% IT! How did you find this out? Dec 16, 2022 at 19:27
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    @AndreaJens I remembered the first story from Tales from the Crypt. Since it fits so well I searched around to see if it was inspired by something else. This story popped up rather soon. Dec 16, 2022 at 19:30
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    August Heat also was adapted for radio in "Suspense" May 1945
    – Andrew
    Dec 18, 2022 at 13:55
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Was the story a comic? In that case, it might be the story "Impending doom" from Tales from the Crypt #20 By Johnny Craig.

It has some notable differences in how the image looked and where the stonecutter lived, but the story is basically the same.

The story is about an artist who draws the face of a horrified man without knowing why.

The horrified face

The good weather inspires him to take a walk and he passes the house of a stonecutter. The stonecutter is finishing a gravestone that has the artist's name on it and today's date.

The stonecutter working

The stonecutter hears the story and is shown the picture. Both of them are intrigued by this mystery, thinking it is an omen, and the stonecutter introduces the artist to his wife. The wife then invites the artist for dinner. It turns out that the wife and that artist know each other since old when they were lovers. The stonecutter does not take this well.

The stonecutters wife

While the stonecutter leaves them alone to finish some work they take the chance to rekindle their old flame. The stonecutter however catches them and kills the artist in a fit of jealousy.

The stonecutter murder

In the end, the stonecutter is hanged, with the expression that he had on the artist's image.

The woodcutter is hanged

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    Oh man, this seems to fit to a T, but no, it was a short story or a novelette! I am sure about the man being very corpulent and about the trial part. This is very close in plot, I am kind of wondering now if the story I read was an adaptation or some covert plagiarism of this... Dec 16, 2022 at 19:25
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    @AndreaJens -- Well, it's been adapted before.. I wouldn't be surprised if you are correct.
    – K-H-W
    Dec 16, 2022 at 19:34
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    @K-H-W yeah, in the end this comic was an adaptation of the story in question, August Heat. Crazy the roundabout way I got to know about this again! Dec 16, 2022 at 19:39
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    Between this and the 'Tales from the Crypt' reference above, I'm starting to wonder whether the short story was even the original treatment. Could be it's from a folk tale somewhere? Dec 16, 2022 at 21:42
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    @CristobolPolychronopolis It is possible, although stories about someone that gets a mystical clue about their death, and that clue ends up becoming the reason they die are rather common. Especially the Greeks liked that kind of myth. Every time the Oracle or the Fates were involved you knew it probably would end like that. Dec 17, 2022 at 0:12

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