Continued from part 1.

Donald couldn’t believe his luck as he drove down the highway heading back to Devil’s Hand. Although Clem appeared less reluctant to sell than on the first trip he had scored the brass statue, he had no idea of its exact value be he knew to the right person it was worth more than the miserly sum he paid for it.

Because he’d been on the road since 7am Donald wasn’t overly surprised when fatigue hit him during the mid afternoon return trip. He was however surprised when he woke up with a loud crash and he realised he was cruising at 125kph with the two left hand wheels crunching the gravel shoulder and white marker posts were bouncing off the front bumper of his Mercedes Sprinter van.

Reefing the steering wheel to the right and swerving back onto the road Donald was relieved when all four wheels were back on the road; he was even more relieved when he saw that there were no other cars around him to witness such driving. The fright of running off the road and the possibility of hitting something worse than white posts was enough to kick him into his second wind and with a rub of his eyes, a deep breath and the opening of his window Donald powered onward toward home.

With the van unpacked, microwave pizza in hand and the statue taking pride of place on the shelf behind the main shop counter Donald sat down in the lounge of his adjoined house and watched the evening news. He was just washing down the remnants of his third slice of pizza with the dregs of his first cold beer when he heard a creaking noise coming from the store. He knew the front door was locked, he hadn’t opened since getting home, and he knew there was no one else in the shop so he let his mind rest on the idea that it was just movement in the framework as the night began to cool down.

The second noise, more of a thump, less than five minutes later was harder to put to rest so Donald got up from his armchair and headed into the shop. The door separating his home and business opened onto the back right hand corner of his store and the long glass display cabinet which ran nearly the entire width of the store held small items like jewellery and knives helped block entry into Donald’s private space.

He stepped into the store, turned on the lights and immediately saw the amethyst obelisk he’d picked up for $100 dollars, and had valued at $350, laying in several pieces before him on the solid timber floor. He looked up to where the obelisk once stood and saw the Indian Warrior statue standing immediately to the left of the empty space. Without much thought he came to the conclusion that in placing the statue he’d inadvertently moved the obelisk enough for it to eventually fall of its own accord.

He cursed himself for his carelessness because while it wasn’t an overly valuable piece and it held no real significance to anyone people didn’t buy broken antiques. Too tired to be overly concerned Donald didn’t want to dwell on his silly mistake so he pushed the broken pieces towards the wall with his foot and returned to his dinner.

By morning when Donald made his way through from his residence to the store there was four more items laying on the floor. He hadn’t heard any of them crash to the floor during the night but with his bedroom at the back of the house he wasn’t overly surprised. With each step into the store his anxiety grew, his eyes scanned the floor for damage and as his mind calculated the value of each item he saw.

The pair of 1865 English perfume bottles, $250.

The Edwardian lamp. $425.

The Victorian Claret jug, $975 and the most heart breaking of all which lay shattered into a thousand worthless pieces, the French Alabaster clock valued at over $4000.

With over $6000 worth of damage in one evening he was having trouble remember a time where his luck had been so bad.
One look at the front of the store and he knew there had been no break-in because the front door was still shut and locked and there were no broken windows, but that didn’t mean he could explain what had happened. After opening the front door he went about the task of cleaning up the mess.

Donald had just finished sweeping up the broken pieces of the Claret jug when the bell above the door indicating an entering customer rang. In the doorway stood small distinguished lady of what he guessed was 80 years of age; dressed immaculately in a royal blue Victorian tea gown with an intricate beaded pattern down the front and a tail that dragged on the ground behind her. The lady’s neat grey hair stuck out from underneath her white bonnet, her face despite being wrinkled with age was pretty and her eyes were a striking green.

“Good morning Madam,” he said pushing the broom and dustpan up against the wall. With nothing in her hands Donald immediately figured the lady was there to buy and not sell and he didn’t want to lose a sale by not being polite. “Is there something I can help you with on this fine day?”

The old lady said nothing in acknowledgement as she began shuffling towards him. He couldn’t see the old lady’s shoes below the dragging dress but he could hear their soft soles as they skidded across the wooden floor. He watched as the lady walked straight past him without making eye contact and shuffled towards the rear counter. At the counter she stopped, looked up briefly, turned to her right and shuffled down the opposite side of the store until she had completed a circuit. Apart from the low scuffing of her shoes on the floor there had been no other sounds and with a full lap of the store completed the lady stepped up to the door, opened it wide and exited to the footpath.

Donald stood rigid and stared dumbfounded at the door as it quietly closed behind the old lady. The bell rang as the door reached the jamb and the latch clicked into place. Without hesitation Donald darted towards the door, swung it open hard bouncing it off its doorstop then stepped out onto the footpath. He quickly turned in the direction the lady had gone and to his surprise saw nothing. All the nearby car parks were empty, the footpath was empty, even the street was empty.

Continued…another time.