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An Antique Shop Afternoon
An Antique Shop Afternoon
★★★★★

© Vishu Mishra

Crime

8 Minutes   24.4K    443


Content Ranking

That Saturday afternoon..

Victor stormed into the antique shop and shouted at the lady, “Hold on madam! I would like to make a bargain for this seemingly authentic artifact!”

 The lady who held it with both hands – was a rectangular shaped, thin and delicate ceramic slab with exquisite decorations. She had her smile fading away at this. Her face so jubilant just a moment ago, now expressed a sudden tension with interception by this strange man. Then immediately, Victor changed his line of inquiry towards the salesman of the antique shop,

“Bastard! Your shop has been under surveillance for past three months now, it’s all over”, he said. 

The lady got agitated at this unwelcoming drama and responded, “Excuse me! Who the hell are you and why are you tormenting this shopkeeper, disturbing my purchase? ”, she asked in a tensed voice. Victor, who looked furiously towards the nervous salesman, turned his eyes towards the lady, “Madam! I am afraid; you are being fooled by this shop-owner. Our team has been tracking down his activities and I wanted to catch him red handed..”, he spoke assertively.

“I am being fooled for what? And who are you? Better fill your story sir or I am calling the police right now”, she snapped. 

Victor grabbed the slab from salesman and took out a laminated identification card from his black leather wallet, “madam! I am the regulatory officer of the anti-duplicity authority. This slab which is priced at 25,000 Bucks and claims to be Mughal in origin is actually a forgery! And it is not worth more than 1000 bucks”, he replied in a calm voice, handing over his I.D. to the lady.

While the lady began to examine his I.D., victor took out a pencil torch and flashed it on the bar-code of that artifact. It reflected blue and victor smiled as he added, “you see madam ,here’s the proof- all artifacts sanctioned by archeological authority, they must shine golden in all sale barcodes..Isn’t it you scoundrel!?”, he turned furiously to the shopkeeper. The shopkeeper got rattled by these events & accusations. He gave in completely to the guilt and agreed to every word of victor’s enquire. He nodded like an obedient dog to victor's legal authority.

Victor then made a call from his phone, “yes! Please send in a van and five officers, along with the arrest warrant against the ship-owner”, he said, while looking out of the shop’s window. 

He looked at the lady for a brief moment and continued, “Am sorry for your troubles madam, but the shop will have to be shut down and all the old artifacts will be ceased & taken in our custody. Now if you excuse me, I have to wave to my partner whose awaiting my signal across the road..Just to confirm that all is good here”, he said. 

He then opened the shop’s glass door, it read in black paint “No returns, No credits”. He then swung his arm waving to a man standing across the road, at the farther diagonal end. The man stood easy & slouching on a metallic black Mercedes. At the sight of victor's signal, he stood up straight in attention & gave him a thumb’s up with a big observable smile. The lady and the shopkeeper observed all of victor’s moves. They both followed him around in complete silence, as he stepped out and then came back inside the shop. Victor gazed at the lady’s blue furred purse and golden Bentley car keys, he commented,

 “Madam, please don’t  mind my saying so but your high heels and expensive attire gives away the fact that you belong to the affluent section of society. They do look good but today they almost got you into trouble. I must ask you to be smarter and careful next time”, he concluded with a smile.

Victor then ordered the shopkeeper to produce the original artifact. Meanwhile, he explained to the lady that how this shop has been selling duplicate items but with real certificates. All that is left among the few original pieces is this precious 150 year old pot jar that the shopkeeper reluctantly produced from the inner room. However, just like the others in the lot, the old artifact had no issuing certificate as all the original ones have already been given away with fake items.

Victor further explained that none of the customers’ ever bother to confirm their item’s authentication. Therefore, this crook business was running good for a while & the original pieces were illegally sold with very high prices in the black market. These malicious acts were carried out through a well made plan, which involved hoarding and cheating

'So, it must be returned to the authority for evidence and re-issuing', he concluded his narration. The lady was listening to victor’s fluent commentary with strictest attention. She then stepped towards victor and returned his ID. 

She asked curiously, “officer! I have an unusual request to make. You see! I have been searching for this particular artifact in this old-market for two months now and I am really tired of it. None of the other 13 antique-shops, that row along this market’s corner lane seem to possess it. This dungy little shop was my lasting hope. I really want this one. If it’s okay with you, I can even give you a bit extra for your help”, she said suggestively in a desperate tone.

“Madam! The police will be here in fifteen minutes & this piece has no certificate. So, you can’t even re-sell it to anyone later on. Please! Don’t find my reasons rude but frankly I will risk my job for 25,000 bucks”, he said, trying to convince her. 

She took a deep breath and flipped out, “Do hell with law! I will give you 10,000 extra right now! And 5,000 to even to this crooked shopkeeper, for keeping his mouth shut! Now that’s 40,000 bucks, you can’t refuse that mister!”, she concluded snobbishly.

“Madam! Please understand! I need an evidence, the money is good but..”, he replied, but unable to articulate further.

“Oh it’s okay officer! You have other pieces to confiscate. Here’s the money & this is completely in cash! I couldn’t make it more easier, now please hurry!”, she insisted, seemingly unaffected to any more logical denial.

 It was quite clear that her passions for the item were really high and so it was the decisive factor for this extra money. The officer and shopkeeper exchanged a nod of agreement and then gave her the artifact for such a high-priced deal. It was given along with a cheap certificate marked at 500 bucks sale value, just as a certification cover up. Victor then asked her to leave the shop and then himself stormed away from the market, as he reminded that police team was on its way.

An hour later, the lady decided to roll around the street to see what hullabaloo was going  around the corner shop and that old street. However strangely! It was as quiet as she left it an hour ago. She parked her car across the street and started pacing towards the shop to inquire. She stumbled upon the same Mercedes driver who stood there now reading his newspaper.

 “where’s your officer”, she asked.

“What officer madam..”,he replied cluelessly.

“Officer victor.. Your department’s detective..The man you waved to into the store”, she inquired.

“Oh! That guy- ya, amazing fellow! He gave me 500 bucks, just to wave at him..He said he wanted to impress some rich girl in the store and wanted me to pretend as his chauffeur. A crazy guy, must be in love or something!”, he said, smiling towards the horrified lady.

Not wasting a second, the lady stormed through the glass door and encountered a mid-aged fellow with light brown hair. The old-man looked puzzled at the sight of this flustered female. He looked at her through his half moon spectacles, “yes madam! What can I do for you.”, he asked calmly.

“The owner!, the young boy!, wearing check shirt and blue trousers..Where is he, where is the owner!!”, she demanded fervently.

“umm.. I am the owner young lady, I assure you.”, he smiled, paused & continued.. “And the boy you’re probably talking about has been working here temporarily for the month. He works in the afternoons mostly when I go home for a nap. I am an old guy you see. Well! he’s really hardworking and an honest young lad I can tell , came in handy lately. Its like just what I needed for the afternoons. He went home for a vacation today but he will return in few days. Do you want to meet him?”, he said, still wondering why the woman was agitated.

“ahh.. Probably not!..”, she said and she produced the pot, (her recently bought item, a staggering 40,000 bucks purchase), 

“Do you recognize this pot..Its an ancient artifact, I bought this from your shop an hour ago. it has a golden barcode”, she emphasized.

“Yes miss, I do recognize it  ...& it’s as ancient as this newly built shop madam! ", he said. 

"If you’re looking for a discount, I can at best give you two for 900 bucks, along with a valid certificate. Also, there are no barcodes madam! It’s a ceramic replica not an electronic item”, he replied, smiling at her.

Now tearful in her eyes and gasping for breath, she looked up in the air. “No! I have the certificate.. No barcodes right! and I am pretty sure that there’s no such thing as an anti-duplicity regulatory officer as well”, she said, in a low and shaky voice.

The old man replied, “madam! I have no clue what you’re talking about. I can at max give you a discount, that’s the best I can do, but as the board says-“no returns, no credits”.

#crime #fiction #story #con #artist #drama #shortstory #antique #shop

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