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April At The Antique Alley
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mother would gather in the living room to gossip and drink hot tea while Papa and
I would sneak away to his den, where we would talk about important things like
basketball or space travel while he let me rifle through the many nooks and
crannies of his huge old roll top desk. The thing had dozens of visible storage holes
and even a couple of hidden areas that I had to earn my way into finding by
promising undying love for my grandfather while we chatted and I explored.
There, sitting right on the floor, not covered with other junk, was the exact
same model desk my Papa had owned. Without hesitation I asked the price and
Lola told me she couldn’t possibly sell it because she had not cleaned it up yet.
Without much preamble she told me she had purchased it this very morning just
after she had opened for business with the other pieces in the room from a man
who had pulled up a truck and offered to sell her the lot for a very good price. She
had bought it all and had not even really looked it all over yet.
It had been years since I had even thought about either of my grand parents
since they had both long ago passed, and here this simple old desk had brought up
so many memories. I desperately wanted to explore more deeply the emotions the
desk brought to the surface. I also wanted desperately to explore this particular
desk and see if it contained the same hidden trick compartments my Grandfather’s
desk had hidden away.
I begged her to allow me to buy the desk and started sounding a lot like that
whiny little girl who had so adored my Papa. Jill quickly pointed out five or six
flaws, but eventually Lola and I arrived at a price we could agree on. She never did
tell me the amount she had paid for the whole truck load of used furniture, but I
handed her one hundred and fifty dollars wondering if she had just made enough
on this one desk to cover the entire purchase earlier that day.
She unlocked the door that led to the loading dock and instructed me on how
to get my truck back there. Using her skirt she started dusting the desk off a bit and
I pleaded with her to leave it as it was.
We three went to the front of the store to do just a bit of paper work. I also
snatched the poster of Mae West. Lola hand wrote a bill of sale for the two items
and punched the prices of the items into an old cash register. She surprised me next
by asking me if I had an e-mail address and when I responded she produced from
somewhere a modern computer key board and I watched as she carefully entered
all my contact information. Finally, our business done Lola handed Jill and I each
one of her cards and asked if we had cards we could give her. Jill did not, but I
fished one of mine out. Lola told me the cards were her backup system because she
did not yet trust the computer and I watched as she opened an old sewing basket
and dropped my card into a slot along with perhaps a thousand other cards
chronicling her past sales.