Short Story: The Deskapade
My name Is Jack Schmitt, my sister and I run our family antique shop. Two months ago when my father found out he had lung cancer and four months to live, we almost lost the family business. Our great grandparents started Schmitt Antiques when they emigrated from Germany 100 years ago. They bought a three-story brick home In a cozy neighborhood about 20 miles outside of Chicago Illinois; and ran the business out of the basement.
With the business and finances declining over the last six months due to dad’s illness, we had a major job to do. My sister Beth and I sold all that we could, quit our jobs and moved in with dad. Beth took care of him and I worked In the store.
We spent all of our savings paying the bills, fixing the van and advertising in the city newspapers. Out of money and running on fumes our luck changed, a haughty woman pulled up, In a black Lincoln town car. She was wearing a fox stole around her neck, and It was wearing the same sneer that she was. I admired her Lorgnette with Its gold handle inlayed with rubies and diamonds as she peered through them to look at the newspaper she held In her hand.
"My name Is Mrs. Cline and I am here to look at this desk." she said as she thrust the paper at me.
"Jack Schmitt," I said looking at the paper, "Ah yes the Victorian Walnut cylinder desk one of our best pieces. If you will come with me, I will show It to you." I offered my arm to guide her, and she scoffed and waved me away. As she scrutinized every Inch of the desk I told her that Sir Lane Binchoff of Scotland brought the desk over from England when he moved here 200 years ago. With a value of $8,500, we finally agreed on $4750. Mrs. Cline gave a deposit of $300 and firm orders to deliver the desk by Friday.
She Flipped her stole around her neck got Into her car and gave our cozy little neighbor hood one last sneer before popping her nose In the air and speeding off In her fancy car.
I paid the neighbor boy Billie, to help me load the desk and deliver It, the twenty five year old delivery van ran rough, but we were on our way. About ten minutes Into the trip, we heard a loud bang, something In the motor started rattling, and It sounded like a garbage disposal filled with silverware, then the motor just stopped running. After the tow truck delivered us home and Beth paid the bill, Billie brought his dad Bob over to check the van out.
"Sounds like the motor has blown, a shattered piston would be my guess." Bob said as he listened to the motor rattle when I tried to start It.
"I can help you deliver the desk if It will fit In my trunk." he said pointing to his Classic1979 Pontiac Bonneville.
I graciously accepted his offer and went In to call Mrs. Cline, In her haughty way she told me to deliver the desk or refund her money by 6 PM Saturday.
Hell bent and heaven sent Bob and I gently loaded the desk Into his trunk Saturday morning. We hit the road at 11 Am. At 11: 35 Am, at a stop light just around the corner from Mrs. Cline’s house we heard brakes squealing, wham our car lurched forward, and pieces of the desk landed on the hood of the car with a clank.
I sat dazed staring at the beautiful finish on a piece of a once gorgeous walnut desk, I felt a tear run down my check and this brought me around. Checking my neck for pain, I looked at Bob he was also looking at the pieces of desk on his hood. Looking at each other we slowly got out of the car and surveyed the scene. Pieces of a once great treasure littered the entire area. Its long life so abruptly over, once used daily by generations of people perhaps to write thousands of letters, Its gracious curves and smooth finish loved and cherished by those generations, Its last job In this world can now only be as kindling for our fireplace.
While Bob checked on the man who hit us, I wondered to the trunk sorting through the remains, what we were going to do now I thought no desk, means no money. I picked up a drawer that was almost Intact and something fell out of It. Dropping the drawer, I picked up a small parcel wrapped In old cloth and bound with twine; some of the cloth had torn In the accident and I saw gold.
I tore the cloth off and found four solid gold coins. Putting them In my pocket I picked the drawer up and shook It, I almost jumped up and down as more fell out I quickly put them In my pockets and checked the rest of Bob’s trunk. I found twenty packs, each with four coins. The Compartments that someone built Into the bottom of each drawer made an excellent hiding place. Sir Lane Binchoff sure found a great way to keep a fortune safe while traveling. With my pockets full, I put the rest of the desk In Bob’s trunk.
That evening I called Mrs. Cline with the bad news, I could hear the disappointment In her voice, the world lost a great treasure Saturday morning and I have never been so happy about such a lose. The fellow who hit us was a real upstanding person paying to have Bobs classic car fully restored and paying $2,500 for the desk. After selling only eight of the eighty, 1612 Laurel coins we have bought a new van, paid everything ahead, and Beth and I are enjoying valuable time with our father.
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