Taking my eyes away from the seven’s speaking-to-me sister and scanning the whole auction hall as I also shifted my listening to hear the verbiage din filling the whole hall, I… made a modest, short and stupid sounding exit statement that said inaudibly “The auction is” continuing onto a definitive “ABOUT TO BEGIN” and stepped away to her left across the front of the hall WHILE peripherally tracking the fire chief begin to move down toward me from his opposite side perch as he saw me move. His size became my advantage as I… slipped up the far side from him as he lumbered down the wall to the front isle, barreled his body into the front isle and then stalled while endeavoring to find me again through his “just WHERE did that guy GO?” expression shown to all as he faced the whole hall. I was by this time fully up the far side and crossing to the upper center out-to-the-lobby portal to execute the ole “gonna take a piss” trick of …ditching someone in a crowd.
Returning from completing that mission AND adding that I had no reason to avoid the fire chief … I, with dexterity, proceeded to the exact spot he had abandoned when trying to reach me. Once there, I surveyed the far side of the hall and located his lumbering form heading up the far wall in pursuit… like a beagle on the scent. He had not seen me yet.
He did soon for… cresting the far side wall isle he looked back over the hall in survey and… “sees me”. Eye meeting eye he lightly raised his right arm and hand to me then proceeded… like a Coast Guard ice breaker going up the frozen river before the spring thaw… to plow across the upper end (back) of the hall and down the wall isle to …join me.
This was actually ok with me. I mean; not only “what do I care?” but MAYBE he’s useful. WITH his large human form… wearing his local Maine village badge bedecked fire chief jacket AND matching ball cap. WITH his looming spread leg – arms crossed on chest “FIRE LINE DO NOT CROSS” stance. WITH his adorably cute “I HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT ANTIQUES, AUCTIONS OR ANTIQUES BEING AUCTIONED this is the first auction I’ve ever been to but I’ll STAND FIRM I PROMISE facial expression taking all comers from the whole hall… I cannot BUY help like that. As he settled in and as the auctioneer settled in at the podium and raised his gavel to start the sale… I glanced at the “I KNOW YOU” dealer settling into standing against the wall NEXT TO ME and turned to the chief and said “YOU PARKED THE TRUCK?”
“OH YEAH. BUT: TIGHT OUT THERE.” He boomed back.
Thank you I denoted to myself as the dealer next to me switched through the “You know that guy? Are WITH that guy? Is your truck? You brought a truck (to haul off what you buy)? This fat giant oaf works for you?” and the always useful “I haven’t seen you in a while and you were a pain in the ass back then but it looks like you might be even more of a pain in MY ass today especially if your going to stand next to me with that guy and bid a lot” questions. Quickly the down isle space to my right opened as that dealer vanished. I expanded my stance downward and that allowed the fire chief to achieve fully expanded glory in his space so that …there was no longer ANY SPACE for ANYONE ELSE.
“WHERE ARE THOSE PEOPLE FROM?” I said next gesturing to the seven far off down center.
“OHIO!” the chief said clearly understanding me.
“I WAS TALKING TO A SISTER.”
Shrugging the chief said “SHE’S IN CHARGE”
“BANG, BANG, BANG” the auctioneer’s gavel started the sale, the hall fell silent, the first lot was held up and VERY RAPIDLY sold. It was the two matching yellow ware butter crocks. Opening “IN FRONT” at $150. the pair …shot… to $450. “sold to number six”; the seven. That began the sale and THAT continued the sale especially after about six of the first ten lots being sold to “number six” that acted to alert EVERY DEALER in the hall that …they weren’t gonna buy a “anything cheap” so… “whack ‘em good” meaning “go ahead and bid the seven up because they won’t stop bidding anyway”. Actually and to their credit, they DID stop fairly often and THAT DID slow the higher bids down and saved them … a lot of money.
The murmur in the audience enhanced as the word spread that… in shortest version… “those are the heirs of the estate and they are buying EVERYTHING”. The fire chief stood high and firm beside me staring at the back of the seven’s heads. I don’t think he had any idea what was going on for real but he repeatedly uttered a “a lot of money for THAT” declaration. The lots were being sold in number order. These were listed on two sheets of paper that most people held in their hands. Both the fire chief and I lacked these helpmates. Numbered lot after numbered lot flew by in minutes as the auctioneer waged battle against bidders by using …unrelenting… “fast” selling. The blinking of an eye cost a bidder a lot sale… pace… was fine with me but …the fire chief stalled out right away. Lot seventeen; the highboy, was up at minute sixteen into the sale. Pace slowed then....: Opening bid of fifteen hundred by the seven. Then dealer bid upward next settling back to the seven and two bidders. Then one bidder at seventy-five hundred and then… gavel bang “SOLD” at eighty-five hundred (plus premium) to the seven (about 10K and “right at” “the high for THAT”) inclusive of the miss-matched age tone darkened “old surface” and dangling hardware. I didn’t bid and just stood with my mouth open. Then I went into a lull as lot after lot sold. The desk was over one hundred lots way. Alice’s mother’s chair (of death) sold after awhile “for nothing”. This rousted the fire chief.
“That was Alice’s mother’s chair.”
“They both DIED in that chair”.
“I can’t believe they even sell that”.
“Huh. Wonder if the people who bought it know?”
“Maybe I should tell ‘em”.
“THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO ALICE WAS!”
“Huh. I guess… Huh.”
“Just let it go.” I said. FAMOUS LAST WORDS.
Now two lots later and …having been pulled open and being held above his head by a runner standing next to the auctioneer who took a… third bid… was an old brass telescope. A spindly brass stick in the air above the runner my lulled brain… painfully slowly… identified and I said “THAT’S the captain’s telescope?”
“YEAH!” said the fire chief.
“In the attic?”
“HE WATCHED THE PIRATES”
Now five bids in the gavel slammed down “BANG”. “SOLD” said the auctioneer.
“That was the captain’s” I said while looking at the coastal Maine dealer holding up his bidding number after BUYING the captain’s pirate hunting telescope RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME FOR $135. (“PLUS PREMIUM”). I STOOD THERE having about five emotional responses at once overload my practical reasoning response self. Those included that the seven did NOT buy it. “They didn’t know what it was.” I said out loud. “Or did they?”
“The captain’s telescope. They just sold it.”
“Remember how he watched the pirates with it”.
“Yeah, yeah, right; I know… but:”
“Weren’t HE CUCKOO!” the fire chief said.