Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Door Knock - Part Six

A Door Knock

Part Six

            “I’m going to look UPSTAIRS.” I said/
            “Upstairs?  Oh.  Go ahead.” Said Nathan still holding the bottle and cell phone.
            I do… “go ahead”.  I SCAMPER.  Up the front stairs and… “one two three four” count four doorways to four bedrooms while noting the trash clutter and empty cardboard boxes on the floor of the upper hallway.  DOWN to the front right room and PAUSE IN THE DOORWAY with my quick scan discovering a …large “three quarter” (size) “cannon ball” bed FRAGMENT …with its old bedding fumbled up on the mattress AND another center-of-room pile of trash and:  I stop.  “This is not the old woman’s room” I say to myself.  “Parent’s room probably?” comes next.  Nothing in sight.  Nothing at this site.  Nathan clears the top of the stairs and starts coming down the hall way.  I step into the room from the doorway.  He stops at the doorway.
            “They didn’t WANT that.” He says.  “You want it?  That’s my worse thing.  Gotta MOVE THAT.”
            “It’s cut off.” I say automatically.
            “Cut off?” He says.
            “Yeah the posts have been sawed off.  Probably nice cannon ball BED once.  Now its just firewood.  Unless you found the posts.”
            “Sawed off the posts?”
            “Yeah.” I say and step to the bed.  “Would have been about this tall.  With big wooden balls at the top.” I say raising my hand to just above my head.
            Nathan’s looking at me but doesn’t know what I’m talking about.  Then he looks to my left to the wall between the two windows.  “Maybe they sawed the BALLS off and put them on that desk.” He says.

            “Desk?” I say and look at a blank space between the two windows where he’s looking.
            “YEAH right THERE is where the DESK was that they all WANTED.  Old, old desk there that EVERYONE ALWAYS wanted.  Probably PUT the BALLS on it to RAISED IT UP.”
            I look a Nathan.  I look back at the space.  “What is he talking about?” is conveyed internally to my mental self JUST as I:  “SHE SAID SOMETHING ABOUT ANOTHER DESK!!!!” … IS also mental self conveyed.  This causes me to glance at Nathan and step to the BLANK SPOT.  Looking down I see a light rectangle in dusty outline on the floor “huh”.  “There was a DESK here?  Like the one downstairs?”
            “No BETTER they ALL want THIS DESK.”
            “Here?  It was here?  I never saw it.  I was never up here.  She SAID she had another desk though.”
            “Yeah this was the OLD one and it had these big wood balls for FEET so they must have cut the bed to MAKE THEM right?  RAISE IT UP; the old desk.  The BALLS came off when the auctioneer MOVED it”.
            “Balls?  Feet came OFF?” I said and looked down hard at the floor and …sure enough there in each corner of the dust rectangle was an outline of a round circle in the dust.  I stared down while my mind raced through the “do you think that is the ONLY desk I have?” utterance from the old woman while I said “ball feet?” to myself and escalated that to “EARLY FAMILY DESK?”.  I turned to Nathan and say “what KIND of desk was it?”

            “Just an old desk to me but very old I guess.  It was black and was always right there.”
            “With ball feet?”
            “The wooden balls were stuck on the bottom.”
            “And drawers?”
            “And the shelves at the top.”
            “Shelves?  At the TOP?  A cupboard top?”
            I was developing a mental image CREATION in my  mind.
            “Yeah had these old DOORS on the TOP”.
            “HOW OLD did you say it was?” I said.
            “THEY SAID 1700. The auctioneer said that could be right maybe.”
            “Maybe?  But he took it; TOOK the desk for AUCTION”.
            “Oh yeah that was what he wanted most.”
            My mental image creation was fuzzy complete. “And wooden KNOBS on the drawers?”
            “No these little brass drips.  And he SAID how many were there; that that was GOOD!”
            “Brass DRIPS GOOD” I said as I fainted internally at the sight of my own mental image creation.  What was the image?  I was seeing a very early “William and Mary” “PERIOD” (of the period; made during the actual time period) ball footed desk with a cupboard top; an early if not earliest ‘secretary’… with its original… black paint on pine (?) wood surface, original hardware (the brass drips) and original (ball) “feet”.  I only see pictures of those in books; advanced colonial New England furniture reference books.  That’s all ANYONE is going to see to for to find one is “very rare” if not “impossible”.  I, still mental image glazed over, looked up and back at Nathan.  I was still in the cloud of my mental view.
            And… that was that… for that desk.  I certainly DID trace THAT desk to a THAT auctioneer who… didn’t go to a lot of descriptive or promotional trouble for it (including a skimpy number of photographs that showed the desk without its feet on – they put them in a drawer and never said a word about them) at his rather quiet North Shore “sale” where the “old black desk” was quickly “knocked down” “to a bidder in the hall” and …vanished. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Door Knock - Part Five

A Door Knock

Part Five

            Giving Nathan five dollars in cash as fast as I could and …not watching him take it from my hand while NOT taking my eyes off the table I then stepped to THE TABLE.  I took the cardboard box off the top, drew one end slightly toward me and reached down and under to put up the leaf.  I did this while scanning the complex surface defacement (?) of several centuries of usage wear; a pattern ruining (?) both top and leaf.  At the apex of this complete spastic of action/reaction I peaked while hovering above and looking down upon the table’s top.  I reached back under the table and released the leaf, dropped the leaf down, shuffled the table back its original poise and… stepped away.
            I’d “got a grip”.  The whole mental and physical cascade; physically bluffing to be… at the least… a disinterested and nonchalant poise while wrestling the internal mental white water rapids that… at its narrowest point in the deep rush of that canyon screamed… “THE PIPE TONGS ARE GONE”:  I confronted this rapid rapids of mental up and down listings of… a door knocked… iota, factoids, settings, crisis and commands to… do what?
            I did, evidently, own THE TABLE.  Beyond that I was still swirling within a violent current… with no control or direction.  I looked down into the box holding the desk’s clutter.  There was nothing of antique value in sight.  I looked up a Nathan.  He was looking at me.  The five dollars went into his pocket.  THAT motion was real and somehow, by decades of disciplined default, I rejoined the trail of ‘I just bought something… from someone… in their… old house’.  Snap, as a circuit breaker snaps, I “came too”.
            I …could spend the REST OF MY LIFE enraptured in the CENTURIES of usage wear on the top of that table from… “the old sea captain” and SIX or more generations of his family “using” “the talking table”… LATER.  “I OWN IT”.

            “May I look around.” I said; a statement and not a question.
            “Look around?” said Nathan with his hand leaving the cash-in-pocket  pant’s pocket.
            “To find more to BUY.” I said.
            “To buy? Ah…  SURE.”
            I turned about and went back to the front hall, looked down it to see that it was empty and stepped threw the open door on the right side into the second ‘front room’ to …find nothing but an off center and towards a ‘between the two windows’ pile of ‘trash’ … on the floor.  I stepped to that pile, looked down upon it, pushed it with my boot tip, gave up and… moved onward BACK to the rear of the room and opening the centered door there stepped away as I heard Nathan following me.
            “YOUR BUDDY BOUGHT IT ALL AND MOVED IT OUT HIMSELF?” I said loudly forward as I entered …the kitchen.
            Nathan coming behind said “Pretty much ALL of it”.
            “LOT TO MOVE.” I continued loudly.
            “He had his boy and two friends.  THEY did all the moving.
            “HIS BOYS?”
            “He told them what to take and sorted the attic junk.”
            “What about the barn?” I said lowering my voice and turning toward the front of the kitchen after making an “I don’t see anything I want” circular sweep of the …counters piled with not that old kitchen junk; “pots and pans”.
            “THE BARN was pretty much empty.  He TOOK a few things but it had been broken into a few years ago.  We never kept anything IN IT after THAT.”
            “Empty?” I said.
            “Lot of boards but no good lumber”.
            “Oh.  What’s that door?”
            “Basement.  Yeah Mackey’s pretty smart.  He had those kids running all day while we just STAYED right in here warm as toast.  It was cold that DAY.”
            “May I look in the basement?”
            “Ah… there’s nothing down there.  Just the furnace.  I just had that fixed.  I was down there.  There’s nothing down there.”
            “Let me look.”
            “Look? …oh go ahead if you want.”
            I had that center door open and was down that stairs in a another circuit breaker SNAP.  In the kitchen, the door to this door’s right went into the room with the table.  This door went down at the back of the front hall where the clock had been.  I had no flashlight.  I had …maybe four minutes.  I scanned.  Nothing.  Furnace.  Nothing.  Wooden bins, old coal bins?  “Yep”.  Walked back to those scanning side to side.  Nothing.   Started back up toward the stairs but now under it.  Before me, at head level under the stairs I spy a shelf attached to the under stairs.  I see the glint of glass on it, in the right corner.  I reach, retrieve an… I identify it immediately… olive amber glass open pontiled snuff bottle WITH the old label, old cork in the top and “full” of “something” (snuff?).  I know what it is and am now coming around to the front of the stairs to ascend.  It… won’t fit in my pocket; “too big”.  I carry it up the stairs and sure enough not only is Nathan right at the stairs top but also sees the “I’m carrying something” TOO.  I straight arm it out to him and …as a straight verbal shot I say “Six Bucks”

            “Six bucks?”
            “I’ll pay.”
            Nathan looks down from me at the object in his hand and says “What is it?”
            “Old bottle”
            “Snuff bottle”.
            “Snuff bottle?
            “Yep.” I say and step off to the right side of the kitchen and the door to the THE TABLE.  Nathan says nothing.  I open that door and go into that room and walk to the table.  I hear Nathan shuffle off and then I hear RUNNING WATER.  I turn and …dash… back to the kitchen but am too late for I see Nathan holding the snuff bottle under the kitchen faucet with water rushing over it. “NO!” I shout.  He doesn’t move, cease, waver, or ANYTHING.  I’m too late and before I can get to him he’s pulled the bottle out from under the water and is rubbing with a dirty towel!
            “DON’T WIPE THE LABEL OFF.” I say as a command.  He stops wiping the bottle now entirely enclosed in the towel.  He unwraps the bottle and I see the label’s… “ok”.  It’s not the label.  I knew the label could “take it” but I did not want and DO NOT WANT a “find” like that WASHED especially if I am BUYING IT and paying for it and:
            Am I buying it?  I self questioned THIS STARK white water in the canyon OVERTURN as I …handed the bottle BACK to Nathan whose hand had not retreated from the “I grabbed it out of his towel covered hand” position and he, inspecting the bottle now BLOTTED the label while I again
            GOT A GRIP.
            I was still in the white water rapids in “this one” (the old house) and had just further “blown it” for I detected a “YES YOU HAVE” by showing a little too much panic mode on a six dollar basement offer… so I duly noted Nathan’s looking harder at and more gingerly handling the bottle and I… RETURNED to the THE TABLE in the front room to… “gather myself”.  “I’m gonna get a cord from my truck to tie that table off” I said.  Not the smartest thing to say but not the worse.  OUTSIDE through the open front door I …disappeared… and then briskly reappeared at the table with a tie-off-cord.  I hear Nathan talking?  I DO.
            On the cell phone?  I start to tie off the table (wrap the cord to tie down the leaves so they won’t be loose and flap).  Nathan comes into the room with the snuff bottle in one hand and his cell phone in the other.  I look up and say “You want to SELL THAT?”
            “Ah…  NO.  I just called Mackey and he wants to see it.  You said it was a snuff bottle right?”
            (“OH NO!” I scream internally).  I proceed …with calm deliberation.  I stop work on the table tie, step to Nathan and say “Let me see it.”
            He hands the bottle to me.  I slowly and carefully inspect it, actually looking at it in extreme detail …; the lip, the cork, the label, the full of something, the pontiled bottom and the dark glass.  This last inspection I do by turning the glass to the window light and shining that through the bottle.  I turn the bottle in the light.  I see something.  I turn the bottle again in the light at the point where “I see something”.  “It’s cracked” I say to Nathan and hand the bottle back to him.

            “Cracked?” he says.
            “Along the bottom at this corner.” I say pointing a corner.
            He looks where I pointed.  “Cracked?” he says again.
            “You can see it in the light.” I say.
            He looks at me, looks at the bottle, holds the bottle up in the light, moves the bottle around and then lowers the bottle.  I can tell he didn’t see a crack.
            The bottle IS cracked.  Nathan doesn’t say anything.  I, with a grip, return to mission.  I’m defiantly compromised on anything I find now so… well… the best case scenario is to NOT find anything.  But… I’ve got to look.  I can’t stand it.  I’m standing in the middle of an estate… disaster… for me.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Door Knock - Part Four

A Door Knock

Part Four

            Before returning to the old house during… the first week of May… I failed to connect a “the dots”.  I had been to the old house THREE TIMES during “winter” and had each time dainty footed my way to the door knocked and …been stymied.  Each visit included a doorstep introspect inspection from that lofty vantage AND had included on the second visit the “walked down the sidewalk and looked up the skimpy, narrow BUT LONG… neatly cleared of snow “driveway” that was actually a very romantic 19th century buggy route along the side of the old house to the street from the “an old (small) barn (“carriage house”) back there “huh”.  “Neatly cleared” was noted but not CONNECTED with the front door being THAT TOO and… that having the odd “neatly cleared” access to the front door from the street to the sidewalk.  It was only “odd” if one came out the front door.  IF…one was going TO the front door that “neatly cleared” was PERFECTLY positioned for a “someone’s truck parked there” who is going to knock on the front door or… for taking something OUT the front door and loading that into a …truck parked on the street.  That thought with those dots connected didn’t occur for ME “until June”; “you idiot”.
            As it was… my personal and professional vision was clouded by a hazy May basket view that I would… conquer the old house and …capture the pipe tongs just as the old lady returned from her winter in Florida and was discovered just raking off the leaves covering her crocus and daffodils along the front foundation:  “SPRING”; the first moments of, are a door knocker paradise for… a lot of the time… the well watched old house with its “long winter wasn’t it” owners are, suddenly “OUTSIDE” “for the first time” “this spring” by …just a few feet so can easily …lean the rake up and go back inside AND… SELL ME (the happened to be passing by and SEE YOU “out” antiques PICKER) old dingy and dark junk that is NOW in their way in addition to representing the HORROR of winter just PAST with that realm… proven to be THAT by the SUNLIGHT OUTSIDE … and by the …leaned up rake.  “Yes, I guess you SHOULD take THAT today” is a form of “spring cleaning”.  Anyway; my vision was CLOUDED by that May basket when I pulled up and PARKED the truck… in front of the old house AT its long ago melted away neatly shoveled street to front door route.  There was a “no sign of THAT” “anymore”.  But:
            The front door was open.
            That’s right:  The front door to the old house was WIDE OPEN with the inner doorway being jet black due to the polarization of the bright sunlight on the white house front.  BLACK “I cannot see in” that open door but it is WIDE OPEN so I am… out of the truck, skip up the steps and KNOCK – KNOCK WHO’S THERE on that door… way… while squinting into the darkness and seeing nothing but EMPTY while hearing a footsteps coming that DID NOT SOUND LIKE a tottering old lady… and:  Around the left room’s doorway (open) corner comes… a man.  A young man.  I was still on “a man”.  I got “young” into the equation… sort of soon.  That was complicated because noting the EMPTY front hall was elevated by my seeing past the man into the left room and that appeared to be EMPTY TOO.
            The young man says “May I HELP you.” in a not questioning tone of one who has already been confronted …by such as I… from the front doorway A THOUSAND TIMES… in the last hour.
            “My, MY name is  ***** and I AM an ANTIQUES DEALER who VISITS with the lady who LIVES HERE and I was JUST GOING BY (this fine and temperate spring Saturday morning) and SEEING HER DOOR OPEN have STOPPED BY TO VISIT”.
            “Well your woman friend no longer LIVES here.  MY AUNT; I am her NEPHEW, has MOVED OUT.
            “Moved out? She never said ANYTHING to ME about THAT.” I said.
            “Well when did you last SEE HER?
            “See her?  DECEMBER.”
            “December?  Before Christmas then.”
            “Well she moved out just before Christmas.”
            “And she’s MOVED?  Where to?  She LOVED this HOUSE.”
            “THAT I know TOO WELL.  But she has moved away now”.
            “Where to?”
            “That is… well… BURLIINGTON.”
            “Yes.  She needed to be closer to US.”
            “I am her nephew.  I’m her GUARDIAN now.  We had been working on the ARRANGEMENTS.  SHE didn’t want to live with US and, well… WE didn’t want that EITHER. 
            “Well… MY WIFE; we live in BEDFORD”.
            “Yes.  So she is now in assisted living.”
            “Your wife?” (deliberately fudged).
            “NO:  Aunt Sarah.  We live in BEDFORD.  Right near by.”
            “Oh I see; you’ve MOVED HER to assisted living in Massachusetts.”
            “Yes; at Christmas.  She’s just fine.  She enjoys it very much”.
            “Well she LOVED the house.  And her ANTIQUES.  That’s what we SHARED together.  It’s quite a surprise for me.  I NEVER thought of her LEAVING the house.  Or her ANTIQUES.”
            “Well that’s all behind me now.  It just couldn’t go ON.  This was becoming TOO MUCH for her.  All kinds of problems in here; the house is VERY OLD.”
            “Oh yes I know that.   That’s what we SHARED about the house.  And her OLD THINGS.” I said and here gestured to the EMPTY front hall that I could now see to the end of and had …discerned… that HER “grandfather’s clock” WAS NO LONGER THERE.  “Her CLOCK is gone.” I said.
            “Yes.  The auctioneer has taken it.”
            “To sell it?” I said. “She's SELLING her CLOCK?”
            “Yes.  WE are selling her antiques to help PAY FOR her CARE”.
            “Care?  The assisted living?”
            “Yes.  We had an auctioneer come and take her GOOD antiques to his AUCTION”.
            “No.  I found an auctioneer NEAR US who came UP and took what he felt he could SELL.”
            “Oh.  He took EVERYTHING?”
            “No, no:  Just what he WANTED.  I showed him photographs and he came up with a TRUCK.”
            “Oh.  So he just took the ANTIQUES.”
            “JUST the BETTER antiques.  There was a lot LEFT.  I had a friend of mine who is an antiques dealer come up.  He BOUGHT the REST.  YOU are an antiques DEALER you said?”
            “Oh yes; absolutely.”
            “Well I don’t have much left now”.
            “Left now?”
            “To sell.  I’ve sold all of it and we’re starting to CLEAN OUT today.  I will be selling the HOUSE.”
            “Selling the house?  It’s empty?  Your cleaning it out?”
            “Starting today.  Its really not as bad as I thought it was.  The realtor is coming at eleven”.
            “Clean out today?  And selling it?”
            “Well there’s not much left to SELL.  I sold all that I could.  Just the trash is left.  And some odd stuff Mackey didn’t want”.
            “My friend the antiques dealer.”
            Pause; I standing in the entry way with “I’m Nathan Bishop by the way.” extending his hand from his poise in the left room doorway.  “I’m the nephew of Sarah Bishop”.

            “Sarah?  Yes.  IN this room WE would have COFFEE and TALK.” I said stepping forward with gesture to cause “Nathan” to step back into the room.  I came on too and QUICKLY saw (1) the desk was gone and (2) the TABLE was where the desk had been… with an empty cardboard box on top of it and… a pile of clutter was on the floor next to it… AND another cardboard box… that had the CUTTER from the DESK in it.  Otherwise the room was empty.  “We ALWAYS sat at THAT table.” I said now in the room.
            “Yes.  That was HER TALKING TABLE.  She kept it out here to use when sorts such as yourself showed up”.
            “Showed up?”
            “Oh yes she was ALWAYS having antiques dealers SHOW UP.  For years”.
            “Oh.  Yes.  I see.  I understand.”
            “But that’s over now.  We’ve cleaned out the house.  Just this clutter is left.  I think I can get rid of most of it today.”
            “How much is the table?”
            “The table?  That table?  Your interested in that?
            “Well.  A little bit.  I used to sit at it with your AUNT”.
            “Yes but that.  Oh I see.  Yes.  That.  Well.  No one else wanted it and I sure don’t.
            “To sell it?”
            “No, no.  Sell it of course but I don’t WANT IT.”
            “Oh?  How much for it?”
            “Well how much would YOU PAY?”
            “I pay?  Well.  Its in AWFUL condition.”
            “Yes.  That’s what they all said.”
            “How about five dollars?”
            “Five dollars?” Nathan said looking over at the table.  “Sure”.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Door Knock - Part Three

A Door Knock

Part Three

            Waiting… for six weeks… to “go back”… was hard to adhere to… but I did it.  I “forced it”; forced myself.  TO WAIT. With the bandying of the pipe tongs before me, the Pandora boxes of… lust for them… AND the …several rungs down the ladder lust for… “IF she has found THOSE what else may …I… find “in there” (the old house).  It was, without question, “the best house” I’d “gotten into” at the time.  I had to hold on to the steering wheel tight to keep the truck from “just happening” to be “driving by”.
            At six weeks waited I was… and the Maine antiques world was… in the first week of February and therefore in full blown “Maine winter”.  Snow, cold, cabin fever, darkness, electric lighting, oil heating, oil tank filling, bill paying and car batteries are themes of whole days complimented by the “get out” and “get some exercise” “snow shoveling”.  And the seasonally popular “roof shoveling”.  Frozen fingers, rosy cheeks and wet socks come inside to “get warm” in houses where twenty dollar bills are being burned to… “keep warm”.  For the antiques picker there are mixed blessings mixed in a direct ratio with mixed …negatives.
            Standing in an ice cold barn “dickering” for a “that” “up there”, is at best very short.  Filling the oil tank for a home owner… becomes a “I guess I’ll sell THAT” forced march… to market.  With a spread of four to eight hundred dollars “to fill” a tank… the dark, outback, hidden regions of inaccessible “rooms” “last summer” often find “that when the antiques man comes by”… “take him there” directly “to see”… If I will pay enough for a “that” to “fill the tank”.  “Will you?”
            I know this.  February is NOT a bad month for me.  Nor is March.  “Things happen” then.  IN FACT, due to the sequestered closeness of the wholeness of the setting… folks in their old houses filled with old stuff are actually …glad to see me and …believe it or not… MORE friendly to me than during the REST OF THE YEAR.  Not only do I come calling with what they most want (cash) but I am actually PART OF THE SEASON’S “snow, cold, cabin fever, darkness…”.  I (“the antiques man”) am probably right between “oil heating” and “oil tank filling”.  These months, for me, are “busy”.
            At six weeks –first week of February- to “show up” at “the house of the pipe tongs” has an in my mind’s eye scenario:  I knock on the door, a smiling old woman answers promptly, ushers me in while saying how glad she is I “stopped by” “today” and “was just thinking of you” and …cutting to the chase… was wondering IF I WAS STILL INTERESTED … in BUYING… “those old pipe tongs”… “I know you wanted”.  I… knowing it’s the first week of February and presuming the oil tank needs to be filled and that requires four to eight hundred dollars… quickly and calmly say that “Yes I am interested in buying the (twenty-five hundred dollar value) pipe tongs and will pay six hundred dollars IN CASH RIGHT NOW for them”.  Quickly and calmly.  She says “Yes please”.  I step out to the truck for “more cash” and return to count out six one hundred dollar piles of twenty dollar bills like Monopoly money on the nearest flat surface while she, with great satisfaction retrieves the pipe tongs that are found to be remarkably close at hand and… hands them over.  After a gathering up of funds dispensed and I fuss with the tongs … we have an “anything else today?” moment that… USUALLY does not have “anything else” because not only is the oil tank now full but this was, in fact, for the home owner “a big one” (a big problem resolved).
            Now it’s MY “big one”.  BRISKLY back outside with the tongs in hand and the cash “long gone” when that front door clicked shut… I say here… that WE will look at the OTHERSIDE of this antiques picker’s realm of February for… you’d better if your thinking this looks easy… and I must; I …have no choice.
            WHERE does one go with a “just paid six hundred” pair of colonial New England pipe tongs once “I’m one of the best pickers in the trade” butts down in the truck cab and… starts the truck up in… a nine degrees out “at noon” middle of nowhere, hours from anywhere, who even KNOWS what pipe tongs ARE for FIFTY MILES in the “middle of February” quaint old remote “Maine village”.  EVEN EATING one’s cold homemade sliced pork sandwich as the truck bumps over the railroad tracks at the edge of town and curves off up the hill as… a few snow flakes start to fly… and… well… “I got at least an hour of driving before I have to “think of how to sell these (the best pair of …colonial New England pipe tongs… I’ve ever found AND WILL EVER FIND).
            That’s right:  It is February on the (rich, well to do, sophisticated, informed, quality minded and “QUALITY PEOPLE LIVE THERE”) …coast.  I am “there” in …over an hour.  NOW HOW AM I going to “sell these”?
            The fine antiques stores are closed for the winter.  The dealer owners are in “FLORIDA” for “THE WINTER”.  Or “on their boat” in the “West Indies”.  The remaining are local collectors and “a few around” coastal dealers “waiting for summer”.  This group has the SAME situation as the household I bought the tongs from including “OIL TANK FILL”.  Christmas, college bills, cost of doing business/NO business at this time of year and …lackluster attitude featuring “I’m broke” slogans TRIM my “who can I sell these to” down to a VERY SMALL LIST very fast… as I drive toward a prospect.
            First I need someone who has some money.  Then I need someone, with money, who knows WHAT colonial New England pipe tongs “are”.  HOPEFULLY they might …very unlikely but I wish upon a star all the time... know how to “good-better-best” differentiate between colonial New England pipe tongs?  “Yeah right”.  AND CARE.  Or better…:  LOVE.  And care.  And… LUST.  And know that …these are the best pair they are ever going to see, have a chance to buy and … “HAVE TO HAVE THEM” (the money is no object when finding an object of this quality it is always worth more).  So I get out my mental Ouija board and start running my fingers over the tax returns of ANY dealer-collector I can think of who… “might buy”… “now”.
            Try it sometime.
            BACK …at the old house’s doorway where I parked my truck out in front… I see a snowy but recently neatly shoveled front steps with a …I DID NOT NOTICE THIS THEN… shoveled area between the shoveled-by-the-town sidewalk and the plowed-by-the-town street… shoveled access to the street… TOO.  I just got out of the truck, walked ON THAT access and UP the doorsteps and KNOCKED ON THE DOOR.  Twice.  Three times.  Nothing happened.
            NO ONE answered the door.  NOTHING HAPPENED.  I heard NO NOISE from “inside”.  I stood there.  I waited.  I turned around and looked at the older but fully kept up house across the street.  I gave up.  I got back in the truck and… drove away.
            I came back in two weeks.  The same thing happened.
            I came back in one week.  The same thing happened.
            On this visit I, standing with my back to the door and looking out and away, had an epiphany:  “SHE HAS GONE TO FLORIDA FOR THE WINTER!”  She left “after Christmas and won’t be back until April”.  (?).  “OF COURSE… you idiot… she’s not going to stay in that house all winter!  She’d FREEZE to DEATH!  She’s in FLORIDA!  You idiot.”   I got back in the truck and drove away.  I didn't come back until… the first week of May.
            I didn’t buy the pipe tongs in the first week of February.  I didn’t have to sell them on the coast of Maine… in the “middle of February”.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

To Time His Last Hours

To Time His Last Hours

Its been thirty years now
Hasn’t it?
Been that long
Since that old woman said

“My grandfather’s clock?
No, not today.
Yet, any day
But sooner I guess I must believe.

It will be yours
And you must get it
They take it

After they’ve taken
And be leaving my grandfather’s clock

“It does not work”
She told me
“And has not for years.”
Pointing to the “dial”

With the limp hands folded
At six thirty

The movement
That are ‘the clock’s works’
She calls them
In the box on the attic floor
“They must be”.

“Tried to get it fixed
Sometime someone
Must have maybe
Mother did.”

“Don’t know
But beens that way
Now since I a
Child I guess”.

Her not Grandfather
But his great, great,
Great grandfather’s.
Must have been him

Who after the war
And a sea captain
At home
From coastal trading

Traded his coin
After a tavern keep.
He wandered in
And found that movement

By one man’s hand
In a case by a second man’s
Hand for sale
And it a bigger grandee then he

Being punch bowl drunk
And reminded of his mate
Swept off the deck; his friend
Lost at sea

And of his boy now
Ten years dead by
“Killed in the woods”;
A tree.

So wandered home He
With this clock lashed
To his deck to time
His last hours and

For his wife
Who thought it
An odd gift instead
Of pearls like once before.

“My mother’s pearls” she
Once showed me.
“No.  Never.  For sale.

Her great, great.
Great grandmother’s pearls.
But I say nothing
And wait out the years.

To one day be the
Carrier carrying the movement
Box and
Two - I found them separated - weights

Out the front door
To follow the
Clock case that I’d
Removed the face and hands

From carefully
Keeping the hands in my
Shirt pocket upon
My heart

Where they should have
Themselves kept them
But a daughter again tells me
“It does not work”

And is holding the small
Old paper box
With the pearls that are
Still “No.  Never.  For sale.  Ever.”