A Door Knock
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.
“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”
Nathan looks down from me at the object in his hand and says “What is it?”
“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.