Old Dishes And Oak Cabinetsbythornapple©
Fair warning this is a romance and mystery story but there is no sex in it. I hope there are enough readers out there that will enjoy a story of this type.
Saturday dawned cool and overcast but the weatherman insisted it wouldn't rain. Not that it mattered that much because Gil just had several errands to run before he met Jim at the target range. He had almost half of the day if he needed it so he took his time getting around and then headed toward Columbus about nine miles west. He lived in Reynoldsburg just off of U.S. forty and it was really just a suburb of Columbus.
He decided to take Livingston Avenue so he left his subdivision and turned south but didn't get more than a mile down the road. Whenever he passed a yard sale he would always look at the trash and treasures on display, but he never stopped at them. Today was to be the exception to that rule as he slowed and something caught his eye. He turned around in somebody's driveway and went back, parking across the street from the sale and made his way over. The older woman manning the sale said, "Morning."
"Morning, how is the sale going?"
"Slow to start but picking up now."
He looked at an old oak cabinet in front of him and studied it. About twenty four inches wide and sixteen or eighteen inches deep with eight drawers running the length of it. Each drawer was about an inch and a half deep and lined with rich green felt that seemed to be in nearly perfect condition.
"Know what that was used for," the woman asked.
I'm afraid I don't."
"That was my father's. He was as draftsman and kept his small drawings and sketches in the lower drawers and his pen, pencils and other drawing tools in the top ones."
"It has a nice dark and aged finish to it."
"Well, he's been gone over fifteen years and he lived until he was eighty three so it's pretty old."
"How much you asking for it?"
He studied it for another minute and then said, "I'll take it. I have a low side table in my living room that would look much better with this sitting on it." He paid the lady and as he put his wallet away he noticed an attractive woman near him studying some dishes.
She looked over at Gil and the cabinet he had just purchased and said, "I can remember my grandfather having one a lot like that."
The lady added, "Yes they were fairly common at one time and were used for a lot of things."
She asked the lady, "Do you have any other pieces that go with these dishes?"
"I'm afraid not."
Gil hesitated for just a second and then said, "If you're interested I have quite a few pieces of that pattern that were in my mother's house." She suddenly eyed him somewhat suspiciously and he smiled and said, "Now how many evil villains shop at yard sales?" He handed her his card and told her, "I'm Gil Fellows."
She read his card and smiled saying, "Sorry, I'm just a little wary."
"And you should be. If you're interested let me know. You can even call me at my office."
"Safe Harbor Communications and Security."
"Yep. Been there for about seven years now."
"What pieces of china do you have?"
"I have no idea because they're all wrapped up and in a box. I just remember the pattern because they were always in my mom's china cabinet. The dishes aren't going anywhere so if you decide later that you want them give me a call."
"Thank you Gil."
"My pleasure, happy shopping." He picked up his oak box again and after loading it in the backseat of his car he waved at her and headed on to town. He made his stops with Lowe's being the last on where he picked up a few things and then shopped his way through the tool section on his way to the checkout.
Once he reached his destination Gil grabbed his gun case from the trunk and then found Jim at the end of the pistol range. "New gun Jim," he asked.
"Nah, just a new case. I don't have your kind of money."
"Yeah right. If I had your money I'd run away with your wife."
"You'd never survive it, I have her too spoiled."
"I'll have to ask her about being spoiled."
Jim smiled and then admitted, "That might not be a good idea."
They spent the next hour blowing holes in paperboard targets and then packed their pistols and went to Annie Green's for lunch. Gil tasted his cold beer and leaning back asked, "So how's Sandra?"
"Good as always."
"That's pretty good and be sure you tell her I said so."
"I'll tell her, but she's used to your bullshit."
"Yeah I know she is but I'll stand by my statement. I met a very attractive and nice woman this morning as a matter of fact."
"Great, you two getting together?"
"I'm just pulling your chain. I talked to her at a yard sale. She is very attractive and nice, but she is also wearing a diamond."
"You at a yard sale?"
"Wild isn't it? I saw something I rally liked so I stopped to buy it and that's when I met the woman."
"Whose name is?"
"Good question. She as looking at some dishes and I told her I had more of those if she was interested."
"And she said?"
Gil smiled and told him, "She didn't exactly trust me."
"Gee I wonder why. That's a little like asking her over to see your etchings."
"Well I gave her my card so we'll see if she calls me."
"So if she calls you, you sell her the dishes and she's out of your life and you have what, maybe fifty bucks for your trouble if you're really lucky."
"At least I'll see her again and I'll be rid of those dishes."
"You really do need to get a life you know that?"
"Yeah I realized that as I told you that tale. So are you still planning to get that Sig P210?"
"I am, but Sandy isn't exactly encouraging me." You staying with nines?"
"Yeah I like shooting them better than the old twenty two. More expensive but I enjoy it more. If I had the money I'd get that Kimber we were looking at."
"Yeah for twelve hundred bucks it can be yours."
"That's why I don't have one and probably never will."
They finished their lunch and then as they left Jim said, "Good luck with your new girlfriend."
"Well at least I hope she calls you."
"Yeah, me too, see ya."
Gil's life was heavy on routine and for the last few months very light on social activities and he attributed his lack of a social life and female companionship to his job demands. There was no particular reason for how he was living except his work had kept him very occupied until the last few weeks. It must have been that lack of social interaction that made him so glad to hear her voice when she called Thursday night. "Mr. Fellows?"
"This is he."
"I'm Angela Philips. We met at the yard sale and talked about dishes."
"Yes of course, how are you?"
"I'm fine. Do you still have those dishes you mentioned?"
"I do. Would you prefer to meet me someplace neutral?"
She didn't hesitate saying, "No that won't be necessary, I've decided you aren't the devil in disguise."
"Oh I can be devilish so don't let your guard down too far."
"I'll keep that in mind. Would Saturday morning work for you?"
"That would be fine. I live on Lakehurst just about three miles east of the yard sale." He gave her his house number and description and they agreed on ten o'clock and then said their goodbyes. Then he sat there smiling as he continued to hear her voice in his head. Well at least he knew her name now.
Saturday morning he even cleaned his house and then had a serious talk with himself. He knew she was engaged so nothing more than talk about the box of dishes was in the offing, but he still looked forward to seeing her one more time. He had the box of dishes sitting on the kitchen table and a fresh pot of coffee made and was starting to pace when she rang his doorbell.
He opened the door and stepped back saying, "Good morning, please come in."
"The dishes are in the kitchen." He pointed to the box and then asked her, "Could I interest you in a cup of coffee?"
"Yes thank you, just a little sugar."
He poured her coffee and put the sugar bowl next to it and told her, "Please sit down and I'll dig the dishes out for you." One by one he pulled the different pieces out and carefully removed the old brittle newspaper that they had been wrapped in for so many years. The musty smell wafted over both of them as he told her, "These haven't been out of this box in a very long time." She tasted her coffee and watched as he stacked the plates and cups in front of her and then on to the saucers and serving dishes.
"Thank you and call me Angie. Gil you aren't very far from a complete set."
"I didn't have a clue what was here and I have to admit there's more than I would have guessed."
"Do you know the story of these dishes?"
"I really don't."
"They came in boxes of detergent. I don't know if my grandma started the collection or what, but Mom always loved them and is till sad that she could never complete the set. Her health is failing and I really wanted to complete the set for hr if I could." They aren't high quality, but over the years collectors have gotten involved so the price has gone up and that's assuming you can find anything."
He topped off her cup and then sat down across from her and said, "Take your time and take sure none of them are chipped or anything." She would taste her coffee and look at a few pieces and then stop and pick up her cup again. "Angie that's a beautiful diamond."
She looked at it for as second and then told him, "Thank you."
"When is the wedding?"
"Not sure, but probably October or November."
"I just hope he realizes just how lucky he is."
Smiling she said, "Thank you." She sipped her coffee and then asked him, "What do you want for all of this?"
"I have no idea what they are worth. Why don't you figure that out for us."
"Don't you want to do that?"
"I trust you. After all, you trusted me enough to come here."
She smiled and then admitted, I checked out your company and even drove by it. I also left your card with a friend."
It was his turn to smile as he said, "You did the right thing and I'm glad I passed the test."
"I was pretty sure that I would be safe though. You didn't strike me as some dangerous nut."
"I'm glad, but never trust just your instincts. Even professionals like the police get fooled from time to time."
"Gil it will take me some time to find out the worth of the dishes."
"That's okay I won't sell them to anybody but you. Did I tell you that yard sale was a first for me?"
"You're making that up."
"I'm telling the truth, I never stop at yard sales. That is until that day."
"What made you stop?"
"Had I seen you first I could have said because I saw you, but it's nothing as romantic as that. I saw that oak cabinet and decided I wanted it."
"Oh that's right, what did you do with it?"
"In the living room, come on and I'll show you." It was just as he had said at the yard sale. It was sitting on a low oak table that looked almost like it was made for the oak box that he had bought.
"That looks nice there, what will you do with it, or use it for?"
"Probably nothing more than look at it from time to time. I just needed something for that low table to fill that corner. I rather like how it looks there."
"I do too. Maybe you can use it to hold your collection of coins or whatever."
"I don't..." and then putting his hand on her arm he continued with, "This is a perfect opportunity for a line. I don't collect anything precious but memories like having you here."
She smiled at him and said, "Now that is a little corny but sweet and thank you." As she turned to move toward the door, she saw a picture sitting on an end table and asked him, "Is that your daughter?"
"That's Renee my stepdaughter."
"So you're married."
"Not for almost five years. Renee was thirteen when that picture was taken and it's one of my favorites of her."
"She's very cute."
"Thanks, I think so too."
"So she's with her mother?"
"I'm afraid so."
"Do you ever get to see her?"
"Not as often as I'd like, but we do our best and try to stay in touch by e-mail and phone. She's busy with school and soccer and so forth and talking about what college she wants to go to."
Gil walked with her to the door where she turned and said, "I'll get back with you as soon as I can."
"I'll be here and so will the dishes." He watched her get into her car and then waved at her as she backed out and his phone rang.
When he answered it he heard, "Hey, it's Jim. Did you get an invitation to Winnie and Dusty's party?"
"Damn it that's what I was afraid of. I told her I'd get it to you and this morning something told me that I'd forgotten to do that. It's tonight at seven. You'll know a few of the guests, but not all of them I don't think."
"How many will be there?"
"Maybe a doze, but I'm not certain."
"Okay I can make that. I had a date with my yard sale lady."
"Great, so how did it go?"
"Well okay so it wasn't t date. She came over and looked at the dishes."
"Well shit, so now she has the dishes and you're out of excuses to see her."
"Once again you are wrong. She's going to find out what they are worth."
"Now wait a minute, you don't let the customer set the price, holy shit."
"Hell I don't care what I get for them. Had I remembered they were in the basement I would have thrown them out or sent them off to the Salvation Army a long time ago."
"So rather than give them to her or whatever, you're making her come back so you can see her again."
"You got it."
"You really do need to go to that party tonight and get about half smashed."
"I just may do that too."
Winnie opened the door and said, "Gil, I'm glad you could make it, come in."
"I hope I wasn't supposed to RSVP because Jim forgot to tell me about your party until a few hours ago."
"That man is hopeless. The bar is on the patio and people are scattered everywhere. Barney and Eve are or were in the pool and Rita was asking about you. I don't know where she is at the moment."
"Thanks Winnie, how are you and Dusty?"
"Doing fine. You'll likely find him at the bar if not tending it." He kissed her cheek and went in search for Dusty.
Gil found Jim and Dusty at the bar and as soon as Jim saw him coming he told the bartender to pour a double of Wild Turkey. As Gil approached, Jim handed him the drink and said, "I've told the bartender to keep you supplied with these all evening."
He tasted it and said, "Wow, I hope you can drive me home." They talked for a minute and then Gil said, "I was told that Rita was asking about me, have you seen her?"
"Yeah she and Char and some others and some babe I don't know were...there they are over in the corner by the pool."
"I'll be back," and he headed toward the women. They were engrossed in their conversation and didn't see him coming so Gil heard Rita say, "What is it with men anyway? For them it's all about size and if they had their way they'd tell the world how big their peckers were even if it was a lie."
The woman next to her said, "Well it isn't all about size, but that doesn't hurt either." After the laughter settled down Gil went over to the second woman who he didn't know and extending his hand to her introduced himself saying, "High, I'm George Biggerstaff."
The group exploded in laughter and once they settled down she told him, "Hi George Biggerstaff, I'm curious, care to sit next to me?"
"There's no place I'd rather be."
As soon as he sat down she smiled at him and said, "Okay, I'm really Hope Atkins, now tell me your real name."
He smiled and said, "I take it you're not buying the name I gave you."
Nice as it might be I'd have to say no."
"Okay, my name is Gil Fellows."
Then Rita leaned over close to Hope and said, "Be careful with this one."
Gil looked at her and said, "Rita honey, what have I ever done to deserve that?"
"Honey you and I go back to high school remember?"
"Yeah well I had a misguided youth is all." Then before she could say anything more he looked at Hope and asked, "Can I get you a fresh drink?"
"Sure, what are you having?"
He looked into his glass like it was two feet deep and said, "Damned if I know."
"You don't know what you're drinking?"
"Jim just handed it to me but I'm pretty sure it's some kind of whisky."
She tasted his drink and smiling at him said, "If you find out what it is I'll have one of those."
"I'll not return until my mission is complete."
As he walked away Rita told Hope, "He never knew it but I had such a crush on him in high school."
"But you two didn't connect?"
"No, he couldn't see past Linda."
"I didn't see a ring on his hand."
"Nope, he and Linda split three or four years ago or something like that. Life moves on."
"Mister Biggerstaff? How did he come up with that so quickly?"
"Who knows how is warped mind works."
A few minutes later Gil returned with his hair messed up and one side of his shirt pulled out of his shorts. He handed a drink to Hope and said, "It wasn't easy. I had to beat up three guys to learn the secret, but Jim told me we're drinking Wild Turkey." Hope just smiled at him and shook her head as she took the drink and tasted it and shaking her head as he asked, "So is there any hope that Hope lives near here?"
"Depends on what near here means. Actually I'm from Reno."
"As in Nevada?"
"Then how can we date and get to know each other and all of that?"
"I don't know because commuting back and forth could be kind of tough."
"Well now I'm depressed. Deeply depressed in fact."
She kissed his cheek and said, "Well if you're strong enough to beat up three guys...it was three wasn't it?"
"Yeah, three really big guys."
"Then you're probably strong enough to survive me going home to Reno."
"I'm not so sure about that."
She stood up and holding out her hand said, "Well Mr. Biggerstaff, let's go exploring and thank this Jim for the Wild Turkey."
Gil saw Jim and stopped pointing in their direction. "Hope honey, see that striking older woman talking to that dark haired guy?"
"I see them."
"Well that's Mrs. John Wentworth the second. Money up the ying yang but still nice. We all call her Babs."
"You're kidding. And her husband?"
"He's no doubt in some foreign country closing another zillion dollar deal, or that's what he always claims anyway. They more or less go their separate ways."
"You should be over there serving her Wild Turkey instead of me then."
"Are you crazy? Look at her, she's old and wrinkled and that's after plastic surgery again. Now let's consider how fantastic you look. Contest? Not hardly my love."
"You are so shallow, choosing me over her because of my looks."
"And your body, don't forget your body counts too. See, I'm much more complex and deep than you think I am. Shall we go mingle with them and save Jim from her clutches?"
She kissed his cheek and said, "You are something else. Okay George let's go make nice to the old lady and save your friend because I'll need another drink soon." Jim got to meet Hope and the three of them made their escape from Babs and headed to the bar. Gil and Hope spent the rest of the evening together and exchanged information so they could keep in touch with each other.
It wasn't until the following Wednesday evening when Angie called Gil and asked if she could stop by and he was quick to say yes. Half an hour later she was there and he fixed them Irish coffee. as they sat on the couch, the box of dishes was in plain view just inside of the living room. She sipped her coffee and told him, "This is very good."