Two friends discover the secret to classy gift shop.
| On Park Place Boulevard, taxis were stopping and driving men in suits around the vicinity as myriads of people traversed up and down the large sidewalks. Most were on their IPhone’s babbling about stocks, political news, real-estate and more upper class chat. Along the sidewalks were stores like Tiffanie’s, Nordstrom, and Gucci Wear. Men and women went in and out of them holding colorful plastic bags filled with things like jewelry, clothes, paintings and small trinkets. At the corner was a decadently set Starbucks. People sipped coffee under an outside pavilion as the smell of fresh roasted coffee beans caressed the air. On the other side of the street was a new boutique called Collin’s Gift Shop.
“Hello Mrs. Kettlebeck. Super busy as usual?” said Ron.
“Indeed Mr. Wrhite.”
“I need to find something for my nephew’s birthday. He’ll be twenty years old.”
“What does he like?” she asked.
“Well, he creates digital art for a small magazine. Do you have anything artsy?”
Mrs. Kettlebeck smiled and snapped her fingers as she walked around the corner to a shelf against a wall. “I have a rare piece of abstract art that just came in.”
The object was like metal Twizzlers wrapped around a polished rock on top of a trophy stand. “Interesting, who made it and where is it from?”
“It’s from the UK by a premier designer. As a matter of fact, this was the last piece he made. He just passed away. It is bound to increase in value.”
“Is that so?” asked Ron. “I think he would be more into paintings.”
“Follow me.” Mrs. Kettlebeck walked past a shelf full of antique looking books and came to a collage of artwork on an azure wall.
“Splendid! My nephew likes nature too.” Ron scanned the paintings until he came to a crudely drawn oak tree. “I’d like that one.”
Mrs. Kettlebeck frowned. “I’m sorry; I forgot that I sold that piece.”
“I’ll double whatever is being offered.”
“That may be hard. I sold it to a gentleman for ten-thousand.”
“I’m not sure even I could pay double that much.” Ron looked down. “He would love this too.”
“I’m sorry, twenty-thousand,” she said sternly.
“I’ll pick another one.”
“Wait. I have an offer,” she said abruptly. “I saw you buy that old violin from Higgin’s Antique Shop,”
“You want a trade, but…” He took a deep breath. “You don’t know how much I Iove that violin. Okay then. I’ll have it for you tomorrow.”
Ron put the painting in the back of his Mercedes and hurried with the gift to Nick’s home and wrapped the painting. Then he hid in the living room with Nick’s other family members. Fifteen minutes later, the birthday boy came in and everyone yelled at the same time: HAPPY BIRTHDAY NICK!!
Nick was ecstatic. He smiled and was hugged by his relatives one at a time. “Wow! Thanks everybody!”
“Happy twentieth birthday Nick,” said his Uncle Ron as he reached under the couch and pulled out the gift.
“I thought you would be tied up with work Uncle Ron.”
“I fought for it and my boss finally let me off. Open your gift!”
Nick knew his uncle was very well off and he had something exquisite to give. He opened the present and he made a contorted grin and tilted his head “Hmm…it’s like Picasso’s rendition of a tree. I like it!”
The evening went on with more surprised faces from Nick. There was cake and ice-cream and lots of decorations. At last all the guests left except for his best friend Chad.
“Jackpot huh?” Chad said.
Chad frowned as he looked at the painting. “You know, that is the spitting image of Walter Mutton’s losing contest picture from college a year ago.”
Nick looked closer. “What in the world!?”
“I see Walter’s name at the top right corner. It is barely visible, like it was painted over.”
“There is a label on the back. ‘Collin’s Gift Shop.’ ”
“We should investigate,” said Chad.
“I agree actually. And the first place we should go to is Walter’s.”
Walter’s house was a few miles away and the two friends made a visit. They knocked on his door. Walter came out. ”Nick, Chad, it’s been a while! Anything you want?”
“Did you every sell your old painting from college to a gift shop?” Nick questioned.
“Yeah, right, like anyone would buy that thing. I threw it out.”
Nick and Chad looked at each other.
“Anything else I can help you with?” asked Walter
“No, that’s’ it. Thanks Walter,” Chad said last.
“All the evidence says that this store owner is stealing from trash cans. But we need proof. I say we got to this shop and follow whoever is there,” said Nick
“Sounds like a plan.”
Upon driving to Collin’s Gift Shop, they spotted the suspect. Inquiring anything would surely be denied. So, they waited until the shop closed at night. When Mrs. Kettlebeck got in her car, they followed her to a dump site. She rummaged through the pile of refuse and pulled out an old rug. Then she drew out a rusty spoon. Nick recorded it with his phone and they drove off.
The next day, Nick showed the footage to his uncle. He was steaming mad. “I will prosecute that old crone! I’ll be getting back my violin for sure!”
“I don’t believe you can take her to court. I’ll bet the Better Business Bureau would help us.”
The following day, Ron and Nick were at the corner Starbucks.
“Nick, all this has made me think. Perhaps spending lots of money on little trinkets is not so wise. I’ve always thought that the more costly the item, the better.”
“It’s the thought that counts.”
“It truly does. And all that money could have gone to better use. I’m glad this happened. It opened my eyes. Maybe I should have just given you the money.”
“I could go with that,” said Nick with a smile.