A character story-
By: vishu mishra
Victor stormed into the antique shop and shouted at the lady, “hold on mam! I would like to make a bargain for this seemingly authentic artifact!”. The lady who held with both hands – a rectangular shaped, thin and delicate ceramic slab with exquisite decorations, had her smile fading away at this. Her face jubilant a moment ago, now expressed a sudden tension at the sight of this strange man. Immediately, victor changed his line of inquiry towards the salesman of the antique shop,
“bastard! Your shop has been under surveillance for past three months, it’s all over”, he said. The lady got agitated at this unwelcoming drama and responded, “excuse me! who the hell are you and why are you tormenting this shopkeeper, disturbing my purchase? ”, she asked in a raised voice. Victor, who looked furiously towards the nervous salesman, turned his eyes towards the lady , “mam! I am afraid, you are being fooled by this shop-owner. Our team has been tracking down his activities and I wanted to catch him red handed..”, he said in an assertive tone.
“I am being fooled for what and who are you..better fill the story in or I am calling police now”, she snapped. Victor took the slab and took out his ID from his wallet, “mam! I am the regulatory officer of the anti-duplicacy authority, this slab which is priced at 25,000 Bucks and claims to be Mughal in origin, is actually a forgery and not worth more than 1000 bucks”, he replied in a calm voice, handing over his ID to the lady.
While the lady began to examine his ID, victor took out a pencil torch and flashed it on the bar-code on the artifact which reflected blue, “you see mam,here’s the proof- all artifacts sanctioned by archeological authority for sale, shine golden in barcodes..isn’t it you scoundrel!”,he said ,menacingly to the shopkeeper. The shopkeeper who was rattled by the events & criminal accusations, looked completely caught in guilty and then agreed to every word of victor’s enquiry, like an obedient dog.
Victor then made a call from his phone, “yes! Please send in a van and five officers ,along with the arrest warrant”, he said, while looking out of the shop’s window. He looked at the lady for a brief moment and continued, “am sorry for your troubles Mam, but the shop will have to be shut down and all the old artifacts will be ceased & taken in our custody. Now if you excuse me, I have to wave to my partner whose awaiting my signal..to know if all is good”, he said. He opened the shop’s glass door, which read in black paint “ no returns, no credits” and waved at a man standing across road, slouching on a metallic black Mercedes. At the sight of victor, the man stood straight in attention gave him a thumb’s up with a smile. The lady and the shopkeeper observed victor’s moves and followed him around in complete silence as he stepped out and came back inside the shop. Victor gazed at the lady’s blue furred purse and golden Bentley car keys and commented, “mam , please don’t mind my saying so but your high heels, expensive attire gives away the fact that you belong to the affluent section of society..they do look good but today they almost got you into trouble, I must ask you to be smarter and careful next time”, he said and smiled.
victor then ordered the shopkeeper to produce the original artifact. Meanwhile, he explained to the lady that how this shop has been selling duplicate items with real certificates and all that is left among the few pieces, is this precious 150 year old pot jar that the shopkeeper reluctantly produced from the inner room. However, just like the others in the lot, this old artifact had no issuing certificate as all the original ones have already been given away with fake items.
Victor further explained that none of the customers’ ever bother to confirm their item’s authentication. Therefore, this crook business was running good for a while & the original pieces were illegally sold with very high prices in the black market. These acts of malice were carried out through a well thought out plan, which involved hoarding and cheating. “So, it must be returned to the authority for evidence and re-issuing”, he stated. The lady was listening to victor’s fluent commentary with strictest attention, she then stepped towards victor and returned his ID , she asked curiously, “officer! I have an unusual request, you see! I have been searching for this particular artifact in this old-market for one month and I am really tired of it. None of the other 13 antique item-shops, that row along this market’s corner lane, seem to possess it. This dungy little shop was my lasting hope. I really want this one, if it’s okay with you, I can even give you extra for your help”, she said in a desperate tone.
“mam! The police will be here in fifteen minutes, this piece has no certificate, so you can’t sell it to anyone later on. Please! don’t find my reasons rude but frankly I will risk my job for 25,000 bucks”, he said, trying to convince her. She took a deep breath and said, “Do hell with law! I will give you 10,000 extra right now! and 5,000 to even this crooked shopkeeper, for keeping his mouth shut!.Now! that’s 40,000 bucks, you can’t refuse that mister”.
“mam! Please understand! I need an evidence, the money is good but..”, he said, unable to articulate further.
“oh! Its okay officer! you have other pieces to confiscate. here’s the money, completely in cash!..i couldn’t make it more easier, now hurry!”,she said, seemingly unaffected to any more logical deniability. It was quite clear that her passion for the item was very high and it was the decisive factor for the extra money. The officer and shopkeeper exchanged a nod of agreement and then gave her the artifact for the high-priced deal, along with the cheap certificate of 500 bucks sale value just as a certification formality. Victor then asked her to leave the shop and move away from the market, as police team was on the way.
An hour later- the lady decided to roll around the street to see what hullabaloo is going around the corner shop and that old street, but strangely! It was as quiet as she left it an hour ago. She parked her car across the street and started pacing towards the shop to inquire. She stumbled upon the same Mercedes driver who stood there reading his newspaper, “ where’s your officer”,she asked.
“what officer mam..”,he replied,cluelessly.
“Officer victor.. your department’s detective..the man you waved to into the store”, she inquired.
“oh! That guy- ya! Amazing fellow! He gave me 500 bucks, just to wave at him..he said he wanted to impress some rich girl in the store and wanted me to pretend as his chauffeur, crazy guy, must be in love!”,he said, smiling towards the horrified lady.
Not wasting a second, the lady stormed through the glass door and encountered a mid-aged fellow with light brown hair. The old-man looked puzzled at the sight of this flustered female, he looked at her through his half moon spectacles, “yes mam! What can I do for you..”,he asked.
“the owner!, the young boy!, wearing check shirt and trousers..where is he, where is the owner!!”, she said, fervently.
“umm.. I am the owner young lady, I assure you.”, he smiled.. “and the boy your probably talking about is working here temporarily for the month, in the afternoons ,as I go home for a nap.I am an old guy you see..well! he’s really hardworking and an honest boy I can tell ,came in handy. its like, just what I needed for the afternoons.he went home for a vacation today but he will return in few days.do you want to meet him?”,he said, still wondering why the woman was agitated.
“probably not!..”,she said and she produced the pot, her recently bought purchase, a staggering 40,000 bucks purchase, “do you recognize this pot..its an ancient artifact, I bought this from your shop an hour ago.it has a golden barcode”
“yes I do miss..it’s as ancient as this newly built shop madam!.. if you’re looking for a discount, I can at best give you two for 900 bucks, along with a valid certificate.. and there’s no barcodes madam! it’s a ceramic replica not an electronic item”, he replied, smiling at her.
Now tearful in her eyes and gasping for breath, she looked up in the air. “no! I have the certificate.. no barcodes right!,and i am pretty sure that there’s no such thing as an anti-duplicacy regulatory officer as well”,she said, in a low and depressed voice.
The old man replied, “mam! I have no clue what you’re talking about. I can at max give you a discount, that’s the best I can do, but as the board says-“ no returns, no credits”.
Thank you for reading.