I found the old trunk in the corner of an antique shop during a weekend trip to the east coast. Covered in half an inch of dust, it was obviously left forgotten for a very long time. I pushed the grime off with my scarf, revealing intriguing hand carved details.
The top was a combination of constellations and moon phases, and had a distinct magical feel. The sides carried images of various time devices: an hourglass, a pocket watch, a sundial, a clock tower, a pendulum, and on the front center, a calendar that appeared to be flipping through it’s pages. Just above the latch were the initials, of a former owner I presumed, H. G. W.
I tried to push it open, but it seemed to be locked. “Excuse me,” I shouted to the shopkeep, “Do you have a key for this trunk?”
A rather plump but pleasant looking woman with her hair in a bun and glasses on the tip of her nose looked out from a curtain behind the counter. “What trunk is that, hun?” she asked, straining to see it from her post at the cash register. She finally gave up and walked out from behind the counter. As she approached she said, “Oh, wow. I had forgotten that was even here. It has been here so long, I don’t even know where it came from.” She paused to remove her glasses and wipe down the lenses with her apron. “No, I am afraid I don’t have a key. That trunk has been here since before my father bought this place over 50 years ago. If there was a key to it, I have never seen it.”
“Are you sure? It is definitely shut tight. It doesn’t make sense for a dealer to buy a trunk that can’t be opened.”
“I cleaned the shop from top to bottom when I took over, about 10 years ago. If it had been here, I would have found it. There just isn’t a key for it anymore, if there ever was one.”
“Well, that’s a shame. It is very interesting looking. I love the designs on it, but I just don’t think I would want it if I can’t open it.”
“You know, that has been here so long, I am sure I can make you a heck of a deal on it. Since, there’s no key, I could probably let ya have it for $100.”
“I don’t know. I may have to ruin it to open it, and then there may be just useless junk inside. That would be just throwing away my money. How about $25? That way I don’t lose too much if the box gets ruined when I pry it open.”
“$50? Hand carved design is still worth that even if there is some damage to the trunk.”
“Okay. $50 it is. But if you find that key at a later date, you need to inform me. Deal?”
“Deal,” she chimed.
As I left the shop, the small trunk under my left arm, I had no idea just what a deal it had been.
(to be continued)
©2019 Nancy Lehmann