The Red Handbag
Saturday dawned sunny and warm. Joe was excited to get out for the day and make her rounds for yard and estate sales. The last stop before doing her weekly shopping was her favorite auction house and she should have an hour or so to browse the things up for sale this week and budget not only her time but also money. The auction did not start until noon so that left her time to hit the entire local Saturday “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” offerings before she made her way to the auction. Luckily, they always had a choice of food trucks on site so she could have lunch outside and organize what she wanted to bid on when the auction began.
Joe was pleased with the finds from the morning sales … several small antique and vintage table clothes and even a matching apron with the floral one that she could not let get away. A collector of cut glass pitchers, Joe found the perfect one to finish out a grouping for her dining room sideboard. Then it was time to travel the short way to the auction.
The warm spring day begged to drive with windows down and sunroof open not only to the fresh air but the warmth. By the time Joe found the auction site the first layer of t-shirts had to be removed. Tying her signature flannel shirt around her waist, she grabbed the straw hat that was always available any time she went out for a day of “looking”.
Joe noticed her favorite two food trucks were there … the killer tacos and for dessert strawberry shortcake waffles. Her stomach growled at the thought of food but she needed to check in, get her bidding number and hopefully a booklet of what was up for auction today. The plan was to search through the booklet as she ate and then have time to examine the pieces she wanted to bid on when the auction started.
Exchanging pleasantries with the owners of the auction house, Joe felt her luck would hold when the number she received was what she thought of as her ‘lucky’ number for all sorts of things … but especially during an auction. That done, booklet in hand she ordered her favorite fish tacos and found a seat under the tent to eat and decide what to bid on later in the afternoon.
Joe found several nice pieces that a friend asked her to look for, a couple of hammered aluminum engraved trays that she wanted to add to her personal collection and three different suitcases she wanted to fight for when the bidding began.
There was plenty of time to go give the items she flagged a ‘look-see’ and be sure she wanted to keep them on her bidding list and to set a top dollar that would end her bidding … except for the suitcases. She never gave up until she won when bidding on new ones for her collection … her suitcase library as her editor Emily called it.
Just as she was about to go for dessert, Joe saw something out of the corner of her eye that was not listed in the booklet. Hiding behind a large painting was a red handbag that looked like a miniature suitcase. Checking the tag number she looked for it in the booklet … not there, but it had an auction number so it must be for sale.
Reaching carefully around the painting, Joe extracted the handbag from its hiding place. It was in excellent condition and the red leather was butter soft with touches of wear here and there, but still a piece that would be perfect for her collection … not a true suitcase, but looked like several vintage totes she had in her collection. There seemed to be something inside because there was some weight to it when she moved the bag from its hiding place. Had someone put it there to do just that … hide it so no one would look it over for later bidding … or did the auction workers not getting it where it should have been displayed and left it there behind the painting?
Shaking her head, Joe decided not to looking inside … if she won the bid, then she would look. She never looked inside any of the suitcases and they all seemed to have something inside that became part of a mysterious puzzle related to her collection … and her past.
Looking at the number, she realized that this handbag should have been on the table where the three suitcases were displayed. The number on its hangtag with the last sequentially of the others and seemed to have the same seller code listed as the other suitcases.
Making a note to bid on that number even though it wasn’t listed in the booklet she decided it was time to treat herself to dessert and coffee to get her through a long afternoon of fighting off dealers and collectors who always seemed to want what she picked out for bidding.
Just as Joe was about to take her first bite of that luscious strawberry short-cake waffle topped with fresh made vanilla bean ice cream Anita, one of the auction owners came running up to her all excited.
“Joe, did you see the red handbag that looks like the type of suitcases you always like to bid on?” she asked breathlessly.
“Yes, I did. It isn’t in the booklet, but I wrote down the bidding number for later,” I told her.
Anita told her in an excited voice that the suitcase was not up for bidding, but someone had left it in the office with a note to give it to Joe Saturday at the auction. No name … no anything to tell who left the handbag, just to make sure Joe received it.
Joe told Anita that she put it on the table with the other suitcases because the bidding number was in their sequence. Again Anita assured her it was to be given to her and not to be sold.
“Finish your coffee and dessert and I will get the bag and give it to you before we get started,” Anita said.
Joe was totally and completely confused about this information, but her interest was on high alert with the mystery surrounding the red handbag. At that time before Anita returned with the bag, she again vowed not to look inside until she got home with all her purchases. Some way … some how … this bag was meant to be added to her collection and what is inside must be an additional clue to the continuing mystery of her Suitcase Collection.
*NOTE: This is the fourth story in a collection of short stories I have decide to title Joe’s Suitcase Stories. I am not sure which story will be in what order or how many stories there will be when I complete the collection. Currently, the original suitcase story will be included in Centum Publishing’s upcoming anthology One Hundred Voices Volume III. Another story in the collection is under review for a short story contest and cannot be published anywhere until released.
Copyright © 2017 Annie
Always…I wish you peace, joy and happiness, but most of all I wish you Love.
As Ever, Annie