Angela Picks Up Her Prizes
Angela decided to close the Moose Café for a few days for “renovation” even though there isn’t actually going to be any changes. But she can do what she wants now: she bought out the silent partner who’s really silent now.
This morning, Angela was complaining that the purple bracelets she won shrank around her wrists and were very firm and tight and she could not take them off. She ate breakfast in a hurry and said she was going back to the Antique shop to return them.
“Wait,” I said, “I’ll come with you.”
“OK,” she said. “You know, these aren’t much of a prize. They claim they’re very ancient and worth thousands of dollars, but I don’t believe it. The inscriptions are odd but it’s probably just nonsense.”
It had been a short walk to the Antique shop past the Village Bank and Charlie’s Pizza, and we had crossed the street, passed under the oak tree, and strolled past the high broken clock that’s never been fixed. Whatever time it was, it was early and there wasn’t much traffic in the street or in the shop. When we walked around the shop, I noticed there was a lot of old stuff one would expect, except that I couldn’t recognize any particular cultural origins — they all seemed just very bizarre. Maybe a few vases vaguely resembled pieces from a museum somewhere, but mostly the designs and symbols were just odd and disturbing. There was something that looked like a dyed stalagmite, but not quite, and there was annoying almost baroque-like music playing in the background with the sounds of mistuned wind chimes or clanging glasses.
We went in past some antique statues and lamps to the counter. A pleasant looking tall lady with red hair said to Angela, “Oh, how are you? You’re our Grand Prize Winner. Congratulations Angela. I’m Dorothy. How can I help you today?”
“Well,” Angela said, “I want to return these bracelets that I won in that Musical Chairs contest.”
“Oh, I see,” Dorothy said. “But, of course, that’s not possible. I can give you a coupon, and by the way, you forgot to pick up your other Grand Prizes. I think you’ll be thrilled and…”
“Huh what?” Angela said.
“See here, this beautiful Royal choker, valued at at least $20,000. Try it on.”
Before Angela could say anything, Dorothy snapped it closed around Angela’s neck.
“Uh, well,” Angela said.
Dorothy said, “It’s beautiful isn’t it? Go over there and look in the mirror.”
Angela walked across the room past some vases to a mirror but she seemed confused.
Dorothy said to me, “Doesn’t she look gorgeous?”
I said, “Yes, but… don’t you think that prize or no prize, a person should be able to make an exchange of some kind?”
“Well sure,” Dorothy said, “but consider that we’re giving your Angela a free valuable choker necklace so she can be under the spell of beauty that you can appreciate. And we at the Antique shop value gifts that control beauty subtly at the service of the beast in us. N’est-ce pas?”
“I’m not sure I understand,” I said.
“I’ve seen,” she said, “how with that glint in your eye, you want her to be wild… Yes?”
Angela came back and seemed about to say something but Dorothy raised her hand and Angela looked puzzled.
Dorothy said, “Now don’t you feel better? You do, and now for the pièce de résistance.” Suddenly she brought out a box from under the counter and opened it. “You won this dress — you must try it on. And take this belt too. Change over there.” She pointed to a curtain.
Angela said, “Doug, I’ll be right back. I want to see this.”
“Wait,” I said.
“Don’t worry,” Angela said, “it won’t take long.”
Angela took it and disappeared into the dressing room.
Dorothy said, “This is a magnificent dress. Your Angela is lucky to have it. It’s a Vedacorbz design: It’s very well structured in a beautiful aqua blue with green stripes. It has a boned bodice with spring steel bones, but like a Victorian costume it doesn’t have to be strapless. Below the waist is a pleated skirt with metal strips, and …”
“I’m not sure I follow you…”
“Well, OK, Doug, for the layman (Ha!)… It’s a unique design. The strips slide along tracks so that it has a variable length from above the knee to ankle length. The skirt can be pulled down and the pleats can be pulled in and locked to form a tight fitting skirt that at ankle length hugs the legs in a dainty and provocative way. Or it can remain a flared short skirt with generous pleats for the athlete.”
“Um, I guess, but…” I was totally distracted by the annoying mistuned chime sounds.
When Angela came back, Dorothy was ready with another package.
“Well, it’s nice, but still,” said Angela, “I want to return the bracelets.”
“Of course, you can’t,” said Dorothy, “those are permanent bracelets — they don’t come off.”
“What do you mean,” said Angela. “I’ll use a hacksaw or a giant clipper thing then.”
Dorothy said, “No, that won’t work. It’s a special hardened steel-like metal that can’t be cut… and besides, NOW, you feel better don’t you. You do feel wonderful now, don’t you.”
“Yes,” said Angela.
“Angela,” I said, “are you OK?”
Dorothy interrupted, “You feel fine now, Angela, don’t you.”
Angela said, “Yes, My Queen, I do.”
“What did you say…” I said.
Dorothy interrupted, “Now take this other package (it’s a sword), and take Doug home.”
Angela knocked me hard against a counter and said, “Out, out, out.” We almost crashed into a whole line of vases, and the music seemed to throb with low ominous tones.
And so we went home.