TITLE: The Crystal Figurines (Part 2) 12/5/14
By Richard McCaw
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An idea came to me! Secure the figurines! I hurried to the dresser behind me, withdrew and opened the tiny golden treasure chest, an heirloom from my grandmother with its miniature key, transferred the figurines, stuffed them tightly, locked them securely and returned the key among old coins in the antique vase on the dresser.
Then I sat on the edge of my bed, drumming my fingers on my knee, counting the minutes, conscious of the sweating of my hands and forehead! And then... I must have been too tired and fell asleep…
A sharp rapping at my door awakened me. A voice thundered out my name. Bright sunlight was steaming through my window across my bed. I opened my eyes and barely made out the hour from the clock on my dresser. Ten o’clock! Sharp rapping and my name again thundered through the large oak door.
I rose, grabbed on my robe and staggered to the door and opened it just enough to glimpse the old lady sitting by the other living room window, her grey disheveled head buried over her knitting. Suddenly she was gazing and nodding at the Bible text on the wall: “Be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23) I took complete control of myself, ready for any eventuality. I was sure of my alibis.
Two uniformed policemen greeted me in the name of the law. I greeted them with a quiet smile.
They told me that at five thirty the old lady had complained to neighbors that on walking through the living room to have her morning prayers, she had noticed her crystal figurines had been missing, mud on the floor and then the opened window. It was a pity, they remarked that thieves are usually not as smart as they think. I smiled and agreed.
They seated themselves in two antique rocking chairs beside the empty centerpiece. Then I tried to listen as they told stories of thieves who had been caught by some little thing. My heart began pounding in my ears and my hands were sweating profusely. I sat down in another rocking chair nearest my door, and began rocking nervously and twiddling my thumbs.
I imagined that they were looking at me more intently. I offered to make coffee for them and excusing myself went to the kitchen and soon returned with coffee for us all. I began sipping coffee and mopping my brow. But the pounding in my ears was too much! The cup shook in my hands. The policemen stood up. Their eyes seemed to penetrate right through me.
Coffee spilled in the saucer and on to the floor. I returned to the kitchen, put down the cup on the kitchen table, grabbed an old rag, hurried to stoop and wipe it up. I could feel beads of perspiration trickling from my forehead into my eyes. I wiped my brow with the back of my hand and drops of perspiration flashed across the end of the mahogany centerpiece.
They looked at me, then at the centerpiece, then at me.
“Why, Mr. Barnett...,” began the inspector, “Why are you sweating so?”
I stuttered incomprehensively.
“Perhaps, you don’t mind us looking around your room?” suggested the other policeman.
“Not at all, not at all!” I tried to look composed and led them to my room. My hands shook visibly as I turned the knob and allowed them to enter.
My heart skipped a beat as I glimpsed the checkered socks that I had thrown carelessly over the end of my bed. One simple thing that could possibly give me away!
They examined every little thing. I hardly breathed. When their backs were turned, I edged towards the end of the bed and quickly grasped those socks and tucked them into my back pocket.
Suddenly, the inspector swung around and said: “Mr. Barnett, may I have those?”
I reached slowly into my pocket and grudgingly handed them over. Little blobs of mud remained in my perspiring hands.
I watched feeling the steady drum-beat against my chest, my mouth dry, and my temples throbbing. They rummaged in the large wooden junk box from under my bed.
“Aha!” exclaimed the inspector, holding up the tiny golden treasure-chest, my grandmother’s heirloom. “A man of sophisticated taste!”
“The key?” inquired the other.
“Thu – thu –there’s no key,” I stuttered. ”It’s just an ornamental thing! The key was lost earlier in the forties!”
The inspector made as if he would break the lock.
“No, no...please!” I pleaded. I could not bear to destroy so precious a prize. “You never give up!” I conceded. Reaching over to the dresser I reached my hand down into a vase and extracted the tiny key. “I had this made in the seventies.”
When it was opened, the inspector lifted the crystal figurines to the light, and it glistened and twinkled as only such trinkets do. My eyes sparkled with delight for one last brief moment.
The inspector took out his little notebook, and scribbled hurriedly, then looked straight at me over his bi-focals. “Mr. Barnett,” he said solemnly, “You’re under arrest!”
My knees felt like melting as they clamped handcuffs around my wrists and took me away. I turned back to see if I could catch a final glimpse of my crystal figurines, but only saw the old lady peeping through the half opened door of her room, a quiet smile at the corner of her wrinkled mouth. I was hurt, not so much at being caught, but by the loss of my beautiful crystal figurines that I would never see again!
Then I looked up and once more saw that annoying Bible text on the wall: “Be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23) But that was not all. Another plaque in gold and Old English lettering stared at me from over the door: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15)
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