The rage Within

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Chapter 17

Later that week, when I actually was at work, I couldn’t stop thinking about Viki. There was definitely something about her that was unique. Other than being rather attractive, she had a quality about her that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in another woman. It was intangible, but plainly there. I was never one to believe in the whole chemistry analogy, but after meeting her I questioned that entirely. I had met many pretty women over the years, but never have I felt the same pull I felt when I was near her.

I was restocking the cart of abandoned books and placing them back in their rightful place, which was a tedious task, and lately my favorite kind. It gave my mind all kinds of free time to daydream.

Could it be possible that she was actually interested in a recent college grad with the possible future financial earnings of a non-college grad? She seemed interested enough, or was it just a case of a guilty conscience from the previous meeting. Give this dopey kid an afternoon to tell his friends about and all in forgiven.

I felt my phone vibrate in my front pocket, which snapped me out of my self-doubt and loathing exercise. It was a text with a return number that I didn’t recognize. My brain started all of its usual speculations, but before I let it get out of control I called the number back. No time like the present.

The phone rang twice before a male answered the phone.

Damn.

“Piece of History, can I help you.”

“Hi. I just received a text from this number. My name is Jack”.

“Yes. Jack. I’m looking at your application. Are you still interested in employment here?”

“Of course, yes, I am.” I said.

“I was hoping you could come in for an interview.” The man said in a pleasant voice.

“Absolutely I can. When is good for you sir?”

“I am here for the rest of the evening. Can you make here before eight tonight?”

“Sure. I’m at work right now, but I won’t have a problem getting off early. I could be there by 7:00 if that’s okay?” I said trying not to sound too excited.

“Very good. See you then”. The man said as the phone disconnected.

I wasn’t sure what a clerk in an antique shop made, but it had to be more than the 95 cents above minimum wage I was making now. I finally felt like I was in a good place mentally and now I was ready to be in a decent place financially. Or at least a different place, as you never know where a new road may lead you. I needed to make some changes for the positive.

I walked over to Gus, who was doing some computer work at one of the terminals.

“Gus. Do you mind if I skate out early tonight?” I asked.

Without even looking up from his computer screen Gus said, “No problem Jack. Hot date?”

“You don’t know how bad I wish that was true, but sadly it’s just some personal matters.”

He stopped what he was doing and gave me a father like look.

“Everything okay?” He said genuinely.

Like I said, he was great guy, who actually cared about his employees.

“Yeah, fine. I promise.”

“Take off now then. We aren’t that busy.” He said

“Thanks.”

I turned to leave when Gus stopped me.

“Oh, Jack. I forgot to tell you. Some girl was in her looking for you the other day when you were off.”

“You get her name?” I asked. I think Gus could tell I was more than interested in this information.

“No. Denise is the one who actually talked to her, so I couldn’t even tell you what she looked like. She will have to fill you in.” Gus said.

“She mention anything about red hair?” I asked hoping for something.

Gus just shrugged apologetically.

I decided not to get my hopes up, but rather be pleasantly surprised if it turned out to be her. The safer and more realistic assumption was that Cyndi came in looking to get a discount on some text books.

The Antique shop was only about four or five blocks from the book store. Since Gus let me go early I had enough time to run home and put on something more interview appropriate. I tried to time my arrival for seven exactly. I even had to walk around the block once so I wouldn’t arrive too early. I didn’t want to interrupt if he had other interviews or business to attend to. Not to mention I have a thing about punctuality.

When I did enter the store I saw the same man who sold me the necklace for my mom. He was assisting a customer, a very wealthy looking one at that, and he appeared to be buying the Pollock that Bili quizzed me on.

He saw me standing off to the side and gestured to the back room with quick tilt of his head. I picked up his meaning and made my way to the back without saying anything.

I went through the ornate wooden swinging doors just to the left of the front counter. I was surprised at the size of the storage area and the amount of inventory he had. Among the beautiful pieces and stacked boxes, there was an office setting with no walls.

It was complete with a desk, a comfortable looking leather chair, and a book shelf behind that was stocked with a very expensive collection. I couldn’t tell if they were for his personal reading or inventory. Regardless they were impressive.

I sat down in one of the smaller leather chairs that were in front of the desk as you would expect in any office. My eyes wondered around the room in awe of the surroundings. I was lingering on a Picasso that was leaning against a filing cabinet when a noise drew my attention.

I looked up and saw Bili carrying an old end table out of the back door and into a work van. The table was fairly large and looked to be made of African Blackwood, which is heavy stuff.

Strong Girl.

“Sorry to keep you waiting Jack.”

The owner startled me as I didn’t see or hear him enter the room.

“No problem sir.” I said as I attempted to stand.

“Please, stay seated.” He said as he patted my shoulder as he walked by, reaffirming I should not get up. “So, how did your mother like the gift?”

The comment surprised for a couple of reasons. First being that he had remembered me from a year ago. I think I was only in his store for barely ten minutes, if that long. The second, of course, was the mention of mom.

“You remembered. She loved it.” I said. I thought it was the quickest way to change the topic. Besides, if she had seen it she definitely would have loved it. It felt less like a lie when I thought of it that way.

“Great.” He said and then thankfully moved on.

“Jack, I will cut to the chase. I am not looking for some mindless clerk to punch the keys on the cash register for eight hours. I want a young motivated employee with the knowledge and skills to run this business with little or no supervision.” He said.

Right away I was impressed with the way he carried himself, as well as his directness. There was an aura of confidence that permeated from this man. I liked him right away.

“We do much more here than just sell from the store front. We have online sales, overseas contacts and suppliers, and we have sold pieces to almost every country in the modern world. If you have half the knowledge I believe you have regarding art and antiques I think you may be just the person I’ve been looking for. Do you think I have overestimated my opinion of you?” He said.

“No sir. If there is one thing I am confident in, it would Art. But as you can see from my application I don’t have any real business experience. I just graduated college and have only worked part-time Jobs.” I said.

I knew it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to point out all of my shortcomings so quickly, but I figured it was better to be up front about it. I immediately started feeling guilty about not telling him the truth about my mother.

“Yes, and you haven’t picked up any bad habits, or think your way is better than ours. I’ve done my homework on you Jack. I know you graduated at the top of your class and you are of sound character. I believe you would be a perfect fit here. If you are interested in the Job, I can start you out at a salary of $50,000 a year. That’s until you complete your training of course and then we will move you up to an appropriate salary. What do you say?”

50K a year?!

That was far more than I would have ever expected. Let alone the possibility of raises. I tried to act as cool as possible, but I’m sure the shock of it was written all over me.

“Yes. I would love the opportunity. Thank you...” I started to say, realizing that I didn’t even know his name.

“Theo. Welcome to our little family Jack.” He said as he stuck out his hand.

“Thank you Theo.” I said as I stood and shook his hand.

“I know you would like to give your current job some notice, but I would like you to start as soon as possible.”

“Yes, of course. That won’t be a problem. I’ll put my notice in right away.”

“We open at ten in the morning. If I am not here, Bili will help you get your feet wet.” Theo said. “You will be working with her most days and she will handle the bulk of your training.”

Miss personality. Great.

“Thanks again.” I said as I left his office and made my way back to the front of the store.

I did a double fist pump and yelled a silent Yes as I walked toward the front door. That’s when I noticed Bili polishing one of the tables just off to the side. She looked up for a second then went right back to what she was doing. Not a word or second look. I tried to act cool, as if she didn’t see me acting like a fool, which I know she did.

I’m an idiot.

I left the store feeling like a million bucks. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. I was hoping for maybe a few dollars more an hour from my current Job, but I will be starting out at more than double my current pay. I couldn’t even imagine what Theo thought an appropriate salary should be once I was trained. I already felt over paid and I haven’t received one check.

I couldn’t help but feel a bit smug with myself. David told me on a regular basis that I wasn’t worth a shit and wouldn’t amount to anything. I didn’t want to think ill of the dead, but I could make an exception for David.

I was optimistically looking forward to the future and what it held in store. What the future actually held for me was so far beyond my wildest dreams that I hesitate to talk about it, even with you.

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