Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Three Gold Merchants

I saw the three young scary Russians first.  The shop was deep inside the building. Like with all shops of this kind, I had to be buzzed in.  But this one had a large man by the door with a gun on his hip and a three-bar cross hanging on his neck.  An older man, maybe 35, sweating, was weighing small gold coins and putting them in plastic bags.  The third and youngest man, a double-headed eagle tattoo peeking out above his wife beater, spoke in a thick Russian accent.  "I've seen you before."
"Yes, I was in here a couple of years ago to show my sons the jewel map".
"What brings you in today?  We still have the map.  The oceans are lapis."
"I'm selling gold.  Can you give me yesterday's New York minus 1%?"
"Let me see it."

I reached into my pocket.  The man counting coins stopped and wached me pull it out and hand it to the younger man.  The watch on his otherwise bare arm was Patek.  His fingernails were dirty. He carefully weighed it and acid tested it.

"I must have a 3% profit. So I can give you..."
"Okay.  Thanks.  I'll walk up the block.  I might be back in a few minutes."

The Chinese woman was young and pretty and smiling like a snake.  Unlike the Russian's shop, hers was open and bright and orderly.  Her fingernails were perfect.  She smelled beautiful.  She cradled my right hand in her left as she took the gold from my palm with her right.  Her skin was cold and soft.  She smiled at me.  I would have let her devour me, almost.  She weighed the gold, she read the markings with a jewelers loop.
"You bought this in Chinatown".
It wasn't a question but I answered, "Yes".
"It's very nice.  I can give you..."
"Thank you, but I already have a better offer."
Cold narrow eyes.  "I can't pay more."
"You have some pretty things.  Maybe, I'll come back for that amythest ring."
"Thank you.  Please, come again."

The old Sicilian (He's connected, by way of the Falcone fmily, to the Bonanos.), a man I've done business with before, was siting at a card table looking through a big magnifying glass at an old belt buckle.  On the table before him were what looked like military artifacts from the WWI: Old French medals, a bayonet, a map case.  Around him on the walls of the shop were swords, sterling platers, hundreds of gold chains, cloth bags full of old (from the days when our money was real silver) U.S. coins, framed Krugerand collections, a commemorative plate of the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spenser, and silver goblets full of Morgans.

He stood and greeted me with a hand shake and asked if I was buying or selling.
"Selling this", I answered and I set the gold on the card table.
"Hmmm.  You know the weight?" I knew he would weigh it.  He was just finding out if I had other offers.  I saw the sparkle of avarice in his eyes.
"I know, but you go ahead and weigh it."
"I can give you..."
"I already checked the New York and London prices this morning. That's all you can do?"
"It's called profit.  If you want more come back in a month.  Gold is going up."
"Okay.  Thanks.  I guess, I'll see you later."
"You know, this is the time to buy silver.  Are you in the market again?"
"I'm only selling.  See you later."

The Russians buzzed me in.  Everyone was in the same place but now the sweaty man was weighing little bars of silver or, maybe, it was platinum and recording the weights in a ledger.
"It looks like I won."
"Last night's New York spot minus 3%" (Even though it is $4 higher this morning)
He copied my name and address from my drivers license into the state's book.  I gave him the gold.  He counted out the Franklins.
"Don't feel bad.  I see a lot of this."

I walked out the door and I sobbed alone on the sidewalk for a few minutes before I walked home without my wedding ring.
Home.  But only for a few more days.  I think, I have enough money to get my own lonely place now.


Rebecca said...

I am sorry.

Athanasia said...

Crying with you Matt. God give you peace and comfort.

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

Oh Matt, my friend, my heart aches for you.
Be assured of my continuing prayers.

Steve said...

Yes, I remember that day too. So sorry, brother.