Chapter 4 - The Auction
Are we there yet?
Terri’s hands tightened noticeably on the steering wheel. “No!” she spat out. “And if you ask me again, I’m going to drive down to Patriot’s Park and turn you into a fire hydrant on the dog walk trail.”
Shannon took a few moments to let that sink in. Okay, she said carefully, obviously something’s bothering you.
“Oh, you think?”
So, what is it?
“Oh, I don’t know,” Terri answered, dripping sarcasm. “Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’ve got my best friend in a shoe box.” She risked taking her eyes off the busy city street long enough to glance down at the box sitting on the passenger’s seat next to her. “It’s either that or the fact that I’m on my way downtown to sell her.”
Is that all? Shannon asked through their psychic link.
“Hydrant,” Terri warned.
Oh, give it a rest, Shannon countered. You’re not scaring me... much.
Despite her anger, Terri smiled.
Just calm down. I’ve got this all figured out, okay? An unhappy grunt was Terri’s only reply, so Shannon went on. Besides, you’re not selling me.
“I’m not?” Terri said, again cutting her eyes to the box.
No, Shannon assured her. You’re donating me to charity.
Terri rolled her eyes. “Oh, goodie. Maybe I can deduct you off my taxes.”
“Don’t Terri me, Shannon,” her friend cut her off. “Despite you thinking you’ve got things figured out, there’s so much that could go wrong with this plan of yours.”
Name one thing that could go wrong, Shannon clarified.
“Well, let’s start with the obvious, shall we?” Terri stated. “The whole selling...”
I told you, you’re not...
Terri corrected herself quickly. “The whole donating you thing. Shannon, what are you right now?”
What am I?
“Right. What are you?”
I’m a porcelain figurine.
“Exactly,” Terri said. “And how did you get that way?”
I used my statue powers to turn myself into one.
“That’s not exactly right, is it?”
Huh? Shannon asked, her confusion obvious.
“Your statue powers,” Terri went on, explaining herself. “They would let you turn yourself into porcelain, sure. But how did you get small enough to fit into a shoebox?”
Well, obviously, you shrank...
“Right!” Terri shouted in triumph. “I shrank you. With my magic. Which means what, Shannon?”
That my powers won’t work again until you take the shrinking spell off of me, Shannon replied, her tone making it obvious that she was reciting what she had been told more than once. So?
“So?” Terri repeated. “Shannon, we’re on our way to an auction, where you’ll be one of the items up for sale. Don’t you realize what that could mean? You could wind up on someone’s mantle forever.”
Well, duh. That’s why you’re going to buy me.
“It’s an auction, Shannon,” Terri told her. “You don’t just buy things. You bid on them.”
“And,” Terri continued, trying to keep her cool, “what happens if someone outbids me?”
Shannon laughed at the comment. Come on, Terri. This is just a local ladies club charity auction we’re talking about here. And I’ve given you two hundred dollars to bid with. I hardly think anyone’s going to pay more than that just to get a little porcelain statue.
Terri had no reply to that, so she tried a different approach. “Okay. But what if they won’t let me bid on you?”
Why wouldn’t they? Shannon asked in confusion.
“Because I’m the one that donated you,” Terri explained. “Maybe there’s some rule about people bidding on items they donated?”
I don’t see why there would be, Shannon told her. Besides, technically you’re not making the donation. I am. You’re just dropping me off.
“Maybe,” Terri admitted. “But how will they know that?”
She heard Shannon sigh. They’ll know because I called the woman running the auction last night and explained it to her. I’m telling you. I’ve thought of everything. Now, at the risk of ending up a doggie toilet... Are we THERE yet?
“Yeah,” Terri said, turning into the parking lot of the community center. She didn’t bother to mention that she had already driven by the place four times while she tried to talk Shannon out of it.
Parking in an empty spot, Terri spotted the sign pointing the direction to the place to make donations for the auction. She sighed. “You sure I can’t talk you out of this,” she tried one more time.
“Okay,” Terri cut her off. “Okay. I’m going.” She grabbed up the shoebox and got out of the car.
Following the signs, she soon found a table set-up outside a storeroom. “May I help you?” the middle-age woman sitting behind the table asked her.
“I’m not sure, actually,” Terri hedged. “My friend asked me to drop off something for your auction. She said she called someone about it?”
“Ah, yes,” the woman nodded. “Ms. Michaels, right?”
“That’s her,” Terri agreed, adding a silent “dammit” to herself, while ignoring Shannon’s giggle in her head.
The woman waited for Terri to go on. When she didn’t, the woman nodded to the shoebox. “So, that’s it there, then?”
“Uh, yeah,” Terri said, shaking off her distraction. “Sorry. Here you go.”
She sat the box on the table. The woman slid it over and took off the lid. “Oh, my,” she breathed at the sight of the figurine inside. Carefully, she lifted it out of the box. “It’s beautiful.”
Terri rolled her eyes, knowing that this was just stroking Shannon’s ego. “Yes, it’s nice,” she simply said. “I was thinking of bidding on it myself. Would that be alright?”
“Oh, absolutely,” the woman replied. “The more the merrier, right?” She stood Shannon up on the table. “Though, I think you’re going to have a lot of competition for this one. It’s gorgeous.”
You hear that, Shannon said in Terri’s mind. I’m gorgeous. I told you this was a classic pose.
Terri cocked her eyebrow at the little statue, not sure what she was talking about. And then, she got it. Shannon had adopted the pose that she had intended to use for her week in the art gallery. With a smile, Terri remembered how she had tricked her friend into becoming an erotic sculpture instead.
“Oh, please,” she said, refusing to give Shannon any satisfaction.
“Excuse me?” the woman sitting in front of her said, obviously confused.
“Uh,” Terri stammered, realizing that the woman couldn’t hear Shannon’s side of the conversation. “Sorry. Thinking out loud.” Again, Shannon’s laughter rang out in her head, and she took a breath to control her anger.
“I see,” the woman went on, though her expression made it clear that she didn’t really “see” at all. “Well, if you’re going to bid, please sign here. Then, head on over to the auditorium. We’ll be starting soon. Oh, and I should tell you that all bids are cash only. We’re not really set up for taking checks or credit cards.”
“That’s fine,” Terri told her, signing the sheet the woman had sled across the table. “I’m sure I have enough with me.” She watched as the woman slipped Shannon back into the shoebox. “Well, I guess I’ll see you inside.”
“Yes, dear,” the woman said, placing the shoebox onto a cart beside her. Terri didn’t bother to tell her that she hadn’t been talking to her.
Entering the auditorium, Terri was surprised at the size of the crowd there for the auction. There was only about thirty people or so, but it was still more than she had expected to find. Most of them appeared to be in their mid-thirties or older, though a couple were in her own age bracket. And while the majority of the crowd were woman, she noticed three or four men mixed in.
The bidders were gathered in little groups, talking amongst themselves, and Terri immediately felt like an outsider. But she wasn’t the only one it appeared. On the other side of the room, a man was standing apart from the crowd looking out a window. Terri watched him for a bit, noting the expensive suit that he was wearing. Not at all who you’d expect to see at a local charity auction.
Suddenly, as if sensing eyes on him, the man turned in Terri’s direction. He returned her stare for a few moments before smiling. Terri couldn’t help herself. She returned the smile. She watched as he moved away from the window, heading in her direction.
“Okay, everyone,” a woman’s voice called out. Terri turned to see the woman who had signed her in taking up a position at the front of the room. “If you’ll all take your seats, we’ll get this show on the road.”
Terri turned back to see that the man had stopped, giving his attention to the host as well. As he turned his attention back to her, she gave him a smile and a slight shrug, before taking a seat on her side of the room. A glance over her shoulder showed that he had taken his own chair near the back of the room. With a smile to herself, she turned her attention to the front of the auditorium.
“Okay,” the woman went on, “this will all be pretty straightforward. We’ll bring items out, you will bid on them, and the top bidder will be awarded the item. Again, I must remind everyone that all payments must be made with cash. Any questions?” She paused, and then smiled. “Well, then, let’s get started, shall we? Our first item...”
And so it went. Item after item was brought out. Terri noted that most were things that you’d find at the average yard sale. Knick knacks. Dish sets. The occasional clothing item. She also found that no item caused a heavy bidding war, with most items going for less than thirty dollars. The highest bid went almost to fifty for a beautiful quilted throw that even she had been tempted to bid on.
Several times during the auction, Terri looked back over her shoulder to see what the well-dressed man was doing. Mostly, he appeared to be looking out the window. As each item was brought out, he would turn his attention to the front of the room, but would immediately go back to the window. Terri just shook her head and went back to watching the bidding.
Finally, Shannon was brought out. Terri sat up a little straighter as the woman running the auction went through her spiel. “Now, I’m sure this lovely figurine will really dress up any room.”
You’re damned right I will, Shannon confirmed. Terri rolled her eyes, but smiled.
“Who will start us off?” the woman asked.
“Two dollars,” a woman from the front row bid.
What? Shannon scoffed. Cheapskate!
“Three,” said another woman from Terri’s right.
“Five,” the original woman added.
“Eight,” her competition upped.
Now we’re moving, Shannon commented. Who’ll give us ten?
“Ten,” said the original bidder.
Thank you very much.
Terri shook her head at her friend’s antics. Shannon was really enjoying this far too much. She really didn’t realize how much danger she was in.
At that point, the bidding seemed to have stopped. The woman in charge looked to the competing bidder with a questioning look. The woman shook her head in response. With a nod, the auctioneer turned to the whole room. “Anyone else?” she asked.
Oh, come on! Shannon pleaded. Ten bucks? I’m worth so much more than that! I mean, look at me! I’m gorgeous. How about you, sir? I saw you checking out my tits. Don’t say you did...
“Okay, enough is enough,” Terri muttered, before calling out to the room. “Twenty-five!”
The room went instantly silent as everyone turned to look at Terri. Way to kill the mood there, Terri, Shannon put in. Terri just arched an eyebrow in reply, before turning to the woman in charge.
“Uh, yes,” the woman stammered. “I have twenty-five. Anyone want to go to thirty?” When no one replied, she raised the little gavel that she had been using above the podium. “In that case...”
“Fifty,” came a male voice from the back of the room.
Hello! Shannon said, as Terri turned quickly to see where the bid had come from. The well-dressed man in the back had stood up. He returned her look calmly. Who is that? Shannon asked.
“Trouble,” Terri responded to herself, before raising her voice. “Seventy-five.”
Trouble’s kinda cute, Shannon noted.
Not now, Shannon, Terri sent back over their link.
“One hundred,” the man bid from the back of the room.
At this point, everyone in the room was paying attention and turned to look back at Terri, who sighed in frustration. Of course, Shannon wasn’t helping.
Woohoo! I told you this would be fun.
Yeah, fun, Terri sent without a hint of fun in her tone. But it’s time to end it. To the room, she said, “One fifty.”
What did he say?
He said two hundred, Terri replied.
He... Shannon stammered. He can’t... He can’t bid two hundred. I only gave you two hundred.
I’m aware of that, Shannon, Terri told her. Now, shut up. I’m trying to add.
Add? Add? What are you adding? I’m in trouble here.
“Not so cute anymore, is it?” Terri said out loud, before answering her friend. I’m trying to add up how much money I’ve spent today. I need to find out how much I’ve got left so I can still bid. Now...shut...up!
“Miss?” the woman from the front prompted.
“Just a second,” Terri told her, still going over her figures.
“I’m afraid I must have a bid,” the woman insisted.
Oh, someone wants to be a rock, Shannon growled.
Shush. Terri finished her tally. “Uh, two hundred and thirty... eight?”
Terri looked expectantly over her shoulder at the man, who just smiled in response. “Two thirty nine,” he added.
To put it mildly, Terri agreed.
Terri, you’ve got to do something! Shannon pleaded.
And what would you have me do, Shannon? Terri answered. I told you this could happen.
This is not the time for “I told you so”, dammit. Bid!
Bid what? Terri asked. I’m tapped out.
So, write a check. I’ll cover it.
What part of “cash only” don’t you get?
“Miss?” the auctioneer asked.
Stay out of this, bitch!
Shannon! Terri scolded. Will you calm down?
Calm down? I’m about to be sold here, in case you didn’t notice!
I noticed, Terri answered. She thought for a moment, before looking up at the woman. “No,” she admitted. “I’m done.”
What? No way! You can’t be...
“Sold!” the auctioneer announced, bringing her gavel down.
Both Shannon and Terri were quiet after that.
“Well,” the auctioneer breathed, as if she’d just finished a hundred yard dash, “that was pretty exciting, wasn’t it?” Not hearing Shannon’s silent growl, she went on. “I can’t think of a better way to wrap up our little auction, can you?” She reached down and picked up Shannon. “If everyone will come back to the staging area, we’ll sort out who won what and take care of business.” She turned and headed out of the room.
Terri! Shannon shouted out in her friend’s head. Do something!
Again, what? Terri shot back.
I don’t know, Shannon admitted. You’re the witch. Turn this bitch into a hockey puck or something.
In front of a roomful of witnesses? Yeah, the Coven Counsel won’t have a problem with that.
Look, Shannon, Terri cut her off. I can’t do anything about this here. You’ll have to just go with this guy for now. I’ll figure something out and come get you as soon as I can.
How long will that take?
I have no idea.
At that point, Shannon had been carried outside of the range of their psychic connection, and Terri couldn’t hear her anymore. She just stood and watched as people filed out, following the woman back to the staging area. She felt the presence of someone coming up behind her and had no doubt who it was.
“Terri,” he said.
“Darrell,” she acknowledged, without turning.
“That was kinda fun,” he noted.
She smiled. “Yeah,” she said, turning to face his own smile. “It kinda was.”
“So, now what?” he asked.
“Now,” she answered, “you go back there, pay your two hundred and thirty nine bucks and pick up your prize. I’ll be by in a week or so to get her from you.”
“You want me to do anything else? Maybe talk to her or something like that.”
“Absolutely not,” she stated flatly. “You take her back to your place, put her on a shelf somewhere...” She paused for effect. “...and you forget about her. Maybe if she believes that she’s going to be just a knick knack forever, she’ll think twice before she tries something like this again.” Her expression softened. “Thanks for helping me with this, Darrell.”
“No problem,” he nodded, “Hey, it’s the least I could do after you helped me get rid of Marian last year.”
Terri just smiled at that. She didn’t see the need to tell him that he didn’t owe her for that. She’d have done it for nothing.
“You think this will do any good?” Darrell asked.
She sighed. “One can only hope. Shannon’s not known for getting points. We’ll see.” She pushed him in the direction of the exit. “Now, you better get in there before that old crone thinks you’ve changed your mind about spending that much on a simple porcelain figure. I’ll see you in a week.”
“Does it have to be that long?” Darrell asked.
She stopped pushing. “Beg pardon?”
“Not for picking up Shannon,” he explained. “Just the seeing me part.”
She eyed him suspiciously. “Why, Mr. Fischer. Are you asking me out?”
“As a matter of fact, Ms. Hill, I am.”
Terri tried not to smile, but only partly succeeded. “Well, this is rather sudden. You’ll have to give me time to think about it. You’ve got my number?”
“I’m pretty sure I do, yeah.”
Terri decided to ignore the innuendo. “Well, call me later and I’ll let you know.” She again pushed him away. “Now, go.”
This time, Darrell didn’t fight her. She watched as he went, enjoying the view. She already knew that she was going to say yes. In fact, she’d been hoping he’d ask. Still, there was nothing wrong with playing a little hard to get.
With a final look toward the door to the staging area, she turned and headed for the front entrance. She was in a hurry. There was a big going out of business sale at a boutique downtown, and she had two hundred and thirty eight dollars that was just burning a hole in her purse.