An Offer You Can’t Refuse, Part III

Terzameron Day 25
April 14, 2020

Tim Martin



Now, for the other two candlesticks. The pawn broker had been ordered to hold them till the police had done their review. But in order for the police to complete their review, we had to go down to ID the candlesticks. When we got off the plane, we were greeted by a woman who introduced herself as Detective Smith, of the Alexandria P.D. “Fancy that Timmy,” Eric whispered to me in his inimitable Audible-Within-Thirty-Feet whisper “a lady detective!” If Detective Smith didn’t know she was dealing with a man from another planet, she would soon find out.


On arriving at her car, she pulled out a file, and out of the file, she pulled a photograph. Specifically, a mug shot. I thought Eric was going to faint. He contemplated the slightly bloated, anodyne features of Mr. Phillips while Detective Smith enumerated the schemes Phillips had concocted: cars, guns, antiques, false mortgages, a home equity loan on a house he didn’t own, and all cunningly devised to make prosecution an uncertain and costly course for those he defrauded. Eric wobbled into the front seat, and I got in the back.


We proceeded to go see Mr. Phillips’s charming home, just for a little flavor, I guess. As we pulled away to go to the pawnshop, Eric’s first love called to him, and he suggested we stop for lunch. Detective Smith turned gently off the road we were on, into a McDonald’s.


“What are you doing?” Eric asked.

“Um? Stopping for lunch?” she said.

“Oh, I can’t eat here. I’ll get sick. Can’t we go somewhere a little nicer?”

“Burger King?”


“Eric?” I piped up. “Burger King is really just like McDonald’s.”


After a bit of back and forth about the kind of restaurant His Majesty was hoping for, we settled on Wendy’s—that being as upscale as it got. Detective Smith, clearly tiring of Eric’s patter, pulled up to the drive-through window. The voice in the menu-board asked what we wanted. Eric, after figuring out what was happening, was completely amazed that this was possible. He ordered a hamburger, French fries, and a coke, because that was what the detective ordered. He covertly watched her to see how to put the straw through the plastic lid of his drink, but he missed the part where she removed the paper from the straw, and so jammed the straw in, paper and all, creating a sodden wad of paper on top of his coke. He looked distraught, so I handed him my coke. He opened his burger, and smelled it, and with a lordly air and a look of utter disgust, handed it back to me. He ate all of his French fries, and all of mine.


We arrived at the pawn-brokers, and, having ascertained that these were the very sticks we had sent to Mr. Phillips, Eric, affecting an air of total indifference to money, wrote out a check for $17,500. Despite his bravado, I knew it was the most painful thing he had ever had to do in business. Well, the second most painful, first prize went to smelling that Wendy’s burger.

Now that we had added about $30,000 to the cost of the candlesticks, the question became: how on earth would we get a profit? Eric called one of our great clients, and told him the whole story. He thought it was so funny that he paid us what we paid Sotheby’s, plus our (ahem) incidental expenses, plus a sliver of profit. Eric felt very lucky. He took delivery of his Rolls-Royce a few weeks later and won first prize at one of those concours d’elegance.

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