Here's chapter one. Feedback is always welcome. Enjoy!
My name is Phoenix. This is my story.
I spend far too much time inside my own head. Considering some things that I’ve been through this is both a good thing and a bad thing.
I wander, far too often, even for my own liking. But you know the saying, :Not all who wander all lost.” Well, most of the time, I’m probably lost, and many if those times I don’t even realize it.
I make my living day to day turning trash to treasure. It’s not a unique occupation, to be sure.But some of the items I have come across certainly have been,
“People really like junk too much,” I said to my partner Skye one day.
She just looked at me with those big brown eyes with a blank expression on her chocolate face. “The fuck they do,” she said, shaking her head.
“I mean, yeah, we make our living off of hoarders, don’t we? But really, should it be this way?”
“Prob’ly not,” Skye says with a shrug, taking a whiff of her e-cig. I really wish she’d quit those.
“What do you think we’ll find today?” I asked her. We took turns scouting out the local classified, on the phone and even in the local penny savers. Today, it was my turn at the wheel of my old rusty ‘86 Escort. Skye was usually a genius at scouting. Today, she didn’t seem too optimistic. Not that Skye is ever optimistic, but she usually at least was confident we had some sort of lead.
“Bed-buggered furniture, scrap metal, and old sports cards. Nothing too great.”
That last item caught my attention, “Old sports cards?”
“We’re in the flippin’ biz, Nix, not a sports collectin’ biz.”
Skye had a point. We needed to find buyers quickly to not spend the night in the car. Even with our spare battery in the trunk to run our 12-volt heater, it still gets damn cold.
But I’ve always had a thing for card collecting. It all depends on how old those cards were.
“Tobacco cards?” I asked.
“Eh,” Skye shrugged. “Prob’ly worthless 90’s junk. No pics.”
“No pics?” I echoed. That was either a really good thing or a really bad thing. A lot of older folks aren’t too handy with a phone camera.
“Yeah, they’re only a mile out. But could be a waste of time. We don’t have the cash for gambles”
“That’s what you have me for,” I say. “To make the gambles worth it.”
“Nix, we got 30 bucks. After gas and eats, we’re in the car for the night.”
“Could be worse,” I said. “Let me get that address.”
So we get there. It’s about what expected, a little two-bedroom bungalow. It was pretty non-descript, but the lime green 1962 Pontiac got my attention.
Skye’s eyes lit up. “Ooh, how I need that ride.”
“Dunno about the color,” I admitted. “But yeah. I like this guy already.”
But who answered the door after making us wait a black minute was not a man. It was an old haggard black lady.
“What you ‘stutes want?” the lady barked.
‘Stutes? We weren’t dressed that bad.
“We’re here about the listing?” I said in the most annoyingly charming upbeat tone I could.
“Yeah, yeah, that Craig list whatever thing,” she scoffed. “BILLY!” she roared at the staircase behind her.
Billy wasn’t what I pictured either. It was a tomboyish white girl with dirty blonde hair stuffed under a baseball cap. Skye’s eyes got wide.
This wasn’t a normal pick.
“You the pickers?” Billy asked with a strong Southern accent. This was weird in Massachusetts.
And Skye and I had been all over. This was one of the strangest houses we’d been to.
“Yeah, that’s us,” said Skye.
“Huh,” she looked at us with a look of disbelief. “Was expecting a couple of smelly guys.”
“You lucked out,” I said with a chuckle.
“You have fun,” the old lady said. “But don’t be pickin’ us clean for pennies!”
“I assure you, ma’am,” I said. “We’re always fair.”
Humph was the only reply before she whisked off.
“Pardon nanny, gals,” Billy said. “She’s all been up and grumpy since Dad passed away.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said.
As usual, Skye starting scouting out potential picks right in the door. “This china?” she asked.
“For sale?” Billy wondered.
“Well, Nanny probably don’t want to part with that. It was Mumma’s.”
I always feel like I have to explain Skye’s often rude behavior. “What Skye means is that valuable dishware is always at the top of our list. We always have a buyer.”
“I see,” Billy nodded. “But ya’ll are here about the cards, right?”
“She is,” Skye said, pointing rudely at me. She kept looking up and down the hallway, crunching numbers in her mind. “This is a gallery.”
“I don’t follow,” Billy said, crossing her arms.
“Let’s go see the daggone cards,” Skye said.
Billy rushed up the stairs and we followed up the creaky case with care. She went into the front room which was littered almost from floor to ceiling with longboxes and shoeboxes full of trading cards.
“Oh, geez,” Skye said.
My reaction was quite the opposite. “Wow, was this all your dad’s?”
“Yeah,” Billy said with a sad sigh. “It was both of ours.”
“So why you want to let them go?” I asked.
“Let ‘em go? Who said that?” Billy suddenly seemed angry.
“You did have a listing for them,” Skye offered.
Billy shook her head. “Nanny made me. She says if there’s money here it’s gotta go. I was hoping by not taking any pics that it may turn off most people.”
“But I knew better,” I said. “I love a mystery. Those are always the best places to go.”
“Picker’s nightmare,” Skye said.
“Usually, Skye’s the limit on me taking gambles. But I scored here.”
“You wanna see?” Billy asked.
Skye rolled her eyes. She had no interest in thumbing thru cards.
But what Billy had to show me wasn’t what I expected.
They were old baseball cards, but they had an unusual gloss to them. I swear they could have shined in the dark.
“I know you won’t believe me,” Billy said. “But I reckon Dad would see some of him in you so here’s a go. These here are time travelin’ cards.”
Skye threw up her arms in the air and left the room.
“You gals ain’t on the same page, I reckon,” Billy observed.
“That’s a mighty big claim,” I admitted. “But I’m willing to see what you mean.”
“Well, most collectors get their valuable cards graded. But me and my dad, we got ‘em enchanted.”
I was now intrigued, and I knew Skye was too. She always acted disinterested when she really wasn’t. After all, this sounded incredible, but we’d seen truly strange claims be reality before.
“Go on,” I beckoned.
“See this Phil Rizzuto?” Billy asked, showing me a 1955 Phil Rizzuto Topps baseball card.
“Yeah?” It looked fairly normal to me, but it had an unusual sheen to it, as if it were a reprint and not an authentic original. But that wasn’t it. The blue on the card had a strange glow.
“This is my favorite,” she said.
“It’s a nice card. Probably would give you $30 for a card like that.”
“Oh, no, not like this!” Billy held it up to the overhead light. The colors on the card shone strangely. “See?”
“So if it’s enchanted, how does this time travelin’ thing work?”
“Well, you hold it like this.” She held the edges of the card gently between her thumb and forefingers and closed her eyes. “Then close your eyes and imagine...”
“Oh,, this is grand..” I could hear Skye mutter in the highway.
But no sooner had Skye said that, Billy disappeared in a flash of blue light…