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Nine (part 8)

 
Joe Spivey's picture
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Where Joe was taking her next was Humphreys Street. The car pulled up outside Moise’s Pawn & Jewellery, and Finny followed Joe inside. Unlike Aunty Wainwright’s, the pawn shop was no larger on the inside than the outside suggested. Once inside, however, the space was made even smaller by the stout steel cages that prevented customers doing anything more than looking at the goods in the various display cases. Cameras hung from the ceiling and their ever-curious lenses covered every inch of the shop floor.

Finny followed Joe past the shelves of clocks and hanging pictures, past the cases of silver, gold and bright jewels to the far end of the shop where a narrow slot was the only break in the lattice walls. There was also a solitary bell, one of those shiny round service bells with the stud on the top. Joe waited for a moment to see if anyone would appear from behind the curtain at the back, then rang the bell when they didn’t.

There was the sound of movement from behind the curtain and then a small man pulled back the threadbare velvet a little way and squinted at them.

“Joe.”

“Soggy.”

Soggy’s scrutiny descended to Finny.

“And I take it this is the girl?”

At Joe’s nudge Finny stepped forward.

“Finny, this is Soggy… Mr. Moise, until he knows you better. Soggy, Finny.”

Soggy stepped through the curtain and approached the counter. He looked at Finny closely.

“She’s a bit young.”

Joe smiled, but not with any humour.

“Give me a child at seven blah blah.”

Soggy turned his attention back to Joe.

“If you are going to quote Aristotle then you could at least get it right.”

Joe lost the smile.

“Close enough. This is just a bleedin’ introduction. You don’t need to know the ins and outs of my business.”

Now it was Soggy’s turn to display a forced smile.

“I suppose not.” He turned to Finny and tried to inject a little warmth into the smile for her benefit. “Nice to meet you miss Finny.”

Finny became the third to smile the polite smile. The restrained tension in the shop was making her uncomfortable.

“You too, Mr. Moist.”

Soggy fought to maintain even the polite smile.

“That’s Moise.”

“I… I’m sorry.”

Joe interrupted Soggy before the sudden increase in tension became dangerous.

“Anyway. Now you two know each other I hope this will be the beginning of a fruitful relationship.”

Soggy turned back to Joe, leaving Finny staring at the floor.

“Indeed.”

Joe put a hand on Finny’s shoulder reassuring her to look up again.

“Finny here is prone to exploring and often returns from her adventures with things she has found along the way.” He smiled down at her. “Mr. Moise will be happy to look at any expensive looking little doodads you come across. Like that silver picture frame you recovered.”

Soggy took something from under the counter and his fingerless gloved hand slid it through the slot in the steel mesh.

“You might find this handy, little lady. You know, should you find something you ain’t sure about.”

Finny picked the dull brass object up and examined it, sliding out what looked like a small magnifying glass. Soggy folded his arms on the counter and leaned closer to the slot.

“It’s called a loupe. It’ll make it easier to see hallmarks and such. Help you sort the trash from the treasure.”

Finny thanked him, closed up the loupe and transferred it to her pocket. She half listened to the conversation between the two grown ups while thinking about the reason behind Joe having her meet Mr. Moise and Aunty Wainwright. And what had Joe meant? And who was Aristotle? Finny had heard the name before, from Mr. Trent at the bookshop. She would ask him later.

Ten minutes later they were climbing back into Joe’s car.

“Just one more chap I want you to meet, Finn.” Out of the pawnbrokers, Joe’s good humour had returned. “Then how about we go and see the missus and Annie?”



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