Authors: Gillian Larkin
Lost And Found
still don’t understand, why would that man with the funny beard want a unit
full of women’s underwear?”
didn’t take his eyes away from the television screen. He said, “I’ve told you
this before, he’s making the other bidders go higher so that they’ll have less
money for the other storage units that come up later. Then he’s got more chance
of getting them at a bargain price. Pay attention, Grace.”
why would he do that? Why doesn’t he just let the other person have it?” Grace
gave a firm nod towards the screen and said, “It’s business, it’s all about
was silent for a moment as she watched the action on the screen. People
nodding, some raising a finger, some even arching an eyebrow as the bids went
higher. She frowned and said, “Why would anyone want that underwear anyway? It
might be,” she gave a small shudder, “used.”
the fun of it.”
Grace gave her brother a concerned glance.
carried on. “They can sell the underwear in a shop or online. It’s the boxes
behind that people are interested in.”
squinted slightly. “But you can’t see what’s in the boxes.”
shot her a smile and said, “Exactly! It could be anything. Treasure or rubbish.
It’s like a treasure hunt.”
folded her arms. “More like a gamble, I don’t understand why people would waste
their money. I bet there will be socks in those boxes, stinky old socks.”
but there could be a valuable gun wrapped up in one of them, you just never
pointed the remote at the TV. “I’ve watched this one before a few times,
there’s something else I want you to see.”
leant back further into the sofa. Frankie was obsessed with these TV programmes
about storage auctions. He seemed to be watching them all the time. She didn’t
mind, it was nice to see him enthusiastic about something again since the
accident. But did he have to get her involved?
already knew the answer to that. And she already knew that she would be going to
a storage auction with him the following day. She had to, for the sake of her
clicked the remote until he found what he was looking for. “You’ll enjoy this,
Grace, I recorded it yesterday. Have you got any lager left? You soon went through
those two cans.”
went through two cans? I certainly didn’t. It was you. You come over here and
eat my food, you drink my lager and mess up my shower! Get your own lager.”
held the remote up at her as if warding her off. “Whoa! Steady on. You invited
me over, remember? I’m quite happy to stay in the stockroom over the shop. And
it was you who insisted that I use your shower.”
gave him a pointed look. “You needed to use my shower, you were starting to
wasn’t, how could I? I had a shower last week. Anyway, I can’t get the lager,
said, “I’m sure I’m capable of fast-forwarding a programme, give me the
pulled the remote protectively to his chest. “No way. You don’t know what
you’re looking for. Get me a slice of that pizza whilst you’re in the kitchen.”
glared at her big brother as she stood up. He was looking at the TV again but
she could see the sides of his mouth lifting slightly.
returned a minute later with the requested items. She looked down at Frankie.
Oh no! She had seen that look on his face before. She turned her attention to
the television. Yes, as she suspected, Frankie’s hero was on the screen.
took the offered items without moving his eyes. He opened the lager and took a
big gulp, his eyes still not moving from the screen. “Look at him, Grace, isn’t
he awesome? Look at how he deals with everyone, he’s such a professional.”
sat down, she tried to keep her smile in. Frankie looked like a lovesick
teenager. She said, “I’ll buy you a poster if you like, then you can stare at
him before you fall asleep.”
without moving his head, Frankie lifted his phone up towards her and said, “No
need, I’ve got his picture on here.”
did smile then. The photo was of Frankie standing next to his hero, Sylvester
Sylver. In the photo Frankie had such a big grin on his face that his eyes had closed,
Sylvester smiled like a professional. Grace looked closer. Was there an actual
twinkle radiating off Sylvester’s tooth?
got some unread messages,” Grace pointed out.
I know. Grace, watch Sylvester. He’s the best auctioneer in this programme. I
think he’s probably the best auctioneer in the world. I can’t believe we met
him! Do you think he’ll be there tomorrow? Do you think he’ll remember me?”
recalled how star-struck Frankie had been when they’d met Sylvester at an
auction the previous week. “I’m sure he’ll remember you.”
phone beeped as another message came through.
can’t just ignore your messages, I’ll read them out to you,” Grace said. She took
the phone and tapped the screen.
Frankie leant over and ripped the phone from her hands. “Don’t, Grace, please!”
studied her brother, the blood had drained from his face. He looked down at his
phone as if it were a messenger of death.
what is it? What’s going on?”
shook his head and tried to smile. “Just an ex-girlfriend, nothing important.”
stuffed the phone into his pocket and turned back to the screen. Even the
Hollywood sheen of his favourite auctioneer couldn’t bring the sparkle back in to
knew he was lying but she wasn’t going to push him. She said, “Tell me more
about Sylvester Sylver. Why has he come to England to do auctions? I wouldn’t
leave California if I were him, look, that storage unit facility is right next
to the beach.”
nodded, “I asked him that. When I met him last week. He said he wanted a
challenge, he knew all the buyers in America, he’s been to all the states. He
said he could almost guess what would be in each locker by the state he was
visiting. He told me that he wanted to see the history that England had to
offer, see what treasures could be found.”
like he opened up to you.”
gave a proud nod and sat up a bit straighter. “I think we could be friends. Did
I tell you I’m on his email list?”
did. Why does he dress like Elvis Presley? That silver shirt he’s wearing even
has the collar pulled up.”
snorted and said, “He looks nothing like Elvis Presley! He’s got his own unique
stuffed the pizza into his mouth, followed by more lager.
didn’t say another word about Sylvester, but he did look like a silver-haired
Elvis, no matter how much Frankie denied it. She had expected him to burst in to
song when he’d hosted the first auction that they went to.
what did you do with that money?”
money?” Frankie studied the picture on his can of lager.
money that we made from our first locker? The coins that I found? You know,
those old coins that made us £23,000?”
an over casual voice Frankie said, “Oh, that money. I’ve got it somewhere.”
didn’t like the tone of his voice, or how he was looking too intently at his
hope the money is in the bank, you know we’ve got debts to pay off.”
Frankie waved his hand dismissively, “I’ve got a better idea of how we can use
that money, one that will make us rich.”
heart sank, she was used to Frankie’s dreams of riches, and that’s what they
were – dreams.
me what you’ve done with the money,” she said.
beamed at her and said, “I’m going to invest it.”
what? Stocks and shares? Oh, Frankie, don’t tell me you’ve given the money to
some dodgy investment broker.”
something better. I’m investing the money in our new business,” he said, his
chin jutting out.
heart sank further. She knew what new business he was talking about but she had
to let him say it anyway. “What new business?”
opened his palm towards the TV screen, “The storage auction business, I’m a
natural. We’ll use our money from the coins to bid for more lockers. We’ll fill
up the shop with quality items, and I just know we’ll find more valuable things
like those coins, I can feel it in my water. Oh! Talking of which, I need the
toilet, too much lager. Won’t be a moment.”
jumped up and headed out of the room.
sank even further into the sofa, she was going to end up disappearing in to it
at this rate. She felt drained, she didn’t even have the energy to remind
Frankie to put the toilet seat down when he’d finished.
couldn’t he use the money to pay off some of their debts? Eddie Tominski, their
friendly neighbourhood loan shark, was breathing down their necks for the
£50,000 that they owed. It was part of their father’s enormous debts, something
they knew nothing about until after he had died, along with their mother, in a
car accident. The debts had been so high that they’d had to sell the family
home and belongings. All they had left was the family antique shop. Eddie had
threatened to take that away too, unless they paid the £50,000. They had one
week left to pay.
phone beeped as a message came through. Grace looked over at where he’d been
sitting, it must have fallen out of his pocket.
was all that nonsense about an ex-girlfriend? She didn’t know anything about
that, he was up to something. Grace had no qualms about reading the message.
soon wished she hadn’t.
wasn’t a nice text, and it wasn’t the only one.
were many texts from Eddie Tominski.
even put a link to a newspaper article. Grace knew she shouldn’t but she
clicked on it anyway.
stomach heaved as she read, ‘Local man kills himself and wife, tries to kill
daughter too. Medical reports show that Mr David Abrahams was driving whilst
had seen the article, and ones like it many times.
was all lies! Her dad would never have put them in danger. How dare Eddie
Tominski send this to Frankie?
rage began to build in Grace. “I’ll show him,” she muttered to herself. “He’s
taking our shop over my dead body!”
returned to the room. “Hey! I told you not to look!”
waved the phone at him. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t want to worry you, I can deal with Eddie,” Frankie puffed his chest
out. “I can take care of everything.”
saw the stubbornness in his face, she also noticed how tired he looked.
stood up and said, “You don’t have to do this on your own, let’s go for it!
Let’s start our own storage buying business!
brave front soon disappeared when she saw the crowds gathered at the storage
locker facility the next day. The crowd did not look friendly, even less so
when Grace and Frankie walked over to join them. Grace heard mutters of,
‘Newbies,’ and ‘Time wasters.’
mumbled to Frankie, “If looks could kill, we’d be the walking dead.”
gave her a wink. “Ignore them, they were new once. Remember your poker-face,
Grace, and let me do the bidding.”
mouth twitched. Frankie had insisted on them practising their poker-faces so
that the other bidders wouldn’t know when they were interested in a locker.
Grace almost laughed out loud as she remembered seeing Frankie practising in
the bathroom mirror the previous night.
Sylver walked over to the crowd.
couldn’t help but admire how the older man carried himself. He beamed at the
crowd, his brilliant white smile lighting up the overcast sky. The twinkle in
his eyes matched the sequins on his gold shirt, it was pulled up, Elvis style.
looked sideways at Frankie, he was returning Sylvester’s smile as if it was
meant just for him. She nudged him and hissed, “Poker-face!”
tried to regain his composure but it was a struggle. He whispered to Grace, “He
remembered me! When I went into the office to sign in, he remembered my name!”
snorted, “Well, you have become his number 1 fan, or stalker if you carry on
began to talk. “Good morning, folks! And what a beautiful day it is! Above
those clouds the sun is shining brightly. Great day for an auction! Hello to
our regulars, and our new bidders, you are more than welcome!”
turned his smile towards Grace and Frankie.
felt a thrill run down her back, she felt like she was being addressed by
royalty. She gave herself a quick shake to get rid of the ridiculous feeling.
continued, “Most of you know the rules but I’ll say them again. You get 30
seconds to look in the room, absolutely no one must enter, not by a nose, not
by a whisker. I’ll throw you out if you do! Whoever gets the highest bid wins
the locker. Don’t forget that I’m the auctioneer, I get the final say, no
arguments. As always, it’s cash only. No cheques, no skedaddling off to an ATM.
And no payments in kind! I’m too old for that.”
were a few chuckles amongst the crowd.
we ready?” Sylvester called.
a cheer boomed out.
sighed and looked at the ground. So much for a poker-face.
first locker was opened, the crowd made a line and moved forward.
are you smiling?” Frankie asked as they joined the line.
said, “I was just thinking how good the British are at queuing, look at
everyone, patiently waiting their turn.”
smiled back at her. “Are you having a good time, Grace? It’s good to see you
didn’t say any more but Grace knew he was thinking about her breakdown, the one
she’d had following her parents’ death. She thought for a moment and said,
“Yes, I do feel better. Now, let’s get our serious faces on. We’re
nodded. “We are, I just hope this first locker isn’t full of underwear like we
saw on the telly last night.”
moved forward, Grace couldn’t make out the mutters of the people in front of
her, were they interested in the locker or not?
was Frankie and Grace’s turn to look in the locker.
and push up bras awaited them.
and Grace burst out laughing.
unprofessional,” said a voice behind them.