"Old pawn jewelry is just the best," the little blonde chick with the tramp stamp in the shape of a dragonfly exclaimed. She waved the heavy silver and turquoise cuff he'd just handed her in the general direction of her boyfriend, a pimpled, dyed-black little boy wearing an Army-issue jacket.
"What's the difference between that and the shit you bought at the Governor's Palace?" the boy asked, popping his gum and looking bored as anything.
Kelvin wanted to growl, wanted to tell the little fuck that his silly girlfriend held a piece of someone's life in her hands, something powerful. Meaningful.
He didn't snarl, though. They couldn't know what he knew. They never would.
Instead, he drew a calming breath and smiled. "Old pawn means that the jewelry was a family heirloom, not a modern reproduction. That bracelet, for instance, runs about two thousand."
The girl's face went blank with what he thought of as sticker shock, and she carefully set the bracelet back on its black velvet bed. "Two thousand dollars?"
"Well, I admit. It's an unusual one. It's Navajo point work, it's got nearly a pound of silver in it, sterling, and it's signed by a local artist who was rather famous a hundred years ago. All of that raises the price. I have some nice 1950s pieces in this case that run between sixty five and one fifty..."
By the time she and the greasy little boy left, Kelvin had made a sale, and the day was, if not looking up, not a total loss.
Santa Fe was a crapshoot that way, especially when you were off the beaten track. If your store wasn't on the plaza, or somewhere near the big hotels ... Well.
Kelvin's little shop had been his grandfather's, and while town had encroached, and it wasn't exactly a trading post anymore, the place was still a ways out of town, next to a truck stop and a café that served things like blue corn pancakes. There wasn't much in the way of New Age salons and crunchy-granola vegan restaurants, and that was what pulled the tourists in.
He had three more customers before closing time, and the last, a pair of blue-haired snowbirds, were still trolling for bargains when it was time to lock up.
"I don't polish the old pawn," Kelvin was saying when the bell over the door jingled again, a long-legged cowboy walking into shop.
"Uh..." Kelvin tried to focus on the old lady's faded blue eyes, but he couldn't seem to take his own eyes off of the man who stood just inside the door, doffing his hat and turning it in his hands. Over and over.
"Right. Well, if you polish it before your client indicates whether they want you to, it's like refinishing antique furniture. Some people say you're removing a layer of history. There's a whole school of thought that you ought to leave the echoes of the past on any object that has meaning."
He gave the couple an ingratiating smile, trying hard not to overplay his hand. By the time he left and he locked the door, he'd sold them three hundred dollars in old dreams.
The cowboy had hardly moved, except for those brown hands turning that hat.
"Am I getting locked in for the night now?" the man finally asked, smiling a little. Lines crinkled up around the most shocking pair of blue eyes that Kelvin had ever seen.
"Only if you want to," Kelvin replied with a wink. Then he sobered. "I'm happy to stay and help with whatever you need. I just needed to lock up so I don't get anyone else in."
"All righty, then." The cowboy nodded, shifting from foot to foot. He was one of those guys who had skinny legs, all the way up to his neck, and he wore Wranglers that fit like a second skin. He reminded Kelvin of the late Chris LeDoux, including the eye lines and the aw-shucks smile.
"So, what can I do for you?" By force of will alone, Kelvin kept from adding things like, 'suck you?' or 'lick you all over?'. He did love a cowboy.