Sunday September 3rd2017, Alghero, Sardinia
Ben Williamson ducked into the small antique shop to escape the rain. It was just his luck for the heavens to open on the one day he’d left his raincoat back in the hotel room. Gilly had called back for him as he went to leave, suggesting he take it on his walk just in case. He’d just laughed and told her they weren’t in England anymore. You didn’t have to worry about the weather here the way you did at home. He was wrong.
He stood half in and half out of the shop, beneath the little awning over the entrance. The sky, bright and blue when he began this walk was now covered over in the darkest clouds. The rains looked to have settled in. Going back out there now would see him getting soaked to the skin. He would give it some time and hope it was just a shower. He knew it would not be though.
He turned away from the exit and peered into the shop. It was gloomy. There were not many lights and the window was mostly obscured by the piles of old suitcases the shopkeeper had erected. If it wasn’t for the lack of anywhere else to put them Ben might almost have thought it a deliberate act to prevent light reaching the interior. Could the owner of the shop be a vampire? Ooh, scary.
Ben’s eyes slowly became accustomed to the low level of light. Once he could see detail he was amazed. The shop was crammed. There was so much stuff in such a small space. The space where he was standing, on the doormat just inside the entrance might just be the only place where something hadn’t been placed. The narrow alleyways between the wardrobes, cabinets and other dark wooden furniture were cluttered with an amazing array of knick-knacks; most of which Ben had no clue as to their original function.
To get through to the back of the store he would need to step over any number of small, old and probably very fragile items; all, no doubt, on a ‘you break it, you buy it’ basis. And that was before you counted the number of things suspended from the ceiling. The owner certainly hadn’t made this an inviting place. Nevertheless with the rain seeming to get even more intense outside he needed to find something to occupy his time; and prevent the shopkeeper from throwing him out.
It would be no revelation to the man if he found out Ben was only here to escape the weather but he should at least pretend he might buy something. And he guessed there was always the chance he might find something for a few Euros that could fit inside his suitcase. Despite not being much of a collector, he did have one cabinet in his office back at home that he would put those little items he’d found irresistible over the years. Mostly they were junk, and Gilly had tried to get him to throw them away many times over, but whenever he picked one of them up the memory of where he’d bought it would return to him and he would be happy. He could never part with a single one and, in truth, Gilly knew that.
Ben looked out of the window again. It seemed to have stopped raining. That was good. He’d just about scoured every corner of the antique shop. Loitering much longer and he would have to start paying the shopkeeper rent. He nodded his thanks to the man behind the counter and headed for the door. That’s when he saw it.
He had no idea why it had caught his eye. It certainly wasn’t shiny. Quite the opposite, it was flat, round and made of dull metal. He had no idea why he’d even seen it. He thought about reaching for it; even moved his hand slightly in its general direction. But then he hesitated. His brain tried to fight off his need for trinkets. He didn’t need it, and he certainly didn’t need the ‘Oh God, not another one’ from Gilly.