T. Frederic Alfred Knowles parked his new Ford Sunliner convertible near his intended destination. He left the top down, despite the neighborhood looking a little seedy. It was getting the near the end of summer anyway, and the new model would be out soon – if anything happened to it, he reasoned.
He did not often leave his shop for these types of visits, today was slow and he hoped to get some firsthand information about an interesting competitor. As one of (if not “THE”) premier estate and antique shops in Hoboken, T. Frederic Alfred Knowles began to hear of another store. A store near the river where things, well, were often a little run down.
Yet more and more of his customers have talked about the interesting things found there, things with history. T. Frederic Alfred Knowles had to find out the charm of this place. What would cause his clientele to travel from their comfort zone to this run down, smelly area?
He found a reasonable place to park on River Street and walked his way to Fourth. He took his suit jacket and folded over his arm – certainly didn’t want his custom tailored jacket to be pilfered by the local riff raff. He watched the local workers watch him as he walked. He worried about his leaving the roof down, but knew if someone were to steal it, they would cut through the “rag top,” as it was called.
He turned the corner onto Fourth Street and there it was, as his customers told him. A little tiny storefront huddled in the midst of all the warehouses. It was, in fact, the only business that was actually on Fourth Street. All the larger buildings faced on the North – South streets. Not this little antique place, he thought.
He paused in front of the non-descript wooden door precisely at 4 Fourth Street. The sign read, “Nevets Purveyors of the Mysteries of the Universe Since 4.” Sighing, T. Frederic Alfred Knowles opened the door and stepped inside.
The door led to a small antechamber lined with a bench on either side. A large door with a brass grate led to the inner store. Knowles had been warned by all of his customers that admission required removing one’s shoes and placing them on small shelves above the benches. As irritating as this was to Knowles, he complied. He wore his old Florsheims especially for this reason.
As he stood and placed his shoes on the shelf, he heard a click and knew the door was open. He pushed it and stood before a smiling Sikh dressed in a brown robe.
“Greetings, Effendi, welcome to out humble establishment. I am your servant Samir. How may I assist you?”
“Samir, is it? I am T. Frederic Alfred Knowles of the…”
“Mr. Knowles, it is an honor to finally make your acquaintance. Mr. Nevets always said we should make our way to your exemplar establishment and introduce ourselves. But alas, we have been short-handed here. Our most ardent apologies, Effendi!”
“I am glad to meet you as well, Samir. Is Mr. Nevets available?”
“Again, my greatest apologies. Had he known you would be arriving, he would have made the greatest effort to be here. He is, unfortunately, on a buying trip and out of the country.”
“Too bad, Samir. Perhaps when he is back we could make arrangement to have tea sometime?”
“Excellent suggestion, Mr. Knowles! As it is, I am quite sure Mr. Nevets would like me to personally escort you on a tour of our store. It would be the greatest honor!”
“I would be the one honored by such a thing, Samir. Please, lead on! Do not be afraid to leave me if some business presents itself, however.”
“You do me great kindness, Mr. Knowles. For now, let me direct you here.”
Knowles examined every item Samir offered him. I would never display these treasures in such a horrid way, he thought.
Knowles stopped when he saw a large jar. Inside he saw lumps of a yellowish green material. “What is this?”
“Ah, Mr. Knowles, you have found one of our older inventory items. This was sold before we were able to afford the business you see today. This was originally sold to one of the Wise Men that visited the foretold prophet.”
“You sold this?”
“Well, obviously not me personally, Effendi. This sale enabled the founder of our company to finally open. The problem was, the mother of the great prophet returned the myrrh.”
“What? I have never heard that.”
“Ah, it was true, Effendi. The mother was forced to leave her home and run to Egypt, she needed the money.”
“I can’t believe the Virgin Mary would sell a gift from the wise men.”
“Is it harder to believe than a mother would not do anything to save her family?” Samir asked.
“I hadn’t thought about that.”
Samir led Knowles to a large case with the plaque, “Not For Sale” in the center at the top.
“These are some of the many treasures we have acquired from the many regions,” Samir proudly announced. Samir opened the case allowing closer examination.
Knowles could not help but stare. One thing particularly caught his eye. It was a crown.
Samir smiled when he saw Knowles reaction. “Ah yes, the Dragon Fighter’s Crown.”
“Dragon Fighter’s? Is this from the Orient?”
Samir shook his head, “It is from a place far more distant.”
Knowles looked at Samir, who nodded. Knowles reached in and lifted the crown. He examined the inside, looking for any kind of a trademark. He saw a little strip, rubbed his thumb across the surface of it trying to see some sort of mark. He felt a vibration. The “letters” glowed red. He wiped at it again with his thumb and felt a stronger vibration.
Knowles looked to Samir. “Did you hear that?”
“Hear what, effendi?”
“Well, it, it vibrated.”
“Hmm,” Samir answered.
“Perhaps I should try this on, Samir.”
“Perhaps,” Samir agreed. “I think it would be wise, however, to put on the suit that comes with it, first.”
Knowles nodded his head, “And how much is this special suit, Samir?”
“A suit made as well as the crown itself, noble sir, is worth more than mere dollars.”
“How much, Samir?”
“It would be my pleasure, effendi, to offer the suit to you, since you are in the business and I can justify such a huge discount, to you for merely one hundred and fifty dollars.”
“One hundred and fifty Dollars! In all my days I have yet to spend such a huge some on any article of clothing.”
“Perhaps Mr. Nevets would not be too angry at one hundred and twenty-five dollars.”
“I see your little game here, Samir. Offer to let me try on the crown with some cock and bull story. Only, I should have the proper attire or something first. Sorry, Samir, I will not buy the ‘special’ suit no matter what the cost. Can I still try on the crown?”
Samir bowed, “Ifyou wish to, good sir. I merely have tried to make sure you will be comfortable doing so.”
Knowles sighed. “Fine, thank you for thinking of me.”
Knowles held the crown in his hands and placed it on top of his head. He felt the vibration again, although much stronger. Hs vision grew blurry and things went black.
Samir looked at the pile of clothes on the floor with Knowles stood just microseconds before. He sighed, found a laundry bag and placed Knowles’ things inside. He left the bag next to two others, one marked “Gibson” and the other “Blake.”