The sign on the door said “Cash for Gold” which is exactly what Wanda needed. Before leaving, that brute of a husband of hers (soon to be ex-husband, if the paperwork cleared next week) had cleaned out the joint account, leaving her with about $100 until next pay, a gold wedding band, an engagement ring, and a pile of bills. She figured there had to be a little something in those rings and hoped it would be enough to get her through this little slump. The court date was set for next Tuesday and she planned to take the note from the bank manager that showed when and how much Andy had taken out. She was thinking of all the other documents when the man spoke. “Can I help you, miss?”
“Ack!” was what she managed to squeak out, having walked right by him; she thought he was a statue. “Um, yes! I’d like to sell these two rings, please.”
The man took his loupe from inside his sweater and pulled the engagement ring close to it. “This jewel is fake.” He looked up and saw the tears forming in Wanda’s eyes and quickly cleared his throat. “But no matter. The ring itself is of good quality.” That brought a slight smile back to her face. He placed it gently on the black velvet mat and looked at the wedding band. “This too is of decent quality. Give me a moment.”
As he moved behind a curtain, Wanda began to look more carefully around the shop. She noticed the sign over the doorway through which the man had disappeared that said simply, Beware. She suddenly felt light-headed as a heavy scent of pine wafted through the shop. A sound of laughter made her jump—the first show of the night at the theater in the adjacent block had just let out and the revelers were walking by the front door. Her attention was brought back to inside the store by melodious tones coming from behind the curtain. “Hello?” She called out.
There was no answer, save the singing she’d heard. It suddenly got louder as the man came back into the store. Instead of his rumpled sweater he was wearing official-looking robes. In his hand he held a very sharp-looking dagger. He smiled at her with a look of joy. “For seven hundred years I have served them,” he said, moving toward her. “I have watched my friends and family be born and die, again and again. I did what they said: I read the passings of the birds. I did a good job; I have been a faithful servant, one of the best they said in all of antiquity. But I’m tired. I need to leave this place.”
Wanda had backed away and had ended up in a dusty corner with nowhere to escape; he appeared to be much older than her but there was no way to tell. He had said seven hundred years! she thought as she eyed the knife in his hand. “Who are you?”
He smiled with a look of relief on his face. “My name is Henry dear child, but they call me the Augur.”
Written for today’s Flash Fiction Chronicles daily prompt.