Home > Blue Christmas (Weezie and Bebe Mysteries #3)(4)

Blue Christmas (Weezie and Bebe Mysteries #3)(4)
Mary Kay Andrews

“Estelle?” He went back to the redhead. “You gonna let her get away with that?”

She shook her head resolutely.

Bob sighed. “You’re killing me. Seven once, twice, sold for seven dollars.”

I smiled and waved my paddle number at him, which he called out to Leuveda, who’d already added it to my total.

“I gotta get out of this business,” Bob said, shaking his head in disgust.

It was nearly four by the time I got the truck loaded. BeBe, I knew, would be champing at the bit to be relieved at the shop. Still I couldn’t resist peeking inside the heaviest of the cardboard boxes as I loaded them in the bed of the pickup alongside the screen door.

The bitter loss of the Sunbeam bread rack to Manny Alvarez was quickly forgotten as I lifted out four yellowed cardboard boxes of Shiny-Brite glass ornaments in their original cartons.

“Yes!” I exclaimed, peering inside the brittle cellophane box-top window at the glittering colored glass orbs. The boxes contained not just unadorned round balls, but rarer, and more desirable, glass figural ornaments in the shapes of angels, snowmen, and Santas. Some had flocked swirls or stripes, and a few were kugel and teardrop shaped. Each box held a dozen ornaments, and all were in fifties colors like turquoise, pink, pale blue, and mint green.

I never bother to read price guides for the things I collect, because these days I buy only when the price is cheap, and I’m never looking to resell, but still, even I knew my seven-dollar purchase was a winner.

Beneath the boxes of ornaments, I unwrapped a neatly folded, if slightly stained, fifties Christmas bridge cloth, with decorative borders of red and green holly leaves interspersed with playing card motifs. There were eight kitchen aprons, all with Christmas themes, ranging from practical red-and-white gingham and rickrack numbers to a flirty red ruffled chiffon number to a starched white organza one with hand-crocheted lace edging and an appliquéd snowflake pocket.

“Adorable,” I said, happily patting the pile of aprons. Beneath them I found a cardboard box filled with dozens of delicate vintage lady’s handkerchiefs, and beneath the aprons, I found the jewelry box Leuveda had promised.

The box itself was nothing special. I’d seen dozens of embossed leather boxes like this one at yard sales and thrift stores over the years. Inside I found the expected jumble of old glass beads, discolored strands of cheap pearls, orphaned clip-on earrings, and inexpensive dime-store bracelets and brooches.

I rifled the jewelry jumble in the bottom of the box with my forefinger, like a painter stirring paint, until something sharp jabbed me, drawing blood.

“Oww!” I exclaimed, sucking my wounded finger. With my left hand I picked up the piece that had stuck me.

It was a brooch. A big, gaudy blue-jeweled brooch, maybe two inches high, in the shape of a Christmas tree. A blue Christmas tree.

My cell phone rang. I looked at the caller ID panel and winced. BeBe. Time was up. She was tired of playing store, I knew. Anyway, I had to get back and finish decorating the shop before getting ready to go hit the holiday party circuit tonight.

“Hi,” I said, cradling the phone between my ear and shoulder as I pinned the brooch to my blouse. “How’s business?”

“Great,” BeBe said unenthusiastically. “Your dog drooled on my shoe. Your toilet sounds like it’s going to explode. But all is not lost. I sold that ugly brown stick-looking table by the door for two hundred fifty dollars.”

“You what?” I exclaimed.

“Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either,” she said, laughing. “And I got cash, so don’t worry about the check bouncing.”

“Two hundred and fifty,” I repeated dumbly.

“Great, huh?”

“Not so much,” I told her. “That was a signed, handmade Jimmy Beeson hickory-stick table from the 1920s. It came out of one of those old lake lodges up at Lake Rabun in North Georgia. I paid almost a thousand for it myself.”

“Oh,” BeBe said. “So marking it two hundred fifty dollars was kind of a loss leader thing?”

“No,” I said sadly. “The price tag was twenty-five hundred dollars. Two zeroes.”

“Whoopsie,” BeBe said. “Look, I’ll make it right with you when I see you. But I’ve got to lock up and go get ready for your uncle’s party tonight. Is it all right to leave Jethro alone until you get here?”

“Go ahead on,” I said. “He used to like to chew on the leg of that table. But that’s not a problem anymore.”

Chapter 4

When I got back to Maisie’s Daisy, I parked the truck and walked across the street to get a better perspective of the shop’s decorations. The fruit garlands and topiaries were tasteful and by the book. And yes, I thought ruefully, Manny was right. BOR-RING!

But rules were rules. And if I wanted to win the historic district decorating contest, I’d just have to be a by-the-book kind of girl.

As I ferried my auction finds from the truck to the shop, an idea came to me. The outside of my shop might have to look like Williamsburg proper, but the inside of the shop could be anything I liked. And that box of vintage Christmas stuff had put me in a funky kind of mood.

I switched on the shop lights, and Jethro ran to my side, planting his big black-and-white paws on my chest. “Not now, sport,” I said, giving him a quick scratch behind the ears. I went over to the pine armoire that hid the shop’s sound system and flipped through my collection of Christmas CDs, passing on the tasteful instrumentals, the Harry Connick, Nat King Cole, and Johnny Mathis selections.

“Here,” I said aloud, sliding a CD into the player. “Here’s what I’m in the mood for.”

It was my all-time favorite Christmas compilation, A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector, featuring all the legendary (and nutty) sixties producer’s acts: the Crystals, the Ronettes, Darlene Love, even the inimitable Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans.

A moment later, Darlene Love’s powerful voice swung into “White Christmas,” done in Phil Spector’s trademark “wall of sound” style, sounding nothing like Bing Crosby, but just right in her own way.

I picked up the boxes of Shiny-Brites and headed for the display window. For the past few years, I’d been buying every aluminum Christmas tree I could find at yard sales and flea markets, but the rest of the world had gotten hip to fifties, or midcentury modern as it was now called, and the trees had become expensive and scarce. This year I’d managed to scrounge only three trees, and I’d had to turn down dozens of customers who wanted to buy them out of my window. Now I flitted from tree to tree, placing the Shiny-Brites on the window side of the trees, where they could be seen by passersby. I interspersed the vintage balls with newer, reproduction ornaments I’d ordered at the Atlanta gift mart in September. With the tiny white flicker lights, they were glittery and wonderful.

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