She picked up the dirty pink, ceramic elephant looking at a piece of masking tape wrapped around its trunk marked two dollars and fifty cents. She set it down and fingered the fuzzy, lime green ric rac that lined the edges of the lamp shade. It was in pretty good shape so the tape on its cream base showed five bucks. Why did all this junk smell the same, she wondered. Dust must permeate into the fibers of all old things, she reasoned. She wasn’t quite sure why she was there. She certainly wasn’t there to buy anything.

It was a cold November day, no snow, but lots of wind. The clouds just seemed to roll right over the sun; they made sure the sun wasn’t permitted to warm the brisk air. She usually took Highway 95 home from the beauty salon in Uptown, but for no apparent reason that day, she took a two-lane country road. That’s where she saw the sign, Fox Den Antiques, “Where one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” The store was in a large metal garage, the type where tractors are usually stored. The large garage door was down, but the wind tried its best to break in, rapping at the tin. She shivered hearing the wind whir through the cracks in the door. She noticed a basket of postcards. “Aloha from the shores of Honolulu…” she read. She looked around to see if anyone would notice her reading the back of the card. What’s the point? She knew what it said. “How are you? Things are great—couldn’t be better, and having so much fun.” That’s what they all said. She laid the postcard back in the basket, thumbing through the others, not seeing the beauty along the coasts, but feeling the loneliness inside.

She knew how those trips really were. “Darling, why don’t you take my credit card and go shopping, no limits.” I’d buy my baby the world, right?” He’d bat her on the butt and wink at his associate. “Go on. Oh, and hon, my meeting will run a little late tonight, so treat yourself to a feast. The hotel has great room service, I hear.” Again, he’d share a knowing look at his partner to match their devious smiles. It didn’t take her long to figure out where she fit into his world, or rather where she did not.
Above a shelf, she noticed the depression glassware: goblets, pitchers, plates. Some were peach, some pale pink, others green, just like the set her grandmother had given her mom. She traced the rim of the green pitcher with no intent, just feeling, trying to remember what happened to it all after Mom died.

“Oh!” She looked down and a little boy with messy, matted hair chewing loudly on a bright pink piece of bubble gum had rammed right into her. He had lost his balance, fell, and was lying across her shoes.

“I’m so sorry,” his mother said, not looking up at her. “Tommy, I told you to be careful,” she scolded, pulling him back up and pushing him down the aisle.

She wondered if her boys thought of her. They came home for Christmas and two weeks in the summer, but even then, she saw them briefly. It had been the “set-up” since they were five. By birth, they were her boys, but there were no ties, no emotional bond just the economic strings that their dad provided to keep them there, giving them the “best education.” She wished she would’ve cut those strings years ago.

She had been walking down the aisle daydreaming, trying to forget her world of expensive trinkets that she still owed money on, touching the dusty treasures at the Fox Den. At the end of the row was a coat rack filled with various specimens from many decades. There was a navy blue, naval peacoat with its stripes still on the shoulders and a thin, mid-thigh leather coat, with a wrap-a-round belt. She didn’t see a price on either. The little boy, Tommy, poked his head between the coats and stuck out his tongue. He was really quite cute and he thought he was funny, but she couldn’t bring herself to smile. It hurt too much to see children, reminding her of her own that she never got the chance to know.

She threw a fake fur shawl around her shoulders wishing she had purchased this one instead of the $8000 mink coat she left in her Lexus. What mistakes she had made. At first Roger took care of her bills, but after the newness of the affair wore off, he said she’d have to take care of her bills. He’d pay for her penthouse, so they’d have a “posh” place to screw, plus a monthly stipend, but all her credit card debt were up to her to pay.

She looked at Tommy’s oversized jean jacket as he played with the fringes on a Mexican poncho, then disappeared between the coats. She sighed, wishing she too, could disappear.

“Saturday Night Fever. God, Andy Gibb was hot,” she said aloud as she lifted the record album from the box of records on the floor. Slowly she ran her fingers across its surface, leaving two clean tracks in the dust. To be young again, she thought. She would have done things differently, no doubt about it. Oh, she had the life, she would never deny that, but the loneliness. She felt so degraded. After knowing what she knew now, she’d give up her diamonds, the Lexus, and all her designer clothes to be back in her mobile home with her little boys. She used to call it the ‘tin crap on wheels,’ but now, it was the only home she wanted to go home to.

She walked over to the table with all the jewelry in plastic trays and the tagboard sign labeled, “Bargain bin.” Light blue, plastic bead necklaces, chunky, red bracelets, rhinestone clip earrings with the faded gray metal surrounding the stones were thrown together in the tray. The plated silver which had worn off the rhinestone earrings leaving just the ugly tarnished metal, reminded her of how she felt: stripped of all beauty, overused and no luster left at all. She looked down at her ten caret total diamond weight bracelet on her left wrist and her emerald tennis bracelet on her right. What did they prove? That she was damn good in bed and could pick a rich bastard! A rich bastard, that’s all he was. He didn’t lover her, never did. Oh, but he told her he did; she stirred things in him Ellen never aroused. “You’ll be my special lady,” he’d say. She wasn’t anybody’s “special,” she knew. If she left, he’d find somebody new to screw and he’d support her, too. She picked up a tag from one of the trays that had fallen off one of the plastic necklaces. One dollar it read. She wrapped the tag around both her bracelets she slipped off, and set them in the tray. They meant nothing to her and it felt good to just throw it away. She knew it wasn’t significant because she could race out to buy two more just like them, but maybe Tommy’s mom would find them and that would make her smile.

Her pager beeped. Damn, it was five-thirty, she saw on the Busch beer clock on the wall. Roger was probably wondering where the hell she was. She was supposed to be home, so he could get a quickie before he actually went home to Ellen. Before she walked out the side door, a white wooden jewelry box caught her eye. It looked like one she had when she was a little girl. She opened it and a little ballerina with a pink tutu popped out. She wound the music box and set it back on the shelf. The ballerina pirouetted and she was lost in her own thoughts listening to the simple notes of the song. She wished her life wouldn’t have gotten so complicated. Why did she choose to sacrifice her pride, prostituting her body for a little glitz and glamour when the things she longed for and treasured were what she had to start? Someday, she’d walk away, she promised herself she would. But for now, she had enormous bills to pay and she had become accustomed to her high-society lifestyle. She needed Roger, even though it was just to fill her pocket book, not to fulfill her life. Her pager beeped again. She quickly closed the box and left the garage, heading off to meet Roger.