The remainder Kevin’s ‘orientation day’ went relatively smoothly. Donald led the tour of the shop, which behind the timber framed fascia, turned out to be a labyrinth of small rooms on the two floors above, in the cellar and a large workshop at the end of the yard which showed signs of being used for furniture restoration. Donald explained that he often closed the shop on a Monday to catch up on paperwork, ongoing restoration and attending the odd house clearance and sale.
Every one of the store rooms seemed to be stacked to the ceiling with junky looking furniture and packing cases, however, on the top floor in the eaves was a room which, as Donald explained, contained his most precious pieces. When Donald unlocked the door, Kevin saw a large room with one sloping ceiling and a narrow dormer window to the rear of the building. There was a large round [i]walnut[/i]? table standing on a threadbare but intricate rug in the centre of the room. On the table were velvet lined cases with glass lids which held many fine looking trinkets such as snuf boxes, enamel cameos and jewellery. [i]I wish I’d managed to get up here that night[/i] thought Kevin as he surveyed the large cabinets and cases which lined three of the walls, all of which where crammed with leather bound books, porcelain faced dolls with faded silk dresses and every manner of object that Kevin assumed had great worth to collectors and experts.
Despite Donald’s mainly stern manner and his constant reminders that Kevin was a thief who would reform or live to regret it, Kevin found himself becoming fascinated by the information Donald was sharing about the many interesting items around the shop.
After a lunch of sandwiches and coffee from the takeaway accross the road, Kevin made a point of asking for the back door to be unlocked so he could use the toilet, even though he hardly needed to go when it came to it. The pair went down to the shed at the end of the garden. The workshop, which was the width of the plot, was stacked with chairs, tables, chests and bed frames, most of which looked battered and scratched. Donald pointed to the partially stripped and renovated pieces and explained all of the processes that were required, involving sandpaper, wire wool, white spirit and beeswax, to bring the furniture back to its former glory. When Donald announced that they had seen enough for one day and that Kevin could leave, the lad found it hard to tear himself away from the comforting smells of sawdust and beeswax. “Get an early night lad. You have a busy day ahead tomorrow”
As Kevin dozed on the bus ride home he began to think that maybe this enforced work experience wasn’t going to be too bad at all. Despite his ignorance of many things in this world and scant regard for morality, Kevin had always had an eye for beautiful things and had often admired the hand turned legs and ivory escutcheons of the tables and dressers as he stripped them of their cash, jewellery and easily fenced electrical items.
Donald’s ringtone was by Elgar. Tempted as he was to let the opening bars of ‘Nimrod’ play out he pressed the glowing green button “hello”. “It’s Callum. You still at the shop?” “I’m still here yes” “are you alone?” “Yes” “good. I’ll be there in 15 munutes”
Donald had cleared the pine table and was uncorking a good bottle of Bordeaux when Callum popped his head around the door “I say. Are those Queen Anne legs? Or is it just the cut of those trousers?”. Donald dusted off two late 17th century Viennese water glasses and poured the drinks. That had been Callum’s joke EVERY time he had visited the shop since the pair had met up again over a year earlier. “How was our little handyman today? Everything go to plan?” Donald explained how the day had gone and the unplanned desperation episode. “Now we can’t have any unplanned bladder incidents, however..” Donald watched as Callum proceeded to rifle through his briefcase and produce a small brown bottle and an egg. Donald raised an eyebrow. Callum looked around “do you have a pestle and mortar?” He asked. “Somewhere”” replied Donald. “Good. Go and get it and bring me young Kev’s teacup”
Donald placed the implements in front of Callum who lifted the little bottle and rattled it “Microzyde” Donald shrugged his shoulders “diuretic tablets”. Donald pointed to the egg “Mycrozyde omelette?”. As Callum ground down two of the tablets to a fine powder he explained “to keep our little friend from feeling too comfortable and to make sure that he will have to ask for the key, I thought we could try these”. “I get it, but what’s the egg for?” asked Donald. “Well he’s hardly likely to swallow a couple of these without suspecting something is he?”
Donald sipped his wine as Callum went on to separate the egg white from the yolk. Discarding the yolk in, as Donald noted, a wicker waste paper basket and poured the white into a saucer. He then proceeded to add small quantities of the white to the powder in the pestle to form a thick paste. He pulled a sable paintbrush from his case “watercolours. I dabble” Donald nodded. Callum then painted a layer of the paste onto the inside of Kevin’s cup. “It’ll dry solid and white and stay like that until the hot tea hits it and hey presto! A quick cup of tea and then get Kevin working away at some time consuming job while his kidneys go into overdrive and let the little thiefs own bladder punish him for us” Donald looked slightly concerned “have you tried this before?” Callum nodded “who on?” ” a particularly arrogant court usher in the crown court” Donald looks shocked “did it work?” Callum smiled at the memory “he put up a very brave fight but yes. Spectacularly!”