Leaving Antique Row, with her black Poodle, Pierre, yanking at the leash, Susan tucked the package under her arm. Beneath the brown wrapping paper were two tall silver candlestick holders. When she saw them standing in the curtained window of Heath and Sons, Antiques, she knew that she just had to buy them. Silly, she told herself, because she already had a similar set, but the urge was so strong that she entered the shop and purchased the reasonably priced items. There were a number of other pairs of holders in the shop, and Susan couldn’t understand why she had been drawn to this particular set. In fact, despite interesting filigree work, they were rather plain looking, compared to some of the newer shiny sets.

There was nothing at all special about the tarnished holders, although they looked quite old, as antiques should. Entering her apartment, she dropped the unopened package on the hall table, and went to her bedroom to change clothes, Pierre following her across the carpet. Hours passed before her mind turned to the package again. She brought it into the kitchen, and cut through the twine with scissors. Unfolding the brown paper, the candlestick holders were exposed to the bright ceiling light.

The lighting in the antique shop had not been adequate to notice the detail that now caught her eye. On the base of one silver holder there was a slight dent and an imbedded stain, barely discernible. Was it blood? Susan knew there was a chemical that could be applied to blood stains to cause a positive reaction.

Whoa! She smiled at this ridiculous notion, something right out of a Nancy Drew mystery that she had been so fond of as a child. Bending over to get the silver polish from the cabinet under the sink, she prepared to work on the tarnish layer. These lovely old candlestick holders would soon replace the pair on her dining room table. Rolling up an old cotton sock, she held it under the faucet to dampen it a bit. She daubed pasty polish on the sock and picked up one of the silver holders with her left hand.

As she did this, a twinge ran down her other arm, causing her to stop its movement in mid air. Try as she would, she simply could not apply the polish to the candlestick holder. Her right arm was virtually paralyzed, when she tried to move it in the direction of the holder. She had no problem raising the arm and returning the cloth to the countertop. Baffled, she picked up the sock again and tried to rub the polish on the candlestick holder. It was not possible.

Now badly frightened, she dropped the sock on the floor and leaned against the refrigerator. Was she going mad? She swung her empty hand about in all directions with no difficulty. She moved to the sink and filled a glass with water, which she slowly drank. Wetting her fingers, she rubbed the cool moisture across her brow. What was going on, she wondered?

Leaving everything as it was in the kitchen, she walked to the living room and picked up the telephone. "Hello, Barry,” she spoke into the mouthpiece, “listen, I want you to do something for me. A favor.”

A few hours later, her brother, Barry, rang the door chimes. Susan checked the peephole and let him in. They hugged. "What’s up?” Barry had no idea why she would call him at the police station in the middle of the day. He was a detective in homicide division. “Are you okay? Why couldn’t you say more over the phone?”

“Why? Because you’d think I was crazy, that’s why.” Next, Susan took her brother’s hand and led him into the kitchen. At first, he saw nothing unusual, but lifted his eyebrows when he saw the sock on the floor.

Then, he picked up one of the candlestick holders and turned to his sister with a puzzled look. “Okay, explain.” he urged her.

“Listen, I know it’s nuts, but I have a theory, and I want you to hear me out.”

Barry pulled a chair out from beneath the table and fell into it. “Shoot! What’s the problem?”

Susan explained about her impulsive purchase. She told him about her aborted attempts to polish the old candlestick holders. Barry listened, with a condescending grin on his lips. He was worried about his sister, but skeptical, too.

When she finished speaking, he rose from his seat and walked to the sock, where it lay on the floor. He picked it up and handed it to Susan. The grin widened. “Okay, kid, show me.”

She hesitated and then took the sock. Picking up a candlestick holder, as before, she tried to polish it. Again, her hand refused to move in the direction of the thing. A determined look crossed her face, as she added force to her effort. The darn sock would not touch the candlestick holder, no matter what she did.

Barry broke out in laughter. “Right! Great joke, Sis. Now why did you really call me to come over? Come on, I’m busy this afternoon.”

Angry now, at his skepticism, Susan shoved the sock toward him, dropping it into his hand. “You try it, darn it,” she demanded, “and see if I’m trying to kid you.”

“Knock it off! Good joke, but it’s over.” Barry placed the sock on the countertop, next to the candlestick holders. “Now let’s get to the problem, whatever it is.”

“You knock it off, Barry. I’m not fooling with you.” Susan’s eyes brimmed over and tears ran from the corners. Shakily, she leaned against the refigerator again.

Now Barry grew alarmed. “Take it easy, Sus. Come on and sit down.” She shook his arm off. “Okay, calm down. I’ll polish the stupid things for you.” He picked up the sock and a candlestick holder. To his astonishment, he couldn’t bring the sock to touch the tarnished stick holder. He switched hands, with the same non-result.

Barry arranged for the chemical test later that afternoon. Indeed, the almost invisible stain was blood. There was no way of knowing how old the stain was, however, and there wasn’t enough of it to use in dna testing. Even if there was, chances are there would be no way of identifying the victim after many years, and with no sample blood.

The detective mused over the problem for a few minutes. Then he turned over one of the holders, and scraped away the worn green felt circle under the base. He was startled to find the inscription, “Revere, Silversmith, 1782”. Indeed, these were genuine antiques. Although there appeared no way to solve the mystery of the dent and bloodstain, the value of these holders had greatly increased.

Returning to Susan’s apartment, Barry reported on his findings. Flabbergasted, Susan took the candlestick holders into the kitchen and got out the polish. This time, she had no trouble at all polishing the pair of quite valuable holders. Left at this, the story would be remarkable enough, but there’s more.

The following Friday was Halloween. Just after supper, the trick or treaters began to arrive at Susan’s door. One of the visitors, tall enough to be a teenager, and wearing no mask, was garbed in the costume of a Colonial Period gentleman. After that group of youngsters left, Susan found an old silver bowl just inside the front door. The filigree work was identical to that on the candlestick holders.


© By RickMack (Rmrickmack@aol.com)

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