Collector's Item

Originally published in Upsideclone
Friday the 17th of August 2001

It had been there for as long as he could remember, pride of place in the dust-edged window of the junkshop. Tubes of thickly-coloured glass snaked and smeared together to create a twisted figurine, glittering blue marbles piercing out from above toothpaste lips and a cherry nose. Its bulbous white gloves were spread palm-open, gesturing to the gewgaws at its feet as if it owned the shop itself.

It seemed to watch him as he passed; not an eye-following trick of design, but a feeling of intention, glassy eyes gazing straight ahead while its mind's eye tracked him from periphery to periphery. It seemed drawn to him, to single him out from the stream of pedestrian commuters, and as the months had passed he had become more and more drawn back to it.

It was a bright June morning when the shop's bell finally jangled at his sidestep from routine.

"How much for the clown in the window?"

It was expensive, more expensive than he expected anything in the shop could be. A rare example of some glass sculptor's art. Very few left in the country. Collector's item. Perhaps this was exaggeration, perhaps the shopkeeper sensed his ignorance, but he felt compelled to buy it, today, whatever the price.

The statuette was lifted from the window display, placed reverently on the wood of the counter. Streams of dusty sunlight glimmered across the marbled top-hat, and its sapphire eyes seemed to tighten and focus.

"And how much for that claw-hammer?"