Junk Mobsters Part 5
After returning to the Junk Mobster’s Shop and being invited to pick from The Don’s secret collection, I returned every week to sit and chat with the Mobster Family. La Familia was fierce to outsiders but once those outsiders were accepted, they were treated like family.
On a recent trip I got to be a family member when an Outsider walked in the front door. Mama Mob, Mini Mob and I were talking about a recent theft of some antique bicycles that were chained up, outside, in front of the building. I asked a question and Mama Mob was opening her mouth to answer when the front door swung open setting off the shop bells that would warn of intruders, also known as customers.
Gone were the open and inviting personalities of Mama Mob and Mini Mob. They sat stock still from their perches and stared, with open hostility, at the new person. It was a woman not much older than me and she beamed a bright smile and chirped out a cheery Helllooo!
I turned away from the new person so as to not show the two expressions on my face that were at war with each other- a smile for the same hazing that I had just experienced was now being bestowed on someone else and a grimace for the hoops and hurtles this new person was now about to have to jump through…and over…and under.
I started to walk through the store as I picked up treasures here and there. I heard movement behind me and realized the new person was following closely behind me. As I wound my way through the maze of junk mountains, so did the new person. I immediately recognized this as a “strength in numbers” move and knew she had picked up on my confidence in the fact that there was good junk to be had here and that the mountain of junk would not be swallowing her up with no witnesses to dig her out.
I approached a door that looked like it was barring entry with a big wooden 2 x 4 placed across the door as an old school way to keep people out. From experience, I knew that the door was being held shut by the 2 x 4 only because it would otherwise flap open and closed indefinitely because of the wind. I also knew that there were more mountains of junk beyond the door that looked like SWAT had kicked it on a raid. Just a quick side story- I asked, one time, if the door had been kicked in by thieves and Mama Mob looked at me in genuine cluelessness. “The door,” I said, “it looks like someone took a battering ram to it- the door knob mechanisms are ripped out,” I explained. “Oh, that. It’s always been that way.” And that was as close to an explanation that I ever got as to why the door looked like the aftermath of a crime scene.
I lifted the 2 x 4 out of its brackets and set it on the floor next to the door frame and opened it. I felt a bump from behind and looked over my shoulder to find the new person tailgating me. I smiled and opened the door the rest of the way and let her walk through first.
We shuffled through the piles of junk in silence and when I looked up, she was gone. I shrugged and went back to shoveling through a box when I heard voices approaching. The new person was talking excitedly about a green metal table and was leading the way with Mama Mob trailing behind her.
The new person gestured towards the table and excitedly asked what the price was. Mama Mob leaned towards the table as if to get a closer look and said, “Oh, that one. Let me see… Nope. Not for sale.” Mama Mob turned on her heel and stalked away. The new person jumped into action after being momentarily delayed by shock and ran after Mama Mob while saying, “What do you mean, it’s not for sale?!”
I kept digging, feeling both amused by the situation and sympathetic towards the new person. I heard footsteps again and looked up to see the new person was back. I was surprised that she was still here, but shouldn’t have been. She had changed her tactics and had zeroed in on me.
“Is anything for sale here?! I asked about all kinds of stuff and nothing is for sale! I asked about the green table, the metal chair, the desk and the chandelier! Nothing is for sale! Nothing!”
I knew about her frustration first hand and told her, “Look, don’t give up on this place. Keep coming back. But just know that it will be a while before you’ll be given the opportunity to buy something.”
The new person looked at me and then blinked and said, “I have to earn the right, don’t I?” I asked her if she had this experience elsewhere. She had. She explained that she was from California and the best “picking hole” she had ever found involved an investment of a year worth of her time before the Junk Shop owners would sell her anything.
I heard a whirring noise over her shoulder and looked up into the corner of the room and saw that a video surveillance camera had changed position and was pointed straight at us. I had no doubt that we were being watched and listened to while Mama Mob and Mini Mob kept an eagle eye on us and our conversation.
The new person continued as she said, “These are the best places- the ones that have the most to give and reveal.” I smiled in agreement. “Well,” she said, “I guess I better get started.” She gave me a wink and walked towards the front of the store, full of purpose.
I was done with my shopping and walked slowly behind her towards the front door, getting sidetracked along the way with treasures I hadn’t seen on my way through the first time. I suddenly heard a weird squawking noise and picked up the pace. I turned the corner and saw that the new person had grabbed Mama Mob up in a full blown hug and was holding her a good inch off the floor. Mama Mob’s feet were dangling above the ground and one word came to mind when I saw the look on her face: death. Someone will die for this and there will be no witnesses. The new person was telling Mama Mob in a voice full of sunshine, “I am so delighted I got to meet you!”
I looked towards Mini Mob and realized her hand was slowly creeping towards a baseball bat strategically leaning against a wall nearby. She meant business and I realized that if there were bodies buried under the shop, it was this new person that would soon join them.
I stepped towards the new person who had set Mama Mob down finally and took her by the arm and escorted her out of the store while asking more questions about California. The front door slammed behind us and we both heard the sound of locks being thrown onto place.
The new person looked at me and said, “I think I made a mistake” and walked away knowing that she tried. The new person disappeared around a corner of the filing cabinet maze. I stood in place wondering if she blew my chance as well, when I heard the locks being disengaged in the front door. The door was wrenched open and Mama Mob leaned out and pointed a finger at me. She gave me the look that every hooligan child, past and present, recognizes and I answered with wide eyes and a nod. I won’t tell a soul. Mama Mob said, “Good.” And slammed the door shut again.
I was suddenly plunged into darkness as the exterior lights were extinguished and the open sign flickered off. I walked back towards my car laughing right out loud at what had just happened. I got to my car and opened the door when I heard, “Hello?!” I glanced back towards the metal filing cabinet maze and realized that the new person had taken a wrong turn and was lost. I shut my car door and went to help…
During one visit, Mama Mob jokingly accused The Don of being “sweet on me” when he gave me dirt cheap prices on a whole pile of really great junk. The Don blushed and grumbled and growled out a, “C’mon, girl, I got somethin’ I want ta show ya.” The Don had started to set aside items that he knew I was always looking for and kept his prices low enough for resale.