Fiction — December 10, 2014 11:40 — 1 Comment

The Magic Red and Blue Pin – Jim Brantingham

I was minding my own business having a quiet beer in a busy tavern. A woman with a strong Russian accent approached me with boxes of jewelry. The jewelry was allegedly made by Russian orphans presumably in Russia. She was an exceptionally beautiful woman with long gorgeous black hair, so I mistakenly engaged her in conversation. I’m a lifelong sucker like that.

I told her that I had no wife and no girlfriend to give the jewelry to so she was wasting her time. She was persistent and continued to show me her boxes of brooches, pins and lockets. I reminded her that I still had no wife and no girlfriend to give the jewelry to. But she would not relent. That, I’m told is a sign of a successful salesperson.

I tried to engage her in conversation about things other than the jewelry in the boxes. I tried to talk about Russia, about which I know nothing. I tried to talk about other customers who might be better prospects. I was struck by her beauty and, no doubt obviously, did not want her to leave—but I didn’t need any jewelry. Her maybe, but the jewelry, no.

At last I noticed a pin or maybe it’s a brooch that looked something like a lady bug, but it was blue with red spots. I told her that it reminded me of a skirt I had picked out for my kids’ mom before we were married—it was blue with red cherries, so we’re close. That was another mistake. She leaped on that ill-conceived statement like a brown bear on spawning salmon. I also made the further mistake of telling her that I was going over to Spokane to see my kids and maybe her the following day. That was her moment of triumph. I could see it in her eyes. She had me. I talk too much.

I’m sure it’s clear by now that I bought the brooch or pin—I really don’t know the nomenclature here. I think I gave her $10 for it. So she made $10/hour for the orphans in Russia. That’s over minimum wage in Washington.

I did drive to Spokane the next day with brooch in pocket. I met one of my kids and his mom at a restaurant in the Spokane Valley. His mom stood up to show me the skirt when I walked in and to my shock and amazement she was wearing that same blue and red skirt—a skirt I hadn’t seen in years.

How did his mom know to wear that skirt, of all her choices? Did the Russian woman know it was to be a birthday gift? I don’t know, but sometimes magic is afoot in this world. And I hope, but doubt, that the Russian orphans got their $10.


Jim Brantingham has been publishing poetry, short stories and translations since 1969. More recently, he has been published in Crab Creek Review, ZYZZYVA and is a frequent contributor to The Monarch Review. He has published 3 short books through Seattle Small Books (On Ancient Paths, Ritter’s Crime and The Winnowing Fan) and is currently finishing a 4th book titled, Traveling Light. Two sons and two grandchildren light up his life.

One Comment

  1. Jed Myers says:

    Very enjoyable tale! Thanks, Jim!

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