I’ve done this once before when I needed extra cash; sold my dead mother’s jewelry. I harbor no sentimental attachment to any of it or to any that was given to me when I was a child. Horses are what I value— endearing chestnuts, somber browns, and a couple of scrappy gray ponies. They own my soul.
My hand slightly shakes as I pull open the white washed steel bar door to the Gold and Silver Exchange on highway 550. A nervous tingle seizes me as I notice the numerous security cameras that are strategically placed in the four corners of the ceiling of the small brightly lit room.
The buzz of my morning coffee kicks in jolting me to stand quietly with my arms crossed in front of me. A Hispanic woman with a baby on her hip is before me, selling a gold watch, and some silver earrings. My cell phone rings. I quickly turn it off.
I’m an addict of sorts, as I slide my plastic bag of goods though the bullet proof window pane, and watch as Mike, the owner makes small neat piles of my inherited gold—lining up the chains in one pile, the rings and charms in another.
“You gotta a lot of 14 carats here,” Mike says showing off his straight white teeth, “You might wipe me out today.” I notice no gold fillings in his mouth.
He grins again and steps back to take one of my rings and test it with some acid to see if it’s real gold and not plated. He then takes out his eye glass to examine it more closely. It is a gold ring with a small diamond in the center. It’s smacked up a bit from getting my hand slammed into a door jamb when I was twelve. The ring saved my right index finger from being broken. Mike places it in the 12 carat pile. He then picks up one of my heart shaped lockets.
“I think I am past the stage of wearing hearts around my neck.” I say trying to sound removed, as if it is no big deal that I am selling off my gold. As if I hadn’t contemplated this day for over a year, passing the small unpronounced store front everyday on my way to work and calculating how much my dead mother’s gold earrings will fetch me in terms of buying a load of hay.
Gold and silver criss-cross in front of me. Mike grins again and places the heart shape locket onto the 14 carat pile. The locket is worth more than a dollar, yet it is only a piece of tarnished memory to me. Horseflesh goes for $30 a pound, I have no clue how much gold is going for these days.
This morning when I gathered up my loot and stuffed it in a zip lock baggy, I told myself that I’d be happy with getting enough money to put gas in my truck, but now by the looks of things, I might make out with a couple hundred dollars. I nervously glance around again. The security cameras loom over head and I have a sudden urge to jump up and dance around the room. It is a crazy overwhelming feeling. I shake my head to dislodge the irrational thought and stand quietly, waiting.
I’m now the only customer in the place. I smile again to Mike, and to relieve my self consciousness, I tell him that I ride horses for a living. He cocks his head under the magnifying light, as he examines another one of my charms, and tells me how he has two cats. Loves them like his own children. But still I stammer a confession, of sorts, about how people are dumping their unwanted horses in the mountains. How I am getting several desperate calls a day from individuals, who need to find homes for their horses. I don’t tell him about my anger. I keep it well hidden, masked by a store-front smile that shows off my perfectly symmetrical white teeth from years of wearing metal in my mouth.
I watch Mike continue to sort though my trinkets—trinkets that will put gas in my truck, and pay my bill at the local feed store. And to think when I was twelve, I never thought I’d be in such a predicament.