“No, no, it is not for sale.”
Lee waved his hands frantically at the customer. The customer, a tall American sighed as he placed his hands on his hips. His sky blue eyes darted between Lee’s red face and his object of interest – a blue and gold dragon scale. It was majestic to look at and had an arcane air about it. The American was in complete awe of its splendor. Lee knew that was the only reason the American was still haggling, even after such a long time. He knew the American wanted it badly. The unblemished polish on the scale’s blue body and the striking gold outline could leave anyone wanting.
Lee puffed out hot air, calming himself down. They had been at it for around ten minutes now. It was not the longest haggling Lee had done, but certainly on the longer side. He had been in the antiques and souvenir business for many years. He called his shop The Authentic Antiques. Lee had dealt with tougher customers. Chinatown, where Lee’s shop and house was located, saw many visitors of different ethnicities. They all had their tricks and techniques, which had only served improved Lee’s skills over the years. Lee was proud of his family owned shop. His father had handled it before Lee and his grandfather before him and so on. His daughter would handle it when Lee was no more, and so it would go on. He personally arranged and rearranged all the items in the shops with care. Tea cups, daggers, lockets, fridge magnets – any and all kinds of souvenirs could be found in Lee’s shop. The shop interior was lit in a combination of red and yellow lights, preserving the traditional Chinatown vibe. Lee’s shop attracted quite a few tourists around the year, but the sales had been down for a few months now.
The American had entered the shop half an hour ago. Lee could instantly tell he was American from the way he spoke and dressed. Lee had a knack of figuring out a tourist’s country of origin, it was his job. Upon a polite enquiry, the American had told Lee that he was not looking for anything in particular. However, he added that he wanted something whose origins lay in the realm of the mystical. The American told Lee that he was fan of wizardry and divination and had a soft spot for anything to do with supernatural forces. Lee liked this kind of customers. They usually paid more than usual, as long as they were sold on the story of the antique being authentic. The items in question were dubiously authentic at best, although such customers did not mind that. Lee had fetched many-a-item for the perusal of the American. He did not even give a second look to Quan’s Sword and Guan’s Jade tablet. He had spent some time looking at the black necklace of sorceress Wu Li. However, he decided that he already possessed the pendant of Circe, and another similar antiquity would serve him no better. The American had turned to leave when his sights fell on a dazzling blue and gold item lying on wall shelf. He had asked Lee about it. Lee had replied saying that it was a dragon scale and that it was not for sale. Both the statements had served in piquing the American’s interest. He had walked towards it and requested Lee to let him see it up close. Lee had agreed and let the American hold the scale in his hands. The American held it for a good two minutes, simply gazing at it without uttering a single word. When he had handed it back to Lee, his eyes were twinkling.
“Mr. Lee, how much is this for?”
Lee held his palms up and shook his head to the sides.
“Sir, this is not for sale. It is a family heirloom, brings us good fortune.”
The American smiled for the first time, turning on his charm. Lee had seen this trick numerous times. Customers would shoot smiles at him in order to get a better deal, and Lee had seen the most gorgeous smiles over the years. This smile however, did not even rank in the top fifty percent of those.
“I am sure a decent offer would change your mind about it.”
“No, no, it is not for sale.”
Lee waved his hands frantically at the American. The American placed his hands on his hips and stood undeterred.
“Mr. Lee, you can have five hundred dollars for it.”
“Look sir, I showed you the best antiques I have, and I guarantee these are the best in all of Chinatown, entirely authentic. Would you not like any of them? We could negotiate on a fair price there.”
“I understand you, Mr. Lee. However, I only want the dragon scale. It would be the crown jewel in my collection.”
“It may just be a part of your collection for you sir, but it has a lot more value to me.”
“I understand your sentimentality. I really do. And for that I am willing to offer you a hundred dollars more.”
“Sir, I am telling you that the scale is priceless. You cannot just value it at six hundred dollars.”
The American looked disappointed. He fished out his wallet and removed ten crisp hundred-dollar bills from it.
“Mr. Lee, this is my final offer- A thousand dollars, in cash. Think about it. It is a darn good deal, if I ever saw one.”
Lee tapped his left temple and looked up to the ceiling. The American was pleased to see that his offer was being considered. He waited patiently for Lee to make up his mind. After what seemed like ages for the American, Lee extended his right hand toward him.
The American shook Lee’s hand as he displayed a wide grin on his face. He handed the wad of bills to Lee and quickly snatched the dragon scale. He shook his fist in the air as a sign of victory.
“Sir, please do take good care of it. You are taking a part of my family with you.”
“I will, Mr. Lee. Thank you so much.”
The smile on the American’s face vanished as he turned and left swiftly from the shop. Lee saw him out and checked the time.
“Time to close the shop,”
Lee’s shop was connected to his house via a back door. After locking up the entrance, Lee took the back door and entered his house. His wife called out to him from the kitchen.
“How did it go?”
“It went well. Made a good sale today.”
“Ah! The old heirloom story?”
Lee laughed as he proceeded in removing his clothes.
“Yes, the same old story. Always works like a charm.”
She joined in on the laughter.
“You and your convincing lies! Get ready quickly darling, we are having duck tonight.”
Lee was ready to feast on the ducks his wife had prepared for him.
“You know, I really don’t feel as if I am lying. It is the truth. After all, it is a family thing and it is authentic.”
He lay comfortably on the stone floor.
“Darling, before we have our dinner, could you pluck out one more scale from my back? I don’t like leaving the shelf empty.”
“I will, I will. But only after eating. After all, dragons need their food.”
Lee snorted in agreement letting out a small jet of fire from his nostrils. His huge blue and golden form curled up on the floor, waiting for the arrival of the juicy ducks.