Me and Glori bummed our way all over Florida, pissass broke, mostly, but getting by because Glori had a gift for squeezing value out of stuff most people thought was crap. There was more to that particular talent of hers than just her charms and good looks– not to shortchange the value of charm and good looks when it comes to selling worthless shit, since all of the time, shitloads of totally worthless shit is up for sale, and nobody would ever buy it if it weren’t for the movie stars and pro models in the ads.
Glori would go to flea markets and estate sales and other places where there were heaps of miscellaneous junk, even town dumps, and then she’d forage through the garbage, hunting for certain intangible qualities only she understood, and when she found what she was looking for, she’d buy it cheap, or grab it up, or steal it, if she had to. I’d look at something that caught her eye, and at first glance I’d think it was not even worth the little she’d paid, or the risk of getting caught, but then she’d point out aspects I hadn’t seen before, and she’d spin out stories, sometimes made up off the top of her head, or deduced out like Sherlock Holmes on a cocaine high. She said she was informed by intuition, and the object had triggered her 6th sense and animal instincts. “Every one of these things has its own spirit, and its own story.” And this sounded like bullshit to me, but really, everything is bullshit, and no one did beautiful bullshit quite like Glori. Some bullshit is worth more than other bullshit, you know. Like once she’d picked up a vase at a county fair, a ceramic piece embossed with a picture of an Eagle flying over Golgotha, though beneath the furious feathering, you could still see remnants of a beard, and hints of a face and star-shaped button on the collar of a fancy uniform. Glori claimed the vase originally bore the likeness of Stonewall Jackson, but the mold had been broken and recast after the South lost.
She would take all of her cheap junk to Miami, or Key West, or Jax, or St. Pete, and sell it for a profit, usually slim, but enough.
She found her most profitable haul at an antique store, like so many other similar shops in the panhandle, and it doesn’t matter what you’d call it, a shit shop by any other name, run by old people as if they were manning a fortress to hold back the passing of time, something to do with passing their own time, whatever was left, more of a hobby than a business, since it couldn’t have earned much, and shops like that were everywhere, some labelled themselves as twice loved treasures, to lure in the romantics and the pirates, or thrice blessed to lure in the pious, or antiques, to put on airs, or junk, to put on a pretense of seeming unpretentious. Glori came across a bunch of decorative cards that sort of looked like tarot cards, but not like anything I’d ever seen before. There weren’t that many cards, just a few scattered ones, and none of them had the usual arcana or motifs. Glori went for them right away. “These things… yeah. These things.” She got so worked up over the cards, she ended up blowing our whole stash on them, and I let her, though I was pissed off, because I knew all too well what would happen if I didn’t. She had that stubborn, way-too-determined look like she was going to come back at night and break in. It’s not like there would be any doubt who had done it, and I didn’t feel like spending years in a panhandle prison, especially over some cards that were pretty, sort of, and pretty worthless, by my calculations at the time; though yeah, I was wrong about that.
We had to sleep in the car for days, and go hungry, and dry, and both of us went through the absolute Hell of nicotine withdrawal, but it made both of us finally quit smoking, which probably was for the best. I was pissed the whole time, but it turned out to be a good deal, in the end. And later Glori told me that her evil step mother used to have a bunch of those cards. Not a complete deck. Nobody had a complete deck, but her step mother had a lot of them, and the cards were special cards, and you could use them like medicine, but like any medicine, you had to use them very carefully. And we had far too few to be any good. All of this sounded more like prime grade A Glori bullshit, but when I saw how much we raked in from the deal in Casadega, it didn’t matter whether it was bullshit or not. I forgot how many cards we sold, and how much we got for each card, but I do recall walking away with something in the realm of 42 grand. Glori had given the grandest pitch I ever heard in my life. It worked. And there was something… I don’t know what you’d call it… about the cards.
Finally, Glori and I had money to burn, but once we did, all we did was fight over who was going to light the match.
My Glori days ended.
Or so I thought. My Glori days weren’t really over, because connections to Glori would linger for a long time to come, through her evil stepmother.
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