The Royal Mail Delivers


Two young men kissing

But Affectionate Manner

Cal (as he now liked to think of himself) had returned to Charlie’s for the afternoon where they made love in an inexpert, fumbling, but affectionate manner. He went home for dinner as expected. As soon as he could reasonably escape to bed, he went to his room and went straight back to Charlie’s arms. Their technique was much improved that night.

Next morning, Charlie had to go to work. Cal returned home to go through the usual morning evolutions with his family. He then excused himself and went out to “play” thankful that it was summer vacation.

For all of his interest in magic, which had proved worthwhile after all, Cal was an Iowa boy with a certain practicality elemental to his very nature. He and Charlie had a problem. They had no money. Cal had savings, here in Des Moines, but they would do very little good in Vesontio, he would have to convert his savings into something of intrinsic value that would be saleable in Vesontio. And then he remembered the store room over on the next block. There was a bunch of old junk in the back room; the owner had just died, and the talk in the neighborhood was that there were no heirs.

He banged through the kitchen screen door asking for lemonade. He went upstairs and reclaimed his Tacitus just in case he wasn’t able to get back quickly and he ‘bye-momed’ into the sunshine banging the screen door on his way out and over to the next block. He entered the yard from the alley and was quickly into the store room. They’d already explored this small building and found it boring; they’d never entered the main house as that would have been a crime. He saw a large brass candlestick, and gathered up an armload of prints and paintings that were racked against one wall, grabbed the candlestick, and a short Latin phrase later, he was back in Charlie’s room.

He carefully stacked the paintings against the far wall out of the way, gave the candlestick pride of place on the kitchen table, took one painting and went out hoping to make some money.

He sold the first painting, of a long haired boy who must have been a hippy, quickly and easily for £1. This didn’t seem like much; but when told, Charlie was pleased, and it turned out that £1 went a lot further than Cal had thought.


A Large Brass Candlestick

After the first sale, Cal had given some considerable thought as to how to turn some of this stuff into cash; he did not think it would be wise to take the candlestick out at night; it would be wiser to wait until regular business hours and try the antique shops. It was a rather distinctive candlestick and ought to be worth some serious change. Also, he wanted to put some time between each sale so he didn’t seem too obvious or suspicious.

Cal had taken the second item from his stack, the really horrible Nazi poster on a wooden frame. He had read that there were people who would pay good money for Nazi junk so he thought that would be a very saleable item. He took it directly to the man who had bought his first painting and was alarmed when the man dismissed the poster as of “no interest” and sent him on down the street, to a dealer who dealt in posters, signs, and other, well, junk.

That dealer was unimpressed with the poster, insisted he knew nothing about “nasties” and it took all of Cal’s considerable charm and wit to convince the dealer to give him “five bob” for the poster. Cal knew that this amounted to about one-quarter of a pound and was not very much. Nothing like what he hoped to obtain on the Nazi market; dejected he went home to wait for Charlie.

Cal agreed, however, with the dealer. The poster was absolutely ghastly as art. Cal was no great judge of feminine beauty, and made no pretense about it; nevertheless, he was solidly of the opinion that the girl on the poster was about as homely as it was possible to be.

When Charlie got home they kissed gloriously and then Cal grumbled about the sale of the poster. Cal knew about the origins of the poster but neither Charlie nor the dealer had professed to know anything about the Nazis. Cal was having a tough time with the notion that there was anyone on earth that had not heard about the Nazis. How could that be possible?

Charlie did comment that he thought the poster was hideous and he’d never let the thing hang on a wall in his flat.

They laid low in Charlie’s flat the next day making various plans. Among other diversions, Cal and Charlie had a wonderful time in the bath.

Nazi poster

A Really Horrible Poster

Since tomorrow would be Charlie’s payday, they decided to spend some of Cal’s art money on dinner. They went down to their neighborhood trattoria where they had an antipasto salad with anchovies, pasta con vongola, bread and Chianti, with spumoni and espresso for dessert. They went home and grabbed another painting. This was more like the first one he had sold to the dealer. The paint on it was daubed on very thick; it portrayed a man walking on a path. It looked as if there were agricultural fields behind the walking man; but it was difficult to be sure as there was a certain vagueness to the picture. They were off to their first dealer.

On the Road to Tarascon by Vincent Van Gogh

On the Road to Tarascon by Van Gogh
…there was a certain vagueness to the picture