Jarrod breathes in the familiar musty smell of antique wood and leather as he steps across the threshold of the antique store as he always does after school. Matthias, the elderly store owner, gives Jarrod a customary nod while cleaning his black, plastic-framed glasses.
With his hands in his faded jean pockets, Jarrod strolls through the aisles and stops in front of the jewelry shelf. He stands there for a moment, looking at the pearl necklace inside the glass case and then shakes his head slightly.
“You get any new stock like this that’s a little cheaper, Mr. Mathias?”
The old Hungarian smiles with a little melancholy at the familiar question.
“Unfortunately not, young man, the classics never come cheap even in this day and age.”
As Jarrod scans through the other jewelry, he thinks of his mom who he doesn’t see very often. When his dad died two years ago, Mom had to sell all the fancy possessions they had and she started working two jobs to keep food on the table. Lately, he worries that she works too much. Not like back when Dad was alive; he used to buy her lovely things and he would take her out dancing on Fridays. Between the cleaning job at the hotel and her extra shifts at the restaurant, Jarrod barely sees his mom anymore.
As Jarrod says goodbye and turns to leave, he notices two characters who saunter lazily into the shop. Their grimy clothes and chrome jewelry setting them apart from the store’s usual clientele.
As Jarrod leaves the shop, the one wearing an oversized red hoody picks up an old picture frame and walks over to the counter. He waves a five dollar bill in his hand while his friend, sporting sweatpants and a basketball shirt, hangs back.
Matthias eyes the Red Hoody and squints at the picture frame.
“You gentlemen look lost.”
Red Hoody grins.
“Says four dollars on the tag, old man. Need something nice for my place.”
Mathias continues to look at the customer with hesitation as he takes the note and rings up the item. As he opens the cash register to get the change, Red Hoody grabs him by the collar and pulls the old man onto the counter, holding him down. His accomplice jumps over and empties the contents of the register into a brown paper bag. Then, both of the thieves make a break for the door.
Jarrod hears the commotion inside from the corner and turns around just as the two hoodlums rush out onto the sidewalk, with the old man Mathias feebly crying out for help from within the store. The thieves bolt in Jarrod’s direction, shouting and hollering. Pushing off with his back foot, Jarrod makes a snap decision and football-tackles the thug carrying the bag, driving his shoulder into the thief’s stomach.
The air escapes from the thief’s lungs, and he collapses on the ground gasping for air. He drops the paper bag. Jarrod turns to see the accomplice running around the corner without looking back. Just as Jarrod picks up the brown paper bag, the cops arrive, take the thief into custody, and head off to chase after the other man.
When Jarrod got back to the shop, Matthias had just managed to sit upright in an old armchair. Looking at him, Jarrod can see that the old man has a few bruises and looks a bit shaken, but apart from that, he appears uninjured. Jarrod helps him up and hands over the brown paper bag. The grateful old man shakes his hand and thanks him.
Officer Lee arrives a few minutes later. When she takes his statement, Jarrod asks her and Matthias not to tell his mom about what happened – he doesn’t want her to worry about him.
Later that afternoon, Jarrod’s mom arrives at the local hotel for her afternoon cleaning shift. When she passes the front desk, she notices a strange old box sitting on the counter next to the white Inca Lilies. She wonders fleetingly what the peculiar box could contain, but she shoves the thought to the back of her tired mind as she briskly walks down the corridor on her way to the changing room.
Just as she is about to turn the corner, she hears the receptionist calling after her. She turns around, and sees the young lady waiting for her with the old box in her hands.
“Old Matthias from the antique store brought this in a few minutes ago,” she says.
Attached to the old box is a neatly handwritten note: On behalf of an honorable son, to a special lady and fine mother.
As Jarrod’s mom opens the box, she stands perfectly still looking at the contents – a pearl necklace resting on silk fabric. For a moment she is caught up in disbelief and remembrance. She bursts into tears.
Meanwhile, Jarrod walks up to his house and sits down on the porch to take off his muddy boots. He wipes them off onto the grass as he thinks about the day. He hopes Mr. Matthias is okay and that his mom doesn’t find out about the robbery. Sometimes, he wishes he could provide for his family the way that his dad always did.
As he walks into the house, he bumps against the mantelpiece knocking over his parents’ old wedding photo. He picks it up and looks at his dad in his crisp white tuxedo. How he misses him. Then, his gaze shifts to his mom in her flowing white dress and the beautiful string of pearls around her neck.