The sun was sinking and we were both ready to get home when I looked down the street and noticed something I hadn’t before.
“Look, it’s an old Antique Shop,” I said has I grabbed her hand.
My girlfriend turned her head and nodded.
“yes, that’s pretty cool. Let’s go and see it,” she said a little too enthusiastically to be genuine excitement.
Her voice indicated that she didn’t really want to go, but she knew it would make me happy if we did. Her hand in mine, we turned down the street towards the old shop.
It was a five minute walk to get there, but by the time we did man and his wife emerged from the building. Their hair was white and skin like elephant skin.
“Sorry,” the man said, “we’re closing now,” as he took down a sign that read ‘closing at 6pm.’ There was a toughness in his voice that matched his toned body, I knew he would be the kind of man who would eat you alive if you did something wrong by him. His wife, a well rounded woman who smelt of cheese, was eyeing my girlfriend from head to toe like a dominant wolf, studying her closely.
My girlfriend took a step away, “o-oh, that’s fine,” she stuttered, “we’ll just go home.”
I would have agreed with her and left, but instead I checked my watch and noticed the time was 5:54pm.
“Wait, not yet,” I said, my voice a little too hopeful, “there’s still time, won’t you let us just have a quick look?”
My girlfriend gave me a sideways glance, let’s just go home. The old man and his wife frowned, but complied.
“You best not take too long,” grumbled the man, “only so many hours in a day.”
His wife gave us a very forced smile as we entered.
The inside of the store was packed with old and valuable items from China, India and various European countries. Japanese Geisha dolls smiled at us from the top shelves and Buddha laughed gleefully at our arrival. Old pocket knives and telescopes from the early 20th century sat in a glass box that would shatter if touched. Everything was delicate, and each of our footsteps rocked the entire building.
My girlfriend studied the old dresses with narrow eyes. Once white, the dresses were the colour of urine and tattered, with small frills and flowers etched onto them.
“Imagine all women used to wear dresses like these,” she remarked with disgust in her voice, giving into the nostalgia.
I took a step towards her, “yeah, I’d love to see you wearing that though.”
She rolled her eyes, no way.
I turned around and the universe suddenly turned me cold with the sound of glass smashing. I prayed to God I didn’t break something, but it was worse than I could have thought. On the floor lay a ship covered in the glass of the bottle that once held it. I heard my girlfriend gasp in shock. All I said was, “oh, shit.”
Thundering footsteps came tumbling towards me and my girlfriend. As the old couple peered out from behind an old TV.
“What on Earth,” said the old man. He stopped suddenly and stared at the damage. He spoke, in a voice far calmer than would be expected from him, “I hope you can pay for this.”
I think someone all the way in China would have heard my gulp as I pulled out my wallet and produced a pathetic five dollar bill. My girlfriend had no money on her person either and she held my arm to comfort herself as the old man yelled all sorts of abuse at me and called me things I never knew could be so hurtful.
Apparently, this model was one of a kind. Irreplaceable because it was made by some pirate who, as I was told by the old man, was named Tenacious Mick.
“Tenacious Mick was renown for his seamanship, pillaging and plundering,” explained the old man.
Sounded like a typical pirate to me.
He called his wife in, who covered her mouth in shock at the mess on the ground.
I lowered my head in shame and mumbled an apology when my girlfriend spoke up.
“Look,” she said, “this was an accident, my boyfriend wasn’t looking where he was going and knocked it over. He said he was sorry. Tell you what, we’re both short on cash, but if there’s anything we can do to make it up to you, please tell us and we’ll do our best.”
The old man grinned.
“Usually,” he said, “I have no tolerance for these sorts of things, but I think this might be a special situation. Your boyfriend can certainly pay us back.”
I looked up and met his grin, “yes, I’m listening, how much do I need to pay you?”
My question must have been funny to him, because the old man laughed.
“Not with money, boy. In the spirit of Tenacious Mick you will pay us back in a more traditional way.”
His wife, who was busy eyeing up my girlfriend once more, spoke softly, “Tenacious Mick was a famous pirate for many things. The thing that made him most feared and famous was how he punished his captives. Legend has it that Tenacious Mick was a lover of humiliation tactics, stripping traitors and prisoners down to their birthday suits before setting them free.”
The old woman gave me a smile that made my skin tingle. I felt the old man’s laugh go through my body like wind through trees.
“Well then, boy, give us your clothes or your life!”
I stood still for a good few seconds and tried to find an escape, but the old man and his fat wife were walled between a crusty bookshelf and a dozen dusty Arabian lamps. It became clear that there was only one escape available to me and I began peeling off my shirt.
I pictured the beautiful Geisha dolls blushing at the sight of my body as I handed my red top to the old man, who motioned towards my shoes. I slipped them off along with my socks and handed them to him. In one slow motion, I unbuckled my belt and unzipped my pants, pulling them down to reveal my blue briefs.
The old man and his wife smiled in amusement as I gave over my jeans.
“You wear little little boy underpants,” he scoffed, “you’re a man who wears little blue underpants for boys.”
The old woman scoffed at my girlfriend, “how do you feel that your boyfriend wears such childish briefs, you might as well be dressing him in nappies each morning.”
“Take those off now, so you don’t embarrass yourself any longer,” spoke the old man.
My face was warm as I resisted, “no way, you can’t seriously make me.”
“Then you’re not leaving here,” said the old man.
My girlfriend, cheeks flushed and her eyes looking away from me, put her hand on my arm.
“Come on, just take them off so we can go home,” she begged.
Unbelievable, I thought, betrayed by my own girlfriend. I slipped a hand in front of my manhood while the other pulled my underwear down off my feet.
The old man showed had a toothy grin as he put my clothes onto the bookshelf. His wife was staring at my covered crotch with a face like cold water.
“It isn’t enough,” she suddenly said.
Everyone stopped to give her their full attention.
“The girl, I’ve been studying her pink summer dress and I think it’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. I want it so I can burn it.”
My girlfriend opened her mouth to protest, but the old woman and man gave her a stone cold stare back so she couldn’t get any words out. I watched as she slowly reached for the helm of her dress and, in the spirit of Tenacious Mick, pulled it over her head. She hid behind me in only her white bra and panties, but even those didn’t stay on for much longer when the old woman yelled at her to “strip naked or I’ll come and strip you myself.”
Satisfied with their repayment, the old man and woman rushed us. My arms were grabbed violently as I was pushed towards the door, my genitals and pubes fully exposed to the world before being pushed out onto the street. I was followed by the two bare apple-sized breasts and triangle of neat black pubic hair as the old woman shoved my girlfriend out with me.
I caught her in my arms, both of us naked and scared.
“Go home,” I heard, “it’s 6pm, closing time.”