Chapter 4 Action at the Auction

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The lots swam by in a blur, moving from kids art that only a parent could love to some of the less lovely offerings of local painters that had been examined and found wanting.

John purchased Clemencey’s piece, a painting of what appeared to be a brown cow eating scarlet and yellow grass entitled “The Unicorn”, and made the occasional reputation-enhancing early bid on works by artists he’d patronised in the past.

Much to his relief none of his bids were large enough to win anything. He looked around for Angie and Tim but couldn’t see them anywhere and his heart sank even further. She wouldn’t, would she?

He was dreaming when the auction reached its final stages and paying attention only to the buzz in his head when a voice cut through his inner cacophony.

“And the winner of the silent auction for the anonymous artpiece is John Dennison with a bid of $10,000. Congratulations Mr Dennison, a very generous bid for a painting you haven’t seen.”

Tim Oldhof suddenly appeared at his shoulder, whooping and clapping on the back.

“Well done, mate. Gutsy move. That could be a kid’s finger painting in there!” snorted Tim.

Someone was thrusting a large painting wrapped in brown paper into his hands.“But I… How did?…What the hell is this?” burbled John.

“You’ve won the silent auction, mate!”sniggered Tim. “Everyone bids on a painting but the catch is you’ve got no idea what the painting is. It could be something quite good or it could be something worthless. You won’t know until you open it.”

“But I didn’t!” said John in shell-shocked tones.

“Always the modest one, eh John?” replied Tim.

“As if someone else would write your name down and put such a large amount beside it, “Tim continued. “Just take the credit, mate. Besides, it’s not like you can’t afford it!” And with an enormous, mocking wink, Tim oiled his way out of the hall.

The head of the PTA raced up to John, shaking him furiously by the hand and squealing about his generosity then moving on very quickly to the issue of payment.

John thought fast. Regardless of how his name got there (and it had to be that bastard Not-So- Dim Tim) he wasn’t going to be able to back out now. It’d be all around town by tomorrow and would only cause the rumours about trouble with Vantage Villas to increase. But how was he going to do it? There was nothing on the credit cards. Perhaps he could stave the woman off with the promise of transferring it directly into the PTA’s account.

No, that wouldn’t work, they’d expect it to be there quickly. What would buy him the most time? His drink-affected synapses sparked sluggishly until he finally hit upon the solution.

“How ’bout a cheque?” he slurred. After his meeting with the accountant today, the business cheque book was in the car. “I’ll just go and get my cheque book eh?”

Extricating himself from the PTA chairperson’s grip, he headed unsteadily towards the door, mentally running through what he could sell quickly to ensure the funds were in the bank so the cheque would clear.

Angie was standing in the doorway. He held up the painting and gave her the thumbs up and a drunken smile. For the first time in months she smiled back at him and uttered the first words she’d said to him in weeks.

“You stupid twat,” she mocked and stalked off.

All characters in Remarkables Lane are fictitious and any resemblance to any person alive or dead is purely coincidental…. No seriously, you’re really not that interesting