Archive for June 30th, 2011

Fortnightcap: What I Bought

What I Bought

A Fortnightcap by DL Thurston

Creative Commons License

This weekend we went to the Northern Virginia Brew Fest, which has nothing to do with this story except that it’s where we were driving home from when we stopped at the antique store.  It was a few miles off Route 7 in towards Old Town Herndon, an odd, narrow store that looked like a single town home divorced of its fellows, just a place that we found on a whim trying to find something else to do on a lazy Sunday.  The inside of the store was the inside of an antique store.  Old furniture topped with old tzotchkes, paintings of disappointed relatives that no one is actually related to, photos of Civil War generals.  Mostly, I noted, Confederate generals.  What can I say, northern Virginia is still Virginia.

It was among the photos that I saw it.  I think I’ve written about the Thunderbird photo on this blog before.  It’s the most famous photo that never, apparently, existed.  I’ve seen it described various places as one person standing over the corpse of a massive bird, three people, four Civil War officers.  People claim to have seen it in one book or another.  I myself remembered seeing it in one of those old Time Life mysteries of the unknown series that I used to love reading as a kid.  I remember it clearly, three men were on a small stage, they had the thunderbird at their feet, and had their rifles resting on their shoulders.  That’s the photo I know I saw.

That’s how I recognized it immediately.

I called my wife over, and she couldn’t believe what we’d found.  There it was, the Thunderbird photo just sitting in an antique store in Herndon, Virginia.  I looked for a price, but couldn’t one.  Only item in the store that didn’t have a price, and of course it’s the one I wanted.  Not that there was really a wrong price to finally prove that the photo is real.  So I took it up to the counter and asked what the owner wanted for it.  She looked confused, didn’t recognize the photo, didn’t remember getting it, and said it should have a price already on it.  She shrugged, and said ten bucks.

I tried not to look too excited putting down the twenty, getting my change, and walking out of the store.  It wasn’t until I was sure that the front door closed that I ran to the car.  There it was, in my hand, in my car, in my possession.  It really was exciting.  I put it on the back seat and headed home with plans of scanning it, potentially reselling it to someone who would recognize what it was.

When we got him, I reached to grab the bag, but it wasn’t there.  Figuring it had slid off the seat, I dug around, but for the life of me I couldn’t find it.  I’ve dug my car up three times now, careful as I put things aside, throw things away, but the little brown paper bag is gone.  And the photo is gone with it.  I’ve tried to find the antique store online, but they don’t have a website, and they’re not on Google maps.  Maybe I’ll try going back there this weekend, see if they remember getting the photo.  See if I left it there, though I know I didn’t.

The photo exists.  I swear it exists.

And just as soon as I find it again, I’ll make sure to post it.

Fortnightcaps are biweekly experimentation into short form fiction. All Fortnightcaps are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. So if you like the story, please feel free to link people back here. And if you didn’t, maybe the one in two weeks will be better.

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