Short Story Day 146 of 365
Vladimir and Sergei flew in from St. Petersburg to take back their coin. Well, it wasn’t their coin, per se, but their country’s. Only six of the coins were minted and five were in museums and private collections in Russia.
Tsar Nicolas II had commissioned many more of the coins to be minted but for reasons unknown, only six were actually minted.
The two Russians came to America flush with cash and had several high rolling investors behind them. “At any cost” was the phrase the investors used to indicate how important bringing the coin back to the Motherland was.
When the two met their translator in Baltimore before the coin and rare metals auction, they decided to bring him along on their spending spree. Even without the translator’s services, they spent thousands on electronics and nice-to-have-items that were still difficult to find in the former Soviet Union.
Two days after they had fully recovered from jet lag and vodka-fueled parties, they presented themselves to the auction staff, although Vladimir was still nursing a raging hangover. The auctioneer explained how the auction would go down and the order of the items being auctioned. Sergei made sure the auctioneer knew without question that Russia would be reclaiming the coin at any cost.
“Shh, my friend. There’s no need to broadcast your intentions to me or to any other auction goer,” the auctioneer said, “It’s actually quite dangerous.”
The Russians agreed and settled themselves in for the actual bidding war.
The Russian coin was the featured coin for the auction. After 37 coins and precious metal items were bid on and won, the Russian coin was next.
People adjusted in their seats in anticipation for the main event.
Sergei held onto the bid paddle. The translator would write down the figures as the auctioneer called them out.
Exactly 22 bidders were in the room with bid paddles ready. The event was advertised far and wide across the numismatic world.
The auctioneer started at $1000 USD.
Sergei lifted his paddle, as did three others.
All four paddles were still in the air.
One paddle dropped.
One more paddle dropped.
Sergei turned to see who the other bidder was, and looked no further than on the other side of the translator. Vladimir had picked up a paddle from a departing bidder and held it high. His eyes were closed. His head wobbled around as if on a swivel, still nursing a hangover.
Later, after a thorough rebuke from Sergei, Vladimir explained that he just wanted to make sure the coin was brought home for Mother Russia. He was taking no chances.
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