Vintage Toys for Lucky Boys, page 1
Vintage Toys for Lucky Boys
Max wasn’t at all what Randy expected of an antiques dealer. Even the shop front blew his mind. When Randy thought antiques, he thought rocking chairs and doilies, not classic movie posters and little-dolly-wets-her-pants. Thinking back, it’s not like Max even sounded old on the phone. Randy just assumed he was old because of his profession. He came to the shop expecting to meet with some old dude in a bow tie, but how could he complain when Max turned out to be young and incredibly buff?
“I’ve got a seller in the back right now,” Max called out as Randy kicked snow from his boots. “I’ll be with you in two minutes.”
“No problem,” Randy replied. His voice sounded way too high. It was embarrassing. He pushed it down and tried again. “No problem. I’m early anyway.”
Max nodded and rushed back into the room at the rear of the shop. As Randy looked around, flipping though vintage bumper stickers and counting the Felix clocks, he felt a hell of a lot more nervous than he had on the way over. He had such trouble interacting with cute guys now. He never used to.
A woman in a hippie skirt and plastic jewelery stepped out of the back room. Flipping her long brown hair behind her shoulder, she called out, “Okay, well I’m outta here. Thanks, Max!”
“Thank you,” he called out with a low chuckle.
She threw her head back, laughing as she walked past Randy. She didn’t take a second look at him, which was always a relief. “Bye bye, beefcake!”
“See you next week, draft-dodger,” Max teased as he returned to the shop floor. Looking Randy up and down with a broad smile on his lips, he tapped the glass counter. “Come and show me what you’ve got.”
Show me what you’ve got? Clinging to his shoebox, Randy felt like a kid trying to sneak a pet rat past his parents. He couldn’t bring himself to look a smoking hot guy like Max in the eye. His lungs seemed to rattle as he walked over. He felt like his gait wasn’t wide enough, but he was afraid of knocking something off a shelf and having to pay for it. Money was tight; that’s why he was there.
When he set his shoebox down on the counter, he accidentally looked up. Max was squinting at him like he’d done something wrong. “I can give you an appraisal, but, just so you know, I can’t buy anything without a parent’s permission.”
A wave of relief came over him. Apparently, this cute shop owner liked to joke around with all his customers. Fine. Randy knew how young he looked. He laughed along, even if it was at his own expense. “Yeah, very funny, man.”
Max smirked and tilted his head slightly, but he wasn’t laughing. “No, I mean I can’t purchase goods from anyone under eighteen.”
As relief brewed humiliation, Randy chuckled nervously. He might as well have taken his box and gone straight home, but that deep, commanding voice in the back of his mind told him, Don’t pack it in! Be a man, Randy! “No worries there. I’m probably older than you are.”
Laughing, Max leaned back on the stool behind the counter and ran a large hand through short bleached hair. “I seriously doubt that.” When he smiled, his eyes glinted like tinsel on a Christmas tree. He challenged Randy, “Go on, then. How old are you?”
“No way,” Max said, crossing his huge arms in front of his black T-shirt. His laughter wasn’t mean-spirited, just incredulous. But, hey, if Randy were in his shoes, he wouldn’t believe it either.
“Yeah way, man. How old are you?” he asked, feeling somewhat like an impudent teenager. Why did he ask? What did he care?
“Thirty-eight,” Max admitted.
Randy shook his head when he realized he’d been staring at Max’s chest, with its gorgeous, surging muscles amply visible under his tight cotton T. He didn’t know what to say next. All he could think to do was tear the guy’s clothes from his flesh, but moves like that tended not to be socially acceptable. Certainly not in antiques shop.
“So, what have we got here?” Max finally asked, removing the top from the shoebox. An awed smile broke across his lips as he gazed inside. “Sweet! I wish I saw more of these babies. Where did you get them?”
Caught up in Max’s giddiness, he replied, “My old boyfriend gave them to me for Christmas about four years ago.” Randy gasped when he realized what he’d just said. Girlfriend. He meant to say girlfriend, even if that was a lie.
When Max looked up from the shoebox, everything seemed to happen in slow motion. His eyebrows cocked in positions of definite interest. His eyes were ice blue without seeming cold. “Nice boyfriend.”
“Yeah,” Randy agreed. The words came racing past his tongue. He had no idea where they came from or why they were so insistent. “Yeah, Brent was a really nice guy. He broke up with me; I didn’t break up with him. We’d still be together if it was up to me, but, you know, these things happen. We’re actually just getting back to being good friends again now. Anyway, before he dumped me, he gave me all these toys. For Christmas. I said that already, didn’t I? I did. I know. Sorry, I’m talking too much. I’ll shut up now.”
Max sat with a huge smirk on his face and his back impeccably straight. Randy still couldn’t get over how huge his arms were. They looked like two great big snow-white cocks.
“You know, I saw this thing on TV, on a science show,” Randy started up again. Why the hell was he still talking? He tried to stop himself, but no use. In fact, the more resonance he developed in his voice, the more he enjoyed listening to himself speak. Even if he had nothing relevant or even interesting to say. Like right now. “Do you know where the word muscle comes from? It’s from the Greek….”
“That sounds about right,” Max interrupted with a deep chuckle.
Thinking back, Randy said, “Actually, maybe it’s from Latin. One or the other. Anyway, the word muscle comes from the word for mouse, because they thought writhing muscles looked like little mice running around under your skin.”
Max flexed his biceps and in seconds Randy’s packer was wet with lube. He could feel it drooling down Mr. Limpy as Max turned his fists in and out. Mice the size of raccoons raced back and forth under his white flesh. Randy had to wonder how much of his arousal was attraction and how much was jealousy. Fuck, he’d give anything—anything—to look like Max. Why couldn’t he be a tall, hot muscle-god? It didn’t seem to matter what Randy lifted, he never put on muscle like that. And he was starting out with a distinct disadvantage.
“It does look like mice, doesn’t it?” Max replied, interrupting Randy’s unachievable reverie of throat-fucking the muscle hunk.
“Yeah, entomology’s funny,” Randy said. He didn’t want to, but he felt himself pressing up against the glass case. He was so damn juiced-up, he let himself writhe a bit against his silicon piece. It felt so good.
“Etymology,” Max corrected.
“Huh?” It’s not that he liked to get off on his own packer, especially not in public, but Max’s ripped body made him horny as hell.
Max stretched his arms far out like a witch on the rack. His muscles twinged as he extended his fingers before bringing them back in and shaking them out. “Etymology is the study of word origins,” he said. “Entomology is the study of insects.”
“Oh,” Randy replied. He could feel his face turning red from embarrassment, and that made him feel like an even bigger fuck-up.
“It’s a common mistake,” Max went on. “People are always mixing up those two words.”
Brains and brawn? Randy was becoming seriously interested in this guy. If he offered him the big bucks for his box of toys, Randy might have to proposition him on the spot. “So, what do you think? Are they worth anything?”
“Worth anything?” Max chuckled, picking one of the wind-up toys out of the box
“I think he said they were German,” Randy replied, picking up his favorite of the little toys—a weird-looking gnome guy with a toadstool for a hat.
“Yeah, they’re German. That’s a definite.”
Setting the gnome dude down on the countertop, he wound the key and the little guy’s arms and legs flailed like an epileptic troll. “His grandfather brought them home after the war. World War Two. That was long before Brent was born, obviously.” Randy trapped the gnome in his hands before it could throw itself off the counter. “Brent was pretty pissed when his grandpa died and only left him a shoebox of toys. They were really close.”
Max laughed, throwing his head back and clapping his hands. “Some inheritance!”
“Yeah, that’s what Brent said.”
“No, I mean it,” Max went on. “Zero sarcasm here. If my grandfather left me a box of pre-war Schuco wind-ups, I’d have opened up my business years sooner.”
A thrill of a chill went down Randy’s spine. “So, you’re saying they’re worth a lot?”
When Max dug into the shoebox, he smiled like Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. He lined up seven of the strange little men side by side on the counter. “I guess you know who these guys are.”
Randy picked up the first gnome, armed with a pickaxe, and wound him up. As he chopped a path across the counter, Randy said, “They always reminded me of, like, a cult of murderous leprechauns or something. Don’t you think they look sort of evil?”
“No,” Max scoffed. Using a toothpick-like pointer, he drew attention to its pink painted-on lips. “Look at that darling little face. He’s smiling at you! How could you think he was evil?”
It seemed odd for a man with so many muscles to use a word like darling. Randy smirked. “I don’t trust people who seem happy. I figure they must either be really stupid or have something up their sleeves.”
“That’s too bad,” Max replied. His expression was pitying, like he took him a little too seriously. Although, Randy meant what he said. Smiley faces bugged the shit out of him. “All right, I’ll give you a hint. What if I told you this set was missing one figure?”
With a shrug, Randy said, “Dude, I have no clue. Brent never mentioned what they were supposed to be.”
Max sighed, shaking his head. He wasn’t going to give up until Randy figured it out. “Just one figure,” he went on like a grade-school teacher. “A female figure. Seven little men and….”
“Snow White!” Of course! He felt like a total moron not guessing it right off the bat. “Snow White and the seven dwarves.”
“Am I right in thinking you don’t have Snow White anywhere?”
Thinking back through the years, Randy tried to visualize the shelf in Brent’s bedroom where he’d put them after his grandfather died. “No, I don’t remember ever seeing a Snow White. What about all those other little ones in there?” he asked, pulling a fuzzy rabbit from the shoebox.
“Oh, those are nothing,” Max replied, waving the rabbit away. Randy put it back in the box. “The animals are a hundred. They all run okay, right?”
“Yeah,” Randy said, though he’d never actually played with them. When Max bent forward to turn the keys on each of the seven dwarves, his intense man-scent smacked Randy in the face. It was a physical aroma, raw but clean, like a hot, soapy shower at the gym. Once that scent invaded his lungs, he didn’t want to breathe out. He wanted to keep it inside him forever.
A slight wave of guilt passed through him when he realized he was selling off Brent’s inheritance. Was it really awful of him to get rid of the lot for… wait, how much? A hundred bucks just for the animals? He didn’t think he’d get that for the whole shoebox.
“If you had the Snow White, I could hook you up with a buyer who’d give you ten for them all. It’s too bad. He won’t purchase an incomplete set.”
Randy mulled the words over, but couldn’t make sense of them. “Give me ten… ten what?”
“Ten thousand,” Max replied without looking up from the last of the gnomes.
Was this place in the twilight zone or something? It was a box of toys, for Christ’s sake! With a pronounced gulp, Randy squeaked a syllable and then stopped to push his voice back down. For someone who didn’t want to seem like a total moron, he was doing a mighty fine job of it. “Ten thousand dollars?”
Max looked him up and down with a forgiving smirk. “Remember, that would be if you had the full set, which you don’t.” He must have been thinking, Not another one of these schmucks! What does he think this is, Antiques Roadshow? “That missing Snow White’s going to cost you. I can offer five thousand.”
If he’d been sitting, Randy would have fallen off his chair. As it was, he grasped the counter to stay upright. This had to be a joke. Someone was setting him up. There was no other explanation. A bunch of stupid toys couldn’t possibly be worth so much.
Randy was utterly at a loss for words, which seemed to make Max think he’d caused offense. “Oh, I’m sorry. I always assume everybody wants to sell. Were you just looking for an evaluation?”
“No!” Randy cried. He clutched at his chest, but of course he couldn’t feel his heartbeat under so many bulky layers of clothing. “No, I definitely want to sell. Jeez, I was just hoping for enough to get my mom a cordless drill for Christmas. With fifty-one hundred, I could fill a workshop.”
Winding his way through the animals, Max asked, “Fifty-one? Your math’s off, little dude.” Counting up the “cheap” toys, he said, “At one hundred a piece over here, you’ve got a good sixty-five coming to you, if you’re sure you want to sell.”
“Oh, I do, I do,” Randy said, suppressing the urge to do his happy dance all around the shop. This must be what brides felt like on their wedding days—like they were set for life.
“Good,” Max replied, so calmly Randy wanted to shake him. Kiss him? Maybe. “Honestly, there’s not much to these little guys, but with the holidays coming people will snap them up like nobody’s business.”
Kiss him? Definitely.
Reaching across the counter, Randy grabbed Max by the scruff of his thick neck. Everything went slow-mo as he leaned in for the kill. When his eager lips came within two centimetres of Max’s, the muscle-god turned his head downwards while Randy was still moving forward. He smacked Randy’s chin with his nose, causing him to look down just as his chest met the lineup of toys. In one swift motion, Max put his hands out to guard the wind-up windfall, but in the process his built forearm met Randy’s chest.
He’d never moved so fast in his life. In fact, Randy could hardly fathom how he’d managed to get from one end of the shop to the other—without breaking anything—in about three seconds. All he knew was that he couldn’t catch his breath. His whole body seemed to be shaking as he shielded his chest with his arms, staring with alarm at a very still antiques dealer.
When Max spoke up, Randy was sure he knew everything. “I’m really sorry, man. I didn’t mean to…” he chuckled nervously. Was that a nervous chuckle? Or was Randy reading too much into it, as usual? “Just protecting your treasures.”
It seemed like ages before he could breathe again. How could Max possibly have felt anything? He couldn’t have. Randy was bound tight as the foot of a Chinese empress. God, what a terrible comparison. Why would he think a thing like that? He must have picked it up online somewhere, from one of those forum-lurking degenerates. Why was everybody an ass-face except him? He shook his head. “Sorry. I’m just a little jumpy. I don’t get as much sleep as I should these days.”
Max placed each toy gently back inside the shoebox before grabbing a photocopied form and his checkbook from the back counter. A checkbook? Damn it. He figured it would be two hundred bucks tops for the shoebox. He’d get a couple fifties and be on his way. He’d have to think on his feet now. “So, if we’ve got a deal, I’ll just get your personal information, and we can finish up our transaction.”
Transaction. Trans-action. God, he knew. He knew everything. Randy could feel the sweat trickling down his pits and wetting his binder. But how could he take off with sixty five hundred hanging in the balance? He was overreacting, as usual. How could Max possibly know?
“Randy,” he replied softly.
Max chuckled as he leaned over the form. “I know your first name. What’s your last name?”
“Oh,” he hesitated. He cleared his throat and tried to hit a deeper pitch, but his alarm raised it up and up. “It’s Venner. V-e-n-n-e-r.”
Randy sounded like a girl when he replied, and that made him hate the process. It almost made him hate Max for asking the questions, but not quite. There was something about Max that seemed really accepting. He walked a little closer to the back of the shop, so that he reached the counter just as Max announced, “All right, now all I need to see is a piece of photo ID, and I can write you a check.”
The sweat that had all but evaporated came back like a tidal wave. Randy went corpse-cold. How could he get around showing ID? He didn’t want to leave without a check in hand. The price seemed too good to be true. He pushed his voice down. “Actually, funny story. I don’t actually have any photo ID. I don’t drive, so no license, and I don’t travel, so no passport.” He tried to sound smooth as he chuckled, but he knew he was coming across as criminally nervous.
“Okay,” Max said with an understanding nod. “Well, legally, I do need to collect personal information and see ID in order to make the purchase. Do you have, like a student card and a credit card, or a… I don’t know. What’s in your wallet? ”
A sense of desperation overcame Randy as he realized he’d never get his hands on the money for his mom’s Christmas gift. The last thing he wanted to seem was argumentative, but a sense of irritation built like a volcano in him until he burst with, “Why do you need to see my ID? I don’t get that. What, you don’t believe Brent gave that stuff to me? You think I stole it or something? Is that what this is all about? Because I am not a crook.”