The inside of the green case was still quite dry and lined with bright red velvet. This was not what I had been expecting (I thought it was going to be all old and seaweedy and gross). Inside the case were three things. I took them out and placed them on my bed.
I grabbed a notebook and pen and wrote down what I saw:
List of Stuff in the Green Leather Case
1 x collection ticket: “Bondi Pawn Shop - present this ticket to collect item 000A1FJ”
1 x black square thing (about the size of my hand). Has a hole in the middle.
1 x old cassette music tape
I also drew what I saw - as I felt like the descriptions in my notebook were a little vague.
Lionel: I had never seen a cassette tape before. Turns out it’s an old 80s thing that was used to store music. If you wanted to listen to a particular song on a tape you couldn’t just play it straight away. You literally had to fast forward and rewind until you somehow managed to find it.
“I wonder if that’s all there is inside this case? Could this thing have a false bottom, like in the spy movies?” I asked Lionel, shaking the case forcefully.
“Here give it to me,” said Lionel as he took it from me and started inspecting it carefully. He shook his head firmly and said, “No, nothing else in here, just those three things”.
We both looked at each other. Lionel suddenly yawned.
“Well Leonie, I’m off, I need a break.” he said.
“Whaa?” I exclaimed. “A break? But Lionel, what just happened back there? I mean, what’s going on? Why did the skywriting numbers open up the lock on this case we just found? Don’t you think this is all very strange?”
Lionel shrugged, “Maybe, but it’s family dinner tonight and I need a rest before that starts.” He started walking away, then stopped and turned back towards me.
“Hey,” he said. “That number 31773. You know, if you look at it upside down it spells ‘Ellie’. Maybe you could write that down in your notebook.” He then turned around and walked out.
Lionel was right. It was family dinner that night. It was the one night each week (Thursday) where both Mum and Dad made an effort to be home for dinner. It was also the night where Lionel and I both got asked a thousand questions about what we’d learned at school, or what we’d done that day. The main thing I was dreading that night was getting asked about our Spanish progress. Although I actually knew the answer to that one. Nada.
Lionel: Thursday evenings are hard. Especially for me. Luckily Leonie talks enough to cover us both.
My mind went back to the green case that was sitting on my bed. It looked like it was about 100 years old and the stuff it had inside looked like random old junk.
I wondered. How had the case ended up on the rocks that morning? Had someone dropped it from the cliffs above by accident? Had someone wanted to throw it into the sea to get rid of it? Had it fallen off a ship, or maybe even from a plane? Who did it belong to?
I figured the best way to find out the answers to those questions was to investigate all three items in a calm and methodical manner. Just like Sherlock Holmes would. I looked at the items on my bed.
I picked up the black square thing and examined it carefully. It was thin and bendy and the hole in the middle was partially covered by a kind of shiny black plastic. It reminded me of x-ray film. Even on close inspection I had no idea what it could be, so I put it aside.
Next was the cassette tape. We didn’t have a cassette tape player in the house, but I knew of cassette tapes and I knew they played music. I’d have to get hold of a player before I would be able to hear what that one was about. So I also put it aside.
The pawn ticket however, that was clearer. I’d never been inside a pawn shop before, but I did know a bit about them from Agatha Christie books. From what I could piece together, it seemed as though people who really needed money handed over their expensive item, say a diamond ring, to the pawn shop. In return the shop owner would loan them some money and hold onto the ring. Later on, the person could then either choose to pay back the money and get their ring back, or the shop would sell it off to someone else.
I looked at the collection ticket again. It read: “Bondi Pawn Shop - present this ticket to collect item 000A1FJ”. I turned the ticket over and read the back of it. It read: “Money required at point of collection $0.00”.
Given my entire life savings at that time were sitting at $15.20, I found the dollar amount on the collection ticket to be quite comforting.
I sat on the bed and thought some more. It seemed clear to me that someone had handed something over to the Bondi Pawn Shop, and that the shop had issued a collection ticket back. Bondi was just next door to Tamarama. Maybe all I had to do to get hold of the mystery item was to turn up at the shop and hand over the collection ticket. That all seemed a bit too easy to be true, but I decided it was worth a shot.
And what was this mysterious item I wondered? Perhaps it was a huge diamond, or an ancient musical instrument or maybe an old painting by a famous artist!
I suddenly heard my name being called out. I looked at my watch and saw that it was 6.30pm, time for family dinner. I placed the collection ticket in the front pocket of my backpack and put the other items back inside the case. I then locked the case back up and placed it up high in my wardrobe, away from sight. I thought it best to be ultra careful. After all, I was finally on the case!
Lionel: On the case of the green leather case. I like what you did there.