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"So, what happened?" asked Hank.
Uncle Billy ignored the question and slipped into the empty seat next to Eb. "What's the score?"
Eb looked up at the television screen above the bar. "Tigers are up ... four to two."
I took the seat across the table from Billy. "What inning?" I asked.
Again Eb glanced at the screen. "Top of the ninth."
Uncle Billy looked at the TV. "Valverde is closing ... we're cooked."
"Come on Bill," said Hank, "tell us what happened ... are we gettin' a free dinner or what?"
Uncle Billy hailed a passing waitress. "Can I get a glass here?"
"Sure, Hon." She sailed off toward the bar.
Hank shook his head. "Guess that says it all."
I looked at Billy. "Well, Uncle?"
"You tell 'em, Ace."
Everyone looked at me. "It wasn't a valuable antique after all."
A collective sigh went up around the table.
"Boy ... I was looking forward to that juicy hamburger," said Eb.
"What?" said Billy. "You can't afford a hamburger?"
"What happened, Chris?" asked Hank.
"According to Clara, the appraiser said it was probably made around the turn of the twentieth century ... that artisans in India were making these things by the score to sell to unsuspecting tourists."
"They said it was a fake," said Billy."
"How much did you pay for it?" asked Dottie.
"That not our business," Hank said.
Billy shrugged. "Two grand."
"Holy ..." Eb began.
Billy continued. "I'm still not convinced ... that was just one guy's opinion."
"Are you going to have appraised by someone else?" asked Becky.
The waitress reappeared with glasses for me and Billy.
"Thanks," I said.
Billy took his and reached for the pitcher of beer. "Absolutely ... I'm going to take it that joint downtown that deals with this kind of stuff."
"Dumouchelles?" said Becky.
"Yeah ... and when they tell me the truth about that thing ... I'm buying."
Hank glanced up at the television. "And Valverde will save this game, too."
I looked at the screen to watch the winning run cross the plate for the Royals.