Henry Hackett stood in front of the greeting card section of Kirlin’s Gifts looking for a birthday card for his wife, Joanna. He found the perfect one for his wife who was a cat lover. The card had a photo of a cat sitting on a cake with the caption: Who Needs A Litter Box When You Got Cake. Satisfied that he found the perfect card, he went over to the glass cases and looked at all the figurines. He wasn’t sure which figurine to buy for his wife’s birthday gift. Even though any one of them would make perfect gifts, they just didn’t seem likely candidates for his wife’s vast collection of collectibles.
“Can I help you?” the sales clerk asked.
“I’m looking for the perfect gift for my wife.”
“Let me know if I can assist you.”
“I will. I’m sure I’ll find something,” Henry said and turned around and saw a large display of stuffed animals. Sitting in the middle was a group of cats. He grabbed the orange and white calico cat and inspected it.
“They’re called “Bag of Beans.” They’re very popular right now.”
“Joanna loves cats. I’ll take one of each.”
Joanna sat at the front of the kitchen table surrounded by her two daughters and Henry. She had just blown out the candles on top of her birthday cake celebrating her thirty-eighth birthday
“Does mommy want a big piece?” Katie, her youngest, asked.
“I guess I can take a day off from my diet.”
“I want a big piece too,” Lacey said.
“We all can have a big piece,” Henry said.
“Then we can open presents,” Katie said.
“Let’s eat the cake first. I don’t want frosting to get on her presents. They’re collectible,” Henry said.
“I love that word,” Joanna said.
After they enjoyed the cake, Henry brought the gifts over to the table. He handed her the gift bag. Her eyes widened as she pulled out five “Bag of Beans” stuffed cats. She was instantly in love with them. She had found her new collectible, her new obsession.
“Do you like them?” Henry asked.
“Oh, yes. I need to go on the internet to see what other ones are in the set. I have to have them all.”
“Mommy’s going to max out daddy’s credit card again,” Lacey said, giggling.
“Daddy, mommy has that look in her eyes again. Just like when she bought all those porcelain dolls in the living room,” Katie said.
“Oops, I think I created another monster.”
Joanna wasn’t listening to them. She was already on the internet searching the “Bag of Beans” website. She discovered there were twenty two of them so far and three of them were already retired. She immediately went on Ebay and did the buy now for the three retired ones at fifty dollars each.
The next morning, they were at Kirlin’s Gifts. Joanna’s basket was filled with one of each of the remaining “Bag of Beans” that she needed. She walked over to the cash register and placed the basket down.
“When are you getting your next shipment in? The website says there are eighteen new ones coming out.”
“We are expecting the next shipment on Friday. Plan to be here hours before we open. The dealers will be here trying to grab them up to resell. First come first serve. Limit one of each.”
“You hear that honey, we are going to have to camp out in the parking lot Friday morning. I must have them all.”
“Unfortunately, I know the drill,” Henry said sadly.
Friday morning they arrived there at three a.m. There were already forty some cars in the parking lot with a line of people sitting on lawn chairs on the sidewalk. He hoped that there was enough of the “Bag of Beans” to go around. A lady with long gray hair and thick glasses was in front of them. Joanna spent the next hour learning everything from the old lady about the “Bag of Beans” and all the new ones coming in the next few months.
Ten a.m. came several painful hours later; the store let two people in at a time. By the time they got in, there was only a couple of new ones left. The old lady had given Joanna a list of all the stores that sold them. They spent the next few hours hitting every store looking for the new ones. He was tired and couldn’t wait to get home for a nap, but that wasn’t in the cards for him. There were still many stores to go to. The nightmare wasn’t going to end anytime soon.
Several months went by, and the display cases in the living room were filled with the “Bag of Beans”. For every animal he saw at the zoo, there was a “Bag of Beans” version of it. One display case had over sixty of the tie-dyed cat. His wife still tried to convince him that, because no two of that one was alike, she had to buy each one she found for her collection. She had spent thousands of dollars on the collection. There was no end in sight. The company seemed to be releasing twenty new ones every other week. Many store chains were coming out with exclusives. There had been a couple of the bears that were released in limited quantities that the stores were charging four times the regular retail price for them.
Joanna had made friends with Eleanor, the old lady she met at Kirlin’s Gifts, and spent everyday shopping with her going from one gift shop to the next.
“Henry, you have to see this,” Joanna said pointing to the computer screen. On the screen was a dark red bear with a royal crown on its chest. “It’s Princess Kate and it’s an exclusive bear in England. I must have it. Some sellers are already selling it for two grand.”
“I think that’s extreme.”
“It’s worth it to a serious collector.”
“Trust me. One day we will be finding these things at garage sales for a quarter,” Henry said jokedly.
“No, like baseball cards they will keep their value. One day we might be able to sell the collection to pay for our daughters’ college tuitions.”
“Sell the collection? You would never do that.”
“Obsessed,” Henry mumbled as he left the room.
The next day, after hitting every gift shop in the area, Joanna and Eleanor stopped by Eleanor’s house to have a cup of coffee. As they were talking, there was a knock at the door.
“Could it be here already?”
“What could be here?” Joanna asked.
“Princess Kate. I had it shipped from England,” Eleanor said excitedly and ran for the front door. Before the delivery man could react, she grabbed the package away from him. She closed the door on him and ripped the package open.
They both stared at the treasure within the package. Princess Kate was the most beautiful collectible that they had ever seen. They felt like they were in the presence of real royalty. The bear’s shiny red fabric was smooth to the touch and the tag on its ear was in the shape of a crown. Eleanor grabbed an empty plastic casing from her shelf and slid Princess Kate into it. She opened up her display case and placed it on the top shelf in front of all of the bears.
Joanna was jealous. Her friend had one she didn’t possess and she wanted it. She would have to be very resourceful to trick her husband into buying Princess Kate for her willingly. On the way home she would go back to the mall and visit the lingerie shop. She would buy the sexiest red teddy along with the scented strawberry body spray that drove Henry crazy. She would drop her daughters off at her mother’s for the night. After tonight, he would spend whatever it cost to get her a Princess Kate of her own.
After a night of passionate love making, they cuddled. She could tell he was completely happy. She looked him in the eyes and with a huge smile she told him about Eleanor’s latest addition to her collection.
“I knew it! The sexy lingerie and everything. You want Princess Kate and you thought giving me sex would get it for you.”
“Well, did it work?”
Henry sat for a few seconds and with a devilish grin looked her straight in the eyes. “Tell you what. I’ll get it for you if you promise me another night like this.”
That morning, he was on Ebay trying to win her Princess Kate. Everyone he tried to bid on he got outbid at the last second. They were going real high. The last one went for over three thousand dollars. He did a search on all the retail websites, and it was sold out everywhere. He was afraid to tell her he couldn’t get her the bear.
When she returned home from picking the kids up from her mom’s, he told her the bad news. That night she lay in bed staring at the ceiling. Where was she going to find the bear? She needed that one to complete her collection. Without it her collection would be worthless; a shadow of a collection compared to Eleanor’s.
That morning, she met up with Eleanor at Life Lessons Gift shop. They were expecting a new shipment. A group of the older husbands were in the shop looking around. The owner walked out of the backroom carrying several bags of the “Bag of Beans.” Each bag contain thirty-six of each of the new ones and one bag of the new bear that only had ten. The husbands looked at each other in a panic. The bear was the one their wives had sent them there to get. Joanna, sensing there was trouble, grabbed Eleanor’s arm and held her back. Within seconds, the crowd of husbands rushed at the owner, and they grabbed the bag of ten bears away from her.
“I need that!” one of the husbands said and pushed another one out of the way. Another husband was thrown to the ground almost crashing into a toddler who was sitting in his stroller.
“That one’s mine!” another husband screamed and punch another guy in the face. Within seconds, there was a huge fight and one of the display cases of porcelain figurines fell to the ground, the figurines shattering into tiny pieces.
Joanna and Eleanor tried to stand back from the fight, but a guy crashed into Eleanor. She fell over hitting her chest against a display case.
“We better get out of here,” Joanna said, and they both raced out of the store.
As they walked away from the store, Eleanor started to breath heavily and grabbed her chest.
“Eleanor, are you all right?”
Eleanor collapsed. Joanna got on her knees. She wasn’t breathing. She tried giving CPR, but it was too late. She was dead. She sat there in shock until a voice in her head snapped her out of her trance. If she’s dead, she has no use for Princess Kate. With a smile on her face, she opened Eleanor’s purse and grabbed her keys. She looked around and saw that nobody witnessed her robbing her friend. She got up and ran for her car, never looking back.
As she drove for Eleanor’s house, she formulated a plan. She could never let her husband know she owned her dead friend’s Princess Kate. She could never display it. She would have to hide it in her underwear drawer. She pulled into Eleanor’s driveway and prepared to enter the house to grab her prize.
Later that day, she sat in the kitchen drinking a cup of coffee. Her husband walked in, coming home from work. “How was your day?”
Trying to hide the huge smile on her face, she said, “Eleanor died today.”
Katie Hamer says
Wow, you captured the nature of obsession perfectly. So sad.