Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Thomas was spending another Saturday afternoon looking for deals. Today it was furniture, specifically something unique to fill the vacant corner by the window in his apartment.

“That’s Ralph Lauren,” he hadn’t heard the salesman approach and he jumped despite himself. The salesman ignored the reaction and continued speaking. “Avalon Lounge Chairs, very nice, very expensive. These two are kind of a matching set.”

Thomas regarded the pair of chairs carefully; indian red leather, featureless seat and back held aloft by a tubular frame which formed the base and arms in a continuous gleaming rectangle of chrome.

It was apparent that one wasn’t quite the same as the other, it was close but there was something a little strange about it.

“That’s a knock off,” Thomas pointed to the slightly misshapen piece, “how much are they?”

The salesman stepped up to the suspect piece, carefully polishing the seat back with one corduroy sleeve. “It’s a novelty, not a knock off. Twenty three hundred for the pair,” he paused, revealing nicotine stained teeth in a practiced smile, “Twenty two hundred cash.”

He didn’t really have room for two chairs, and while it appealed to sense of style to purchase the genuine Ralph Lauren piece, he found himself quite enamored with the odd reproduction.

“How much for just that one?” He pointed to the chair the salesman was now leaning on.

“Two hundred. One eighty if you pay cash.” His tone reflected his lack of interest in pursuing the larger purchase his customer was obviously not going to make.

Thomas was already counting out the bills.

It took the pair of them to carry the deceptively heavy piece of furniture and lift it into the trunk of the Audi, the suspension sagging noticeably as Thomas fastened the trunk lid down with a bungee. It took the promise of a six pack at the apartment to convince the superintendent to help wrestle the chair out of the car and onto the elevator, then down the hall to Tom’s apartment.

Finally in its new home, Tom was surprised at how much darker the chair seemed than in the store. The leather was almost black in the late afternoon sunlight, and decidedly more rubbery than he’d realized. He’d need to find some leather cream to soften it back up again, but that was another days work.

On Sunday Thomas travelled to the nursery, buying a pair of five foot tall indian rubber plants in terra cotta pots. One he placed beside the pseudo Avalon chair, the other flanked it in the other corner of the room.

From the kitchen around a mouthful of beer he could swear that the chair had turned green, and the chrome was reflecting back the terra cotta color in such a way as to almost look like terra cotta itself.

Heating a plate of leftovers in the microwave, he took the food and another bottle of beer to sit in the new chair and wait for his girlfriend to arrive. He finished the food, downed the last of the beer and dozed off.

It was nearly midnight when Jilly knocked at the apartment door and then let herself in. She dropped her purse and keys on the kitchen counter as Thomas entered, rubbing sleep from his eyes.

“Hey baby,” she met him halfway and gave him a quick kiss, “did you get a haircut or something? You look different somehow.”

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