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Tina handed Bette her smoothie as she walked around the desk. She stood behind Bette and leaned over to see what all the excitement was about. On the computer screen was a picture of a building with Segal’s Deli written across the top. ”What’s this?” She inquired taking a long drink of her smoothie.
”James thinks this is the same building in the script,” Bette said with some skepticism.
”It is… I am sure of it.” James exclaimed through the phone.
Tina raised her eyes and sounded stunned. ”You’re telling me — it’s real?”
Bette reached over and pushed the button that put James on the speaker. She then looked up at Tina. ”It was… It appears to have closed several years ago,” Bette paused. You read the script. We found that the descriptions of Brighton Beach were very accurate. It took me awhile to figure it out by only using the internet and descriptions in the script, but it appears the author knew the area very well.”
”I tried to find the author, but it looks like the writer has a common name. Facebook, Twitter, you name the social media platform and I searched it.” James’ disappointment could be heard through the phone.
Tina leaned on Bette, ”Wow, this is amazing.” She paused, ”The script was found in a reject box. We don’t keep information for scripts we are not going to use. I am surprised we found it. Most reject scripts are either sent back or tossed.” Tina took another sip of her smoothie. ”We have to be careful about plagiarizing ideas.” Tina paused, ”Did you find anything else.”
”James, tell Tina what you found out about the story.” Bette’s gaze up to the side was met by Tina’s inquisitive wide hazel eyes.
”Give me a quick summary of the story. I only got a synopsis of it and that was a year ago.” Tina requested.
”Okay. So, the story basically is about a painting that was sold to a Jewish guy in Coney Island in the 40’s. He buys it from his son’s friend to help him out. The friend brought it from France after the war. The man liked odd looking art and had boxes of shit he had collected over the years. Anyways, the Jewish family moves to Brighton Beach and opens up a Cafe. The man puts up his shit to decorate the Cafe and one of things he puts up is the painting he bought in Coney Island years earlier. Fast forward to the 90’s and a Russian guy comes into the Cafe. He likes the picture and offers an absurd amount of money for it. Of course, by this time the guy who bought the painting is long dead. But the son is still alive and now owns the Cafe. The Jewish guy’s son questions why, but the Russian says he just likes it. He then offers more money. The son says okay and sells it to the Russian who takes it to London where he hangs it in his house. This guy is one of those Russian oligarchs with very deep pockets that he wants to show off. He is also an amateur art collector. He likes the picture a great deal. He tries to figure out who painted it. Spending a ridiculous amount of money searching, so he could get more. There is this long thing on how he starts to think that the painting is by a famous artist. Anyways bad things start to happen to this guy. His money was amassed from the chaos that came out of Russia’s fledgling democracy. He was part of the system that rose out of nowhere that functioned on shady deals, outright corruption and murder. He stops making inquiries about the painting because he has lots of problems with the Russian government. They start fucking around with his assets because he says things that the Russian Government doesn’t like. He ends up dead. Most of his stuff is stolen or liquidated by his family. No one knows the value of this painting and it is lost again.” James lets an exasperated breath.
”Can’t it just be a coincidence?” Tina looked at Bette who raised an eyebrow.
”Sure. I mean, Peggy only gave us very little to go on from her story. But…” Bette gave Tina a look that was filled with optimism.
Tina furrowed her brows. ”So basically,” she said with skepticism in her tone. ”You are telling me, that you guys think the painting that Laura was researching could be the painting in the story and the story could be linked to what Peggy told you.
”Yes.” James said at the same time that Bette turned capturing both of Tina’s eyes with an intent look and gave a slow nod.
”So now what?” Tina inquired.
Bette turned and looked at the phone. Silence hung in the air. Neither Bette nor James said a word.
”Well?” Tina asked again putting her hand on Bette’s shoulder.
”Well… we were just talking about that,” Bette muttered. She blushed, looking guilty.
”Okay you two, spill it. What are you planning?” Tina gave Bette a questioning look. She had a strong suspicion that she was not going to like what these two were about to propose to her. James coughed and then there was silence on the line. Tina looked from the phone to Bette. Her irritation increasing as the seconds ticked by.
”We think it’s best if we go to Brighton Beach. You know, check things out in person. Talk to people. See what we can find out. Determine if this is for real or not.” Bette said in a pressed voice.
Tina’s eyebrows raised as her voice became pressed, ”So basically, you are telling me that you guys want to fly across the country during a pandemic to go treasure hunting?”
Bette new that look in Tina’s eyes. ”James, I am gonna have to call you back later,” she said as she reached over cutting off the call with the press of a button.