–Let’s see what you got? Big Ed said.
Tommy put the gold nugget on the table. The metal lump looked like a miniature naked woman.
–Damn, Big Ed said and stared closer. She looks like a mermaid.
–That’s what we been calling her, the golden mermaid.
Big Ed’s thick fingers trembled over her.
–Appreciate if you wouldn’t touch her, Big Ed. I do this—and Tommy turned her over gently with a pencil tip. I use a number 3 hard lead so it don’t leave no mark on her body.
Big Ed made a rumbling sound deep in his chest almost like a cat’s purr.
–Yeah, okay, he said. So what can I do you for?
–Well, I’m wondering should I sell her for the pure gold…or you think I could do better putting her up at auction?
Big Ed drew back and stared through Tommy like maybe he was figuring out the national debt or something. He was damn good at numbers and some said he didn’t strain counting cards neither at the Silver Moon on Friday nights. But he’d sure give you a fair idea when his massive brain stopped whirring.
–You gotta get behind this…publicize, see. Get all the players on to it. That costs money up front…photos, drawings, flyers, telegraphs, stories in the papers. Lotta work…not to mention security issues.
–Oh lord, I dunno. That’s awful hard, Tommy said with a nasal whine.
–Well it is, Big Ed said and let out a slow deep breath smelling of something like kerosene. Course you can take fair market for it…probably a couple of thousand.
–Or I could keep her for myself, Tommy said and narrowed his eyes.
Big Ed smiled.
–Smart, he said, fingers trembling near her voluptuous curves. The Golden Mermaid you’re thinking…word o’ mouth promotion. Smart, Tommy, real smart.