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Porti Goes Shopping
...another way in which the power to "open" could prove useful. >_>
Old Bond St.
London, present day.
At this high-end shop, women usually waltzed in with their heads held high. Often, well, nearly always, wearing an off-the-runway ensemble with perfectly coordinated, obscenely expensive jewelry. Break-neck stilettos as well, naturally. What outfit wouldn’t be complete without them? Those were the women that frequented this establishment. Not… someone… dressed like they were just coming back from a biker’s road-trip.
So, an over-zealous, exquisitely-dressed young man hurriedly made his way toward Portico the moment she walked through the doors. It was no surprise then that the man instantly pegged her as suspicious. After all, even the simplest of garments here could put you out of two week’s worth of wages. “Miss, may I help you with anything?” he asked, approaching her with caution, as if she were a dusty, mangy feral cat.
With a gentle shake of her head, Portico responds: “No, thanks. I’m sure I’ll know what I want when I see it.”
His eyes settle onto hers, and his lips begin to open, curiosity causing him to momentarily lose his apprehension. He’d never seen jeweled eyes like hers. Blue, green, orange. All intermingling with each other. How could anyone —?
Portico anticipates the question, noticing his beguiled expression, and quickly offers a suitable lie: “Contacts,” accompanied by a smile.
The man blinks common sense back into himself, thinking: Contacts, of course. And, after briefly glancing at the satchel strapped to the side of her hip, he reciprocates the smile. Though the smile was meant to be courteous so that she wouldn’t be alerted to his concern, which had returned to the forefront of his thoughts, it came across painfully forced. “Well… I’ll be right over here should you have need of assistance,” he calls out to her, as Portico walks away and begins to wander through the gallery-white shop halls.
“I’ll be watching you” is what that meant. It was of no concern. She’d done this before. Many times. By now, he was most likely contacting their security guards, alerting the rest of the staff. He’d probably say: “Keep an eye on the one wearing black – and odd contacts.”
The shop was very much like a museum. Though, instead of fine art, it showcased extremely sharp, cutting-edge, beautifully designed clothing for both men and women. As Portico delved deeper into it, she could almost feel her every step being followed by lingering staff. She even wondered if the shimmery-silver mannequins were watching her as well. Micro-cameras, perhaps? The thought led to a shrug. Truly, it did not matter.
Every garment Portico strolls past is absolutely stunning. The quality of their construction is clearly visible even on those that were just simply strung on a hanger. She couldn’t help but let her fingers glide along the silky-soft fabric of a white fluttery dress she passes by.
Ah, here we go. She finally reached the section meant for her. Meaning, almost every garment in that particular area was black.
“Can I help you with anything here?” a voice asks from behind.
Portico glances over her shoulder. Another staff member. This one is as finely dressed as the previous one. She responds: “Yes, actually,” turning her face away from him. “I’ll ’ave that one.”
Her finger had pointed to a leather jacket that had immediately called out to her. It featured a large buckled belt at the waist, oversized lapels, and an asymmetrical zipper. It was just a jacket, but it looked powerful. Like it could fend off just about anything – a compliment to its design. “I’d like to try it on.”
Then, Portico slowly scoured the rest of the area while her fingers thoughtfully tapped at her lips. After a few moments, she said: “That one, that one, and that one as well, please.” She’d gestured toward a mini dress, an embroidered tulle top, and an elegant front-draped gown in a rosy beige, of all colors.
“Oh, and those.” Two pairs of black stiletto booties. One set with a faux zipper, the other composed of intertwining straps. Portico nods decidedly. “That’s it.”
The young man dutifully retrieved it all. He even wore a smile, despite his mistrust. Experience and a keen eye for fashion, as well as body-types, allowed him to successfully determine Portico’s size without having to ask.
He never offers to let her hold any of the garments, though. Instead, he neatly arranges her selections in a nearby dressing room. By his count, Portico’s choices amount to nearly £10,500.
“Right over here, miss.” The man beckons, holding open the door to the dressing room.
As Portico enters, he calls out to her: “If you happen to need anything else, or a different size for any of the six items you selected, I’ll be right outside.”
Portico didn’t see it, but the man smirked quite proudly the moment she closed the door. He thought himself clever for having mentioned the number of items in her dressing room. It’d been a way to discretely let her know he’d definitely notice if anything went missing.
Although he didn’t trust her, you could never truly predict, without doubt, when someone was a legitimate shopper, as opposed to a potential thief. Throughout his employment, he’d seen his fair share of quirky rich folks. No sense in scaring away what could amount to a considerable sale. So, while the young man listens to the rustle of clothes coming from the dressing room, he thinks: Perhaps the woman on the other side of this door does have a couple grand to splash around?
She most certainly did not.
Money? That was a concept Portico had very little experience with. In fact, she was more likely to be carrying gemstones and old trinkets in that satchel of hers than actual valid currency.
“You know, I saw a wonderful white dress as I came in.” Portico speaks to the man on the other side of the door as she slips on the strappy boots. She is already wearing the tulle top and that brilliant black jacket. Oh, she was so absolutely smitten with that jacket. “I don’t normally wear white. As it is, I doubt I’ll take the rosy gown. But, I’d like to just… see how that white one looks on me.” Her sentence ends with a coy giggle. “I’d hate to go home and regret leaving without at least trying it on. I won’t be back in London for awhile, after all.”
“Of course. Black is always fashionable, but white can be quite striking.” The young man’s footsteps are heard as he walks away. Meanwhile, Portico takes the opportunity, pressing her hands against the dressing room’s walls, to "open" a passage out. She’d be gone before he returned.
A few moments later the man comes back, saying: “Miss? This dress is from Alexander McQueen’s latest collection. I can see why it caught your attention. It’s stunning.”
No response is given.
“…miss?” He gently taps on the door.
Later during the day, management and security would review the store’s camera feeds. This, of course, after spending a good portion of time searching for the thief to no avail. Over and over, the surveillance video would be scrutinized. No one could determine exactly how the woman in black managed to slip out.
In the end, they concluded that the woman had previously scouted the shop. Managed to find the camera’s blind spots, maybe? Still… she was never actually seen coming out of the dressing rooms! Never had the shop experienced such a severe and frustrating loss.
The bobbies, the British police, were notified. As a result, in their office there’s a grainy picture of Portico as she strolled through the doors of the Alexander McQueen shop. Even though the photo was of low quality, it was still rather flattering. Her hair had been perfectly windswept, the light had caught her face just right.
She would’ve been proud.