The Collector

by phoolishdreamer

He stood there anxiously awaiting. Palms sweaty, knees shaking, eyes ever shifty behind his tinted glasses. Two minutes before showtime, but it felt like he was in the heat of the moment.

Up rolled a sedan into the parking lot. Immediately, Jim knew this was it. He could taste it. He could feel it. He licked his furry upper lip in anticipation and wiped his hands onto his oversized T-shirt.

“Hi, are you Jim?” A hand extended out to him.

“Uh, yeah, that’s me!” He took the hand in his bear claw and shook it firmly enough to say that he was in charge.

“Well, here’s my guitar. What do you think?”

This mystery man opened the case to reveal a very beautiful, cherry finish Gibson hollow body guitar. It gleamed in the sunlight with its rustic glory. Jim took it in his sausage fingers and began to thoroughly analyze, finding all the details in which he could exploit and belittle this token.

“Well, there’s buckle rash, the case is pretty much a broken mess and you don’t have the original hardware,” he said between his nasally exasperated breaths. “This is no way to treat a custom guitar.”

“To be honest, Jim,” the mystery man replied, “it’s a guitar. It’s meant to be played. A guitar is no good if you’re not going to take it out and play it.”

“Well, you sure did a lovely job of ‘taking it out and playing it.’ I’ll give you $400 for it.”

The look on the mystery man fell into shock and disarray, horrid anger and disgust. “That’s way too low!”

“Either take it, or leave it.”

The mystery man stared Jim down, but eventually hung his head and turned away. I got him now, thought Jim. This was too easy.

“Fine. I’ll do it.”

“Pleasure doing business with you.”

The mystery man counted out his meager reaping in front of Jim to make sure he didn’t get more than promised. As soon as the last bill dropped, Jim slammed the case shut and hurriedly packed up into his truck. He struggled to snap his seat belt over his bloated, protruding gut and fumbled with adrenaline to stuff his car key into the ignition. The engine roared to life, and Jim peeled his truck out of the parking lot. The faint sight of the beleaguered mystery man in his rearview mirror added a snark grin to Jim’s face. Victory.

Jim rushed home, brought the guitar into his “hall of fame” room and hung it on an open rung on his wall. He stood there, proudly smug, in front of his newly acquired concubine, one of thirty high-value guitars he had on his wall. Each one sat polished, untouched, unloved. Just pieces of beauty strung up for the world to marvel and see, until a newer, more beautiful one should replace them.

No one will treat you like that ever again, my beauty, he thought. You’re mine. Forever.