The Collector

autographsIn a dusty forgotten corner of a dusty forgotten shop, Frankie had finally found his quarry. Past the defunct disco balls and vintage vinyl records, in a scattered heap of old postcards, nicknacks, and miscellaneous memorabilia, the rare autograph lay just waiting to be discovered, like a glistening gem. It had been several weeks since he had last found one, and this unexpected discovery made his heart jump.

Frankie spent most of his afternoons scouring the city’s junk shops and flea markets, searching for such special items. When he was not wandering through the streets in search of treasure, Frankie could usually be found in the café where he had been ordering drinks for the last fifty years. In all that time, the place had not changed, but everything about it had. He still remembered when this café had been frequented by vibrant and fascinating people who carried with them the life and energy of youth, who were all elegantly styled in the trendiest fashions of the sixties, and who loved him.

Frankie had a kind face, but its lines betrayed a life that had been less so. His easy smile and good nature had won him many friends in those days, but they had all either moved on or passed on long ago. Now only a few of the older patrons knew who he was.

With trembling hands, Frankie quickly paid the cashier. Three dollars fifty, a bit more than usual for such a trinket. Frankie could faintly hear the thumping beat of the music that was being piped into the cashier’s head through her earbuds. It was nothing he recognized. She smacked her gum as she handed him his change. Frankie carried the precious artifact under his overcoat, close to his chest, as he walked briskly home through the autumn drizzle in the dusk.

He presented the new arrival to his existing collection of rare treasures. Frankie spread them on the kitchen table and admired the confident, youthful features of the man in the photographs. Each autograph was carefully written in a steady hand, having been thoughtfully dedicated to a particular, once adoring fan. How well he knew them all. The signatures were all his own.

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