Author : David Macpherson

I ain’t a collector, but I know a lot of old guys who pack-rat a bunch of shit and call it a collection, you know? Like there was this one guy, he had himself a spread: hardwood floor and banisters. He had these collections he showed me. Told me about each and every one. Trying to impress me, I guess. Like I am the kind of guy to impress. Crazy old bastard.

He shows me his art, old masters. His porcelain, Wedgewood. I find out the valuable ones are all kind of boring looking and blue. And he has books everywhere in floor to ceiling bookcases. Dumb. No, books ain’t dumb. It’s having so fucking many of them. I mean if he got ten thousand books, he has a shit load of books he ain’t never going to read.

But what he wants to show me was small aspect of his book collection. His signed first editions. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, signed firsts, who doesn’t have them? But these. In a locked glass front case, thirty or fifty volumes. I bent over and looked at them like he wanted me to. Islands in the Stream signed by Hemingway. Juneteenth signed by Ralph Ellison. Confederacy of Dunces signed by Toole, The Coloured Lands by G.K. Chesterton. Long Day’s Journey Into Night by O’Neill. A bunch of them, all firsts, all signed.

I mean, I figured it out, sure I did. Why it was so weird. You got it, right? You look like a smart guy, Yeah. That’s right man. All of those and all the others in the case were posthumous. All of them. Even the ones I never heard of. All of the books published after the writer died. So you got to be asking what I was asking. What the hell are they doing signed by dead people?

The collector who was showing this to me was waiting to see me all hot and impressed. He said there are dealers who specialize in rarities like these, things that shouldn’t exist. He showed me reports from handwriting experts verifying that these are authentic. He told me when he can’t sleep, he would come and look at the signatures and be reassured.

Me, I ain’t nothing like reassured. Is this time travel? Is that what this is? Is this proof of something we didn’t know needed proving? And what kind of guy with a time machine goes to the trouble of getting his favorite books signed? The collector geezer called it his Collection of Temporal Anomalies. I got out of there as quick as I could.

I know what you’re thinking, what did I do about all this? No one could not do something. Well I got to say it bothered me for about a month. I kept on thinking about those books. Even went to the library and took a few of them out. Didn’t read them, just looked at them. Flipped a couple pages.

Finally, I did the only correct thing I could do. I went to the old guy’s house late one Wednesday with some Molotov cocktails that I whipped up. I made that place ashes. I read in the paper that only some of the Wedgewood survived to tell the tale. When you think about it logically, its better this way.

I don’t know about you but all this good conversation has made me thirsty, you have to be thirsty too. What do you say, why don’t you get the next round and I can tell you some things that really are worth telling.


Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows