December 7

The Manifestation (Part 6)

 

Jake McNaughton moved a plastic‑sleeved copy of Sticky Fingers to the front of his display table. He’d priced it higher than it was worth, not really hoping to sell it. It was a good eye‑catcher that lured nostalgic baby boomers to his table: they wouldn’t fork over sixty dollars for a Rolling Stones classic on vinyl, but after looking at it for a while they might plop down two bucks for something by Journey or, God forbid, Quiet Riot.

Most of the people who bought rock on vinyl no longer owned turntables. They bought strictly for the sweet memory of flashy cardboard covers, grooved plastic held gingerly by the edges, a needle dropped with nervous precision near the start of a favorite song. They’d slide a record out of the paper sleeve once in a while, spin it on air . . . then stream a pirated “Best of” collection by the same artist.

Jake’s profits from rock or pop records came from the quantity. Most people visited the rummage sale to spend a quick five or ten, and he had plenty of things in that price range. For the real quality sales, he needed the true collectors and the vinyl purists.

An old Miles Davis classic, or a good‑condition philharmonic of a Mozart symphony — yeah, those babies could draw the checkbooks out. Jake didn’t accept the idea that sound had a color, that the vinyl brought out a “warm” tone you could only get from analog recordings played through tube speakers. He preferred digital with its easier storage and as clean a sound as any human ear could really detect. But plenty of his regular customers believed analog recordings were superior, and that attitude helped keep him in business.

That, and the vague notion, in these Broken times, that any old fashioned technology might be more reliable.

His business was popular enough to earn him a good table, behind the sidewalk just near the school’s entrance — a high traffic spot convenient to the parking lot.

A balding man in his late forties returned a marked‑up copy of Who’s Next to the front display, shaking his head. He picked up Love Gun by Kiss, handed Jake a five dollar bill.

“This was the first record I ever bought,” the man said. He needed to explain, like a teenager buying pornography.

“You wanted the best, you got the best,” Jake said, and counted out three dollars in change. Then he snatched at the customer’s jacket sleeve before the guy could step away. “Did you hear that?”

“What?”

“I don’t know. Really faint. Like screaming.”

“Oh, yeah.” The customer pulled his sleeve from Jake’s grip and backed away from the table. “Place is haunted, don’t you know?”

Right. Probably nothing.

Anyway, Jake couldn’t expect his customers to distinguish subtle sounds. Not with all the kids running around out here, their parents too self‑absorbed to silence them.

You could drop a bomb on this crowd of bargain hunters, and nobody would notice.

 

#

 

[…continued in December 8 entry…]