—Hey. Come on in. We’re down here.
—Wow, you’ve got . . . there’s a lot of stuff here.
—The fruits of twenty-six years.
—It’s . . . impressive. Hey, is that—
—Tomb of Dracula #10, first appearance of Blade. Yes sir, it is.
—No, no — on the shelf there. Is that one of those one-cup-at-a-time coffee machines?
—Yes. The Cuisinart Coffee On-Demand, purchased online for the low, low price of $52.48, including shipping, regularly sells for $109.99 from a certain retailer by the name of Sears.
—Nice. I’ve been wanting one.
—You want mine? I got it, but I don’t really drink coffee. I’ll give you a good price.
—Eh, I don’t think so. Not today, anyway.
—So, have you got the . . .
—Actually . . .
—There’s a thing.
—You don’t have it?
—It’s not so much the not having it . . .
—Just tell me. You don’t have it.
—I don’t have it.
—You called last night and told me you had it. Now you don’t have it?
—See, that perfectly encapsulates our situation. That right there. I had it, and now I don’t have it. So you can see, as I was about to say a moment ago, it’s not so much the not having it as it is the had it, don’t have it anymore.
—Why do you not have it anymore?
—Someone gave me a better offer than you were paying. What was I supposed to do? I’m a business man.
—You’re a business man? A business man? A business man.
—Look, it’s nothing personal. You made me a fair offer. After our chat last night, someone made a bid on the item’s eBay page that I would have been a fool to pass up.
—You left up the eBay listing after I agreed to buy it from you?!
—That’s just good business, my friend. And as you can see, it paid off.
—Not for me! You sold the thing I came here to buy to someone else! What the fuck am I even doing here?
—Lower your voice, please. My Dad has to go into work in a couple of hours.
—As I was saying, this little transaction of mine is about to pay off for you too, my friend. I searched my collection and came up with something I am willing to let you have for the same price you were willing to pay for the previously offered item, but something that will prove much more valuable to you in the long run.
—Okay. What is it?
—It is . . . this!
—. . . What the fuck is this?
—Don’t try to open it! It doesn’t open. It’s a videocassette.
—A videocassette from when — 1925? Look at this thing, it’s enormous!
—That, my friend, is a Betacam tape. Once the industry standard for television broadcasting, recording and archiving, it has now fallen into relative disuse in our sterile digital age.
—I find this absolutely fascinating.
—The particular Betacam tape you hold in your hand, however, is a one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime find. For, it contains a certain film called Invaders From the Deep, as presented by a certain low-budget sci-fi comedy series for its premiere episode on a certain Minneapolis TV station with the call letters KTMA, on Thanksgiving Day 1988.
—Okay, just tell me what the fuck is on the tape.
—It’s the first episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. And it’s the original.
—So? I never even watched that show. What do I care?
—Whether you watched the show or not is irrelevant. It’s an investment. I told you, it’s the original tape. This baby is rare.
—Rare as a snuff film starring J. Edgar Hoover in drag.
—Is there actually one of those?
—Yes. . . . I haven’t seen it myself, but I know a guy who has.
—Well . . . thanks, but no thanks on the Betamax tape.
—Whatever. I’m not interested.
—Wait! Wait — before you go, can I interest you in a jar containing a sample of the carbon monoxide that killed Anne Sexton?
—Or the fully pickled and preserved body of Townes Van Zandt?
—Or a first-printing of The Dark Knight Returns #2 signed by Lynn Varley?
—Okay, seriously, keep your voice down! You’ll wake up my Dad!