11:00 AM: A compatriot offers me a ride to The House Of No Gravity, which is being shown by The Realtor With No Memory (who, for brevity's sake, we will call Ace). Or, it would be, but they have double booked, so a different realtor is going to show me the house.
***a giant statue in front of a Buddhist temple mocks the trip to Clam Point, there are no clams on the street, no point to this journey***
11:20 AM: Ace's spouse/business partner shows up. The apartment doesn't match the photos. The "giant living room" is the size of a travel box of Ritz crackers. The carpet has pulled a great deal of its hair out. Every wall and cabinet face has started to peel away. If two people enter the dining "room" at the same time, the walls will burst and the window will shatter. There are no knobs or handles on the solitary closet door. The door to the murder basement is locked. The apartment is a five minute walk to the T, but it's only forty yards from the commuter rail track, which sounds like it coming through the bedroom. The back "porch" is missing a railing and a step. Someone was definitely murdered in that bathroom, and I wouldn't have taken the time to clean it up, either. I thank Ace's business partner, and text Ace that I'm not interested.
***I wish there hadn't been gravity there, so I wouldn't remember how that carpet felt Through My Shoes.***
11:30: I get a ride to Fields Corner. Y'all, someone needs to start a GoFundMe for Fields Corner. The stairs are, literally, crumbling. At least they match the walls? None of the people waiting for the T made me fear for my life, but I could absolutely see that entire station being swallowed in a sinkhole.
11:45: Ace has found a place near Shawmut, and I am on the train going the other way, but I get off at Andrew, and head back. I finally meet Ace, and we enter what is a one bedroom apartment that is more expensive than I'd pay for a two bedroom apartment. And it smells like someone peed on the wall. Not a cat or a dog. A person. Once again, Ace had told me a place was renovated when it clearly hadn't been murd---I'm sorry renovated, why would I think someone had been murdered, there, too? It clearly hadn't been renovated since the previous tenant/serial killer moved in in 1981.
***At least the bloodstained carpet matched the curtains?***
12:15: I eat lunch, and get a text from a different realtor who wants me to meet them on Dorchester Ave at 3. They seem nice.
***I hate nice people.***
12:45: Ace has a place in Everett. Everett is not a real place. There are no trains there. How does a city exist without trains?
1:00: Ace has a place by JFK, but only if I can get there soon. I grab a Lyft. I arrive on time. The place is not actually available. I consider banishing Ace to the dimension of Failed Realtors. But they're very nice.
***I hate nice people. Choo-choo.***
2:00: I am already in JFK, so I wander around the area checking out the bars, restaurants, convenience stores, laundromats, and various businesses. I decide the nice realtor who is not Ace will be called Mel.
***There is no house at the street address Mel gave me, but I hover in the space where the apartment should be, in hopes it will eventually appear.***
2:30: Ace messages me about a house in Quincy. The landlord sounds like a dick before I even meet him. I can hear him pounding his feeble chest and slinging poo through the way Ace asks me various questions about my job and income that were not a factor for any other apartment. He wants us to meet at 4:30. I am certain he will not be there.
***I will him to not be there.***
2:40: Ace messages me about meeting at another apartment near JFK. I tell them we can meet at 4. They will then give me a ride to the 4:30 appointment in Quincy.
***The Quincy apartment is a block away from where I lived with the Millerz family on-and-off between 1999 and 2010. I've missed the neighborhood, and wouldn't mind being back there.***
2:55: Ace calls me to let me know they will be late. It is 2:55. We are supposed to meet at 4. I tell them I will wait for them at 4. They sound disappointed.
2:58: Ace calls me to let me know that the 4:00 house is no longer available, but they'll meet me at 4:30 in Quincy. SHIT. The last call was not from Ace, it was from Mel, who I am supposed to meet at 3, but who I just told I couldn't meet until 4. I call Mel back, explain the error. Mel is already on their way back to the office but will U-turn to meet me at the address that I can't even find.
***Fucken Ace's scatterbrain is contagious. Choo-choo.***
3:15: Mel tells me that the apartment I can't find is above the liquor store I've been standing in front of for twenty minutes. They will be there soon.
***I don't need to live above a liquor store. I really don't need a roommate who will be excited to live above a liquor store. I am calling it a convenience store because it also has eggs, and juice, and soda, and candy. It's convenient that it contains nothing I currently need.***
3:20: My dad calls. My IRS refund came in. Our inheritance from my grandmother is still five months away. My passport is on the island. My social security card is on the island. A check from my last freelance job is on the island. Scotch is on the island, and my father is determined to drink all of it. We make plans to meet if I find an apartment I like.
3:40: Mel shows up. The apartment above the liquor store has been renovated Since the ad was placed. It's beautiful. It's two beds, a bath and a half (one shower and a toilet in one room, one toilet in another), the kitchen is modern and just tiled. Both bathrooms newly tiled. Hardwood floors gleaming. View...acceptable. Fire escape off the kitchen. Roof access. Closet space. Cats no problem. Landlord has already run background check. Credit check. Doesn't ask for references. I tell Mel I have at least once more apartment to see with Ace, but that I really like the apartment. Mel tells me that I am the first person to see that apartment, and there are no more appointments left for the rest of the day. The landlord is taking the keys. Won't be back until Monday.
***Sometimes I dance on the inside. Sometimes the outside, but this time just the inside.***
3:55: I order a Lyft to Quincy. The driver shows up. Back seat tarped over. Stench of vomit. Stain on the tarp. Cheap weed stink. Has GPS but asks me where Quincy is. Otherwise doesn't address me at any point. Becomes only the second ever Lyft driver I don't give five stars to.
4:15: I arrive in Quincy. I wander over to the formerly Millerz house. It is almost unrecognizable, apart from the location of the doors. The sun porch is now a room inside. The tree in the front yard is gone. The trash barrels are not pink.
**Ask me about the pink trash barrels next time I see you.***
4:25: Ace arrives. I am reading a book. Ace asks if I am Adam, even though we have seen each other twice today within five hours. They reinforce my negative opinion of the landlord. I say the price is pretty good for a 2 BR that allows cats so I'm still interested. Ace says "Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck." This is not going to be a pet friendly apartment. It is not a pet friendly apartment. The landlord doesn't show but a maintenance man lets us in. There is an altar in the front window. The maintenance man tells me that if you put money in the dish at the altar's feet, it will bring you good luck. Ace asks about pets. The maintenaince man says "No cats, no dogs, no snakes, no hamsters, no rats, no lizards, no crickets, no rabbits, no rocks. No pets. If we let one in, we have to let 'em all in. Not on my watch. I rebuilt this place after the last property manager destroyed it, let me tell you" a bunch of racist shit about Asian people. I am definitely not moving here. Ace mentions my cats. The guy says "No way, Jose." like I knew he would. Ace apologizes profusely to me. I am very nice about it. I must hate myself. I take my quarter back from the altar on my way out.
6:15PM: Back at the place I'm staying, I e-mail Mel about the apartment. They e-mail me back immediately saying no one else has seen it, but that they are busy, and can't get back to me again until late tonight.
I believe them.
Ten minutes before close, Annoying Painter Who Did Too Many Drugs In The 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s comes in. Already in the store is someone who has been asking me about comics in the warehouse for at least four years. I am certain neither of them will ever leave.
Annoying Painter: "Is Tony--"
Me: "I told you yesterday to come in on Friday. I wrote it down. I told you to put it in your wallet. Friday is the day to come in and talk to him. Only Friday."
AP: "Are you--"
Me: "I can't price things, buy things, evaluate things, tell you what he's looking for, or tell you what's in the warehouse. YOU. HAVE. TO. COME. IN. ON. FRIDAYS."
And then my boss walks in with boxes of stuff to put away.
Tony: "Hi. I have to bring in a bunch of boxes. I don't have time to talk to you right now. Try coming in on Friday."
AP: "Of course, of course. You're busy. But I have these old comics, and I don't want them. But I think they're valuable, could you --"
Tony: "I have five more boxes to bring in. You should come in on Friday."
He leaves to get more boxes. I start putting away some of the books from the boxes he's already brought in."
AP: "I think Mad should do something with Trump because Alfred E. Neum--"
Me: "They have." I grab the Mad About Trump book. "We've talked about it before. Have a look again."
AP: "Did you know Stan Lee died."
AP: "Did Kirby write for Mad Magazine? Is Kirby even an artist?"
Me: "Not that I know of, and yes."
Me: "I'm sorry. I have to put all these things away, right now. Could you come back on Friday?"
Tony arrives with more boxes.
AP: "So some of the comics I brought in are pretty rare."
Tony: "You said that. I'll be right back."
AP: "How much do you thi--"
Me: "I don't do pricing or evaluating."
AP: "Got ya. Because he's the boss."
Me: "Sure. Just so you know, we are closed right now."
And to my eternal shock, the usually super annoying What Do You Have In The Warehouse Guy comes up to the counter.
WDYHITWG: "Sorry, I forgot you guys closed earlier now. I'll buy these."
And he actually buys two comics. And leaves.
While I ring in his sale, Tony comes in with the last of the boxes, and starts to put them on the shelves.
AP: "How much do you guys give for these books? Thirty percent of resale? Forty? Half?"
AP: "If you want to take a look at them, they're pretty exciting."
Tony: "Could you bring them in on Friday. I'm not really supposed to be here tonight, I'm just dropping off these boxes, and then I have to go home and read with my son."
AP: "Of course. Of course. No rush man. I've been to California before. Aren't you from there?"
Tony: "Yea, I'm from LA."
AP: "Do you remember...." And here begins a ten minute conversation about dead people from California. High schools in California. Venues from California that closed decades ago. California. California. Califuckenfornia. And nothing about how it knows how to party, or why Jonathan Coulton hates it.
Tony: "Well, it's great talking to you." Liar. "But I have to go home. And Adam has to close out and go home, and I'm in his way."
AP: "Of course, of course. Hey, do you have some time to look at these comics before you go?"
At this point, I would have decided not to buy anything from him, or totally lowball whatever crap he has. This guy has wasted hours of my time, usually talking about how much he hates comics, and what a waste of time they are. And how everyone steals from him, yadda yadda. And I think, if people do steal from him, maybe it's in the hopes he will be so mad that he'll never bother them again. Because Fuck This Guy.
But Tony looks at the comics, finds four he's interested in, and gives the guy thirty bucks.
Tony: "But now I have to go. And I can't go until you go."
AP: "What about the rest of the books? I don't want them."
Tony: "Bring them Friday."
AP: "Yea, you're the owner. You only have to come in once a week."
Tony: "I'm in other days, but I'll be busy. Bring the books in on Friday."
AP: "Could you write that down for me?"
Me: "NO. It's in your wallet already. I gave it to you last night."
AP: "I lost it."
Tony writes it down.
AP: "Hey, when you were in California, did you ever go to---"
Tony: "I really have to go. It's been great talking to you." Liar. "But you'll have to come back on Friday. I need to get home."
AP: "Sure. Sure. It's very New England. Having to go home."
He walks into the hallway. Tony and I exchange a look. AP picks up one of the boxes we use for shipping.
Me: "Hey. Those are not free. Or for customers. Those are our shipping boxes."
AP: "You need all these?"
Me: "We do. We do a lot of shipping." Liar. "Please don't take our boxes."
AP: "They're a perfect fit for my paintings."
Me: "Then you should get them from the Post Office. But we need those."
AP: "Of course. I would never take them without asking." Liar. "Do you have anything I could put paintings in?"
AP: "I used to do a lot of concert posters. There's this website--"
Tony: "It's time to go. it's been great talking to you." Liar. "We have to close."
AP: "Right. Right. Have you ever seen the Jimi Hendrix poster? The famous one."
I go into the bathroom. Not because I need to use it, but to get away from him. I immediately turn on the hand dryer. When I come out, he is gone.
Tony leaves. I am ten minutes into closing when there's a knock on the window. I see that it's AP. I get up, walk out the door, and sit in the hallway and play on my phone for five minutes. When I come back within sight-lines, he is gone.
How much do you want to bet he'll be back in tomorrow, asking if Tony is in? Or if I can price his books?
For the fourth time this year, an artist who did way too many drugs in the 60s and 70s comes in, just as I'm about to close the store.
Artist: "You guys probably don't buy original art, do you?"
Me, the first two times: "It depends."
Me the most recent two times: "No."
Artist: "I'm a famous rock and roll painter. I designed posters in the 60s and 70s."
Artist: "They sell for a lot of money online."
Me, the first time: "That's fantastic."
Me every other time: "Sure."
Artist: "It's not fantastic. I don't get any money from them. Do you know that website rockandrollpostersorsomethingdotcom?"
Artist: "They sell my work for hundreds of dollars, and I don't get a penny."
Me: "That sucks."
Artist: "I have a lawyer send a cease and desist, and....nothing. They keep ripping me off."
Me: "That's terrible."
Artist: "You guys sell comics."
Artist: "Comics are terrible. They're all violence and murder and rape."
Me, the first time: "No, there are a lot of different subjects, there are---"
Me, every other time: "All murder all the time."
Artist: "The people that read comics. They're sickos. What happened to peace, man? And love? They don't make love comics."
Me, the first time: "They do. There was a whole line of romance comics that started in the fifties, and now there are ---"
Me, every other time: "Nope. Murder murder murder, death, death, death."
Artist: "Sickos. Ditko, Kirby, Eisner. A bunch of sickos. Do you know any bands that might be looking for an artist to make posters?"
Me, every single time: "Nope. I don't listen to music. Or read."
Me, today: "Just murder murder murder, all day long."
Artist: "When's a good time to stop in and sell my posters."
Me, the first three times, "Come in on" I give him my boss's schedule. I write it down. All three previous times, I wrote it down for him.
Me, this time. "Alternating Thursdays during a month with two new moons. I think. It might be Wednesdays."
Artist: "You sickos probably don't buy original art anyway."
Me, the first time. "Not often. But you should come in, any way, and talk to my boss.
Me, the second time: "Nope."
Me, the third time: "It interferes with all the murdering."
Me, this time: "No. We spend all our money on knives and guns."
He leaves. Every time, no matter what I say.
I hadn't realized this time that there was another person in the store, until she laughed when I said "murder murder murder, death death death" in my sing-songy Fuck Off voice.
She was very nice, and bought a Junji Ito book, after asking where I kept all of the store's knives.
(Spoiler alert: unlike my previous comic book employers, we are a knife-free store. Though I do have a very adequate hammer, and three pairs of dull scissors.)
An absolute Woogums and his female compatriot come into the store, and he starts giving her a Very Incorrect Tour of the place.
"They organize the back issues alphabetically because that's one of the things corporate makes all the stores do."
"But this is where they keep all their indie and underground books" Woogums says, pointing to the nostalgia section.
"Are these trading collections or graphic novels?" asks his even less-informed but also less-infuriating friend.
"Graphic novels." He says.
They are hardcover collections of old newspaper strips and EC comics.
"Everyone in this place knows me." he says, waving to me.
I have never seen him before in my life. And, Diamond willing, will never see him again. I do not wave back.
"This place used to be all porn and indie comics but the corporate office made them turn it into more of a superhero store." he says.
"What are you talking about?" I ask. "There is no corporate, and most of our our collections and graphic novels are what would be considered independent, as they're not put out by Marvel or DC. This entire section here. That section over there. Most of our all-ages books are Scholastic or other smaller presses. We have a European comic section. This entire shelf here. We're not really a superhero store, although we do, of course, carry the most popular DC and Marvel comics."
"You didn't used to, though. You didn't carry any at all."
"Weird." I say. "The owner, who shopped and worked here since the early 80s told me that when he started, about 90% of their sales were the Chris Claremont X-Men comics, with the rest being spread between Superman, Batman, and Cerebus. If anything, there are less superhero comics in the store now than there have ever been. Maybe you're thinking of another store."
"Must be." he says, and goes back to talking to his poor companion. "I think you'd really like The Watchmen."
I grab Mjolnir from its drawer and debate hucking it his head.
He continues to misinform her before he leaves without buying anything.
I start to ponder that I am too judgemental and grouchy when one of the guys from the print shop comes in.
"Do you believe that guy?" he says. "He just came into our store and demanded we print a color copy of a hundred dollar bill. That's ILLEGAL. Color copiers are designed to detect currency, and when they Xerox guys come in to repair or upgrade copiers, it reports how many times a person attempted to copy currency, and they have to report it to the government. And when I told him, he said that The Other Guy always let's him do it. But we're all here today, so I asked him to tell me which Other Guy and he huffed at me and walked into your store. Do you believe that?"
Dude I Once Met Via A Dating App I'm No Longer On: Hey. I didn't know you worked here.
Me: Yea. For about seven years.
Dude: Cool. I was hanging out at Peet's and saw that you were online. like 100 feet away, so I figured I stopped by.
Me: Um. I left my phone at home today.
Me: Also, I deleted that app months ago.
Dude: Weird. Must have been somebody who looked like you.
Me: Must. have. been.
Random Definitely Shoplifting Weirdo: "Where do you keep your old valuable stuff?"
Me: "What type of stuff?"
RDSW: "Old and valuable."
Me: "Are you looking for a specific title? We don't have an old and valuable section."
RDSW: "Tales From The Crypt?"
Me: "Sure. "
I lead him over to where we keep them.
RDSW: "What are the most valuable ones?"
Me: "If the prices aren't on the front cover, they're on the back. Feel free to flip them over."
RDSW: "Do you have the skinnier ones? These are expensive."
Me: "Everything we have for Tales From The Crypt is right there."
RDSW: "Can you check in the back for me?"
Me: "We don't have a back. If we have it, it's right where you are."
RDSW: "Could you check and see if you have any Freddy Vs Jason Vs Ash? I think they're over there."
He points in the wrong direction to where they would be, if we had them. Conveniently, it's a place where I would be unable to see him.
Me: "We don't have any of those. They're out of print."
RDSW: "I saw them last time I was here."
Me: "Ok. Show me where."
RDSW: "Maybe I'm thinking of somewhere else."
Me: "May. be."
RDSW: "If you could check, I'm looking to spend a lot of money today."
Me: "Ok. But we don't have Freddy Vs. It's long out of print. You'd have to check the Harvard Bookstore and see if they had any of those books used."
RDSW: "You could check in the back."
Me: "We. Don't. Have. A. Back. We don't have any Freddy Vs comics. I can help you find a particular Tales From The Crypt comic, if you'd like. Were you looking for a specific one?"
RDSW: "One that's worth a lot, but isn't too expensive."
Me: "Well. If something is worth a lot, it's going to be expensive. That's the nature of collectible markets."
RDSW: "Could you go see if you have any Tales From The Crypt in the back?"
Me: "Everything we have is right here."
RDSW: "This stuff is kind of expensive."
Me: "This is two dollars. This collection is ten dollars. You're not going to find these much cheaper."
RDSW: "What website should I go to so I can find Freddy Vs Jason Vs Ash?"
Me: "I don't know. You'll have to look it up."
He's holding a pile of EC comics.
RDSW: "Could you look it up for me?"
Me: "Sorry. Internet is down. Want me to ring some of those EC books up for you? They look heavy."
RDSW: "Oh. I don't have any money with me."
RDSW: "Are there any other stores around here?"
Me: "There's some in Norwood. Brockton. Boston proper. Somerville. Where are you looking to go?"
RDSW: "A comic book store."
Me: "Uh. Huh. Well, there are a bunch."
RDSW: "Do you guys buy comics?"
Me: "Just things from the 70s and before."
RDSW: "I have a bunch from a couple of weeks ago that I accidentally bought twice."
Me: "Yea. We don't buy new comics. Sorry."
RDSW; "What should I do with them?"
Me: "Donate them to a shelter or doctor's office or somewhere."
RDSW: "I want money for them, though."
RDSW: "Thanks for nothing."
Me: "You're very welcome."
Random Loiterer: "Hey, I sold you guys a bunch of comics about ten years ago."
RL: "Do you still have them?"
Me: "I have no idea. I wasn't here ten years ago."
RL: "I sold them to get an engagement ring. And it went pffffffffffffffffffffft. So I was wondering if I could get them back for cheap."
Me: "Oh, almost definitely not. If you want to come in on Friday or Saturday, the guy who probably bought them from you will be here. If he remembers you, he might be able to help out somehow, but I'm imagining we've sold most of them by now if it's been a decade."
RL: "Yea. Yea. I figured. Hey, I have a bunch of Spider-Man number ones signed by Stan Lee, are those worth anything?"
Me: "From the 60s?"
RL: "The 90s."
Me: "What issues are they?"
RL: "They're the first twenty issues or so of the 1990s series."
Me: "Signed by Stan Lee?"
RL: "Yea. It's all his art."
Me: "He's a writer."
RL: "Maybe he did the covers."
Me: "As far as I know, he's never been an artist for any book. He was a writer in the 60s, and he was an editor for Marvel almost forever."
RL: "No. He wrote a bunch of issues in the 90s."
I do some Googling and some Wikipediaing
Me: "Nope. He wrote the occasional annual or backup story, but he didn't write a run of Spider-Man comics in the 90s."
RL: "He did. I own them. They're not Amazing Spider-Man. They're just Spider-Man."
Me: "The Todd McFarlane issues?"
RL: "Yea! He wrote those."
Me: "No. He didn't. McFarlane wrote them. Then Erik Larsen, then a few other writers. But not Stan Lee."
RL: "Then why did he sign them?"
Me: "I have no idea."
RL: "Are they worth anything?"
Me: "There were a ton of variant covers for the first issue. A couple of them are valuable. But with someone else's autograph on them? I guess you'd have to find the right collector."
RL: "Why would he have signed books that he didn't write?"
Me: "Because he's a gracious guy and someone handed him some books to sign? He did create Spider-Man originally. I bet people have him sign Spider-Man comics that he didn't write all the time."
RL: "What if McFarlane signed them?"
Me: "Do you have issues signed by McFarlane?"
Me: "I don't really have any way of looking that up. You could go online and ask some people. Who knows, maybe there are people out there looking for Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man signed by Stan Lee."
RL: "Yea, maybe my ex-wife."
RL: "Don't ever get married."
Pro Tip: When trying to convince your current girlfriend to buy some comics that you enjoy, maybe don't mention that you "tricked" your last girlfriend into buying comics so that you could steal them from her when you broke up.
How she didn't leave him right here in the store Baffles Me.
Not surprisingly, they left without buying anything.
A guy who stood me up on a date two years ago and never contacted me again, stopped in the store to let me know he is leaving the country tomorrow, and he gave me a book of postcards he created, so that I would "keep in touch".
I often believe, due to the transient nature of my relationships, that I'm the weirdo with the communication issues. And I'm not saying that I don't have communication issues, myself, but more and more I realize that I just attract people who don't know how to interact with the world, or how to interact with me.
Between this and the very brief return of Sora to my life in January, I'm considering joining a monastery with a lax porn policy.
The postcards are beautiful, though. Even though a rudimentary internet search proved he didn't make them.
I also attract fucken liars.
Today in Dumbass Shoplifters, a squirrely guy in his fifties asks if he can open two sealed back issues. He's been in my way for the better part of a half hour, so I tell him I'll open them for him.
Dumbass Shoplifter: "No, it's ok. I can open it."
I watch him open the two comics and switch the bags that they're in, occasionally checking over his shoulder to see how close I am watching.
Here's the thing. All of the back issues that he had access to were under $20, so even though I hadn't seen the prices beforehand, his profit for whatever ruse he was trying to pull was going to be potatoes too small to make a single french fry from.
DS: "I'm ready."
I walk over to the counter and take the book in his hand. It says "$10, crease on cover".
I ring it in.
Me: "Can I see the other book."
DS: "Huh? Oh, yea. Of course."
This one is marked "$8", so this guy is trying to save two dollars. Except, of course, he's handed me the more expensive bag. And I know he's switched them because the creased covered book is in the $8 bag. So now he's going to pay two additional dollars for the comic that he didn't even want.
Me: "That'll be ten dollars."
DS: "Ok. Thanks."
I start typing this entry, and he hurries out the door.
DS: "Thanks. Have a good day. I...OH MAN!"
I wait for him to come back inside and tell me that he's made a mistake, but he doesn't. He sucks up what is probably in his mind a four dollar loss.