“I. Am. On my fifteenth toy.”
“Come on,”I pleaded, gesticulating at my amassed collection, “you can’t POSSIBLY tell me these aren’t some beautifully designed figures.”
Her eyebrow raises the same way it always does when I pronounce “figure” that way.
“You mean fig-yure?” she says with a grin.
“Go fuck yourself,” I retort; she’s in the wrong, I just feel it in my bones.
I’m slumped against the side of my bed, two mattresses stacked on top of each other mind you, and holding my iPad. Open on it, my chase bank account. I feel like I’m consistently wincing, I don’t think it’s stopped since I signed into the Chase app, Jesus Christ. I can’t believe I spent three thousand dollars on vintage toys.
“I can’t believe you spent three thousand dollars on vintage toys,” I hear.
“SHUT UP,” I’m at my feet in exclamation. Wearing no pants. However, if I were to be wearing pants, I’d be wearing them with a Kamen Rider Double Driver belt that I purchased off of EBay complete with five accessories. It’s quite honestly the only used and best belt I own. My shirt’s on, though. The tag still attached to its collar because, you know, it’s part of my style, my swag, my cool situation I got going on here. Furthermore, attached to that attachment is a small pin that I also got off of EBay. Don’t judge me, come on; I can feel you judging me.
Sarah’s sitting there with her legs crossed at the feet and a laptop topping her lap as it should. It’s a school day for her, I’ve taken a gap year. However, I’m not using this gap as properly as I believed I should. Sure, I’ve garnered the funding for this little addiction through work, but I didn’t expect to be setting alarms to be up in time to win EBay bids for lots of loose transformers. “Loose” means “out of packaging”, which is good for me, it makes the item cheaper and I rarely display things in box anyways.
The tabs on my iPad are frothing over at the limit with EBay listings I’ve opened in the background. Mercari, too, I don’t want to give only EBay a hard time for enabling my crippling cravings.
“At least you didn’t go under your two thousand dollar limit,” Sarah says, typing away at her math problems.
“Mmmm, well about that,” I start.
See my “two thousand dollar limit” is this faux barricade I’ve manufactured morally so that I never have less than that amount in my bank account. It’s the number I started off with in that account, and I don’t want to spend too obscene a sum.
Now she looks at me predatorily, as if she’ll reveal talons upon her fingertips and slash at my thigh as soon as she hears about how I went under the limit.
“What did you buy?”
“Listen, it’s not for the collectio—”
“Sure, it’s not.”
“It’s really not.”
“It’s a notebook, a Moleskine one, I bought it off the website.”
“Matt, you don’t use notebooks; this is a terrible lie.”
“Fuck you, I can lie. Plus, it is a notebook that I just won’t necessarily be using per se.”
“I don’t even know what that means. Why would you buy it?”
“It’s got a cool cover, alright, jeez, I can buy things.”
“SO IT’S FOR YOUR COLLECTION,” she’s standing on the bed, her j’accuse finger up in condemnation.
“NO, NO, I SWEAR,” I’m cowering in fear of the magistrate that is her citation of my goods and purchases. She throws a pencil at me, the cowering was warranted.
“LISTEN,” I start, “it’s limited edi—”, I receive another pencil beaned directly at my skull. The words “limited edition” have become heretical in this household.
“Matt, I have so many pencils in here,” she states with one hand shaking a small pink plastic pencil case and the other hand on her hip in a sassy stance of smugness.
“It’s a fucking limited edition Megatron notebook, okay?! From Moleskine’s Transformers collection. I got it on Amazon.”
“For how much?” she asks, pencil at the ready.
“It’s got stickers in it”
“Like, thirty,” I mumble.
“What was that?”
“Thirty,” I grumble.
She collapses back down into the bed criss cross applesauce, with the pencil case in her lap looking at me in amazement.
“No self control,” she says with a grin of astonishment, “absolutely none.”
“Well, at least I had Prime,” I quipped, as if that truly made it any better. She held the whole pencil case up at me in warning.
Nevertheless, she smiled. I’m lovable and charming despite my habits and, come on, the toys are definitely pretty cool. Transformers and Power Rangers and, now, Kamen Rider. It can’t get better. She didn’t really mind, she believed in the tenet that one should buy what makes them happy. I’m of the tenet that one shouldn’t eat that day if they want to buy something expensive. Give and take.
“I’m making a stand,” she suddenly declared, “a condition.”
“Well, then I’ll make a shampoo,” I retorted.
“No jokes,” she said in objection to her own laughter, “I’m making a condition, and that condition is you absolutely have to write in that notebook.”
“NO BUTS, you had your chance to live like a regular civilian but NoOoO you just had to buy the Megatron book and become a heathen of the state, defying your own rules.”
“I think that’s a bit much, but fair.”
“Oh, absolutely,” she grinned, “but MY heathen.”
She steps down from the bed to where I am and puts her arms on my arms and kisses my cheeks, but stops a quarter inch from my lips.
“Promise to follow my condition?” she lightly whispered into my mouth.
“Yes, yes, yes,” and I lean in to steal the quick kiss.
She falls back down into the bed and I take a step to the right to fall down into it right beside her.
“I’m a criminal, a mess.”
“You only stole from yourself, darling.”
She leans over and picks up her math notebook to review her proposed equations, everything likely correct, but everything likely to be second guessed within an instance.
I flop onto her and reach off the bed to pick up my iPad amidst her groans that I’m too heavy. I return to the tab I was viewing prior, but as soon as she sees my surveying the screen she slaps it away.
“It wasn’t EBay.”
“Wrong, again, I was just checking the Amazon website. That notebook was actually scheduled to come today.”
“Then wait for that perfectly cued ringing of your doorbell.”
“Oh, but that’ll take so lon—” I began only to be halted by the heralding of my package. A finger against my apartment doorbell. “Oh my god, that’s impossible.”
“Your girlfriend’s a psychic.”
I get up pantsless and begin finding my kamen rider belt adorned attire, “it’s actually illegal by international law to be a psychic, you know.”
“Mhm, mhm, go get your book.”
“Limited edition,” I say, fastening the red plastic coupling of my amazing belt and zooming out of the room before any writing utensil is targeted at my skull.
It takes four steps before I hit that door where I see a plumply jacketed man withstanding the February snowy breeze, blue striped package in hand. What a glorious sight. A signature later and I’m one small black book richer, happy day. I couldn’t prevent my teeth chomp away at the perforated dash lines to open the package before I got into my own room and thus I entered with my book triumphantly in hand and plastic wrapping discarded.
“BEHOLD, YE WEAKLINGS, MY BOOK OF WONDERS!”
“Yeah, yeah, limited edition, I know.” A sentence uttered without eye contact to match.
“You’re just jealous because the only limited edition thing you own is me,” I say with a smirk. A smirk like flesh cut by a knife, my usual haughty visage. But, oh, oh fuck.
“Oh, oh fuck.”
“What, no stickers?” she inquired with a giggle.
“No, no fucking anything, I got stiffed.”
Now she gets up. Alert and, like me, fully attentive of this goddamn blank covered book. No cover means no Megatron, which means this isn’t the book I ordered, this isn’t the limited edition prized book I spent thirty dollars on. What. The. Fuck.
“Okay, Matt, I know you’re probably about to hyperventilate yourself into a coma, right now, but it’s not that bad,” she says through my sputtering as my mind attempts to comprehend this wrongdoing, “It’s Amazon, remember, just tell the, you got the wrong thing.”
“Amazon...,” I manage to say.
“Yes, Amazon, they care more about loyal customers than getting scammed; they have the net worth to handle it even if you were to lie.”
“Big business,” my mouth utters listlessly as she starts rubbing my back to console my anxiety.
“And, hey,” she grabs the book from me to observe, “who doesn’t love deckled edges. I wouldn’t mind keeping the book; just tell them you never got it so we don’t have to return it to get the right one.”
“Deckl—dec—what?” I jerk my head up at the book in her hands.
“Yeah, it’s either deckled or ripped green pages, I can’t tell b—”
“Well, open it, then,” I interrupt
“If you let me speak, I could’ve said that it’s locked, dipshit.”
For the first time since ripping it from its taped up bubble wrapped harness, I truly look at the book. It’s the leather like Moleskin cover but stained in the corners, roughed up. ‘Blood?’ I jokingly ask in my mind, and yet, I have no actual reason to presume it isn’t blood. I take the book from her and turn it over and sure enough, no typical elastic closure to be seen, only a small metal lock holding the book together.
“I was going to ask for the key,” she ranted, “but nooo, interrup—”
She can’t finish, I’m already out of the room. I shove my hands into the blue, plastic recycle bin, torrents of bubble wrap fly up into the air at my thrust. I dig about frantically, my curiosity impregnates the thoughts abound my mind, and when I find that Amazon package I careened into the bin earlier, I’m elated. Shuffling about the wrapping I am greeted by a small dime bag between my fingers with a key in it. I burst into the room, gold key held up to Sarah’s face.
“Well, fuck,” she says excitedly. “I never knew getting stiffed by Amazon could be so exhilarating.”
I toss her the key, “Well, open it.”
She doesn’t catch the key. Both of us have just the worst hand eye coordination, but, whatever, she gets the job done and key goes in lock. The latch pops open with a satisfying click accentuated by my unbridled desire for this to fulfill the hole left by my lack of limited edition journal. The book almost bursts as it’s unlocked and from it a hundred dollar slowly drifts to the floor. Our eyes track the gently befallen bill.
“What the fuck,” we say in unison. Unglued from the hundred, we peer over at eachother, but the eye contact is broken when we see the stack of green in the book.
Sarah thumbs the first “page”. It’s a pair of hundred dollar bills scotch taped together and to the binding forming a faux sheet of journal paper. The next page is the same, yet missing its second hundred dollar bill. I manage to remove myself from my stupor and pick up the one from the floor and reattach it slowly to its partner bill. I’m in awe. We both are.
“A journal has, uh, a hundred pages in it on average, right?” she stammers.
Two hundred dollars per page by a hundred pages? But that’s...