Dream of: 02 March 1998 (2) "Utter Confusion"

While I was visiting Portsmouth, I had been dropped off downtown, where I intended to visit a second-hand thrift store. I had frequented this store on previous occasions when I had visited Portsmouth, when the store had been located in a different part of town. Now the store had moved right downtown, into the building where the old Revco drug store used to be. As I walked toward the store, I was somewhat concerned with how I was going to return to my mother's house when I was finished. Usually I drove myself when I would come downtown. But now I was on foot, and since my mother lived several kilometers away, if I bought anything at the store, it would be difficult for me to carry it so far.

As soon as I stepped into the store, I saw that it was much larger than it used to be in its old building. The neighboring buildings even appeared to have been incorporated into the store and they could be reached by doors through the walls. Many of the shelves seemed to be filled with old books and magazines, and I decided to start my search by looking at the comic books. It seemed to me that in the past I had been able to find some collectable comics here. When I walked over to the wooden shelves containing the comics, I immediately saw a comic lying on top that I would like to have – an early issue of X-Men, issue No. 3 or 4. But I was disappointed when I picked up the comic, because most of the inside pages were missing. I wondered if the pages had been taken out and were being held behind the front counter, so no one would want to steal the comic. Some large pages of comics, the size of newspaper comics, were lying on the shelf. For a moment I thought the large pages might be the missing pages from the comic books; but then I realized those pages were much too large to fit into the comic book.

I was distracted for a moment by another man who had entered the store. As he walked past me, he said something to me, but I didn't respond. He was a squat middle-aged fellow, rather slovenly dressed. He seemed to be talking to himself. I instinctively found something distasteful about him. I watched him head straight for a table of porno magazines behind me. I now realized he was rapping off the names of the magazines lying on the table. The man's obvious interest in the magazines confirmed my initial repulsion of him. In fact, the entire store began to seem tawdry and dismal. Although I was no longer interested in the comic books, I decided to glance into the adjoining room before leaving.

Walls of shelves laden with all sorts of clutter filled the next room. A large gray rat scurried along one shelf. Most people would be probably be so appalled by the sight of the rat that they would leave. But the rat didn't deter me as I surveyed the room for objects of possible interest. My eyes quickly fell upon a table laden with old Beta-format video tapes. I took an immediate interest. I had been collecting movie soundtracks of albums made from the 1950s through the 1980s, the old LP albums with the colorful covers. I had also been collecting other material which tied in with the soundtracks. Beta tapes were a good example. If I could find a Beta tape of a movie for which a soundtrack had been made on LP, then I would be interested in buying it. Immediately I saw a Beta which interested me, the movie Around the World in 80 Days, with a picture of the colorful hot-air balloon on the front. This was an obvious gem which I at once snatched up.

Unfortunately, as I rummaged through the remaining Betas, I didn't find any other tapes of movies for which LP soundtracks had been manufactured. So I turned my attention to a shelf of Life magazines. I had also discovered that certain issues of old magazines contained colorful cover photos of movies. Again, I was very selective in what I wanted: I only wanted magazines with covers showing movies for which LP soundtracks had been made. Thus the Life magazines proved to be a disappointment, for they were all newer issues, of no interest to me.

I walked around the store a little more. I found another back room which gave onto the alley. The room had a wide assortment of uninteresting junk on its shelves. I noticed many candles, some of which were in the shape of characters from animated cartoons. It occurred to me that someone could rush in from the alley and steal something — but of course everything in this room was hardly worth stealing, so there wasn't much danger of that occurring.

When I stepped into another larger room, I encountered a black man whom I recognized. He was a strong-looking fellow (around 30 years old). I spoke with him and quickly learned that he owned everything in this particular room. I recalled that the last time I had seen him, he had had a small covey-hole of a shop where he sat all day and sold his few pitiful items. Now he rented this one room from the owner of the store and sold his wares here. He had much more to sell, but to me the idea of working in this room still seemed rather pathetic. I spoke to the fellow and he responded with a wide smile. We conversed for a while, and he pointed out that he had a table full of lobby cards from old movies. Immediately interested, I turned to the table and began looking through the lobby cards.

But now I was becoming pressed for time. Carolina had turned up, and was standing beside me, hurrying me on. Since she was so impatient to leave, I riffled through the lobby cards as fast as I could. I quickly saw some colorfully photographed lobby cards which interested me. Again I was only searching for movies for which LP soundtracks had been produced. The first one I found was The Longest Day, a black and white movie about the D-Day invasion of Europe. Next I found what I immediately recognized as a rarity, The Bible. I knew most people were unaware that a movie entitled The Bible had actually been produced during the 1960s. I definitely wanted this lobby card. I was unsure about a third lobby card. It was entitled Rachel and (a name). I thought I remembered a soundtrack of a movie simply entitled Rachel, a movie about an Old Testament character. But I didn't recall a movie about Rachel and someone else, so I thought I wouldn't be interested in this particular lobby card.

Carolina was becoming more and more impatient. Now I only needed to know how much the lobby cards cost. A sign said they were 4 for "about" $13.00. I thought they must therefore cost $4.00 apiece and that if four cards were bought, there would be a discount. I thought the word "about" had been put on the sign because the black fellow would probably actually charge $14.00 or $15.00. I thought about asking him if by "about" he meant $12.99.

But I didn't say anything to him. Instead, I began reflecting a little on what I was doing. Really, I hardly knew what I was doing. I thought to myself if I were to describe how I was behaving at the moment, I would have to say, "I was in a state of utter confusion."

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