The Collector

It must have been close to midnight when I came back. There were no lights on downstairs so Judy had gone to bed. She doesn’t normally stay up when I’m out seeing a seller anyway.

I shifted the sack to my other hand. As I crossed the road I checked both ways. Habit, really. Nothing to worry about. No one around at this time of night, just a couple of drunks arguing further down the street. One of them was complaining, the other one trying to calm his mate down. If it was his mate. What did I care.

I opened the front door, went in and bolted it. The hall was dark and I felt along the wall for the switch, not the main one but the one that does the light at the top of the stairs down to the basement.

I put the sack down and flexed my fingers. It wasn’t heavy but awkward. I should have brought a bag, proper job with handles, but I was only planning on buying two. Couldn’t resist them, though, so there were six in here. The sack was all he had. Obviously didn’t expect to make that kind of a sale, had nothing to offer me to transport them. Small point but it made me mark him down as an amateur. Perhaps I shouldn’t have paid so much. Amateurs can go two ways – they can be bullied or they hold out for a silly price. With pros, you know where you are. There’s leeway and you both haggle but you know and he knows there’s a max and a min. Amateurs have no idea. Still, I’ve got them now. That’s what counts.

I picked up the sack again and opened the basement door. There was another light switch here, one I didn’t need to feel for. Left-arm job, up and back to the wall above the door frame. Not where you’d expect. That’s the point. Never know when an extra few seconds might make a difference.


• The rest of this story is now available in a paperback book (as are 25 others) – Unaccustomed as I Am (RRP £9.95).

It is stocked by the Hungerford Bookshop and you can place your order here.

Copies are also available at the White Horse Bookshop in Marlborough, the Mad Hatter Bookshop in Wantage and through an increasing number of other retailers.

You can order it from any bookshop: they will need to know that the ISBN is 978-1-8382580-0-9 and that it can be ordered from Gardners or Central Books.


Brian Quinn

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