In the old Arncliffe Town Hall, Craig Edgley was down on one knee, flicking through a crate of records, when he came across a dynamic looking cover; stone heads on a grassy knoll, stars sweeping a night sky, surrounding the title, an eerie purple glow:
With an excitement in his throat, he flipped it over and was met by more text that he could not read.
“How much is this?”
“Twenty bucks,” said the stall-owner who was in the midst of pricing a record pile.
Craig made an extra point of studying the record. It gave him some time to think about the price, but he could also see that the condition wasn’t that great: the corners were slightly bent, and the shape of the disc had embossed itself through the thin cardboard . . . but everything else told him it was something of value; he had never heard of this album, despite knowing almost every kosmische record release from the 1970s.
“I’ll give you ten.”
“Sorry mate, twenty.”
Craig bit his lip. Almost everything he had bought today had been two or three dollars — five at most.
And in what he intuitively knew was a dumb move (but a carefully practiced one), he removed the record from its sleeve, rotated it slowly between his palms, without letting his fingers touch the black disc, before saying:
“There’s a scratch on it.”
He wasn’t lying — there was a scratch on it. But not a bad one; the difference between a ‘very good’ and a ‘very good plus‘ grading.
“Look mate, I know you think you’re one up on me,” said the stall-owner, putting down his roll of stickers. “But I’ll tell you something for nothing. That’s from a run of 250, right. It’s so fucking rare, you won’t even find it on Discogs!”
“Two hundred and fifty?” said Craig.
“Then why aren’t you selling it online? You’d get more for it, than at a record fair.”
The man looked around for a moment, “Well, I’ve got a sick kid, and I don’t really have the time to fuck around anymore, waiting for a cashed-up collector.”
Craig’s neck flushed red. He instantly felt ashamed for his ‘scratched record’ routine. He pulled out his wallet and gave the man a fifty.
“You got anything smaller than that?”
“No,” said Craig.
“Hold on then.”
The man left the stall, weaving through the crowd of record enthusiasts, over to the coffee-counter on the other side of the room. He bought himself a coffee and a danish with Craig’s fifty, then returned with the change, giving Craig back thirty dollars.
“By the way, You probably think it’s German, but it’s not,” said the man, as he smoothed out a reused plastic bag for Craig to put the record in. “It’s Norwegian.”
“Okay, thanks for the heads up,” said Craig, and walked off.
But after getting a few aisles away, Craig looked back to see the man drinking his coffee, munching his Danish, his head down stickering records again — and Craig began to wonder if the man even had any kids, let alone a sick one.
However, when he looked down at his crumpled bag, at the purple lettering of the cover peering through the white plastic, something inside knew that this was the real deal; that the record was in fact unique; and like a teenage boy with a new porno mag, all he could think about was getting home, pulling down the blinds, and lowering the needle onto the black disc, scratch or no scratch.
Maybe he wouldn’t sell this one. Maybe he would keep it for himself.
Header image by Edu Grande / Unsplash.com