I suddenly have all this disposable income. I never thought his game would take off. I dreamed of it, yes, but didn’t consider it as a real possibility. It’s getting rave reviews and the money keeps pouring in. I go on Amazon, and buy cool action figures. I keep them sealed, so they maintain their value and stack them purposefully. I’ve dedicated a whole room for them. Once a year, I dust each one, admire them. I realize I have duplicates but can’t bring myself to resell them. The coolest ones make their way to the living room, the dining room, the bedroom. I move them around, according to my mood, but mostly I shelf them.
I have lengthy imaginary conversations with them and I get them more and more friends. I’m lonely I suppose, despite the fame or because of it. Mom is always after me to get myself a girl and settle down. I go online and flirt. It never goes anywhere. I’m just not that interested. To tell the truth, I’m a little depressed. I’ve put on weight. I can afford to get my grocery delivered at the door. I still cook, go out to see mom, socialize online. Apart from the UPS guy, though, I don’t really have daily live contacts with anybody.
I decide to make an effort for Gaby’s stag party. I hit it off with Jolene. I’m feeling good, confident and funny. We head away from the noise, find a little café and chat. We’re getting edgy so I suggest a drink at my place. It’s pretty clean, I pick up after myself. We’re kissing frantically on the landing. I fumble for my keys. I open the door, and the current between us dies. I hear her say, “What is this?” in an odd voice. My confidence dies. I see the apartment through her eyes. Piled high with dusty boxes, wrapping intact, tens of action figures welcome you in. They are encased in their little plastic rooms, frozen in motion, as though dead and cryopreserved.
She remembers how late it is and requests a Uber ride. He calls within minutes to say he’s close by. We part with relief, the awkwardness thick between us like a wall of deceit. I am mortified. I can just imagine her texting her BBF “I almost did it with this weird guy – his apartment is overrun with kid’s toys.” I look at my collection differently. I walk through the rooms – thank God she only saw the entrance and living room. Right there and then, I grab large garbage bags and start stuffing the boxes in them. I don’t want to see them anymore. They mirror back a guy with dwindling money (my fans are clamouring for a sequel), no friends to speak of, and a year’s worth of action figures. I must have over 500 of them!
I sleep poorly. The action figures in the garbage bags complain that they’re suffocating. They start ripping their cardboard boxes. Once exposed to air, their colours fade, they are confused by the sudden freedom. I can see their value drop. Money is burning, spreadsheets are dissolving, my bank manager calls to say I am in the red. I am no longer allowed to buy action figures. But I always want one more, one more,… I wake up in a sweat, heart pounding. I remember last night’s humiliating scene and close my eyes again. I am hungover. I rarely drink, I overdid it.
I get up and pull out the boxes from the garbage bags. They are no longer pristine. I was in a rage when I stuffed them in. They’ve lost their value. I survey the scene. I only tackled the lobby and living room. I can perhaps create dioramas and place them in natural positions. It’s just a hobby. It doesn’t have to be creepy. I just need to create sceneries, buy a few backgrounds. I had been mulling this over for a while. Now is a good time to start. I still have some credit on Amazon.