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THE COLLECTOR'S EXHIBIT

 
I hope you'll forgive my rather brief presentation tonight, ladies and 
gentlemen, but it's been a long day and I haven't had time to rest. 

The problem with collecting is one never knows when to stop. When I picked up my first item, the skull of Louis the Fifth, I never dreamed it would lead to an entire display of royal heads. You can see them in the left-hand corner, near the crocodile skins. 

And that next case, the Struthiomimus eggs. You'll object that they look 
like bird shells. They do. But I assure you they come from one of the 
remoter sections of Eastern Mongolia, where even Professor Andrews forgot to look. They don't behave like ordinary eggs - go ahead, pick one up. When you do, you'll find it makes a sound halfway between a monkey's yip and a dog's bark. I like to think they retain something of their original inheritance from a hundred million years ago. 

In fact, all my collectibles have a curious property you won't find in 
museums. That mummy, for instance. It looks like one of those Guanajuato relics you may have heard about, but it's really from the back seat of a serial killer's car. Rumors are his wife had gotten on to him and was about to report his philanderings. Anyway, the guy couldn't take it, so he did this to her. But what really makes it interesting is when you cut the mummy open. You'll find that all the internal organs have been meticulously duplicated in natural clay. I'll say this --- the man was a promising sculptor, and I've been trying to track him down for weeks to sample more of his work. Alas, he never seems to stay in one place long. 

Now, hanging from the ceiling is an old Hasselblad movie camera. Prosaic, you say. But after 35 years, it still works perfectly. The reason I keep it, though, is when you point it at anything, in any direction, it always films the same thing: the inside of the factory where it was first produced. I don't know why. In fact, it took me quite a bit of research to find out what that dismal place was that kept showing up in all the frames. Finally, after long months in libraries, scanning through catalogs, and numerous interviews with camera buffs, I traced the whole thing. Of course, the factory's gone, 
now --- razed over 20 years ago. But these souvenirs still live. 

Again, I'll keep it short. But I must show you this one. It's an 
old-fashioned pine coffin, no different than a million others in lower-class districts. But I wanted something plain and honest. I don't like this meretricious stuff you find in parlors nowadays. Somehow you always expect to see wiring inside, or even some tiny computers. No, this was what I had in mind. True, the air gets a bit stale after a few hours, but I generally prop the lid with a modest-sized stone, so it isn't too unpleasant. And I often take a magazine to read, something from the alternative press, preferably. These mainstream icons are horridly tacky. I've even considered installing a skylight, but I'm afraid it might be atmospherically, well, a bit "askew." 

That must be it for now. I trust you've had a fine evening. There are donuts and coffee in back, some very special donuts I might add. And please find one of my cards on your way out --- don't hesitate to call if you'd like a special tour.
 

- Paul Kesler
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