The Time Machine and the Vintage Comic Book Dealer
By Harrington A Lackey
My name is Jim Pulp and I sell vintage comic books. I’m no ordinary comic book dealer. My office is located in an old drug store that shut down in the 1920s and has not undergone much restoration since. So, there is nothing flashy about my office; it certainly doesn’t look like a “normal” comic book store with lots of posters and superhero status. I have a wooden counter where I greet my clients, and in the back, I have a time machine… Yes! A real-time machine that I have never mentioned to anybody. It’s my secret!
My customers are special; they want extremely rare vintage comic books. They know that I have a reputation for selling the best ones at huge bargain prices. The name of my business is “Time Travel Comic Books.” My office hours are by appointment only.
You may wonder why I have a time machine and how I acquired it. My father began building it forty years ago when I graduated from college. Dad had several doctorates in Mathematics, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, and a Master’s degree in Architecture to boot. He kept the machine a secret from the family for over ten years. I remember the day he finished it; he brought me and my mom down and opened the door to his secret office and showed it to us.
At first, it looked like a giant plastic bubble, like a miniature canopy of a helicopter. It had two doors which easily swung open. Inside there was a seat and in front of it were a few digital displays.
“Wanna go for a ride?” Dad asked me. I was scared. “It’s OK,” he said, “I tried it myself. Went back in time.”
“Where did you go, or… when?” I asked.
“I set these digital dials to August 11, 1910. 9:30 A.M. But I didn’t go anywhere. I just appeared on this same spot at that exact time I told you. This machine never moves to a different location, such as another city, or country; it always stays where it sits except at a different point in time.”
“What happened when you arrived?” I asked.
“I scared some builders who were working on this house,” he said. “You see the house was built in 1910, and I popped in on those workers. I don’t know who was more surprised, me or them.”
Mom and I laughed nervously. My eyes were bulging. We couldn’t still quite believe him.
“Come on, Jim. Let’s take a ride!” Dad said enthusiastically. I looked at Mom; her eyes were bulging like mine.
The machine could seat two people, so I got in with my dad. He set the controls to March 5, 1935, at 1:15 P.M.
“Jim, I want to show you something important,” he said as he pushed a few buttons. Within seconds, we literally “popped” into the same place, the same house, which hadn’t changed much in the last fifty years.
“Here we are!” Dad exclaimed as he opened the machine door. “I think we can leave it here for a while.” As I was getting out, he said, “We’re going to take a stroll… sort of… down memory lane.”
We left the house and walked several miles into New York City. People stared at us because of the modern clothes were wearing. Dad said, “Don’t pay attention to them. Let them stare.”
Then, Dad stopped. He was staring at a corner where there stood a newspaper rack. He pointed at it and said, “Look at that young man selling newspapers. That’s me.”
My jaw fell to my waist. I was completely scared?… mesmerized?… stunned?… or, all three? Indeed! At least all three!
“I worked there all through college and graduate school. I made my money selling newspapers, magazines and comic books until the late sixties.” He paused, clearing his throat. “Now, I want to ask you something important, Jim,” he said, looking at me with a serious face.
“Yes?” I replied, slowly looking back at him.
“How would you like to make a lot of money, working for me?” he said, staring at me, eye to eye. “I know you love comic books. Would you like to become a comic book dealer?… Not just any comic books, rare, valuable comic books!”
All I could do was slowly nod my head yes as my mouth still stood open. He put his arm behind me and we walked several blocks to the old drug store while avoiding the younger him.
“Now, we’re going to rent this old store. We don’t have to clean it yet, but this is where you’ll promote yourself as a comic book dealer.”
I was beginning to understand what he was proposing. I caught on!
Dad said, “Now, let’s suppose you have a client who wants the first issue of “‘Action Comics’,” featuring the first appearance of Superman. Where do you suppose you’re going to get the rarest comic book issue in history?”
An enormous grin settled on my face. “Dear old Dad! Right down the corner!”
“Exactly!” he smiled. “You just get in that time machine and go to June, 1938-the rough date it came out. You would give young me one Mercury Head dime and you get the comic book!”
On November 13, 1998, my father became ill. Mom had already passed away and I took care of Dad. After all, I was rather a wealthy trading a little money for rare, some, not so rare comic books. I gave Dad the best care money could afford. Just before he died, he said to me, “When I asked you if you wanted to be a vintage comic book dealer, I knew what you were going to say, because I remembered you coming to the newspaper stand many times, all those years to buy comic books. You supported me and I supported you.”
I wanted to cry. However, I knew I could always visit him at the newspaper stand.
You may also like to read When the Past and the Present Merge: https://sparrow-publishing.ca/when-past-present-merge