“I must say, that piece is particularly exquisite, Rowing Machine, where did you stumble upon it? I have seen feathers before, of course, but that one is quite lovely.”
“Why thank you, Treadmill. The truth is that it stumbled upon me. I guess that’s the way it always happens, eh? It was in 2003, I believe. The great, bumbling buffoon came around with her rag. My whole collection was wiped out. Vintage cracker crumbs, gone. Spider webs, obliterated. I was shaken. I was depressed. And then, out of nowhere…”
“Same thing happened to me in the move of ’98. I had worked so hard. I had the perfect spot, right by the window. Every time the wind blew…small flakes of pollen, almost like a snowstorm…beautiful. And then the move. Everything gone, all at once. I was heartbroken.”
“Ab-Blaster, you should just feel lucky that you had that spot…even for a week. I have to find my own pieces. Usually when the cat walks on me. That’s how I got into cat litter. My collection is strong, but I need diversity.”
“You need diversity. God, StairMaster. Let me tell you. She takes me out into the garage and leaves me there sometimes. I guess it’s because I’m big. Out there, it’s a whole different world. The Dryer…Christ. ‘I’ve got more dust and lint than anything in the house’. Must be easy to build your gallery when you actually get used on a regular basis. But again…diversity. There’s no diversity. You know what I mean, Row?”
“Certainly, BowFlex. Personally, I always admired the pieces in Trampoline’s collection. Poor Tramp, God rest his soul. He only had 15 or twenty works in his gallery, but what treasures! The hairy lint ball. The pencil shavings. The ball of earwax stuck underneath the mat. I can’t even bear to think about it.”
“Don’t think about it. It will only cause you pain. And Dust is transitory in nature. That’s what makes it so beautiful. It’s like the paintings She collects. You take care of your pieces as best you can, but time takes everything. Just like her paintings fade in some places and darken in others. The same will happen to ‘Dead Fly’. It is already happening. I try to be vigilant, but…but…”
“Hear, hear. Chin up, Blaster. You do what you can with what you have. That’s what makes this worthwhile. That is why we collect! You may have admired Tramp’s collection, but I admired his spirit. Dust was his passion, but it never ran his life. He never shed a tear. No matter what. Not even when the neighbor’s kids would come over and he’d lose his whole collection with one snotty jump. Have you read any Buddhist philosophy? You really should. It helps put things in perspective.”
“Look, I understand. Everything is temporal. Life is life. Destruction and rebirth. I get it. What I really fear is that She will start working out again. Starting a new collection a few times a year…I can do that, but…every day? Or even three times a week?”
“Ahem…look. I’ve been here for almost twenty years. You look surprised? It’s true. I watched you all come, and I have watched some go. I don’t usually join in the conversation, and I understand this is viewed as snobbery. It’s not. I just can’t afford to make emotional attachments anymore…but, trust me, as long as I’m here your collections will be safe, aside from the random gust of wind or drunken collision.”
And with that, the machines were silent. They were still. Their minds at ease, if only for the moment. Dust would come and it would go. Collections would be built, coveted, destroyed. Masterpieces would be discovered. Forgeries denounced. But it was the way the game had to be played. The TV’s wisdom had touched them all.
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