Jokes, Part 4

“No,” she said out loud. “The hell with this.”

And then, then it came to her. She thought of the receipt she’d found in his jeans, and the best joke she’d ever thought of was right there in front of her.

He kept his comic books in long white cardboard boxes at the foot of the closet, underneath where his tweed jackets and corduroy pants hung. Back in the day, when they went to high school together for four years without ever acknowledging each other’s existence, he’d shopped for books and baseball cards at the collectibles shop where she jockeyed the register. He never said a word to her back then, even as she rung up his books. She’d pegged him as the type of guy who just couldn’t process the idea of a chick knowing anything about comics, but she’d since learned that he thought she was rad as hell—even before she’d lost the weight—and was just too in awe of a woman in the midst of the sausage fest that never knew what to say. He’d just tuck his bag of books into his messenger bag, collect his skateboard from its place by the door, and be gone. She recalled with a smile how low his pants hung in those years as she pushed his hanger of belts aside.

He would never admit it and she would never say it, but the truth was that she knew way more about comics than he did. In her head, she did some math, figuring out exactly how much she’d need to take with her to get the cash she needed. Then she pulled the lid off the box marked A-N and ran her fingers along the bagged and boarded books until she was near the back. She flipped through a few issues before she found what she was looking for, then smiled as she pulled it free from its fellows.

The cover was mostly orange, with four close-ups of the heroes set in the middle of circular crosshairs. These were set off to the right to reveal the scowling visage of a silver-haired tough guy with a glowing eye, a spiked bracelet, and an enormous handgun. The cover price? A buck in 1990. Its value now? At least a carton of cigarettes, maybe more.

She slipped it under her arm, grabbed her keys off the thumbtack by the door, and set off for the comic book store.

To be continued…

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