And like that, he was gone
An encounter with one elusive Chicago record-seller is like trying to buy your vinyl from Keyser Söze.
I’m left intrigued by Ethan’s suggestion of Fletcher, this mysterious bloke in Chicago who sells records by appointment only. If you want to buy stuff you have to ring him up and arrange a meeting. Ethan had told me that he’d tried to get hold of him a couple of times, but that nothing had come of it. What sort of record dealer is this, who makes it so difficult to actually get hold of him in the first place that even desperate wax addicts, primed to chuck their precious cash about, are left giving up and spending it on sensible stuff like food and school clothes? He’s a retail enigma, like trying to buy your vinyl from Keyser Söze. Or an Argos catalogue of mirrored pages.
Still, if playing hard to get works in affairs of the heart, there’s no reason it shouldn’t apply when you’re selling George Benson albums. A swift bit of Googling reveals that Fletcher is in fact a bit of a Chicago institution. Apparently the store opened back in 1953, and Fletch is seen as facilitating many a Chicagoan's introduction to music buying. Actually it's a bit confusing, as he seems to have a store address, which just adds to the mystery around why you have to ring him up.
I call the number. I ask for Fletcher. I get told to ‘hold on a minute’. After two full minutes of total silence, an older voice comes on the phone.
I try to explain what I’m after, that I understand he sells records by appointment only and that I’d like to know how to go about doing that. He can’t understand anything I’m saying. ‘You’re not being clear,’ he says. I slow it right down and spell it right out. It takes ages. ‘When do you want to come?’ he says finally. ‘Saturday?’ I suggest.
‘Call me another day.’