“Now then, Mr. Klatubowski, what is it I can do for you?”
Jerome sat across from the unremarkable little man in a billowy black rain jacket and fedora. He looked very out of place in Jerome’s ultra modern office of modular metals and arid glass. In Hollywood, it was never about comfort, all about show.
“Forgive inarticulateness. English difficult. No proximate parallels.” Mr. Klatubowski held up his two small, almost plastically smooth hands and moved them mechanically in and out from his chest. “Vast media. Aural, optical, tactile. Need acquire.”
As VDF director in charge of sales, Jerome had worked with some pretty interesting types, but the little man gave off a vibe that was beyond eccentric. “Could you be more specific? ViaDishFlix has a wide slate of media offerings.”
The doll-like hands moved in and out as Mr. Klaruboski answered, “All. Entirety.”
Jerome blinked. He almost never blinked. “Let me make sure I’m clear on what you are asking. You’d like to purchase our entire media catalogue?”
The shiny hands moved faster. “Absoluteness. All.”
Jerome swiveled in his chair, so that he could give the impression he was deeply considering Mr. Klatubowski’s last remark. Really, though, he was observing the strange little man out of the corner of his eye and wondering if he posed a threat. His request was absurd. The catalogue holdings of VDF encompassed two-thirds of the world-wide media produced in the past hundred years.
He swiveled back to face Mr. Klatubowski. “I’m sorry, sir, but that is impossible. No outside entity is equipped to handle the extent of our content library, nor afford that kind of access. Whoever set up this meeting,” Jerome smiled thinly knowing that individual would be looking for work tomorrow, “led you astray, and I am very sorry for that, but I’m afraid I cannot help you.”
Mr. Klatubowski’s hands moved more slowly as he responded. “Forgive inarticulateness. Clumsy doppelganger.” Mr. Klatubowski’s eyes glowed brightly blue. “See. See.”
And Jerome was gone. Or Mr. Klatubowski was gone. Or his whole damn office vanished.
In its place, vibrant media surrounded and supported Jerome. His body surfed through a sea of utterly alien representations. He felt them with a close and curious kinship, experiencing each sensual stimulation as poignant, ridiculous, hilarious, demanding, depraved, and on and on. The sheer volume and foreignness of the representations saturated his brain until he thought he might entirely trip out and go mad.
Then as quickly as the onslaught to his senses had arrived, it departed. He was back at his desk with Mr. Klatubowski.
“Apologies. Countenance alarmed. No harm. Perception needed. See?”
Jerome rubbed at his eyes. “What happened? What did I see?”
Mr. Klatubowski’s hands spread expansively. “All. Universal content.”
“You mean Universal Studios?”
The little hands clapped together with a hollow ping. “Mistaken. All universe. Galactic story trade. Buy content production. Must acquire.”
Finally sussing the depth of this beyond-Hollywood weirdness, Jerome’s business instincts perked up. “Are you saying, you represent beings beyond our world who want to trade?”
“Absoluteness. Extra-planetary broker. Acquire content. Universal commodity.”
“Universal commodity? You want trade, but not our technology or natural resources, just our media content?”
“Archives. Chronicles. All stories.”
“But what is special about earth’s stories. What makes them remarkable?”
“Unremarkable. Unusual. Freakish.” Mr. Klatubowski’s petite hands circled upwards. “Newness. Surprise. Astonishment. Stale universe. Earth fresh.”
That was a concept Jerome understood well. Fresh content. If alien races weren’t interested in our micro-circuitry, our abundant water or our tasty flesh, then why not I Love Lucy, Plan 9 from Outer Space, The Bay City Rollers, Paul Clifford. Where else were you going to find that novelty on the seventh moon of Vega on a Friday night?
“Yes, I do see: content’s the thing, content is king. I think we have an understanding, Mr. Klatubowski. Shall we shake on it?”
Jerome extended his hand and enveloped, Mr. Klatubowski’s tiny ones. A trill of energy raced up Jerome’s arms and his eyes flashed an impossible blue. Together the two brokers raced through VDF’s catalogue.
“Satisfied?” Jerome asked.
“Absoluteness.” Mr. Klatubowski’s hands rested upon the table. No longer needed, they looked so much bigger in comparison to the nodes that now extended beyond his sleeves. “Now then. We begin.”