The head of Johhny Burns

Submitted into Contest #122 in response to: Write a story about a limited edition item going on sale.... view prompt


Historical Fiction Horror

This story contains themes or mentions of mental health issues.

We knew we were in the right place when we pulled up to a Shelby Cobra in the drive-way and what looked like a time-capsule for a house. My business partner, Josie, was unimpressed but he was new to the scene of these types of antiquity situations. It wasn’t an original Shelby Cobra, mind you, but that’s what made it special. When we got out and sized it up, it was signed by Caroll Shelby himself. Once Josie saw that, his eyes glazed over. We were in the right place after hours of searching the L.A. hills.

I was excited the second we pulled up to the house; 10050 Cielo. The address remained in the back of my head for the longest time and I didn’t know why until I saw the house. Like the flip of a switch, darkness became day; it was the Manson Murder house. Like a time-capsule from the 60’s Josie and I embarked onto the journey in to the Manson-Tate House. 

And that’s what I offer; the weird, the bizarre. You see, Caroll Shelby would have never signed a Cobra replica. His followers know it, many people in our trade know it but here it was, plain as day. You see, it was insulting to him. Caroll hated Cobra replicas. It was insulting to him to think you could build a Cobra just as good as Shelby himself. He may have been a jerk, yes, but his legacy remains; he’s a legend and people pay top dollar for pieces of pop culture history like this. How and why will always remain a mystery to the common man, but what people want in this field, I can provide. 

The retailer industry would put a price on this but you but I know this is priceless. It would change hands countless times but the price will only go up. The host knew it and I did too. Our names will be associated with a ledger that kept track of these rarities throughout the years and that was a real high of the job. That piece of history had my name on it. I did something to preserve my part of this sick and twisted humanity in hopes of future generations understanding the grotesque nature we currently live in. No matter how tasteless it may be, hopefully one day the future generation will have it a little better and laugh at these horrific acts like they're something out of a fairy tale (not the Disney fairy tales, the real ones they take from). Someone from generations apart from me, maybe 500-1000 years from now will look at what I collected and thank and praise my name rather than the rebuke I obtain on a daily basis in this lifetime. 

We were greeted at the door by the host holding an automatic rifle but this was to be anticipated. I knew going into this he was a showboat. It was 1 of 4 Tommy guns once owned by the North Side Gang. He showed us on the video call before flying here and I figured he would greet us with it in hand. He was truly engrossed in his newly acquired off-putting asset. He was proud to obtain it and rightly so; it was a good find. Once said to be in the vault of Al Capone, luckily, Geraldo Rivera saved us all the embarrassment of opening. If you know the story, good for you.

He welcomed us in while ranting and raving about his abode like it was the holy grail; it was close. He may have greeted us with a smile and a handshake but the conversation started and ended with the proclamation of his success. He had all the toys and was not afraid to show them off: autographed Avia shoes in a glass case highlighted the foyer (the shoes worn by the Night Stalker), an autographed Kobe Bryant basketball, specifically his last 60-point game, an autographed picture of the Pope blessing a man signed by a Geoffrey Epstein (No clue the significance. I’ll have to research that later), baseball bats signed by the killers who used them (very, very rare), driving gloves from Ted Bundy’s kill kit, autographed pictures hanging, etc. He even had a piece of the little bastard hanging above his mantle. (For those of you who lost, the “Little Bastard,” was off a 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder that killed James Dean). He was a serious dealer despite his brazen personality and could ask top dollar and would. Mind you, the shock of this collection was almost overwhelming, but I endured as calmy as I could. It’s no lie he was sitting on an accumulated gold mine but I've been in this situation before. I was here for a specific rarity of bizarre for a customer who, for lack of a better phrase, loved the sheer bravery exhibited in this piece.  

In the living room, I suspect, is where he must have spent the majority of his time. In the center of the conversation pit was the new Thanos Scorpion gaming chair, retail $10k not including installation. To be clear, it was shaped like a scorpion’s tail and tailored for professionals with long gameplay times. It was basically a chair that wrapped around you when you sat to play games making it more comfortable for the long haul. He was a self-proclaimed streamer but I never heard of him and I kept up with that sub culture. Anyway, the chair was signed in white marker by someone, but I couldn’t make it out. He was using it, so I’m guessing it was of little value. 

Anyway, I was always interested in history. It almost felt like something of legend and mythology. But, to hold it in your hand was an unimaginable feeling of complexity, disheartened horror, happiness and sadness all at once. It was crazy to think of the appetite people have for these trinkets of horror. How about an IRS notice for Al Capone? The tunic worn by the BTK killer at his last Halloween party? Son of Sam’s postal bag (yes, he was a mailman), John Lennon’s personal piano, etc. The list goes on and on. If you could think of it, chances are they were out there. These were items lost in time but reclaimed by people like me. People who did their research. Savants of the weird history known as mankind. 

We stepped over the abundantly organized stacked cords, uniform for the most part, that lined the back hallway leading to the outside and guest bedroom. We had to practically jump over the cords to get to our destination. The cords were lined with plastic so as to not to destroy the original carpet beneath. If you were to ask a professional like me, if I owned this treasure chest of ghostly murder, I would sleep in the guest cottage and leave this time capsule alone; lock the doors, seal the windows and build a house around the house. But that was me. 

Entering the back guest bedroom was like removing myself further from reality, going further into the void. Not only was it not a guest bedroom, it was a kid's room. A light blue painted kids room. The darker painted blue clowns on the wall, the red and yellow painted circus animals were a perfect touch. The little white crib in the room was especially unsettling (I swear I saw a pregnant woman walk past the doorway we entered previously but your mind plays tricks on you in these type of situations). 

But there, in the crib, sat my treasure. Josie saw it first. I was still trying to get over the complex situation we were in; a collector of rare and bizarre antiquities led us through a circus of hate and lead us into an epicenter of wrong. The sheer dichotomy of sick and twisted rested here. You could smell it, like a faint stench of 30 yr. old rotting death. Not only were we in a death house, but we were in the never-born kids room gawking over a children’s card. What was the treasure that wisped us away from this freakshow? The 1990 HOOPS #205 Mark Jackson signed basketball card. Let me reiterate and expand for those of you who don't know; a basketball card signed by Mark Jackson and 2 men sitting court-side watching the game. What’s the significance? It was signed by Erik and Lyle Menendez. Let me explain.

While these brothers sat courtside watching a game, a picture was taken for a basketball card. It was unknown at the time that the same men sitting court-side brutally murdered their parents just days before.

They went on a spending spree while their dead parents lay in the trunk of their car in the parking lot of that game where their picture was taken. They treated themselves to lavish vacations, expensive tastes, a dream of life and luxury while their parents were carted around by them in the back of their car. They touted at the trial they were the victims of their parent's abuse yet as I stand here I see an autographed picture of them having the time of their life while they just killed their parents. And here it was, victims signed a basketball card at a time when their supposed loved ones were outside in a truck of a car. Mind-blowing...

This. This was what I was after. The sheer arrogance and grotesque image of humanity summed up in a children's pastime. Faith in humanity, yet again, lost by yours truly. It was rumored this card didn’t exist until the host contacted me. I wish it wouldn’t have been true but it was legit. After studying the signatures for weeks and seeing them on this card, it was not fake; it was the real deal. The gravity of the situation hit the room. The deafening silence was unbearable. No words were spoken from then on out. The money was exchanged and we left the scene with the card in hand. The devilish grin from our newly formed contact churned my stomach. We never know who we deal with as we deal with each other anonymously, I believe, sometimes, it may be the devil or something close to that idea. He was in human form but the lack of empathy or sympathy for his trinkets was never shown. It was a price tag, not a piece of history for him. He may have a collection that exceeds anything I have ever seen but he was not like me. I was not like him, yet. 

These relics are the relics that are now seen as myths can be obtainable looking through the right avenue. I spent my time on the deep, dark web. If the internet was an iceberg, the part we use normally, or above the water, is only 5%. The other 95% is the deep, dark web. The blackest of hearts to the known saviors of heaven reside there. Everything from one site dedicated to selling drugs, to the other selling anime. Then, there’s the dark, black web. The dark cloud that surrounds the deep dark web. The web no one speaks of and the ground we do not touch. The part we know is there but dare not mention for we know the horror of man is the backbone of this nasty and dreadful, most appalling reality. That's how I meet these people, that’s how I find these people, or how they find me. It’s the new underground; or the old underground digitized. It offers the most horrid visions of human indecency to the dilapidated, most infamous vision of luxury. It could be the most luxurious, delectable of human consumption to the sickest, most malformed, deplorable delivered, or put on display. A conceivable Hevan and Hell, in digital form. Your soul will never recover if you venture too deep. 

People are evil in the most luxurious sense of the word down here yet they hide in the open with us. They will fill their flasks with the blood of histories victims and sip on the souls of the fallen to fill their appetite while they approve your bank loan. We pass them on the streets, we talk to them in the office, we workout with them in the gym. So, the next time you have a meeting in your boss's office, look at those framed pictures a little closer; they may reveal a horrific story of their appetite for destruction. These rich monsters have money to burn and will pay top price. Maybe people were always this way? Maybe this is no revelation for you. I do not blame you if you see what I see professionally and personally. We see it on Tv, we hear about it on the news, we read about it in the papers, it’s mentioned to us by friends. The horror of the human race. I have the autographs to prove the existence of evil and the atrocities of men are a dime a dozen. But that’s what I do; people give me stipulations for an item and I go out to find the closest thing that comes to their enticing sin. Or, I research and set out to find them myself. I don’t think of myself as a bad guy, I just sell to bad people. What now? Now that I left this mini mansion of horror and dread, I’m off to score my next piece of history; A piece of the propeller that killed Vic Morrow during the movie The Twilight Zone, signed by John Landis in black magic marker. Don't know the significance? Google it, research it, read about it, watch it on youtube and you'll find me narrating it for your enjoyment but don't venture too far. You might lose your way back to sanity. My name is Johhny Burns and I’m a rare antiquities dealer. Don't let the title fool you, I don't sell chandeliers, unless someone famous hung from it.

December 03, 2021 17:48

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Kendall Defoe
01:28 Dec 04, 2021

You truly understand the nature of obsession and how deep it can run. Oh, and by the way: you can actually find footage of Vic Morrow's death on the dark web (found out on a news report).


Matt Allen
03:44 Dec 04, 2021

I know, I was obsessed with the movie for the longest time. I loved Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow. Vic Morrow was a happy surprise. I thought that was spot on casting. Rod Serling is unmatched and I can say that knowing the outer limits. Happy hunting for good stories my friend. +1 to you


Kendall Defoe
04:49 Dec 06, 2021

Thanks. And, you wanna see something really scary? ;)


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Tommy Goround
00:14 Sep 22, 2022



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