Flash Fiction

By Brian Polk


Prompt given by Josiah Hesse: Watching your entire record collection burn in a fire


Now that the dogs have made it to a safe place and all the humans have been accounted for, there isn’t much else to do. I think about pulling out my phone and capturing the fire on video, but what would I do with the footage? I don’t want to post it on social media with a “myhouseisonfire” hashtag. I can’t stand it when people litter their pages with sympathy-soliciting shock posts. I’m also trying not to document every single thing that happens to me, since I remember a time when people didn’t have video cameras in their pockets. And for whatever reason, I don’t trust that overwhelming urge to utilize my smartphone every time something somewhat unique takes place. I can’t say exactly what’s wrong with going through life like that, but it just doesn’t feel like it’s a very healthy way to live.

So I keep my phone in my pocket as I walk around to the side of the house to where a window had broken. I feel a pang in my stomach when I see my entire record collection burning at the other end of the living room. It’s quite the sight to behold, since I have over 1,200 LPs and another three to four hundred singles. With that collection, I’ve made thousands upon thousands of dollars DJing throughout the years. I also painstakingly tracked down every record I loved as a kid, and replaced all my tapes and CDs with the LP version. I have almost every record I ever wanted. It’s a collection twenty-two years in the making.

I shake my head as the realizations pile up: I’m not going to be able to DJ again. I’m not going to be able to sit on my couch with a stack of zines as the sweet punk songs turn at 33 and ⅓ RPM on my turntable. I’m not going to be able to rebuild the collection at the reasonable 1990s price of $8 an LP.  And I’m not going to get to organize my records autobiographically like Rob in High Fidelity — a task I had always been meaning to accomplish.

But I don’t cry. I don’t bemoan my fate. I just stare. And as soon as I stop dwelling on the consequences of my burning records, two epiphanies grip my thoughts: (1) The smoke from all that plastic can’t be good for the environment. And (2) I’m going to have to get the young IT guy at my job to teach me how Spotify works.



Brian Polk has contributed to The Onion A.V. Club, Westword, and birdy, and began publishing his zine The Yellow Rake in 2004, which has released 30 issues over its existence. In 2014, he co-founded Suspect Press, a quarterly literary publication that celebrated ten issues under his leadership. Since 2009, he has played drums in the band Joy Subtraction, which released its second album Hate Will Keep Us Together on Denver’s Sailor Records. More recently, he started another band, Simulators. Follow him on twitter @brianpolk1234. For more information on Placement of Character, go to brianpolk.org.

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