I Am The Stussy Stamp On Fargo

And I'm here to remind you that philately will get you nowhere.

Like most people you know, I'm little more than a collection of materials and chemicals that have no inherent value in and of themselves. My true worth lies in how people perceive me. The difference between myself and humans is that they're nothing without water, whereas a small amount of moisture can render me useless.

That's right, I'm a postage stamp. Notice that I didn't say I'm an ordinary postage stamp -- and with billions of us churned out every year, "ordinary" is not a high bar. No, I'm the opposite. The reason for that isn't important right now. Maybe it's because of my age, or because there weren't many like me in the first place, or perhaps I'm just an embarrassing printing error that never should have made it into circulation. What matters is that there are any number of reasons for me not to exist. But I do anyway, like furless, bipedal, warm-weather mammals on a frozen northern plain.

Every stamp symbolizes something. Even the ordinary ones, which signify that somebody has paid the transportation costs to get a piece of mail from one place to another. But I've figured out that in my rarity, I symbolize decades of sibling rivalry between two brothers. Which, alas, is something much less rare than I am.

Normally I live a pretty quiet life, just hanging out in the home office of my current owner, Emmit Stussy. But things have gotten pretty interesting for me in the past few weeks. I would say it started when Emmit invited his brother Ray in for a talk, but there wasn't anything unusual about how that went. There I was, a fly on the wall as usual (if you were to mount a fly on acid-free matte stock behind UV-shielded polarized glass), as the brothers fell into the familiar patterns of their old arguments. Which revolved, as always, around me. By now I know the story almost as well as they do: their father left them two items of great value to divide amongst themselves. One was a 1970s-vintage red Corvette, and the other was the stamp collection I used to be a part of. Ray chose poorly, and he's been blaming Emmit -- who ended up with me -- for that and for every other bad choice he's made ever since. I know I shouldn't take Emmit's side, seeing as how he sold off most of my buddies to finance his parking lot empire. But I'm pretty sure that if the division of the estate had been reversed, Emmit would have found a way to get rich off that Corvette while Ray would be using me to send away for sea monkeys.

So there was nothing especially interesting about that encounter, at least to me. But then I had a huge scare a few days later when, in an unrelated incident, somebody who was cleaning the office broke my frame. Short of a fire, that's just about the most frightening thing that can happen to something that hangs on a wall. It was pretty traumatic for me. But apparently, while I was out for repairs, something even worse happened to Emmit's desk. I still haven't gotten it to tell me the whole story there, but I was able to glean that some kind of feminine hygiene product was involved.

Things went back to being more or less uneventful for a while after that. I mean, there was some yelling and crying that one day, but after that it's been quieter than ever. And then suddenly Emmit came and took me off the wall. I was intact this time, which was nice. But then he took me to a place that was much less nice. I noticed the cheap paneled walls and wondered if this was a place where I was supposed to hang. After Emmit and I sat quietly in the dark for a while (it's not like we ever talk, but at least he normally likes to have the lights on), who should show up but Ray?

With horror, I realized that this was Ray's place. Worse, Emmit was trying to call a truce by giving Ray me. Best-case scenario, I'd be sold off in a matter of days for half my market value to some broker who'd stick me in a Mylar binder pouch. Worst-case, I'd end up on the wall over Ray's fish tank until the cheap hook or adhesive he'd hang me with failed and dropped me into the drink.

The only hope I had was that Ray would refuse to accept me outright. Which, if you think about it, was actually more likely than you might expect. Ray might think it was some kind of trick on Emmit's part. Or maybe Ray wouldn't be ready to let go of the feud between the two of them.

Or maybe -- and this is my theory -- it's that Ray has spent his entire adult life viewing me as the key to the success that was unfairly denied to him. If that key were to suddenly be in his hands, he would be left with no excuse to continue failing -- as he must have feared that he would. If he accepted me, he would have to accept responsibility for continuing to be a loser. Which we all know would have been the most likely outcome.

Well, not all of us. I don't think any of this ever occurred to Emmit, who doesn't seem to have a mean bone in his body. I think he sincerely wanted to bury the hatchet with his brother. But something else is getting buried instead. Because the next thing I knew, I was rushing up towards Ray's big round face and the glass that protects me from the world was shattered for the second time in as many weeks.

What happened next reminded me of something that happened in one of the movies Emmit sometimes watches in his office. A chunk of glass from my frame had gotten stuck in Ray's neck, and when he pulled it out, he started spurting thick red ink all over the place. It was terrifying, and disgusting. Ray and I both tumbled to the threadbare carpet, while Emmit simply backed away, afraid to make a move to help either one of us.

And apparently, just as I would stop being a stamp if I lost all my ink, Ray stopped being a person and became an inert object on the floor. So maybe I'm wrong and he would have made something of himself with my help. But I guess we'll never know now, will we?

(Actually, yes. We totally know.)

So as awful as a broken frame is for me, I guess it was worse for Ray. He had me in his hands for less than a minute and look what happened.

But now look at it from my point of view. Given the turn into dark, wry irony things have taken lately, it seemed impossible that I wouldn't be destroyed or ruined in the accident as well. Can you imagine if all that strife over little old me just ended up making me totally worthless? Wouldn't that just be the berries?

But I'm okay for now, other than needing some glass replaced again. But something tells me that my story with Emmit isn't over yet. If bad things like this keep happening around me, maybe I'll even get a reputation for being cursed! Man, nothing makes a rare object more valuable than a curse.

But I shouldn't wish for things like that. Nothing good can come of it. Maybe what I need to do is quit trying to judge or psychoanalyze people. It's really not my thing.

Better that I just focus on what I do best. And stick to it.

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