Omar and I left my apartment and stepped into the chilly night air, on our way to Binny's Liquors.
"It's getting cold again," he said.
There's a point on Third Street where it bends into Newark Avenue. You've got Pop Merrigan's to your left and some unremarkable storefronts to your right. Right at that point, where Third bends into Newark, we were stopped by several old, wooden chairs, haphazardly set out on the narrow sidewalk. They were for sale. Yellow light poured forth from a storefront which, in my experience, had always been hidden by unattractive, steel grating.
"Looks like a junk shop. I never knew this was here."
"Let's check it out."
Inside, we were greeted by that familiar smell of I don't know what, of dust and wool and mold, of old checkered coats, vinyl-covered furniture, Trivial Pursuit and picture frames. Up on a high shelf, I noticed a pair of strange-looking plastic loudspeakers sitting beside some sort of cassette player. My eyes now shot past the beer mugs and golf clubs, in search of vintage hi-fi. An ugly Sherwood receiver, a Fisher something or other, a beat-to-crap Dual 1219 turntable. I felt like we were getting warmer. I turned around and looked up to find another pair of loudspeakers, these appearing to be in far better shape than anything else in the store. I didn't recognize them immediately, but then noticed their small badge:
"Oh shit," I whispered.
"B and W. Bowers and Wilkins."
I reached for the speaker closest to me and removed its grille, revealing that distinctive golden woven cone and honeycombed baffle. My eyes must've shot open.
"Oh shit," I whispered. "These are good. They're DM602s."
Omar brought down the speakers and connected them to the Sherwood receiver. While he listened to random radio broadcasts, I made a couple of phone calls. My sources helped to guess at the origins and value of some of the store's other pieces of gear, but none could identify one final pair of loudspeakers. They held approximately the same dimensions as the B&Ws about 20" x 10" x 12" but appeared to be much older, and had a look that I've come to associate with old Advents, plain rectangular boxes with that dirty, tweed-like grille. When I tried to gently remove that grille, I felt resistance and noticed a sound like that accompanied by separating Velcro. I didn't force it. The only identifying marks on the cabinets were found on the rear panels: an 8 ohm symbol, red and black terminals, a tweeter control whose center position read "NORMAL," and three final words: "MADE IN DENMARK."
That was all.
Omar went home with the B&Ws. He paid 50 bucks.
The following morning, I received a text message:
dude! my system sounds awesome. i'm hearing things in the music that i didn't even know were there.