When the features of a mans face start to blur together, he tries to find out why.
|John got up in the morning and had realized that his face had begun to blur. He looked into his fine bathroom mirror and casually gazed. His face was oddly off. It was shifted slightly to the left and his features were rounded and smoothed out. He walked out of the bathroom to get dressed. There wasn’t really a point to brushing teeth or preparing his face for the day, simply because there wasn’t really an opening to actually find his teeth at the moment.
After John was dressed, he went to his fine kitchen and opened a drawer to get a plastic bag. He looked down to realize that his hand was correct, and all the fingers were there this morning. This was something the man was pleased about because he needed to type his reports today. John walked back to the bathroom and quietly put his toothbrush, toothpaste, and razor in the convenient little bag, then left for work.
By 9:00 his face had returned back to normal. It wasn’t really perfectly normal yet, but it was close enough for John. He must be getting old he thought. Only the old blur, and only the old wonder about blurring. He thought about seeing a doctor, but he just didn’t have enough time.
“You think you know someone, you know?” It was bill; he didn’t really have anyplace being at work today. Plus, he didn’t really have anyplace being in the bathroom talking to john.
“I mean, come on. Right?” He continued, “What’s his beef anyway?”
John was silently brushing away at his teeth. Bill was just suspended for a ‘mental health’ break. He was extremely disheartened by it, exclaiming that he’d come in to work anyway if he had to. So, he did.
“It’s not that I don’t respect the guy, you know. I mean the man’s our boss for Christ sake. But it’s just that, well, you think you know a guy and they turn right around and kick you in the ass, kick you right out of the one thing you love to do, you know?”
“You love writing reports?” john asked.
And the truth was that he did. Bill loved writing reports. It was a strange love, but a love none the less. As the day dragged on, Bill talked. He talked about reports and a recent movie that got horrible reviews. He talked about the most minuscule annoying little things really. Terribly annoying, I mean cut your ears off with a butter knife annoying. Just the most bullshit stuff on the market. You see John and Bill shared an office together due to budget cuts, and John was looking forward to not seeing Bill.
He stared at Bill’s fat little face that really wasn’t all that fat. And he stared at Bill’s messy workload that was still pretty messy. And John thought about what would happen if Bill were locked up somewhere. Not, like, in a prison or some strange far off torture chamber, but just a room. A nice room with a nice little window and a nice little desk and a nice little chair. What would happen if he had to sit still in this nice little room, with no reports to make? Why the man would lose it. He would simply just lose it. And truth be told, it would be funny.
“John. John?” Bill was asking a question that John missed. He was deep in his daydream and was practiced at tuning Bill out when he had to.
“So you want to come with me and some of the guys from the other departments to watch that new movie that just came out? It got five stars! Five whole stars man.”
John had to tune Bill out a lot.
“Sorry, I’ve got some house chores to try and pull off tonight. Maybe some other time.”
The evasive manuvering had worked. John seemed to be getting better at lying to Bill. His outer core was dull but on the inside there was a small victorious parade, marching along with trumpets and trombones.
By the end of the day John had only done about three of his reports. Bill had done as many as he could, a whole stack of paper living on his desk ready to be filed. John had walked out the door before Bill could catch him. When he got home he went to the mirror to take a look at his face. His features were clear as glass covered with ice, and everything was back in proportion. He was never really worried about the event of his face blurring, but just worried about the inconvenience. I mean think about it. What would have happened if his eye’s blurred completely shut and he was temporarily blind, He wouldn’t be able to drive or watch TV. What if his nose and mouth both blurred together and he lost the ability to breath? It was just annoying. He remembered a couple of days ago when he had lost three fingers on his right hand. Well, well that’s just not fun. He was right handed not to mention he had a horrible terrible awful time typing up his reports that day.
He walked back out into his fine living room and started to flip through channels on a large television. After about an hour of being disinterested, he decided to venture out into the wilds of the video store to pick up some somewhat entertaining VHS tape. As he walked outside in the crisp weather he passed a DVD store. Once he had thought about buying a DVD player, but the words on the boxes were all in gibberish. Strange up and down letters with strange symbols and jargon. He couldn’t read anything on the damn boxes or the displays, and when he had asked a sales person about them they couldn’t read any of the text either. It seemed that even the experts on the DVD players knew absolutely nothing about them. One of them even said, “Well, they come in cardboard rectangles called boxes. And they themselves are shaped like rectangles.” DVD stores were everywhere but no one in the world actually knew how to work DVDs, and it was the most frustrating thing. When he finally arrived at Video World he stepped inside and gave a chilled sigh of relief accepting the warmth. John waltzed the makeshift hallway made up of video racks until he found a good one. He picked it up, smiled a bit, walked over to the counter, and set it down. The clerk’s mouth was gone. Not really gone gone, but swiped, as if some large man had hit the fellow at the speed of light and caused his mouth to blur sideways. It was like a fast paint streak that extended from one side of his face to the other. When he talked it only came out in strange-echoed muffled blobs of words really. Just word blobs really. So the man gave a worked expression and picked up a pen and a pad of paper. He wrote down, How may I help you today. Then he quickly added, sir.
“Ah, yes. I want to rent this.” John said pointing toward the VHS.
Do you have an account with us?
“No, I don’t really need one.”
The man turned toward the computer and started to type in the VHS information. While John was waiting he notice a small pile of blank reports in the trash. He would have asked about them, but considering the other mans vocal setback, it would have been rude. So John just stood there really, just waiting. He hated waiting. I mean he really hated waiting. It was such a boring waste of minutes he thought. Once the transaction was done, John turned to head home only to be stopped by the other man quickly scribbling, Have a nice day, I heard that movie got five stars. John smiled politely and walked out back into the cold.
As he walked back to his fine home, he made an oddly fatal mistake. He wasn’t paying any attention to the people around him nor what route he’d taken to get back to his fine home. And there Bill was, with all the others from all the departments, walking and talking and traveling to the movie theater.
“John!” Cried Bill quickening his pace toward the man, “Where you headed off to?”
“I was just about to go home.” He replied with a fake grin and a shaking of his head.
“Well, coming from Video World on such a cold night man, you must have time to shit away. Right?” Said Bill turning to ask the group behind him, “I mean Right?” They all nodded drunkenly.
At this point John knew he’d lost the small insignificant battle even with his cornucopia of excuses. And every time one popped out of john’s mouth, Bill shot it right back at him. Oh yes, John knew he’d lost the battle. He knew he’d go and see that dim-witted movie that got five wonderful stars. He knew he’d hear about it in the morning at work and he just knew he’d hear about it for weeks after. Hey john, remember that great one liner during the action scene? Hey John, they had some fantastic cinematography in that film right? Oh yes, John sighed, he knew it was over. It was all over. So he smiled and said, “Well why the hell not Bill.”
So he turned and the group marched forth with a spreading youth-like spirit, all except for John. It was a good fifteen-minute walk to the theater so John had a large amount of time for Bill to fill him in on all the finite details of the inner-workings of Bills fat little, not really all that fat, head. But it was when they passed the video store that the over talkative man actually said something worth listening to.
“That’s Eddie.” He said as the drunken mass strolled on by. “That’s the guy that’s gonna die!”
“What?” asked John. The moment was like a little peep show as they walked past the store windows. Eddie was writing down his end of the conversation for someone else now, an older woman with a old purple dress.
“That’s the guy that’s gonna die! That’s the guy that’s gonna die.” Bill repeated laughing.
“For Christ sake, what the hell are you talking about?” John was already of tired of Bill’s maddening personality.
“I don’t know. I mean, have you ever, like, paid attention the people when they start blurring up like that?
Eventually they just get tired of magically losing body parts so they skip on down to the docs to get it fixed. But you never see ‘em after.”
“What,” John exclaimed, “You do too. You see people after they get all blurry and stuff.”
“Yeah, yeah,” chimed someone in the back, “Remember Susan? Both her legs blurred together for a whole week. Now she’s fine.”
Susan was a baker that always seemed to be cooking something in with her bread, that shouldn’t be cooked in with bread. John remembered once a long time ago that she cooked her wedding ring in a loaf, only to just realize it in time to run down the street screaming at John that she needed the loaf back. She gave him an extra French Roll for the trouble.
“It’s just a common medical occurrence. Something that just happens to people like a heart attack or a pimple. It’s not anything to get your panties in a bunch about.” Argued John. They were fast approaching the theater and John could see ticket rippers ripping and the sales person selling. The lit posters shining a dull yellow light upon the cement sidewalk.
“Yeah, sure. But have you actually ever seen someone have a heart attack? Or a pimple for that matter?” Bill argued in return.
Before John could eloquently fight back with a remarkable rebuttal, they had reached their target, Starry Moon Cinema. They all formed into a not so strait line and bought their tickets. John was displeased, I mean really displeased. He had to spend time with Bill. And not only spend time with Bill, but pay to spend time with Bill. Oh yes, this was just irritating, john thought as he shuffled around in his wallet for some left over cash. And that’s when John hatched a plan of vengeance.
“Oh, Bill! It seems that I’m out of money. Spent it all at Video World. Would it be ok for you to spot me a couple bucks.” John called across the lobby at his coworker, who was already in line for popcorn.
“Of course,” Called Bill walking over, “What are fellow employees for right?”
John had more than enough money. He also had absolutely no intention, consciously or subconsciously, to pay Bill back in any way, shape, or form.
“Thanks, thanks.” He said, “I’ll pay you right back, soon as I can. I swear.”
When they all filed into their chairs, John made sure to sit directly on the outside, taking an isle seat. He had claimed to have a busted blator. John wondered if Bill would talk all throughout the movie. This idea led back to the curiosity of locking Bill up somewhere. This time Bill also wouldn’t have a mouth. John smiled a little and laughed a bit. When the movie was finally over John took out his cell phone and pretended to get a very important call from a nonexistent nephew. The others responded in the usual polite ways telling him that he shouldn’t go and just spend some time with the boys. “Come on now,” they said, “Just stay for a drink.”
But John insisted this was really urgent. So the men parted ways for the night returning to once they came.
As John walked alone through the silent wind he again passed the video store for the third time that day. The lights were still on, but Eddie the mute, was gone. To Johns own surprised he had stayed, in the cold, for quite some time watching the windows. True it was only five or so minutes, but to John that was a nasty amount of wasted time. But he stayed and glared at the register simply waiting for the young worker to return to his post. After about five minutes, which for John was forever plus forever’s twin eternity, the worker did not return. John began his long trek back home to watch his five star movie that he had rented. But His mind was still uneasy. The missing mute was unsettling to John. He told himself all the logical assumptions he could think of. The kid was probably in back doing inventory or maybe he was pleasuring himself with a smoke break. All the extremely plausible solutions didn’t seem to calm him. It wasn’t until he had gotten home, watched his five star movie, and readied himself for bed when he had realized something.
He had never seen anyone have a heart attack, or for that matter a stroke, or go into cardiac arrest. There had never been anyone he knew who had seen someone have a heart attack. Plus there wasn’t even anyone listed in the obituaries that had ever suffered a heart attack. I mean, there had to be people that had them, the word existed for a reason. It was a common phrase used. People took measures in their everyday lives to avoid the fate of a heart attack. Someone somewhere had to have had a heart attack. It was only logical. He was just being ridiculous. He figured that he should get some rest. He was tired and thinking when one’s tired just makes everything seem more dramatic than it actually is. So he tried to put down all this theories and protests and sleep.
In the morning the previous panic had not left johns mind. Oh, it was still there creeping and crawling, eating away at John’s precious logic as if it were an apple or ice cream. John’s logic was not an apple nor ice cream! And this was growing evermore ridiculous. Of course the man blamed Bill for all this unwanted stress. It was Bill’s idiotic rambles of last night that started all this. John picked up a key to his attic door. Of course you understand he would never actually try and lock Bill up, especially in an area so goddamn close to his own living space. But it was a fine thought, locking Bill up somewhere. It was really just a fine thought for John. He set the key down on the kitchen counter. He was in such a state that he felt the need to stay home today. You know take it easy. There would be no reports to fill out, no going outside to scrape the ice of the car windows, and no Bill. John was giving himself a nice mental health day. The kind Bill refused to take.
But at around noon john pulled himself off his lazy boy and away from his morning news to take a relaxing shower. He drank the rest of his orange juice and pick up his towel. But as the fellow walked into the bathroom he saw that his face was again blurred. He also noticed that no visible joints or veins appeared on his hands or on his feet. They were smooth as silk. This was a real problem thought John, remembering Susan’s legs and Eddie’s inconvenient speaking issues. It was then that John finally called the doctor. He still wasn’t worried, you see, he was just annoyed. It wasn’t in john’s character to be inconvenienced by something so simple as a medical condition. And so on he went, scraping off the car windows and driving down to the hospital. It was hard to drive. His hands were getting smoother and he kept losing his grip on the wheel. Frustrated and aggravated we went through the sliding glass doors to the front desk.
“Hi,” said a young girl “ And how may I help you?” She had a pink Hello Kitty bow stuffed in her hair.
“I’m here to see doctor smith.” Said john trying to warm his smooth hands by rubbing them together. She proceeded with the normal questions, address, name, year of birth and whatnot.
“He’ll see you in about ten-twenty minutes.”
“Ten to twenty? There’s hardly anyone here.” He gestured to whole lines of abandoned ghost chairs.
“Please take a seat sir, he’ll see you in ten to twenty minutes. Plus we have lot’s of magazines.”
If five minutes was forever and eternity than fifteen minutes was hell. There were magazines, but they were all about crack celebrities and fashion tips for that awkward stage between childhood and teenager. Why isn’t there a good Science News to read, thought John.
Finally. It was a nurse; she held a clipboard that was then passed over to Dr. Smith when they reached the check up room.
“You say that you’ve be having blurring issues?” asked the good doctor.
“Yes, it’s not something I’m horribly worried about. I just can’t stand being inconvienced you see. Especially by something as minimal as a blurring problem.”
The doctor had one of those looks draped about his face. It was one of those annoying doctor looks, the ones that let you know they’re thinking hard. He was reading Johns chart and nodding.
“Well, John, this is something that’s very strange and difficult to tell people. But it seems that you’ve died.” The doctor said with a professional expression.
“I’m, I’m sorry,” John said with an awkward laugh.
“Yes, it seems you’ve died or at least the other you has died. According to your chart quite a long long time ago.” He took a sigh nodding, “mmm, ‘bout 43 years ago.”
“Yes, it seems that you are drifting. We in the medical business call it drifting. You see, we are all mimicries, clones, simulations, whatever the word choice, we are just memories of those people out there. Those way out there, in reality. It seems you are officially being forgotten.”
John was dumbfounded. He sat there, oh yes, the man just sat there digesting. He, John that is, was dead. He was gone gone, deceased, on the other side. And the worst of it all was that he wasn’t really really dead. There was another John, a real John, that died. How upsetting! How horribly tragically annoyingly upsetting. He was just a copy of this dead man.
“You see we are all residing someone’s brain.” The doctor said with perfect professional behavior, “And that person is forgetting you. Don’t be worried; this sort of drifting will happen to everyone. Even if they aren’t forgotten, this person’s brain will someday die, the end of the world will come, and then poof.” He made a small gesture with is hands, “that’s when we all blur.”
“But, what about Susan!” John cried, “She started to blur years and years ago. But now, now she’s fit as a whistle!”
“Ah yes, Susan. No, I believe her chart said that the real her moved away for a time. But then moved back into town. So you see she was gone, but then came right on back. But you, no you died, there’s no coming back for you.” Stated smith re-checking the chart.
“But, what will I do? What can I do now?” Asked John. He was almost pleading now, trying to understand this obviously sick joke. Someone upstairs in heaven better be laughing and in hysterics, thought john.
“Well, you can maybe try and fill out some reports. Yes, that’s usually the first thing I tell my patients. But 43 years is a long time to dead my friend. I’m mean really; it’s a long time. So the other thing I would suggest is getting enrolled in a nice forgotten support group. Shelly, the secretary with the pink little bow, yes she can give you some good contacts. There are some good pamphlets too, regarding this kind of medical condition.” He smiled a fine professional smile and gestured toward the door putting an arm around John.
“Don’t worry yourself my friend. This sort of thing happens all the time.” And he sent John down the hall to Shelly.
“Hi” she said smiling, “How may I help you?”
“It seems I’m being forgotten.” It really was about as loud as one could get in a whisper. John said it in utter disbelief, ready to laughed right out the door. But instead of laughter, he was given pamphlets and good contacts.
“You should really go home and start filling out some of those reports.” She said without making eye contact. John could see she’d had a long day and was ready to relax at home.
He stuttered as he replied, “I’ll, I’ll go do that now.”
And so john left. He walked out the glass sliding doors and got in his fine car. He drove home only to realize that his fine house had also begun to blur. So he walked right on through the unnervingly smooth doorway and picked up some extra reports. He read out loud:
Situation: Man just walks into bank. Man walks past me. Man budges me in line, making me wait even longer.
Question: What would John do?
To which John then so neatly replied in fine gentlemanly handwriting,
Be polite, smile, and nod.