by Eliza Rose
Why do you always wear blue?
| “Why do you always wear blue?” It was an innocent enough question, for most ordinary people anyways. But Fred Berther was not exactly ordinary. Well, not in the looks department. Fred wasn’t very handsome, nor was he very ugly. He was rather average, much like his life. At first glance, he wouldn’t stand out. Not unless, of course, you weren’t exactly ordinary yourself. Say, if you had an extraordinary job, or a top secret job, or both. Now, if you had an extraordinary top secret job and you passed Fred Berther, you’d probably do a double take. Or, you’d do triple take. Maybe even a quadruple take. Actually, you’d probably follow him throughout the day while doing your double, triple, and quadruple takes to see just how ordinary or extraordinary, Fred Berther really was. You’d be rather disappointed to find that Fred Berther was absolutely, positively, one hundred percent completely ordinary. You’d then probably continue on your way. Fred Berther is not unaware of the all the double takes and stares. He’s been putting up with them since he turned 20. Now 40, Fred is used to all the ordinary people with extraordinary jobs looking at him in shock, confusion, and sometimes fear. However, whenever he tried to ask them why they were staring, as soon as eye contact was established, the other person would disappear, blending in perfectly with the crowds. It wasn’t until last summer did Fred find out the reason for the attention.
Fred Berther was taking a trip to Boston in July. One morning, as he was eating breakfast at this restaurant, something extraordinary happened to ordinary Fred. Fred remembered it clearly. He was having pancakes, and as he lifted a forkful to his mouth, some syrup dripped onto his favourite blue polo shirt. He was inspecting the damage when someone dropped a sugar package next to his plate. Confused, he looked up to see a complete stranger. She had shoulder length brown hair and wore a pair of large, dark sunglasses, rendering Fred unable to see the girl’s eyes, or half her face for that matter. She simply pointed to her white watch then left, disappearing into the crowd outside. It all happened so fast, Fred barely managed to open his mouth. More than a little puzzled, he picked up the sugar package. It was one of those zero calorie ones and right above the label, was written just two words, “she knows.”
Who knows? Fred wondered. Throughout his breakfast, he thought long and hard about anything he recently did that justified an angry female. His wife, Martha, liked cleanliness but wouldn’t exactly freak over a stain. She also knew that he was here as he had just phoned her last night when he arrived. By the time Fred got up to leave, he was only able to think of one time he did something wrong which went unpunished. It had been in second grade when he cheated on his spelling test. But that was ridiculous. Why on earth would his second grade teacher hunt him down to chastise him on a dishonest test?
Throughout the day, as Fred visited the various attractions, he felt more stares than usual. A lot more stares than usual. There were people doing double takes so many times, Fred was worried their necks would be injured. This one man just stared at Fred until the man walked right into a pole. Everywhere he went, Fred would feel their eyes as if they were trying to burn holes into his back. Every person he passed, Fred wondered if he/she was also staring and following him. Perhaps it was the stares, or maybe it was the paranoia, but Fred was a lot more jumpy and paid close attention to his surroundings.
It was on a road in one of the more deserted places in Boston when out of the corner of his eye, Fred saw a flash of brown. Turning, he saw a very familiar girl with brown hair and large sunglasses slip into an alley between two abandoned buildings. After a moment’s hesitation, Fred followed her, stopping when the girl stopped around a corner. She was out of sight but close enough to hear.
“The boss didn’t get it,” Fred heard a man growl.
“What do you mean he didn’t get it? I delivered the package myself, made sure he saw it, then pointed to my watch,” the girl responded, annoyed and not at all scared, “Here, I took a picture of him on my phone.”
The man spoke again, “That’s not him. The jawline is wrong. Plus he’s wearing a blue polo. The boss despises blue. Never wears it. You’re a spy, you should know.” Fred’s breath caught in his throat: spies?
“Well most of the spies don’t even see the boss more than once. Other than the jaw, the two are identical,” the girl said defensively.
“That would explain the number of reports from agents claiming they saw the boss. I’ll make sure to inform them about the blue and the jaw,” the man responded.
Having heard enough, Fred slipped out of the abbey where he hurried back to the hotel.
Spies, Fred thought as he lay down in bed, “I look like the boss of a spy agency?” He looks beside him at the blue polo shirt crumpled on the nearby chair. I guess it’s time to buy some more blue.
And from that day on, Fred always wore something blue, except for scarfs. Even Martha never really understood why her husband suddenly disliked scarfs. The only answer she got was something about his jaw. But who would believe him if he said he wore blue to tell other spies that Fred Berther was an ordinary man and not a leader of spies?
“Why do you always wear blue?” people ask.
“Because I like blue,” Fred would respond.