The end of another long day. I look forward to sitting back, relax with my feet up doing absolutely nothing. But first things first. I need to drop by at my favourite watering hole, The Whistling Fox.
It is not very far from where I work just a 20 minutes walk. The
sun is coming to a close as I walked past familiar sights, familiar streets.
10 minutes away I should be nursing my favourite drink. I need
it. I need it badly. 5 minutes. I am coming up to that banged up mail box. I wonder why no one ever got around to fix it. The door is barely holding the letters and mail in it. Yet people continue to use it.
Okay, I can see the familiar door. The reassuring buzz of
raucous chit chats can be heard. I can see Mike the bartender at his usual place. I opened the door and walked in. I can see a few familiar faces. Well I have been coming here for the last 10 years. That same drink I need to have before I head home.
I headed to Mike. "The usual please Mike", I said as I ordered my drink. He looked up. "The usual? I have never seen you before
mate. I don't know what's your usual. Anyway what would you like to have?"
I looked at him? "You don't recognise me? I come here most
days for the last 10 years!", I said to him perplexed. " I don't know
who you are, can you just order your drink or get out?" he said. "And who is this Mike? I am Larry."
I quietly ordered my drink and took a corner table. I was puzzled. I got up leaving my drink on the table and walked out. I looked again
at the board outside. Yes. It says The Whistling Fox. It even have the picture of a fox blowing a whistle. I walked in again and no one seems to recognise me. Yet I know some of them. There's Brad from the computer store 2 blocks away. And there's Angie with Jerry. I know them. Yet they act as if they don't me.
Then Angie walked past me. I greeted her, "Hey Ange!". She just walk past by me as if she didn't hear me. I repeated, louder now
"Hey, Ange! It's me!". She then stopped. She turned around. "You
were talking to me?" she asked. "Of course" I said, "just wanting to say hi".
She replied, "hi back and who are you?" It is now getting ridiculous. First it was Mike and now it is Angie who don't know me. "You've got to be kidding right? First Mike and now you," I said. "Mike the busboy?" she asked. "No, Mike the bartender". "The bartender is Larry," she said as she walked away.
It is getting more and more curious. What is happening here? They don’t know me. Their names are different and yet this is The Whistling Fox, and I have been coming here for 10 years. I sat quietly sipping my drink. At least it still taste the same. I can sense people looking at me. Soon I got up again.
I walked towards Brad. “Hey Brad”, I said. I wanted to ask him about a computer hardware I was thinking of getting. “Hey”, he replied. “What can I do for you?” he asked. “I said remember the hardware I ordered? Has it arrived?”, I asked. “Let me check”, he said. He seems to recognize me. Why everyone else don't? He looked up his phone and replied “Yep, your orders in Steve, you can come by anytime.”
“Steve? I am Ben, Brad”, I said. “No you are not, you are Steve”, he said. First no one recognizes me and then Brad does but now I am Steve? “Did I get knocked on the head?” I asked out loud. “What do you mean”, Brad asked. “I am not Steve, I am Ben”, I protested. He said “no you are not, you are Steve”, see, “Steve” as he pointed at my Staff ID hanging on my neck.
My head is now spinning. I can’t believe my ears, my eyes. I am starting to feel sick. “But I am Ben”, I said weakly, almost in a whisper. As my head begins to ache, I heard the door opening. I saw a familiar face. My colleague from office. We play tennis together and it is not beyond us to indulge in online gaming.
I heard a voice. “Hey Steve, what’s up?” My head jerked and snapped towards him. “Dan! I am not Steve,” I shouted. “Whoa there”, he said, “why are you shouting at me for”, he continued. “Because my name is not Steve!” I said. “Yes, it is”, he said. “You are Steve, we joined Cyro together. It’s not even 6.00 pm, already had too much to drink, eh?” he quipped.
I needed to get out of there. My head started throbbing. I started asking myself. Who am I? Why everyone knows me as Steve? I am Ben. I pushed Dan aside as I stumbled out the door. My head is now spinning. I looked up again at the sign. I looked again at the fox with a whistle. I grabbed at my staff ID and looked at it again. I felt for my wallet. I took it out. I looked at my credit cards. I looked at my driving licence. My head screamed at me. The words screamed at me. STEVE!
But I am Ben. My name is Ben. I work at Cyro as a Design Engineer. This morning at work everyone addressed me as Ben. I left home as Ben. I took the bus as Ben. I left from work as Ben. How the 20 minutes I walked from my office to the bar changed me from Ben to Steve? Yet, everything screaming at me says that I am Steve. Why did I say I am Ben? Why did I believe I was Ben?
I saw Dan coming after me looking very worried. He called me out, “Steve!” “What’s wrong buddy?” I can’t take it anymore. I collapsed. I fell. I felt hopeless. Dan rushed towards me and held me. Just before I passed out. I said “My name is Ben…”
I can feel my face being slapped. I can hear my name being called. As I came to I noticed a crowd gathering around me. I can see Mike or Larry or whatever his name is bringing water and gave it to Dan. Brad, Angie and Jerry was there. I heard a voice. “Oh, you are alright. We were worried that you had a heart attack or something. Anyway the ambulance is on its way.”
I replied weakly, “I don’t need an ambulance. I just want to go home.” “It’s been a long day and I am not right in the head.” “Sure thing buddy,” Dan said. “We’ll get you home. I drove today. Anyway the paramedics are here. Let them check you out.
I saw 2 paramedics kneeling beside me, testing me for any injuries and checking my pulse and blood pressure. “Everything checks out” said the paramedic. We can take you to hospital if you want to. “I feel fine”, I said. “I’ll just see a doctor tomorrow. It is getting late anyway.”
“By the way, what’s your name?”, the paramedic asked. Before I could reply, Dan told them my name. “His name is Ben, Ben Morris”. And then I collapsed again.
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Clapping. More please.
Interesting twist - I felt for the main character. Must have been an awful experience for him
“sitting back, relax” relaxing? I like that this doesn’t offer any answers. The reader knows as much as he does. Very mysterious.