Urban Fantasy Science Fiction Speculative

It certainly is a privilege to know people. “Thanks, Troy, I really owe you for this.” The car comes to a screeching halt a few blocks from my next meeting destination. “No problem. Do you want me to put it on your tab?” I opened the door into the busy street, “That would be great. Thanks again.” I squeeze myself onto the sidewalk and slam the door. Most people dream of knowing the famous such as Jeff Bezos, Mike Bloomberg, or Oprah Winfrey. I don’t dream of meeting or knowing the famous, although I do know several, including the aforementioned. I prefer knowing people beneath me. People that are happy to do favors whenever and wherever I call from. These are the people with interesting stories and life experiences. These are the people that will speed through traffic to get you to a meeting on time. These are the people it is a privilege to know. 

I stop. That face, I know that face. I turn on my heels. I see the face again. She too has stopped and turned. Those eyes, those hazel green eyes. I know them. We make a break in the natural current of foot traffic as we looked at each other, like jutting rocks that disrupt the flow of a steady river. 

Someone grasps my hand as I am shaken out of my trance. “Hey Davis, my old buddy, how are you doing”. I do not know this man but I smile anyway, “Good to see you”. 

“It’s been such a long time. Why did you stop coming into my shop? You should stop by sometime. I’ll even — Hey, watch it! — give you a discount, just for you Davis. By the way, I wanted to ask how your ….”

The woman wasn’t there anymore. Her hat was bobbing away. I released my grip from the man and fought against the crowd after her. The hat got closer and closer, she wasn’t making an attempt to run, “Hey, wait up!” Just as I broke through the crowd a flash of steel disrupted my path. 

Pain erupted in my side as I was tossed onto the edge of the sidewalk. A lady screamed, or maybe I did. I opened my eyes after a brief second of blinking. I couldn’t see anything but light. Wait, is this what heaven looks like? Is this what dying feels like? The silence in my ears was replaced by a faint ringing. My eyes adjusted. “He’s awake. Joey go get the stretcher. Sir, can you hear me.Is that God?Sir can you hear me. Sir.

A cloudy sky came to focus in my vision. Faces looked down at me, faces dressed in uniforms. Paramedic uniforms. “Sir, can you hear me. You were hit by a car. We are going to take you to a hospital now. Do you have…” 

I need to find her. I moved to get up. Several hands grasped my shoulders and pushed me down, “Sir you can’t get up. We are getting a stretcher. You may have a serious back injury. Can you answer my question? Where do you want…” I need to find her. I could hear more voices now. The crowd of commuters had stopped and flocked around the scene. Maybe she stopped too. I know her. Just one more look and maybe I’ll know who she is. Maybe she knows who I am.

Their hands try to stop me again but I shove them away. Any pain I may be feeling is overpowered by my intense desire to find that woman. There are so many faces. I just needed that one. 

As I scan the crowd I see hundreds of faces, but I don’t see the one, my one. The faces grow blurry as I stumble backward. Eight solid hands catch me as I fall. I need to find her. The eight hands lower me onto the stretcher. I hear the murmur of the crowd. She had to be there, she had to come back for me. The eight hands hoist me into the ambulance. “Sir!” The doors close. I can’t be here. I need to find her. “Sir I am only going to ask you one more time! What hospital do you want to go to?” My head snaps over to the voice, fumbling with some tubes and tanks. He should know. It’s just a courtesy. I try to speak but a dry metallic taste overwhelms my mouth. I cough. He should know. I try again, “Davis”. He forgot the equipment for a moment. “What was that?” I lick my lips, “Take me to Davis”. He nods, “He wants to go to Davis Memorial!” It must be a courtesy. My head meets the pillow as my neck relaxes. I need to find her

The trick won’t work twice. I know that the lights do not mean heaven. I know the smell. I know where I am. I am in a hospital. My hospital. I can feel every breath in my body as my vision slowly comes into focus. A nurse stands by my bed, adjusting some machines. A stare at him, unsure of what to say, before he notices me, “Oh, good morning Mr. Andrews. Glad to see you’re awake. The doctor should be in shortly.” He goes back to adjusting the equipment. I start to say something, then I stop. Andrews? That’s not my name. “My name is Johnathan Davis, you have the wrong patient”. The nurse doesn’t even look up from his fiddling. “No, sir, you are Mr. Joshua Andrews. You must just still be confused from your accident”. 

“No, no, I am sure I am Johnathan Davis”, I chuckle lightly, as much as my chest will allow me before I wince. 

The nurse pauses his work this time. “Sir, I am positive.” He walks over to the far wall of the room and grabs my chart. He puts it where I can see plainly, confident in his knowledge of who I am. Joshua L. Andrews, it reads in bold letters. He waits for me to rest my head back on the pillow as if seeing my name will help me remember. I don’t. I just stare at the board. That is not me. “That isn’t me. I’m Johnathan Davis.” The nurse looks at me from behind the board as he lowers it slightly. “Sir, we got your identification off of you when you arrived. It clearly stated the name Joshua Andrews. I know this is a confusing time, but the important thing is that you are safe and well taken—”.

“I don’t think you understand”, I tried to sit up but something stopped me, “I am Johnathan Davis, owner of the Davis Memorial Hospital, where we are now. My father is Harold Davis. Do you know him?” 

The nurse just looked at me. He turned and put the board back on the wall, confirming my identity. 

“You must know him, you must know me. I am the owner of this hospital! Without me, you wouldn’t have a job! I want to see that identification. There must be some kind of mistake. My driver's license is in my wallet and I know that— Wait, what are you doing?” He had walked over to the com on the wall. 

“This is Steven requesting assistance in Room 234 for a confused patient, can you also bring in Doctor—”

“I am not confused! I know who I am. I do not hire incompetent workers so please, you made a mistake. Check my ID again. It’s correct it says—”

“Code Yellow, the patient is becoming hostile, I need assistance immediately.”

“—my name! It says my name! Johnathan Davis! Please, call my wife, Martha Davis. I can give you her number, I remember! It’s 212-856—”

“Sir, I need you to calm down, please. We will figure this out. I have help coming. It will all be okay. Just—”

“No, you need to believe me. I am not crazy! You have to believe me, please! Something is wrong I am not Joshua Andrews, I’m—”

A team of doctors and nurses burst into the room. I was still shouting, hoping someone, anyone would hear me. They talked in calming voices, but their hand screamed as they pinned me to the bed. I knew what they were going to do. I fought it, I fought the sleep, but it still came. The hands lost their grip on me as I lost my grip on consciousness. 

It’s been a few months since my accident. I can’t say it has become normal for me to become Joshua Andrews, but it has become my new reality. I slowly have become accustomed to his routine. He works as a Computer Technician at a small insurance company. People always call him, know his name, and even ask him to after-work bar crawls. They know Joshua Andrews. But if they really knew him, they would know I am Johnathan Davis, son of Herald Davis, founder of the Davis Memorial Hospital chain. They would know my wife is Margaret Davis. That I have two young children, James and Maddie. They would know that I don’t like spicy foods, that my favorite basketball player is Tim Duncan, and that I am terrified of rollercoasters, but I did one anyway with my son because he wanted his daddy with him. To myself, I am still Johnathan Davis, I never stopped being him. Yet the world does not know Johnathan Davis, they know Joshua Andrews. 

I sit on a bench at a park across from my house. Johnathan’s house. First, my children leave for school at 7am. I wish I could be there. Do they even remember their father, their real father, who would walk with them every morning? They walk alone to the bus stop down the street. I make sure they make it there safe every day. Maybe someday they will walk across the street to the park, maybe even recognize me, their real father. Yet, to them, I am not their real father, the imposter is.

He looks nothing like me. Well, Johnathan Davis that is. He still owns the hospitals, my hospitals. I watch him drive off to work every day, leaving 25 minutes after James and Maddie, just like my former routine. Martha doesn’t have much of a routine, except she always goes to the grocery store Wednesday mornings. She always did that because they have the meat specials on Wednesday. That’s one thing I love about her, she is always money conscience, even when there is no financial strain. 

They never notice me, sitting on the park bench. They don’t know my new name or who I really am. I don’t make an effort to approach them or return into their lives. They are all happy, their life is normal, their reality. It’s all they have ever known. I often wonder if that’s true. 

One morning, I sit in my usual spot. It’s a Wednesday, so I am excited to see Martha today. God, I still love her. If only she knew that she loved me too, that I am her real husband, the real —

Gravel crunches as I am awoken from my thoughts. It’s him. He stops his walk right in front of the bench, looking at me. He smiles, “Good morning sir.” The sun beats at the back of my head, and onto him as he squints down at me with his green eyes. Green eyes are never a good sign. What did Martha see in him?

“Sir? Are you okay?” I don’t know how long it had been. I clear my dry throat and stand up, “Oh yes, sorry, I’m a bit groggy this morning.” My shadow casts over his face. His eyes aren’t green. Their hazel-green. I know those eyes. Where do I know these eyes from? “Oh alright. Well, have a good day.” He continued on his route. I just stared after him. I needed to know. 

“Wait!” I snapped out of my trance again. He turned. “Do I know you? I think I know you from somewhere but I can’t place where. I just know.” A slight smile came across his face, “You may know me, I am Johnathan Davis, owner of the Davis Memorial Hospitals. I speak at dedications, graduations, stuff like that. You may recognize me from one of them. Or sometimes I go on the news. Do you watch Channel 10 in the evenings? I will be on this Friday at 6:20.” I wanted to wipe that smile right off of his face. I did know him; I was him. I just couldn’t place the eyes. My expression must have matched how I felt; his smile faded. He started to say something but I needed to know, “Do you know me? Do you know who I am?” He paused and pursed his lips together, a short, deep thought, “No, sorry, I can’t say that I do.”

This is the part of the conversation where I am supposed to introduce myself, declare who I am. No one will ever know the true Johnathan Davis. I am Joshua Andrews now. But I will always know myself, my true self. I am Johnathan Davis. No one except myself will ever understand that. 

I stick my hand out and force a smile, “The name’s Joshua, Joshua Andrews. It was nice to meet you.” His grip was strong and firm, like a true businessman, “Nice to meet you as well. Maybe I’ll see you around”.

I didn’t sit on the bench as often after that interaction. At first, it was a few times a week, then only on Wednesdays, then slowly I stopped coming altogether. I never did remember where I knew those eyes from. I did know a lot of people, and I still do. I still know a lot of people, yes, but it is only a privilege to know people if you are known. 

May 26, 2023 17:29

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Mara Masolini
16:41 Jun 01, 2023

A beautiful, well-constructed story that keeps you in suspense Jeshua is so convinced he was Davis, he feels Johnathan Davis very good!


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Karen McDermott
11:07 May 29, 2023

Wonderfully eerie and discombobulating. Also, Korn fan? ;)


Maddie Wiest
15:23 May 29, 2023

Glad you enjoyed it! I could see how you could assume I'm a Korn fan ;)


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