(I wrote this either the 2nd semester of my sophomore year or my 1st semester my junior year of college. After just seeing the movie Looper I was reminded of it and some similarities the stories share. And being the writer I am I want to re-read it and edit it but if I did that I don’t know if I would ever feel it was ready to be shared so there are probably a ton of spelling and grammar errors. And I believe I had just studied minimalism which is why there is little description and short sentences. OK, enough prefacing.)
“It happened on the train, on my way home from a job interview gone wrong. He was sitting across from me. Looking out the window at first, but then He saw me. We made eye contact and I could see right through those eyes and into his head. He saw into my head too, he didn’t want to admit it though. He figured He just imagined it. Thought of it as a good story idea and planned on going on his way, writing what He thought was fiction, but was really reality. I knew that I could change everything if I followed him, so I did.”
“Why didn’t you just tell him?”
“I wasn’t fully convinced until I saw where He lived; saw his parents, his car, his dog even. They were all mine, down to the smallest detail. I knew. I knew my life was going to change as soon as I interacted with him. As soon as I could get him to trust me, but how? How could I do that? I knew exactly how He would react. He would panic and report me to the cops, calling me a pervert and a crazy, ruining both our lives forever. I knew that I would have to come up with a plan. I knew how He thought, so I began to brainstorm.”
I’ve got it! I’ll wait for him at the train station every day, get on the same train, sit next to him and wait for the day when He talks to me. I know that He’s quiet, but once I fit into his everyday routine and we become acquaintances He will trust me. He’ll think I’m crazy when I tell him, but once given the proof He’ll have to believe.
So now I’m waiting. Sitting on the bench at the train station. There He is. So I’m up now rushing, squeezing into the train right before the doors close. He sits. I sit. Next to him. Not making eye contact. He remembers me. And we ride all the way to his stop. We get off. I walk in front. I walk down his street. Past his house. I never look back. I know He sees me and I know my plan is working.
“Weeks went bye. We both rode the train and we always sat next to each other, but never was a word spoken. Until that day.”
He drops a schoolbook, a book I remember reading. I pick it up off the train floor and give it back. He thanks me and I ask if it’s any good. I know it sucks.
“It sucks!” His words echo through my head.
“I thought the same when I had to read it. I never finished because I thought it was so bad. I had to write a paper on it too, but I just bullshited it and got an A.”
“Yeah I was thinking about doing that.”
“You should. You’ll probably end up writing a good paper anyway, and even if you don’t it’s not going to influence your life in some major way.” I hesitate. “This conversation will probably have a greater effect than that paper will.”
“And it’s true. That conversation made us everyday acquaintances. We would sit next to each other, talk about life, walk together until we reached his house, until the opportunity came up to get something to eat.”
We go to a small café. We order the same turkey club sandwich. Both with no tomatoes. I take a cigarette out and place it behind my ear. I start the conversation. “I need to tell you something. Something important.”
“Do I really want to know this?”
He thinks I’m hitting on him. “If I were you I would.”
“So what is it?”
“That’s just it. I am you.” Shit that was way to fast. He’s going to try and run.
“Listen I really should get going.”
“No don’t!” I scream and grab his wrist as He begins to rise from the table.
“Don’t fucking touch me!”
We hate it when other people touch us. Just gives us this uncomfortable feeling. “Let me show you!”
He fights to free his wrist from my grasp, while I use my left hand to remove the cigarette I placed behind my ear. I place it in my mouth, light it, inhale the poison and exhale the smoke. I roll up the sleeve on my right arm and turn my wrist face up. I touch the cigarette to his pale young skin.
“What the fuck are you doing!” He screams and tries harder to free himself.
“Shhh. Just watch.”
As his white skin turns fire red, mine turns a scar colored pink. Smoke rises from both out wrists. I release his arm and put the cigarette out on the table.
He sits back in his chair, eyes wide, holding his wrist with his left hand. The waitress comes over gives us a strange look and places our sandwiches in front of us. We both take a sip of our cokes then a bite of our sandwiches. We don’t talk. Just stare into each other’s eyes as we eat. Dealing with the realization that we are each other.
“If only I could go back to that first day on the train. Go back and look the other way. Then I wouldn’t be here. In a mental institution. Writing with a dull royal blue Crayola crayon. Knowing that I’m not crazy. That He was too naïve. That I was too naïve.”
We see each other every day now. And I map out my life. What went wrong. What went right. What we always wanted to do. What I didn’t have time for, and regret not doing.
He skydives. He bungee jumps. And I remember, remember the sensations.
“I have to get out of here. I have to stop him.”
“But you’re right here.”
“And He’s out there.”
“Out!” yells the umpire. And He wins the bet. The bet on the Yankees game that I told him to place. It’s only 100 bucks, but that’s a fortune to him.
“That was when He realized the power that we had. That we could get anything that we wanted. When He thought He was God.”
“Do you realize what we can do?” He asks me. “We can make millions. We can rule the world.”
“It didn’t sound like a bad idea, so I found my old journal. Found the date when I missed the 300 million dollar jackpot in the lottery by one number. I told him the numbers and He played them on the same date that I played them, when I was 18.”
“I won! Just like you said I would.” He says as we watch the drawing on the television.
“We won.” I remind him.
“But He was right. He did win. He had the ticket. He cashed it in. And He moved without telling me.”
I show up at that little café as planned. He isn’t here. He isn’t coming. I know him. I am him. Where would he go? Where did I want to go when I was 18?
“New York. And He was there. And of course I found him. Living in a mansion that overlooked Central Park. And I watched him. Watched the dumbass put a fingerprint identification lock on the door. Hello! We have the same fucking fingerprints!”
I wait until He is asleep before I enter. I think about killing him, but realize I would be killing myself. Instead I decide to wake him and threaten to kill him if He doesn’t give me my half. He calls my bluff and attacks me. He’s quicker then I am. Pins me down. Punches me in my face. Fumbles around with his left hand. Grabs a needle out of his nightstand. Punctures my scar with it.
“I was taken away by the cops. I told them the truth. They thought I was crazy. Put me in here.”
“And thirty years later you’re still here.”
“Because I never changed my story.”
I know if I stay here, He’ll forget about me. Until He realizes. Realizes that we are the same person. That He will end up like me. So I decide to wait. Wait here thirty years, until He’ll try to find Us.
“So will you release me?”
“Why? Why can’t you?”
“Because what you’re saying is crazy.”
“But it’s true and you know it! If I were crazy I wouldn’t have realized that I could have been released from here years ago, by lying to everyone and saying that I didn’t believe in this story. So please let me go.”
“And what do I tell my boss?”
“That at the age of 78 all the medication and shock therapy finally worked. That I’m cured.”
The Doctor laughs and tells me that he enjoyed my story. That he still thinks I’m crazy. But he agrees to release me. Because I’m going to be dying soon and deserve one last chance at freedom.
I go to the train station, with a knife in my jacket pocket. I sleep there. Because I have nowhere else to go. Because I know He’ll show up. To make sure He finds Us.
He shows up two hours early. Two hours before Us is supposed to take the train. And He waits on the bench like I did. He sees me, but I don’t let him see my eyes. My eyes would give me away. He’d see right through me.
Us gets here right on schedule. Right before the train is about to close its doors. He gets up to follow Us. I follow him. Us gets on the train. I stab him. The doors close in front of his face. He turns and falls to the ground. I look into his empty eyes. At the blood on my hands. At the blood flowing from my chest. At Us making his way towards the seat. The seat where it all began. And I breathe. I breathe my last breath and I know that I’m alive.