This was written for the Plotto contest week 3 at TinHouse.com. I haven’t written one for week 4, yet…
I’ve also posted an entry for the Writer’s Digest prompts. This week’s topic is “Mystery Cookie.”
“There’s your appointment… OK. All checked in… So… have you seen Remembrance of Me?”
Jonah sneered at the receptionist. Remembrance of Me was a new movie based on a novella that Jonah had written two decades ago. It had been optioned soon after publication, but a successful lawsuit by someone claiming to be the subject of the story—which was complete nonsense—had killed the project and plunged Jonah into heroin addiction, and, here he was, checking in at the methadone clinic for his weekly appointment. The movie concept somehow had been resurrected, but Jonah had absolutely no rights to it anymore.
The receptionist was still waiting for his answer, but, not getting one, gave up. “She’ll be right with you.”
The campaign volunteer was more than happy to give him a button. “Are you registered to vote?”
“Yup,” Jonah lied, contemplating where on his vest to put the button. There were already dozens of buttons there, and Jonah took care not to let any of them overlap. He decided to take off the button for John Edwards, and put the new button in its place. He handed over the old button. “You guys recycle?”
She took it cheerfully. “Sure! And, are you registered in Marion County?”
“No…” His mind clouded over for a second. “I mean… yes.”
“We have some petitions…” She reached for the clipboards behind her.
The water pipes at the shelter had burst, which meant everyone was turned away. Jonah hated the shelter crowd, and doubly hated walking with the crowd.
“Hey, look! You saw Remembrance of Me, right?” someone asked.
“No!” said Jonah emphatically, but then realized that the question was not directed at him. The snicker that followed, he was sure, was directed at him, but then that’s what his heroin addiction told him; wasn’t that what his counselor would say?
So, he obeyed his heroin addiction that night.
The man who was leaving the restroom as Jonah entered almost pointed at him. That was for sure. But, some vague sense of decorum made him realize that it was best not to do that. Or to say what he was going to say.
Jonah growled at him anyway.
As usual, he did his best not to look at his own reflection behind the sink. Unfortunately, the mirror was very big, very bright, and very enticing. Jonah did his best to resist, and focused on washing the grime off his glasses, but, the act of putting the glasses back on made him look.
And there he was. He thus realized why everyone kept mentioning the new movie, without knowing who he was. The meticulously arranged buttons on his vest, his beard, his glasses, his baldness… he looked exactly the way he had described the main character in his book. Somehow, over the last several homeless years, he had subconsciously made himself over to look like that character.
Jonah scoffed, walked out, and never gave it any more thought.