The man who had stalked him must be insane. I mean, what on Earth could anyone find remotely interesting about his life? Eric didn't even find it interesting himself, and he was living it. He had to, didn't he? He knew that if he ever started admitting to himself that his life bored him shitless, then he wouldn't be in a very good place.
No, he would end up in a place where one has to decide what sort of decision one ought to make. And yet, this stranger, this total bozo, was forcing him exactly into that place.
And he didn't know what to do. I mean, how do you react when some weirdo's stalking you? Do you call the police? Huh, that could be fun. Suppose it would bring in some excitement. But they might laugh at him. And maybe they like asked him what he did, in his day, to catch the stalker out or something. No, that wouldn't be any good. Eric could already picture a couple of fat cops laughing themselves silly on his account, as he described the bus he took to get down to work - number 79 and always the 6.53 one rather than the 7.08, since the 7.08 always caught the traffic jam on Millbury and besides, the 6.53 had air-conditioning, so who cared if he had to wake up fifteen minutes early?
And then, he could delight them some more with a detailed description of his day at work - all nine hours of it, the way he liked his coffee with just a drop of skimmed milk and how he sometimes balanced a pen on Tweety's nose when he talked on the phone. Sure, he'd be dying to kill himself, by the time he'd be done, but then, so would the cops.
Telling the cops was most clearly not an option. And it was sort of exciting to have someone actually care for once. Nobody had ever cared enough about him to even try and mug him, let alone stalk him. Made him feel...interesting. But also, dangerous. And that was no good.
No, Eric decided. If he was to get anywhere with this stalker individual, there was only one thing to be done. Confront him. I mean, what's the worst that can happen? The guy shoots him in the head like the complete nut-job he probably is. Big whoop.
Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash
She grew pale: her voice had a harsh note in it. "It was some money I lost under the bridge..."
It was a lie and the stranger with the funny hat would kiss her any minute now. It's alright, he'd seen the movie twenty times already, which is why he'd picked this exact place to catch his stalker out. After the kiss scene was over, he would normally head for the toilet, since he had a weak bladder and always ordered the large Coke. And that's when the stalker would usually make his exit, so as not to be spotted.
Except today, Eric had ordered the medium Coke and needed to pee only slightly. So, he stood up, just as the hat guy was kissing the redhead and headed for the bathroom.
Or so it seemed.
This was so intense, like something out of a spy movie. And his heart beat fast and everything. As the door to the theater opened about a minute after he'd gone out, he even forgot he had to pee.
They stared at each other for a good ten seconds, Eric sizing up his stalker with a sort of sick admiration, the stalker gazing at Eric with obvious embarrassment.
"So you know," he said, eventually.
Odd. He did not sound like a loony. In fact, he sounded rather British.
"You've been stalking me," Eric said and immediately wished he'd thought of something better to say. Once he'd got the words out, they sounded considerably less Sean Connery than he'd originally envisioned.
"Look, I'm sorry. I promise it won't happen again," the stranger said, putting his hand out.
"You're insane," Eric tried, hesitantly.
The stalker seemed to consider this. "Not particularly, no. I mean, I don't think. My great-uncle Reg was always a bit eccentric, and then there was my good aunt Mel who, God bless her, was an absolute basket-case, and then there's my cousin Veronica who..."
"No, no. My whole family's crazy. It runs, quite evidently, in the family. But I'm one of the more...weird exampled, let's say. I'm, well, rather normal compared to most of them."
He said this with the same guilty look on his face that a seven year old uses to inform you he has just wet the bed.
"And that's why you're stalking me," Eric tried again.
"No! Well, sort of. Truth is, I've never met anyone so appallingly normal as you in my life."
The strange thing was not that the stalker said this with admiration, but that Eric actually felt kinda flattered.
"Uhm, thank you, I think."
"I mean, you're the person my mother used to warn me about."
"Am I?" Eric asked, vaguely alarmed.
"Well, not you precisely. You know, someone like you. Someone who just works and comes home and eats dry pasta and catches the same tedious movie every night and..." the stalker drifted off, dreamily.
Photo by Start Digital on Unsplash
"So you're saying you actually enjoy this?" Eric shouted, aghast.
"Uhm, yeah. That's why I'm here..."
"Well, I wouldn't put it like that. I'm just observing you from a distance."
"Technically still stalking."
"Maybe. It's all my cousin's fault. He asked me to help out on this stunt thing, except he didn't have the address and it seems he meant to say 55 Delipatory Drive, when instead he said 55 Delisanory Drive and that's how I ended up at your place and..."
"What drive?" Eric shouted, which he did not like, in the least. He was not, by any account, a shouty sort of man.
"55 Delisanory Drive," the stalker said, with a guilty look on his face.
"There is no 55 Delisanory Drive."
"Yeah, I know, but there was a stunt and anyway, as we were falling, like off the roof, I saw into your cubicle. For a second. Or less. Or however long it takes to see into an office while in an uncontrolled vertical dive. Anyway, on the way down, I kept thinking to myself 'boy what a great life that guy must lead'. Peaceful. So, you know, I figured I'd stalk you for a while."
"Why?" Eric asked and it was wrong. What he should have asked was this an uncontrolled vertical dive, you say?, which in a way, it was better he didn't, because the answer wouldn't really have worked unless he knew the stalker's cousin Barney, which at this point, he didn't.
"Well, because I thought maybe I'd stop thinking that."
"And did you?"
As people began coming out of the theater, Eric couldn't believe this - he was standing here, talking to his lunatic stalker and he'd missed the last scene with the dog. He loved the scene with the dog.
"Not really. I mean, I understand you better, but I still...sort of.... want to be you."
"Why?" Eric couldn't help himself.
"I don't know! Trust me, I'm as upset by this as you are. More even. Do you know what my family would think if they knew?"
Eric gave this some thought. "No."
"Me neither! And I'm so tired of not knowing. I just want to live like you, to know exactly where I'm going, day in, day out. Not have to worry about randomly jumping off buildings all the time."
"Sounds even more depressing when you say it."
"Why?" The stalker seemed utterly miserable.
"Because it's the most utterly boring life there ever was."
"Listen, man, I know you're just trying to cheer me up, but it ain't gonna work. Tell you what, I'll be you for a week and you be me. How does that sound?"
And Eric couldn't have told you where the next words came from exactly, certainly not from him, but he said them anyway, perhaps because he felt certain the man wasn't serious.
"Okay, let's do it."
Except, for once in his life time, the man was.
to be continued
Weekend freewrite based on @mariannewest's 3 prompts (bold). Thank you, @marianne and the Freewriting Community :)