patrickryanlewis

untitled 1.26.11

In Stories and Ideas on January 26, 2011 at 8:01 am

I remember being told once, even if you don’t belong in a room, act like you do and people won’t notice. This was advice I had been using for the past five years. Five years? Had it really been that long since that cool early morning wind blew me away from all I had ever known. Five years may seem like a long time to some, but as stand in the back of the room, looking around, it seems like yesterday.

I am the one who does not belong. I don’t know why I found the need to sneak into the back door. I have done, nor ever did, anything wrong. In a legal sense that is. But most of the people who are milling around this large ballroom will tell you that what I did was far worse that any legal crime I could have commited, outside of perhaps murder or rape.

I look around the room, my mental rolodex placing all the people I see. There are the two K’s, Kaitlin and Karissa. They have earned this moniker because since high school, they have been joined at the hip, never leaving each others side. Not in a romantic way, but in that way friends seem to always be there for each other. I had been part of that inner sacntum at one point as well.

There is Theo, the man who organinzed tonight. A tireless workhorse of a man who always seems to be the center of attention even when he is not trying. Moving through life without a care in the world and a smile on his face, Theo more than jumped at the chance to organize tonight’s festivities.

Then my eyes rest on the main event. The entire reason for this evening’s festivities. Brett had not changed. The jovial smile which lit up every room he stepped into was still plastered across his face as he shook hands with a red head I did not recognize. I am staring right at him as he looks over the shoulder of the lady and spots me. Even with my now long hair and dark glasses, I am easily recognizable. Yes, I have gained a few pounds over the last five years. But when you are trying to blend into a room full of suits and tuxedos, it is probably not the best idea to wear what made you famous in this small town. Before Brett can say make a move, I feel a hand on my shoulder.

“Excuse me sir, may I see your invitation?” I turn and face a bleached blonde middle aged women.

“I am sorry, I was just peeking in to see what all the fuss was about.” I smile a big smile, attempting to disarm the look of fear the women has on her face. It is not a fear of physical injury, more a fear of social injury. It is obvious this women is somehow connected with tonight’s activities, and my guess is the one who will be responsible if all does not go exactly as planned.

“Sir, this is a private event, black tie only you know.” she says with a half smirk as her eyes scan me from my feet up to my hair.

“Oh, sorry.” I smile even more. I have come to learn that no matter how cold a person appears to be, a smile will thaw them, even if it is a slight thaw. Before turning to leave, I look back into the room one last time, scanning quickly, but Brett is no where to be seen.

“Local Duo Make Millions”the headline read as Brett and I sat in our offices scanning through the local paper. It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving 2004, and we were 28 years old. One of us was a college drop out, while one of us held multiple degrees. Both of us were married with children. Life should have been perfect. But as always, hinding under the vail of perfection is a nasty virus just waiting to be unleashed. One of us would get the full force of that virus.

Gala Honors Mr. Charity. I had to chuckle a little as I notice the headline of the local paper making my way down through the deserted shops of the walking mall. It was now a mild April night. All the shops are closed, as nothing in the town ever stays open past 7:00 anymore. Even if they did, it would not have mattered tonight. Everything shut down as the entire town tried to sqeeze itself into the grand ballroom of the downtown hotel.

“I figured I would find you here” a familiar voice echos out from behind me. I am not sure if I want to turn around, because I don’t know if I am ready to face anyone yet. I am not even sure why I am standing in this spot. But there is no fighting it, I know it is time.

“Shouldn’t you be back there.” I smile a big smile as I turn and motion to the hotel a couple blocks to my right. Kaitlin is approaching me. Bubbly is the word most would use to describe her, and I have always believed that was an understatement. I once remarked that Kaitlin was the only person who could put Death in a good mood. As she approached me, I am reminded why of why I said that. There are certain people what just have an aura around them that makes you want to feel better.

“Please, you know me, I can’t stay at those things longer than a half an hour.” She gives me a big smile as she reaches my side.

“Where’s your twin?” I ask with a small laugh, knowing Karissa will not be far behind.

“She said you would head in the other direction.”

It is odd, I have not seen or spoken to Kaitlin in five years. Yet, she approaches me like we just saw each other at the office a few hours earlier. Which on a normal day five years ago would have been the case.

Kaitlin was my assistant, and Karissa held the same spot for Brett. The two K’s were labeled as our assitants, but everyone knew they were much more. They were our go between for anything that got done. They were our first and last line of defense to anyone wanting to see us. And Kaitlin was the one person, beside Brett, I thought about most during the last five years.

“Get a haircut” I hear a voice call out from our right, and I turn to see Karissa making her way up the walking mall. The last time anyone in town saw me, I was a bald wire-rimmed glasses wearing 180 pound twenty-something. Now, with a few extra pounds and thicker framed glasses, my hair has grown out to be past my shoulders.

“Never” I laugh back at her as she reaches me. Now flacked by the two people who know me better than almost anyone, I have to wonder where to go.

“Want to go in?” Kaitlin asks with a little smile.

“Not a chance.” I respond, almost in a whisper, my voice wavering. Karissa wraps one of her arms through mine and pulls me back to one of the many benches lining the inside of the mall.

“You look good” she smiles as the three of us sit.

“You were never a good liar” I chuckle back at her. “Did anyone else see me?” I ask, somewhat nervously.

“I don’t think so, people are too absorbed in their own self importance in that room to notice anything or anyone else” Kaitlin tell me. “But I must say, if you did not want to be seen…” she pauses and just looks me up and down.

“Kind of stupid to wear my old uniform huh?” I grin.

The only dress code of the office had been no suits or ties. I took this even further by never stepping out of my place in something over than one of the thousands of tee shirts I had collected throughout the years and a pair of well worn jeans. In the winter, this was accompanied by a leather jacket and tennis shoes, in the summer, lose the jacket and add sandals. This was precisely what I was wearing when I was standing in the back of that ballroom an hour ago.

They both catch me looking up at the building in front of us.

“He always said you would be back.” Kailtin says with a little smile.

“That is why he never changes a thing.” Karissa adds with a wink.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“Your office door has no been unlocked at all.” she replies. “He also had faith you would find your way back. He used to tell everyone in staff meetings that you were just a little broken, and as soon as your found your duct tape, you would be back.”

“He even kept your lease current.” Kaitlin adds as she motions to the building behind us. I turn, up until now having forgotten about my old apartment.

“You’re joking” I whisper.

“Never even changed the locks.” Karissa adds as she places a small keyring in my hand. I instantly start to shake when I see the keys.

I am laying in my back on a picnic table outside of a small bus station. The station is about 30 miles from my apartment, and I have taken a taxi to get here. I hear a small beep, and look down at my watch “3:00am” it reads. It is St Patrick’s Day 2005.

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