“The Thread” / A Memorable Fancy #340

[“How frail, how slender, is the thread that keeps us ourselves.” – Joyce Carol Oates]

     Eduardo is quite pleased with himself; he, a poor immigrant, now VP of a not-inconsiderable import firm. Every day he wakes and tells himself, once again, that it is very good to be Eduardo and not some lesser person.

     But one day he awakes to find – gradually and with many false steps – that he is someone else: a rougher skin, a large moustache. People on the street whisper “It’s Pancho!” and step out of his way, looks of fear and disgust on their faces. A few turn their heads and spit. He attempts to go to his office, but the guards will not let him in the door. Eventually he goes home, waiting to wake up, waiting for the awful dream to end.

     And the next day he does wake up as Eduardo, not Pancho, as a glance in the mirror testifies. That was quite a dream, he thinks, shaken. But on the commuter train he overhears people saying “Did you know that Pancho is back? I saw him yesterday, as mean and dirty as ever!” And the other nods and says “I heard he tried to get into the World Import building. I can’t imagine what he wanted there, but the guards turned him away.”

     Bit by bit, Eduardo finds physical evidence that yesterday was real. A cigarette butt in his suit jacket, for example: Eduardo doesn’t smoke. And returning home he finds an empty bottle of cheap tequila that he hadn’t noticed before: Eduardo drinks a highly praised Scotch. The phone rings; a sultry voice asks if he wants the same services tonight that he bought yesterday, and how may girls this time, sir?

     He tries to stay awake that night, but eventually falls asleep. He gets up in the morning and rushes to the mirror. He’s Eduardo again, thank God! Pancho is nowhere to be seen. Eduardo goes about his business, and everything seems normal.

     Night after night, morning after morning, the desperate scene is repeated. As the years pass, Eduardo goes through his morning identity ritual, his spasm of fear. But he never changes back to Pancho; it was only that one day, but he can’t forget it. It preys on his mind, a vision of a mean and desperate outlaw. On his deathbed, surrounded by his family, in a delirium he tells them to call him “Pancho,” that he had wanted to be Pancho all his life, not Eduardo. Anything but Eduardo.

 

<END> … See www.terencekuch.net for a profile of the author, publications, reviews, etc. His speculative fiction novels * may be purchased in paperback or Kindle formats via his Amazon author page, www.amazon.com/author/terencekuch

Review copies are available from the author at terencekuch /a/t/ ymail.com for:

    *The Seventh Effect: a thriller from Melange Publications about a new kind of bioterrorist plot against the USA.

    *See/Saw: a literary adventure from Ink Smith Publications about implanting memories – then the North Koreans figure out how to do it.

 

00 Seventh Effect front cover small image

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