“This is Paul.”
What the hell? It felt as though I had just been whisked into existence. And yet, I knew most of the people around me. I remembered coming here. I took a sip of my gin and tonic to calm myself. The din of the party surrounded me. I felt the heat of too many bodies pressed into too small of a room. The mixture of perfume and aftershave almost made me gag.
I heard Linda showing off her fiancé to everyone. She had a few more partygoers to say hello to before she got to me when I realized who I was. I was a One-page Wonder!
I had read enough novels to recognize the situation. Linda would introduce me and say my first name, I’d shake hands with the boyfriend, they would continue to the next person, and then I would disappear. And as the pages turned in this novel, my name would be forgotten, because I had nothing to contribute to the story: other than a faceless entity amongst a crowd of other soon-to-be-forgotten characters. Like the background people you see on TV shows and in the movies, extras, standing around, mouthing nonsense words, while the main actors move the plot along.
But I was somebody. Damnit! I had a wife named Joan and two kids, little Bonnie and Cindy. I had a good job in charge of the supply chain for Goodland Manufacturing.
I had to do something to make myself stand out. When Linda introduced me, I would shout my last name and ask the boyfriend questions, forcing him to get to know me, then maybe the idiot writer of this book would recognize me as a main character.
Get ready, I thought; she’s getting closer, closer. Look at all those other imbeciles, smiling and nodding, not realizing that soon they would fade away.
Here she comes; this is it. Linda turned to me and said, “And this is Mike.”
I thrust out my hand, but before I could utter the first syllable of my last name, she’d moved on.
NOOOO! I wanted to scream. But I couldn’t find my voice. My last name is…; I wanted to yell. And my wife’s name is… And my children’s names are… But I couldn’t think of them. They had already faded from my memory. Then my drink disappeared, my hand became transparent, and the crowd melted into a hazy mist. Then nothing.
Warren R. Langlois has previously published short stories in Liquid Imagination and The Absent Willow Review. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association.