MISC: The Forgotten One

Martin Phipps martinphipps2 at yahoo.com
Sun Jun 14 18:10:33 PDT 2009

  To say that life hadn't been going well would have been an understatement: my girlfriend dumped me, I lost my job and I was thousands of dollars in debt.  I went to the Brooklyn Bridge late at night and contemplated jumping into the Hudson River.
  "Stop!  Don't do it!" an old bearded man in a dusty old coat shouted out to me.
  "Do what?"
  "I know you're thinking of ending it all."
  I was impressed.  "I'm just looking out onto the water.  That's all."
  "Right.  The scenic Hudson River."
  "What do you know?"
  "I know you think that life has treated you unfairly and that you want to give up on it."
  He nodded.  "Really."  He offered to shake my hand and I accepted.  "I'm Clarence.  I'm an angel."
  "No kidding.  Like in the movie It's a Wonderful Life?  So you can make it like I was never born?"
  "Oh no, no, no.  That would be too complicated.  But I can make everybody forget about you.  Is that what you want?  Do you want everybody to forget about you?"
  "What good would that do?"
  "Well, for one thing, it would wipe away your debt: nobody would come after you because they wouldn't even remember you."
  "Hmm.  Okay."
  "You have to say it."
  "Say what?"
  "That you want everyone to forget about you."
  "Okay.  I want everyone to forget about me."
  Clarence smiled.  "Done."
  Sure enough, nobody remembered me, not the bank, not my girlfriend, not even my friends and family.  Even my old photographs had faded away.  All records of my existance, in fact, were gone.  It really was as if I were never born.
  Thing is, there was a catch: not only had people forgotten about me but people continued to forget about me.  I found that if I told somebody my name then moments later they'd ask who I was again.  If they looked away even for a moment then they'd look at me as though they'd never seen me before.  And if I went away and came back -or if they did- then they would have forgotten I'd even existed.
  After a couple of days, I got fed up.  So I went back to the bridge to look for Clarence.
  "Clarence!" I shouted.
  He appeared promptly even though I hadn't seen him approach.  "Yes?"
  "Stop it!  It's getting on my nerves!"
  "What is?"
  I sighed.  "Do you remember me?"
  "Yes.  You were the young man who wanted everybody to forget you."
  "Yes.  One time.  I didn't want people to continuously forget me."
  "Oh what?"
  "Well, you should have been more clear.  You wanted everyone to have forgotten you."
  "But you said you wanted people to forget you.  That means you wanted people to not be able to remember you."
  "That's not what it means."
  "I'm afraid it does.  That's why I had you say what you wanted: so it would be clear."
  I grimaced.  "What kind of angel of God are you?"
  Clarence smiled.  "Who said I was an angel of God?"  He then disappeared in a puff of fire and brimstone.

  I soon found I had to move out of my apartment: my landlord didn't remember me and there were no records of me renting the place and as I didn't have a job anymore I couldn't ask him to just let me stay.  In any case, even if I could sign a new lease he would forget about it the next day: there's no way I would put down a deposit under those circumstances, even if I had the money.  I took all the stuff I could carry and gave him back the key.  I ended up putting all my stuff in a locker at the train station and taking showers at the local YMCA.
  Money soon became a problem because I couldn't get a job: it wasn't that I didn't have any skills but that I didn't have any references, what with nobody remembering who I was.  Food I could get: I would go to restaurants and eat all I wanted and then get up and go to the bathroom; when I came out, I just left the restaurant, knowing that the waiters would not only have forgotten what I looked like but also forget that anybody was sitting at that table.
  I got bored so I soon devised a plan to make my life better: I watched the men taking money out of an armoured car at the bank and asked myself what they would do if I took some money.  They'd just forget about me, wouldn't they?  
  Basically all I needed was to be fast on my feet and have a cardboard box waiting for me.  I picked up the cardboard box at a local grocery store.  I waited until the next time the armoured car arrived and then swooped in and grabbed a bag of money.
  "Hey!" one of the guards said.  He started running after me.  The other guard locked the car so that the rest of the money was safe.  As long as I could keep ahead of the guy immediately behind me I had a good head start.
  I ducked into an alley and put the bag of money in the cardboard box.  Then the first guard showed up.  He was looking right at me.
  "Hey you!"
  "Did you see somebody run in here?"
  "No.  What did he look like?"
  The guard thought for a moment.  "Damn.  I didn't get a good look at him."
  The second guard arrived.  "Is this him?"
  The first guard hesitated.  I knew I had to get going.
  "I'm sorry I couldn't help you guys but I have to go."  I picked up my cardboard box.
  "Wait," the second guard said.  "What's in the box?"
  So that was it: I was captured.  One guard watched me the whole time and didn't forget who I was.  The other one called the police.  The police wanted to take the money as evidence but the bank insisted on counting the money first to be sure if the money was all there so a detective followed the guards back to the bank while two uniformed cops put me in the back of their squad car.
  Luckily for me, they hadn't handcuffed me.  I bided my time: the longer I waited the more they would forget.  By the time we got to the police station, I just got out of the car and started walking away.
  "Hey you!" one of the cops said.
  "What were you doing in back of our squad car?"
  I turned and looked at the car.  "Oh my, it's a police car!  I thought it was a taxi!"
  "Yeah.  I'm yellow=black colour blind.  It's very rare.  I make this mistake all the time.  I guess we don't have to worry about that fare then, eh?"
  "Get out of here!" they told me.  So I did.

  I soon realised that this curse that this daemon had placed on me wasn't so bad after all: I could do whatever I wanted and people would forget afterwards.  It was up to me though whether I would do good things or bad things.  I decided that if I was going to steal breakfast, lunch and dinner every day at restaurants then I should start doing good things to make up for it.  People might forget me but I didn't want to take the risk of accumulating bad karma.  You know, just in case there was anything to it.
  So I became a hero: I stopped muggers, I rescued people from burning buildings, stuff like that.  I would read about it all in the newspapers the next day but there never was a clear picture of my face and nor could anybody remember what I looked like.  I became a legend.  I was...

                         THE FORGOTTEN ONE



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