Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Second Pair of Britches

Odd Encounter of the Week: a hit

"Did you find everythi. . . "

In the middle of my Microsoft Borders Clerk v. 2.0 register speak, I found myself interupted by my own name.

"Ben," the voice whispered.

I halted my monotone register greeting and looked up, down, all around. I heard it again.


I admit, dear reader, I began to come undone. The voice had disrupted my flow, and though I still continued to check out the books, I stood visibly flustered, stumbling through words and not really paying attention as I tried to find the source of the voice.

I looked around but saw no one I recognized. Where was the voice coming from?

Then over the shoulder of my customer, I saw an older man, mid-60's, looking at me. The voice had come from him. He smiled, big and loose.

I did a double-take, trying to look - but not too hard - to see if I knew this man who seemed to be calling my name.

We made eye contact. This may seem irrelevant, but you must understand what eyes mine had contacted. He had big, bulging, Mr. Potato Head eyes. But unlike Head's orbs which snap firmly and snuggly into place, his eyes seemed unattached to anything in his head, as if they could look any direction on a 360 degree field. It seemed as though he could have rolled them in a complete circle without, well, batting an eye. If he wanted, he could've had one eye looking at me and one eye looking for me.

What's worse though, he appeared to have no control over them. He had "the krazy eye."

My heart skipped a beat. As odd as it sounds, I stood legitimately afraid. Who was this guy and what did he want with me?

While pondering this man's identity, he flashed me a hand sign gesture thingy as if we had some secret communication. A gang symbol or something.

The fear grew. I began to sweat. It was cold.

Still baffled, I heard him speak: "Sooza. . . . Sooza." The hand gesture flashed again.

The name "Keyser Soze" popped into my head. Soze, pronounced close enough to "Sooza" that it triggered the association, is fearsome character from the movie "Usual Suspects." If you have not seen it, do. For the sake of the movie, I cannot say much about Keyser Soze except this:

He kills people.

The scene of the last 15 seconds swirled together, and as ridiculous as it may seem, it terrified me. This man knew my name. He flashed gang symbols. He uttered something eerily familiar to a ruthless movie murderer. And he looked krazy.

Perhaps all the Sopranos talk had gotten to me, but I felt certain this man had come to off me.

Here I thought the horsehead I had found on my pillow the day before was merely a joke by my vanquished tennis opponents. And that black rose which appeared in the mailbox this morning looked like chocolate, simply an early birthday present.

Why the heck did the mob have a hit out on me?!?!? I didn't do anything, I promise! I'm just a kid, I swear! The police made me talk! They made me!

I'M TOO YOUNG TO DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Do you have my cd's? The John Phillip Sousa ones I called in for an hour ago. Remember we talked?"

I did not move for a solid four seconds, as the fear adrenaline quickly fled, leaving me to crash back to the reality of my bookstore surroundings.

"Oh, yeah, heh heh, Sousa. John Phillip Sousa. Yeah, I, uh, put them on hold right over there. I'll help you as soon as I finish with this customer."

"Thanks, Ben."

He gave me a thumbs up, flashing his goofy smile again.

I finished checking out my customer and snuck off to the back room for a private moment, to emotionally recover but also to change pants, having had the piss scared out of me by a 65-year old man who apparently loved "Stars and Stripes Forever."


Brad said...

If you were a bit more culturally literate, you would have jumped to John Philip [note the spelling] Sousa long before you jumped to "The Usual Suspects." It's nice to know that I'm not the only person in the world who listens to marches...

Jeff said...

never a dull moment.

Anonymous said...


nametags are only for the brave of heart