The magic was all in the finishing touches. Bed made. Curtains closed. Room spotless. I sit in the chair next to the bed. I look around and I see failure. I feel disappointment. I am alone. I am a long way from where my journey started 28 years ago in the beautiful southern town of Charleston. School took me north to New England. I have a brilliant mind but I am a flawed person. Seriously flawed actually. I am what I would consider an actor. Not a trained actor as seen on the big screen or television. I am an actor in everyday life. A master of disguise. What you see is not me. It is what I want you to see. I am in control. I have no intention of letting anyone in. Everyone gets the superficial me. No one knows the real me. I never will allow myself to be that open. What may look like happiness and love of life is me masking deep secrets and years of turmoil. But I am tired of acting. Now it is time for me to stop the pain. To no longer be Nathan Dempsey. I am tired of this life. In my mind, it is over.
So I have made a decision what to do to be free of my suffering. I am not sure anyone will care. My father is long gone. Alcohol did him in. Or should I say he did himself in. My mother cares but has no idea how to show anyone much less her only son. She just looks for comfort in the arms of men. Many men. Leaving me alone. I suppose she is masking her pain in her own way. The early years really molded me into who I am today. They gave me a good life in the eyes of many, including my friends and relatives. I can only think they thought it was a good life. A nice big house on the outskirts of town. Vacations each summer. Lots of presents at Christmas and birthdays. A car when I turned sixteenth. College paid for. They spoiled me with material items. However, what I wanted and needed most they never were able to purchase. They had no skills in giving me these needs. It is like it didn’t exist in their world, not even for each other. They were unable to give me love and security. So today, I will make myself vanish. I rise from the chair and lay in the neatly made bed next to me. My mind wanders as I stare at the ceiling above.
I hope it will be painless. This week I sold all my possessions. So quick and easy on Craigslist. I put all my money into a savings account. I called everyone I care about to say my goodbyes. Not in so many words mind you. I didn’t want to raise any suspicion. In my apartment is a note to my neighbor explaining what to do with my cat Emily. I told her I was off for a month of training for my job. A job I not longer have. However, she will soon know the truth when she finds the note placed between the cans of cat food. My hope is that it takes her a day or two. By then it will be too late. I am not sure what course of action she will take upon reading my note. She doesn’t know much about me. I made it this way. She knows only what I want her to know. I chose that apartment six months ago. It was part of my plan. Every detail has been meticulously planned. Today I execute this plan. One that came to mind after renting a movie a number years back. It has been a long time coming but today is the day.
A knock on my hotel door snaps me out of my trance. I find myself sweating profusely. I must stay calm. This is the moment I have waited for. I look at my travel bag setting beside the bed. I stare at the room around me, so neat and tidy. I start to shake at the thought of what I am about to do. I tell myself to relax, it will be painless. I make myself believe I have been numb to life. Remember, you are an actor. You have been your whole life. This will be easy.
I hear the knock again, this time louder. I take a deep breath and calmly say, “Yes, can I help you?”.
“Did you call for a cab Mr. Defrense?”
Nervously I get out of bed then reach down to grab my bag. I stroll upright and stiff towards the door. I am dressed in a nice suit with a white shirt and tie. I stand by the door and notice my hand shaking as I reach for the knob. I open the door slowly and look at the gentlemen standing in front of me and say, “That’s Dufrense, Andrew Dufrense. I did call for a cab, thank you. And just call me Drew.”
“I am sorry I missed pronounced your name sir.”
“No worries, it happens all the time,” I say smiling.
Well this was the first time. The first time anyone calls me by my new name. Even if it was incorrectly. I feel free. My mind is clear. I have crawled out of a prison, just like Andy in the movie Shawshank. That is where I got the idea. And like Andy, I crawled through a pipe of shit that was my life. I crawled to freedom and into a new life as someone different. I am now Andy Dufrense. I became him, just like he became Randal Stephens in prison. Except for me, it was much easier in this age of electronics. It took Andy nearly twenty years to become someone else. It took me six months to become him. Social security numbers, fingerprints, drivers license and passport. Piece of cake with my computer programming education. And perhaps a little bit of illegal hacking.
The cabbie grabs my bag and off we go. We take the elevator down to the lobby of the hotel and walk toward the cab. As we exit the hotel, the sun shining on my face make brings a smile to my face. As I take my place in the back seat, the driver speeds away.
“Where to Drew?” the cabbie asks.
“Business trip Drew?”
“Some would call it that. I prefer to call it a fresh start. In France. A new life.” I hand the cabbie a letter and say “can you put this in the mailbox in the next day or two please?” I drop a twenty-dollar bill on the front seat.
‘Absolutely,” he says smiling, “consider it done.”
“Thank you.” Some would say what I am doing is wrong. Perhaps it is. Illegal? Yes it is. But I will let my mom know that I have moved. Other details she needs not know. I just need to be happy. And this is the way I chose to be. Goodbye Nathan Dempsey.
This story is fiction written for the Yeah Write, The Speakeasy #93.