Kirk Novak: The Man I Never Knew

As an exercise, our writers were given the title of our unwritten novel and then we were to write the first page. I was given the title, “The Man I Never Knew.” I now present to you for the first time anywhere outside of a DWWP meeting, a page from this lost Great American Novel™.

Christian was drunk. He excused himself from the table his friends had taken up in the corner of Foster’s Public House to use the bathroom. When they arrived there was only a lonely drunk sitting at the bar. They drowned themselves in pitchers of Budweiser. Five dollars on special. Hours later the place was bumper to bumper. He worked his way through the crowd, bouncing off people like a pinball. Christian reached the bathroom door and stuck his arm straight out like a running back staving off  defender. The door was locked. Ocupado. He rolled off and hit the door jamb with a thud. He pressed his head against the wall and closed his eyes, technicolor swirls radiating into his mind.

Five minutes passed, maybe five seconds. The pressure in his bladder reverberated outward, rendering time immaterial. Christian opened his eyes right as the bathroom door swung out, knocking him from the wall through sheer force of will.

“It’s all yours,” came a voice from a shapeless blur that quickly vanished into the crowd.

Christian stumbled into the bathroom and locked the door behind him. Half the lights were out, and the other half gently flickered, creating an atmosphere somewhere between a quiet alley off a busy street and a lonely funhouse in an amusement park. He leaned up against the sink and looked deep into the mirror. A darkened reflection stared back at him, unrecognizable as his own face. Christian glanced down at the toilet. It was covered in piss that pooled on the floor, soaking the toilet paper that spooled off the roll. He decided to pee in the sink. Out of the corner of his eye he swore he saw his reflection staring straight at him, instead of mirroring his movements.

He jerked his head back and forth trying to throw off his mirror image. Christian took a couple steps back and started doing kung-fu kicks and karate chops at the mirror, but his reflection just mimicked him. He thought it was mocking him. He laughed at himself. Christian unzipped his fly, and started pissing in the sink. He closed his eyes and laid his head back, a wave of relief caused him to tremble uncontrollably. He finished, shot his finger gun at his reflection in the mirror and walked out of the bathroom without washing his hands. One of the remaining bulbs burnt out in a blinding white glare. A shadow pulled itself out of the mirror and followed Christian out into the bar through the crack in the slowly closing door.

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