A man with strange memories lived a few years ago. He may still be alive; I couldn’t say. We haven’t spoken in years and I’ve heard he doesn’t live in Belize anymore. I don’t have a current address.
He was a man who always dressed well. Always wore smart clothes. Fashionable, but not in the day’s fashion. A step to the side of whatever the current trend was.
A fastidious man, his hair was always groomed; face studiously clean-shaven when he didn’t have a beard or mustache. When he had either, it was always crisply trimmed.
Fingers manicured. Toes pedicured. Definitely fastidious.
His eyes held had a look of quiet concern. It seemed something permanent. He wore sunglasses all the time, day and night; cloud or sun.
That look of concern was because of his memory. He remembered all manner of things and all of them were strange. For example, he remembered being a dried wishbone from a Christmas turkey, and he recalled being pulled violently apart. It gave him a shudder to think of it.
He told me once he remembered the fall of the Roman Empire. On his head! How he lived through it, he couldn’t say. I told him that it wasn’t possible. “It makes no sense,” I said.
“You think so?” he replied, leaning toward me, pulling his hair back from his brow. “How do you explain this?” He had a scar on his temple. “Sixteen stitches,” he said, as if that confirmed his claim.
The truth is, real or not, he believed in them. To him, they were true memories.
And so the past became a plague to him not simply because it was gone, existing only as disturbing or nostalgic trivia to bother his daily life, but because it was all weird memory, impossible things, yet fully and vividly and truly remembered.
With these strange memories swimming around in his head, he often drank. And drank a lot. Once he went to a local bar where he met a young woman with a Rubenesque configuration. He walked right up to her. I was there; I saw the whole thing. He told her he’d known her in another life. Intimately.
She punched his lights out. This man with strange memories dropped to his knees and wheezed as she strode away, “You’ve done that to me before!”
She wasn’t listening.
What can a man with strange memories do? He asked himself that question one day as he sat outside on a patio, alone, with journal and pen and sipping a chilled sauvignon blanc. I wasn’t there. He told me this later.
The answer came to him quickly and easily: Write a book, of course! An autobiography.
And that is what the man with strange memories did. He wrote a book. He called it, The Strange Life I Recall. It outsold cell phones. They made a movie of it. They may have changed the title.
He became impossibly wealthy, of course.
He moved to Belize. Said he used to live there back when the Mayans were running the show. There was a good deal of stone work back in those days, he said. But he hadn’t cared much for the mud and the dust.
We were sitting on his balcony in Belize one afternoon. We were sharing a bottle of wine under the glory of the Caribbean sun. He had his sunglasses on, though after the book came out I often saw him without them. Ever since his success, the look of concern was gone from his eyes. I think he’d become comfortable with his strange memories. They’d been woven into the fabric of the man he was, just as his natty appearance had. They defined him.
He said to me as he recalled his earlier stone working days with the Mayans, “If I ever see another cob of corn, I’ll scream.”
I wish I knew if he were still living and if so, where. I’d enjoy sharing a bottle of wine with him again. His memories were always entertaining.
© Copyright 2018 William Wren. All rights reserved.
William Wren is a writer in New Brunswick, Canada. He has had several stories published previously by the Rose City Sisters. He has one ebook collection of stories on Amazon, Disrupted Lives and Other Commotions. His next ebook will be available soon.