Chapter 1

I stood there, the whole crowd in front of me cheering for me to start. I signaled to the band, and they started playing. Old tune, I know, but thats what I like singing. Thank you, Bo Diddley.

I walked 47 miles of barbed wire,
I use a cobra snake for a necktie,
I've got a brand new house on the roadside,
Made from rattlesnake hide,
I got a brand new chimney made on top,
Made out of a human skull,
Now come on take a walk with me, Arlene,
And tell me who do you love?

When I was done singing, the crowd, my great big fans, were not ready for what was going to come next. I was so sick of this. So totally fucking sick of it. I don't mind being loved, but I'm not. I'm lusted after by people who have no personality.

"Thank you, ladies and gentlmen," I said, smiling, "For coming to my last, my final, concert. I appreciate all that you have done for me, and all your love and affection. It will always be cherished."

I then turned and I walked off the stage, the crowd totally silent. I had been planning this for so long, and rehearsing it in my mind so many times, that I didn't think. I just did.

I went outside to my waiting limousine, which took me home. I intended for it to end that early and that suddenly, to give me lead time to get home. And it worked. I was out of there before some of the people were out of their seats.

I had started this gig as a teenager, being able to impersonate, almost perfectly, the styles of hundreds of different artists from the 20s through the 70s. People always loved it. And that's great. But for the past 12 years I had been almost prisoner to this life style. And I was simply not going to put up with it anymore.

I had a slut wife who was primarily interested in basking in the halo that surrounded me. I had a million dollar estate. I had all kinds of cars. I had millions of dollars, because I knew how to save money. And I was fucking miserable.

When I got home, I ignored my wife, and got into bed and seemed to go straight to sleep. A few hours later, I got out of the bed silently, changed silently, and went out the back door. I was wearing a dark grey pullover hoodie, dark grey pants, dark grey shoes. I would be nearly invisible to the human eye, which was the point. I walked out of the house and out across my backyard, into the woods.

I walked four miles into the woods to a country road. A guy I knew to be fucking my wife on the side, as prearranged, met me and we drove to a defunct resort that rested on a hill overlooking a stunning lake. It was a beautiful place, and I'd never understand why it had closed. But hell, tons of beautiful old resorts do every year.

With the car parked just at the top of the hill leading down to the resorts defunct boat launch, I slugged the man. He became unconscious at the wheel of the car. Nobody knew he was going to be picking me up. I was, supposedly, going to be buying crack from him. I wanted it to be in a very remote location so it wasn't possible for anyone to catch us.

I got out of the shitheads 2010 Lincoln Town Car. "Cindy?" I called, "Cindy!"

"I'm right here," a woman's voice responded. She was my best friend. A total masochistic loon, but my best friend nonetheless.

"Good, lets get rid of him," I told her.

"Done," she said, reaching in and starting the car. Once it was running, she used a stick to shove on the brake pedal and shift the thing into neutral. She released the parking brake, and shut the door. We both stood behind the car and pushed it.

The car went down the hill, its lights waving back and forth as it careened down the hill, and onto the dock. As I had estimated, it was going about 50 mph when it crashed into the wooden railing at the end of the dock and went off into the lake. Not many people come out this way. It would probably be months before somebody found the car. Maybe longer. Oh, and don't sleep with my wife. Its not good for your health. Honest.

None of the media knew Cindy. We had met online, back when I was a kid. She was sorta non-sexual. We became best friends, but it never turned into a relationship. Which was fine. I needed somebody solid to stand by me now.

We walked over to Cindy's car, a bizarre vehicle that took a Shelby Mustang GT500 engine and transmission, and placed it in an otherwise stock-looking Volvo V90. It had wheels and tires that, though bigger and wider then stock, were designed to look stock, including fake rubber wrapping the wheels to make the sidewall seem taller.

She offered to let me drive the thing, but I shook my head shyly. We had been together physically only a few times before, mostly to work out the stuff for the fake identity I was about to assume. I was going to be her "husband". It wasn't because we intended to get married, but so that she could help guide the process wherein they would rebuild my face into a different face.

I assumed a new social security number, a new name, a new everything. I guess all the years of me crying and carrying on about how much I hated my life got her to go to such lengths to help me. Not the killing and stuff. She liked killing people. It gave her some kind of pleasure I couldn't understand. Why we managed to be friends, I have no idea.

We got into her Volvo Station Wagon, and she started it. It made a kind of engine rumble that no Volvo had any right to make. Then she shifted into first, and dumped the clutch. I swear to god we left half the rear tires behind as the car accelerated. If was fucking fast. First of all, despite its much larger size and considerably more sumptuous luxury, it was actually 400 lbs lighter than the porker that is the Shelby GT500. And it had independent rear suspension, so it handled better.

Taking half the turns sideways, we drove to her house. We went to bed. I stayed in the guest room. Cindy liked giving off the impression of being an intellectual goody-two-shoes. She was brilliant, true. But she wasn't a good-two-shoes. She was a sadistic thrill seeker of the first order.

The next morning, we set to work on the hardest part of it. She sedated me, and proceeded to disfigure my face with shards of glass. When I woke up, I was in abject pain. But I forced myself to live through it.

Then I got into a Mercedes C300 that had been wrecked once, giving us the excuse for the installation of the non-safety glass windshield and the defunct drivers-side airbag. My face was going to get more disfigured before we're through, but we needed to be sure it would need rebuilding.

Then I hugged her, and she hugged me back. I was amazed. She was scared I was going to get hurt. She really cared about me. The hug said a lot about it- although it was more a sibling kind of caring.

I got into the car, and started driving to where we had discussed it. Then I chugged an 750ml bottle of bourbon, and got into the car, and put on the Z87 compliant safety sunglasses, as agreed. I drove down the road at about 35 mph, and then, trying to carefully calculate a 25% overlap, I crashed into a telephone pole on the passengers side. I wasn't drunk when I hit the pole, but I soon would be.

The windshield, as we had predicted, shattered on impact. I don't know what else happened because I blacked out.

I woke up in the hospital, Cindy holding my hand. She told me my face was totally disfigured, and they were going to have to rebuild it. Her eyes tried to high the degree of glee she had, because other than that, I was uninjured. The plan had worked perfectly.

It took several weeks for the surgery to heal properly, before they took off the wrapping, but when they were done, I was a new man. The news had been all the rage about how I had disappeared. It was presumed I might even be dead. My wife was all over trying to figure out how to get the funds of my estate disbursed. I feel so loved.

Cindy and I talked about what I was going to do after the change. I had very little money. Cindy made a decent living, but I didn't have any credentials. While we were technically married, Cindy wanted me to go out and find a woman in my life, and I needed to start making money.

What I decided to do was start all the fuck over again. I got into this mess as I graduated high school. So now was time for me to do college. I started off enrolling in an open admissions community college. After having much of my life handed to me on a silver platter, I admit it was hard to start working. Cindy had to drive me to that because I had- of course - lost my license for drunk driving.

I decided that I was going to study journalism, with the idea being that I would apply the degree as such. I worked really hard for those first two years, and didn't really socialize. The result of my hard work was that I accepted into a university as a communication major. By this point I decided to take things a little slower and take a look at the world around me. I had used the surgery as a way to reduce my age, too. While I was 34, the surgery's freshness meant I actually looked more like 24.

Cindy had suggested that, while she'd pay for it, I might want to consider living on campus, so I did. For about a week. The childish nature of my roommate and other college dormmates was such that I couldn't stand it.

However, in the interest of sanity, I generally ate lunch at the college. Which is where I met her. I was sitting down to lunch one day eating what the college claimed to be a hamburger. It tasted more like a cow pattie to me.

"Hey, can I sit with you?" a girls voice asked me.

"Sure," I said. And she sat down.

She was- no, she wasn't beautiful. She was what I'd call cute. She was wearing a light blue t-shirt, like skye blue. She had on faded jeans that actually looked like they were old, rather then pre-made to look old. She had a medium-average ass, and a medium-average chest. Her body wasn't much to look at, really. She was neither voluptuous, nor fat, nor skinny. She looked- well, she looked like an average girl. She had medium brown hair that she kept back with a headband. The hair went midway down her back. Her eyes were hazel. Yeah, I noticed her alright.

Why? No particular reason other then she sat at my table.

"My name's Joe Adams," I said, offering her my hand.

She shook it, "Lisa Stoudt."

"You don't look all that stout," I said, smiling.

"They all say that," she said, smiling back.

She was slowly sipping some kind of soda, and she had a hamburger on her tray, too.

"We are in Creative Writing together," she said, "And you seemed like you really really enjoy writing."

"I do," I said, "Its a lot of fun. I especially enjoy writing things that require me to do a lot of research. Accuracy and ... well, its just fun."

"I was looking to become an author," she said, "But I figured I could write ad-copy until I can make it ahead."

"I was planning on being a reporter," I said.

She asked me some questions about my personal history, and I recited from memory the stories I had memorized about my new, and non-existent, past. They were vague and bland, because I didn't want to find myself, in the future, disowning actions of import.

She apparently came from an average family. Both of her parents were school teachers. She was 19, and this was her Junior year. She had been a summer baby and she graduated high school when she was almost 17. She seemed very bright. I liked her.

We started to make a habit of meeting at lunch to discuss class- and life. As the weeks went by, we became distinctly friends. At which point we saw each other outside of lunch. She was living on campus, and I was not.

As we spent time together, well, we started to really like each other. So I went to Cindy- we were going to have to do this anyway - and started a divorce proceeding for the marriage that never happened. I was scared of what was going to happen, but ... well, I knew this would be hell. Just less hellacious than my life had been beforehand.

The divorce was completely uncontested. Cindy got to keep everything that was rightfully hers (that is to say, everything), and I got absolutely nothing because it was never mine anyway. What, did you think I'd get fifty percent of her assets just because she helped me out of hell and killed somebody for me?

It went through in 2 months.

Towards the end of the second semester, I got up the courage to ask her out. We were at lunch together.

"Lisa?"

"Hmm?" she said, biting into a ham sandwhich.

"Would you like to go out with me to that little Italian joint just off the campus?"

"I sure would," she said, smiling broadly.

"Tomorrow at 6?" I asked.

"Its a date," she said, "By the way, what took you so long?"

"I'm not sure," I said, "Nerves, I guess."

What did I like about her? Well, she was very nice, for one thing. Friendly. For another, she wasn't a genius, but she was smart enough for me. I wasn't a genius, either. She was good looking. We shared an interest in writing. And something just seemed right.

The first date went well, and when I walked her back to her dorm, I gave her a kiss goodnight. Not a steamy one, but a very nice one. It felt- well, it felt right.

Numerous dates followed, and midway through my senior year, we started to get more physical. At which point, I can say with some certainty, that I fell in love with her. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. And that presented a problem.

Cindy thought I was being stupid, but I had a date with her when I brought her back to Cindy's house, where I was still living. I sat with her on Cindy's living room couch, and told her we needed to talk. She was, naturally, confused.

"I'm not quite who I say I am," I told her, "And while I don't want any other person in the world to know the truth, I am not going to build a lifelong relationship on a lie. So I need to tell you who I am. But I need you to promise you will never tell anyone."

"I promise," she said, "But why did you lie to me to begin with?" She seemed quite upset.

"Because I couldn't tell the truth, or all I suffered through would be for nothing," I said, "I escaped. I want to stay that way."

"I don't understand," she said.

I asked her if she had ever heard of my old band.

"Yes," she said, "I thought the lead singer was talented."

"I am the lead singer," I said, "Or rather, I was."

Her eyes bugged out.

"I thought he died," she said.

"No," I said, "I disappeared. I am presumed dead. There is a difference."

"Can you offer any proof?" she said, seemingly in disbelief.

"Cindy?" I called. Cindy walked into the room.

"This is my best friend, Cindy," I told Lisa. They shook hands.

"I want you to tell her the story," I said.

She told her the whole story, leaving out the bit about the sunken Lincoln.

Lisa was very distraught. "I thought I knew you," she said.

"You do know me. This is who I am," I told her, "I'm an average guy who, had a hell of a vocal quality, and I became famous for it. And I couldn't escape the fame. I tried to stop so many times, but they kept yanking me back. This is who I am. An average guy who wants to be a newspaper reporter."

"Prove to me that you can sing!" she said

"Certainly," I said, "Let me pick a song that best reflects how I feel about you."

I worked my throat a little bit, setting me up to sound just like Norman Fox of the Rob-Roys.

Dream girl,
Can't wait to close up my eyes,
Cause when I do,
You're just standing there,
I touch your hair,
And gaze into your eyes,

Dream girl,
I hate when I see the light,
Cause when I do,
It just means that its dawn,
And you'll be gone,
Until another night,
Oh won't you be my Dream Girl,
And make my life a delight,

Now when I go to sleep,
I put my head on my pillow and try to drift away,
But whenever it seems I'm right on the bean,
You're creeping right into my every dream,

Oh Dream girl,
I know I'm not very smart,
But there is one thing I can't conceal,
My love is real,
You're breaking up my heart,

Won't you be my dream girl?
I've loved you right from the start.

She stared at me.

"Why would you give up all that money, all those fans, all that ... fun life?"

I laughed.

"Fun life?" I said, "Are you kidding?"

"I bet you partied all the time and-"

"Damn straight. I had a lot of money, and nothing to spend it on," I sneered, "I had a wife who didn't love me and cheated on me all the time, I went to parties where I had to spend time with people I didn't know and had no interest in knowing better, I had to pretend to be friends with people I didn't like. I was suicidally miserable."

"But what about all the women?" she asked.

"Well," I said, "I was married. But also, all the women who wanted to fuck me were trophy hunting. They didn't know me. They just wanted to sleep with a star."

"But, they were a lot better looking," she said.

"Are you compliment hunting?" I said, "Because you're right. A lot of them were better looking than you, at least classically. But you're real. You actually like ME, the person nobody actually knew. The one who likes writing and reading and finding things and reporting on things. And when the love in your eyes shines on me, you have more attraction for me in your little finger than all of the bimbos who threw themselves at my feet had, combined."

She got up and looked at me searchingly. I don't know what she was looking for. But she seemed to find it. She came over to me, and looked deep in my eyes. I felt like she was seeing deep into my soul.

But I saw the flicker in her eyes of understanding. It would take her some years to fully understand, but she realized why I had to run so far away from the life I had known.

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Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Romantic /