Monday, August 29, 2016

the visitor

by nick nelson

illustrations by konrad kraus

martin had a few days with nothing much to do, so he decided to look up people he had once known but not heard from in a while.

a methodical person by nature, he looked them up as best he could on the internet and wrote the names and addresses of those he was able to discover in a little brown notebook he had purchased from cvs.

he was a bit surprised to find how difficult it was to find people, and especially people’s addresses, in the so-called information age. surely, he thought, it must have been easier in the days of phone books and information please from live telephone operators.

it was martin’s intention to visit - drop in on - people at their houses or apartments - their offices if necessary - without prior warning.

after a good morning’s assiduous investigation he had filled several pages in the notebook.

after eating lunch at a subway’s he paid his first call.

on johnathon adams, a fellow he had been an intern with at the infrastructure analysis consulting firm martin had entered after being laid off from his first job.

johnathon lived on the first floor of a large apartment building, and came to the door himself as soon as martin rang. an auspicious beginning, thought martin.

johnathon looked at martin curiously. “amazon?” he asked.

“no, i am afraid not,” martin answered.

“i’m expecting a package from amazon,” johnathon explained unnecessarily. he looked past martin down the street. “who are you, then?”

“don’t you remember me? martin johnson, from p d v? we were interns together.”

“if you say so. what can i do for you?” johnathon looked both ways down the street, apparently for the amazon delivery person.

“i just thought i would pay you a visit,” martin answered brightly.

“a visit? you selling something?’

“no, i thought i would pay some visits to people i had not seen in a while.” martin showed johnathon the notebook, as if that would explain everything. “may i come in?” he added.

johnathon blinked a couple of times. “sure, why not?” he turned and martin followed close at his heels.

jonathon’s one room apartment was small and did not look “lived in”. there were no pictures on the walls and no television in sight.

martin sat down on the small couch without being invited.

“i’m afraid i can’t offer you much,” johnathon said.

“ a pepsi would do nicely,” martin told him. “with ice, if it’s not too much trouble.”

“i don’t have pepsi. i have orange fanta.”

“that will be fine, thank you.”

johnathon went into the kitchen alcove and brought martin a can of orange fanta - no glass - and a small bag of lay’s potato chips, the kind given out with sandwiches in a sub shop. at least the fanta was cold.

he put them on the coffee table in front of martin. “here you go, chief. go wild.” then he sat down on a small uncomfortable looking chair across from martin.

“well,” said martin, as he tore open the pack of lay’s potato chips, “ what shall we talk about?” without waiting for an answer, he asked johnathon, “are you still married?”

“uh - no. thanks for asking, though.”

“i remember you were engaged to a girl named - what was it, jennifer? a wonderful, charming girl.”

“it was megan. it didn’t work out. i did get married later, though, for a little while.”

“i remember you were a big washington redskins fan,” said martin.

“not me. you must be thinking of tony hobbs.”

“oh. but you were a big grand theft auto player.”

johnathon laughed. “that was a while ago. i’m not into games now. i’m into movies. i make my own.”

“that must be interesting, “ said martin. “are you interested in politics?”

“not much.”

“i think this election season is fascinating,” martin announced, after a taste of his orange fanta.

“you mean hillary and trump?"

“yes. i know people think trump is satan, but i think some of his ideas are quite interesting -“

“what! what did you just say?”

“why, i didn’t finish saying anything, but i was about to say that i thought that, once you peel away the bluster, there might be something to be said for mister trump - “

johnathon stood up. “get the fuck out of here! get the fuck out of here, you sick motherfucker!”

“well, if that’s the way you feel - “

“yes, that’s the way i feel, asshole! “ johnathin stood over martin, “who the fuck are you, coming in here out of nowhere with that bullshit - ?“

“um - do you mind if i finish my fanta - ?”

“yes, i do mind, dickhead! just get your sorry fat ass out of here! now!, before i start beating on it!”

martin put the fanta down on the coffee table, and after a moment’s hesitation decided to leave the potato chips behind too.

martin got up and headed for the door, slowly. slowly, not to taunt johnathon or to play the macho man, but because he was incapable of rapid movement.

johnathon followed martin out to the front door.

martin turned as he went out and started down the short steps. “i am sorry things didn’t work out - “

"burn in hell, you piece of shit!” johnathin slammed the front door shut.

goodness, thought martin as he stood on the sidewalk and took his notebook out, i hope my next visit goes a little better than that.

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