It started out as a pretty normal day. I woke up around three p.m. (remember I worked nights at the station) next to my beautiful girlfriend, took a shower, watched the last bit of the game, and went out for dinner with my buddies and my girl. After dinner we decided to hit up the new bar in town called Klutch. The place was nice. A perfect balance between classy and trashy. When we first got there I noticed a shifty looking character at the bar not even trying to hide the fact that he was staring at us, but I really thought nothing of it. Soon after we arrived the drinks started flowing and the music started pumping. I had about two hours before I had to head to the station and I intended on having a hell of a good time in those two hours. What better way to choose the evenings party songs than to party beforehand yourself? The two hours went by fast in a big confusing blur. A blur of alcohol, of dancing, of more alcohol, of me and my girl, and of that shifty character not taking his eyes off of us the whole time.
My two hours of play were over fast and I had to go to my seven hours of work just as fast. The night was young and Klutch was just now really getting into full swing when I stumbled out. I knew my buddies would get my lovely Lisa home safe so I left on my own. The station was only a few blocks away and I hoped the cool night air would sober me up some before I got there.
As I walked down the road from Klutch I noticed something that helped me sober up more than the chilly Seattle drizzle. It was that man. That shifty looking man had left not even a minute after I had. I kept telling myself that it was coincidence. Coincidence that he stared at me all night. Coincidence that he left when I left. Coincidence that he followed me for two straight blocks, even as I took all of the unnecessary turns and detours I knew. Deep down I knew it wasn’t just mere coincidence though, and I decided to turn around and figure out what the hell he wanted.
I did a quick about face and about fell on my face as I realized I wasn’t as sober as I thought I was. The man stopped about ten feet away from me. The streetlight above us illuminated his full figure, his matted grey hair, his ratty black overcoat, and his oddly shaped face. His expression wasn’t that of shock, of fear, or of intimidation. He was serene as could be. Calm. As if he had expected me to turn around and talk to him like we were best pals.
“Nice of you to finally stop and talk to me, Dax.” I remember my shock and wondering how he knew my name. It’s not like Dax is a very common name. Not at all.
“What do you want?” I asked the man.
“I want you to know, Dax, that you can’t keep using your gift to make your life perfect. You’ve had it for too long. You have to give it up, before they are forced to take it from you. You really won’t like that Dax. Trust me. Do it on your own terms.”
I stood there contemplating his words for a few seconds. Made sure they all sank in real good, even through the haze of alcohol still buzzing through my body. After some time I finally thought of something to say back.
“Ahahahaha! You must’ve drank more than I did in Klutch. Go home old man. Sleep it off.”
I turned around and started heading back to work, still laughing out loud. I couldn’t tell if the guy was still following me, and I really didn’t care. The guy I thought was going to rob or murder me was just a drunk lunatic. What a relief. But still, how did he know my name? He could’ve heard it at Klutch I guess if he got close enough. Something about the look on his face made me worry though. Not worry for my life or anything, but just worry.
I made it to the station at ten o clock p.m. on the dot. Perfect timing but I had to get straight on the air. The night went smooth for a while. My on air jokes were funnier than usual and the music was easy to pick even without call-in suggestions.
About halfway through the night, however, I started getting strange calls. First of all, it was strange to get many calls after three a.m. anyways, second of all the calls were all from the same guy. With the same raspy calm voice. It took me until the fourth call to realize it was that same drunk guy from the bar earlier. I took his calls while music was playing on air and it was the same bit each time at first.
“STXL .5 this is Dax in the a.m. what can I play for you tonight?”
“Dax, end this tonight. Tell them the truth.” And then the click.
Finally, on his seventh call I got tired of his game and decided to play along.
“Okay man how do I end it?” I asked as sincerely as possible as I picked up the phone.
“Tell them the truth Dax. Your control over them will break if you just tell them the truth.”
“Tell who the truth? About what?” This time I didn’t have to fake the sincerity. I was sincerely confused.
“Tell everyone. Tell your girlfriend Lisa. Tell your friends. Tell Freddy. Tell your parents. Hell, tell your boss too.” The man exclaimed.
“You still haven’t told me what I’m telling them.” I said, getting frustrated at the mysterious yet persistent man.
“Dax, don’t tell me you haven’t noticed the power you have over others. Your life has been pretty great this past year in Seattle hasn’t it? Don’t you ever wonder how things happen so perfectly? How they happen just the way you want them to? You are a major player in the game, but your time is up. Things will only get worse from here. Either commit your life fully to the game or get out while you can.”
Okay now I was even more confused. And even more frustrated.
“I’m playing a game? Are you saying my life is a game? What the hell are you getting at? My wonderful life is not magically fixed that way. I’m lucky. I made it this way!” I declared.
“Exactly! You made it that way! You’re not lucky Dax. You’re literally controlling everyone around you to mold to the lifestyle you want. I wouldn’t call it lucky. This game is a curse.” The man was getting flustered for the first time, finally breaking his calm façade.
“Even if I humor you and say I understand what you’re saying, say that I know that I’m “controlling” the people in my life, why in the world would that be a curse?” I challenged.
“Because Dax, how can you enjoy your life knowing that it’s all a lie? How do you know your girlfriend really loves you? That your friends even like you? That you even deserve this job?”
At this point I remembered my job, and caught the evil eye of my boss outside the thick glass studio walls. Apparently the song had stopped playing. I quickly started playing another one, a long techno mix, and mouthed a quick sorry to the boss man. Good thing he couldn’t hear the crazy man on the phone from in there.
“Good choice Dax. Cool song. But listen, I have to go. Just think about what I said. Test it out. When you’re ready to talk I’ll be waiting. I’ll call the station if you play this song again. And don’t worry, I won’t miss it. “And he was gone.
The rest of the night was normal, but I had an awful headache. Whether it was from the alcohol or the reoccurring conversation with that man constantly playing in my head I wasn’t sure, but I was sure that once I hit my bed I needed to sleep for a very, very long time.
…to be continued.