Back to Earth

(This story was an assignment from a writing class.  The assignment was to write a scene that fit into the world, or continued the story of a film of our choosing.  I chose to continue the story of Andy Kaufman from Man On The Moon, which happens to be my favorite film.)

 

Andy sat at his desk, staring at a stack of purchase orders needing to be processed.  He looked down at the back of the name plate, that he knew said Steve Washburn.  He hadn’t been Andy in over a decade, but other than that very little had changed.  He had grown out a mustache, and kept his hair shorter, in order to keep from being recognized.

Alistair walked past his door and smiled at him, “Hi Steve.”

“Hi Al!”  He said with a smile and a wave.  The smile was a real one, but it was not because he particularly cared for pleasantries.  He knew that when Al got down the hallway to his office, that he wouldn’t even notice the changes that Steve had been making for the last 6 weeks.

Once Al’s footsteps were too quiet for Steve to hear, he let out a chuckle.  Just a single moment of laughter was all that he would allow himself to have, and then he returned to his work.  He pictured the confused look on Al’s face at various points during the days.

Steve, had begun moving every single item in Al’s office over just a ‘nudge’ a day.  So that eventually every thing would be up against the left hand side wall.  It was a long game, but it was one that Steve was completely ok with waiting for.  He knew that Al may not notice anything whatsoever until things were actually beginning to touch the wall.  But it made him feel alive to do it.  He knew if every day everything felt slightly out of place, that he had done his job.

It wasn’t Steve’s first stunt since he had begun with the company three years earlier.  At one point he had been able to pick the lock on the soda vending machine, and he had rearranged the different products throughout the bin.  He had known that Linda in accounting had a real affinity for Diet Coke, and therefore he found it hysterical when she kept getting Sprite.

Everyday Steve would stay late after work.  He would wait until Alistair, Linda, and everyone else had left, and then he would begin his ‘real’ work day.  He knew as long as he did his work during the day, and was staying late that no one would mind, and as it was they never seemed to notice anything he did anyway.

He had loved when a week or so ago Al had come into his office, and asked if Steve had heard anything about an earthquake.  Steve shook his head and gave him a bewildered “No, Al.  I didn’t think Atlanta got earthquakes.”

Al proceeded to nod, and say  that Steve was probably right, but he couldn’t help feeling like his office had been ‘shuffled.’  Steve saw the look of confusion on Al’s face, and had to bite the insides of his own cheeks not to smile.

“Maybe a secret agent broken in and was looking through your files.”  He said allowing himself to smile at the joke.  “After all manufacturing cardboard containment packaging is a pretty cut-throat industry.”  He gave another smile like he was just another lame office worker.

Al smiled, relieved that it was all in his head.  “You kid, but we do have some of the best trade shows!  I’d believe some of those girls could be Bond girls.”

Steve had gone to the trade shows once, and he had actually thought it was a good opportunity to get a different audience from just the poor shlubs that he currently worked with.  However three hours into the show, he was talking with a guy who owned a major home moving company out of Tuscaloosa, when a guy about 30 years old or so walked over and started asking questions.

“Do I know you, man?”  He asked, and while there was a tiny bit of ‘stoner’ vibe to him, he seemed to be reasonably in control of his faculties.

Steve shook his head, “I don’t know.  This is my first year at this particular convention.  Sorry.”  He gave him a helpless ‘not much I can do for you’ shrug and sigh.

“No, man, you definitely look familiar…”  He was fully inspecting Steve’s face.  “Man… Anyone ever tell you, you look like Andy Kaufman?”

Steve had one moment of terror wash over him, before he allowed himself back into character.  “Um… Yeah, not in a while.  But when I was younger people said I kinda look like him.”  He smiles to give the impression that there is ‘no insult or offense’ taken.

After a minute more of looking at Steve’s face as if he is trying to decide whether or not he is Andy Kaufman, he looked away, and said, “Yeah, but he’s dead.  It really sucks, I was a big fan of his.”

Steve nodded, faking a solemn look.

After he knew that he was getting some kind of result from Al, Steve was reinvigorated with his job.  Yeah, the act of filing the purchase orders was boring to him, but it was part of the character he was playing, and the character he was playing was allowing him to continue to tweak the psyches of his coworkers.

‘Nudging’ Al’s office was a long game, and Steve knew it, but he was already able to see results.  Now that he knew it was working, he decided to add another joke.  He didn’t know what yet, but he began looking at his office mates for ideas.  Each of them had their little idiosyncrasies, and Steve was so good at studying them, that he knew he’d be able to find the perfect one to play with next.

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