Steve fussed with his collared shirt. The collar just wasn’t sitting right. It was just falling too wide and made Steve feel like he was wearing a button down shirt from the 1970’s. His collar appeared to be quite “fly” in the store window reflection he saw of himself. It really bugged him. He’d ironed it to lie flat, but being on the hanger too long had made it de-evolve into some sort of throw-back, nostalgia style shirt. It was Steve’s version of hell.
He fidgeted with his collar as he waited for his appointment with the Offices of Science and Interdimensional Control. Steve volunteered to be part of a new experiment in order to pay his rent. He’d been out of work for nearly three years and it was just too much. He’d burned through his savings, his checking, his family money, he sold his car, he gave away his dog, and he stopped smoking and drinking. So all that was really left for him was to “volunteer” for experimental procedures and collect that hazard pay. It was better than nothing for certain. He had his doubts that anything would come of this particular endeavor.
Steve wasn’t an intellectual slouch by any means. It was his heady intelligence that was likely the cause of his perpetual unemployment. He just knew too much and after a short time working somewhere, and letting every one of his co-workers and bosses know how incredibly smart he was, he’d be let go for being a nuisance. A know-it-all nuisance, who wouldn’t stop telling people how right he was. The strange thing was he was always right. He was a genius of sorts, a savant of the highest degree, but he couldn’t apply that knowledge to anything interesting. He would just burn out after a while and stop caring about things. He had a hard time working with people he deemed to be of lesser intelligence. It was exhausting to stop and wait for them to catch-up to where he already had been.
So he had real doubts about the Offices of Science and Interdimensional Control having any real chance of sending a volunteer backwards in time. He didn’t think Relativity would allow for it and that the past was fixed and no amount of speed could ever send anyone back further than the perception of time would allow.
Steve looked at his watch. The Human Resources person, Betty, was already ten minutes late for his interview and screening. It was terribly annoying. It was only annoying in the sense that it was inconvenient. It wasn’t like Steve had anything else to do with his useless unemployed time. Frankly it was keeping him from watching cartoons all day and scrounging around for something to eat. Steve fidgeted with his shirt collar again. It was still not laying right. It was just too wide. He sighed heavily.
The receptionist at the counter smiled at Steve and she said she’d call Betty to see what the hold- up was. She was sorry that Steve had to wait so long.
“Hi Betty, it’s Ramona at the front desk. Steve Brooks is still waiting to see you for your nine o’clock…,” said Ramona.
Ramona looked up from her desk as she listened to Betty on the other end of the phone.
“What do you mean he’s already in your office,” asked Ramona.
Steve looked up at Ramona. He started wondering who might have stolen his identity and was posing as him. He stood up from his waiting area chair, fixed his collar again, and approached Ramona.
“Yes, a blue shirt, black pants, black suit coat, light blue tie.... Right, he has been fussing with his collar on his shirt… He walked in an hour ago?”
Steve felt for his shirt collar again. He wondered if this crazy office and volunteer work might have some psychological test to it. He put his hands on Ramona’s high front desk. Ramona hung up her phone.
“What’s going on,” asked Steve.
“I’m not sure. But Betty said that you’re already in her office. You arrived an hour ago,” said Ramona.
“Well, that’s just insane. Someone must be pretending to be me, since I’m the only me,” said Steve.
Betty knocked on the glass partition that separated the lobby area from the offices. Ramona and Steve looked back at her. Betty looked at Steve and stood there with her mouth open, she dropped her pen. Steve approached Betty from behind and pressed his hand on the glass partition and started nodding at Steve. He had a smile on his face.
“It works,” mouthed Steve to Steve, and he laughed.