Facebug

Vince woke up to the curve of his wife’s back. He leaned across, still sheet-tangled, and traced her shoulder blade with his fingers. She made an inarticulate morning noise and rolled over.

Salt-and-pepper stubble, thick brows, a nose broken once in a fight and twice in a rugby scrum.

Vince recoiled like elastic. “Oh, shit.”

“Hm?”

“Honey, I think I picked up a facebug yesterday.”

“What kind?” his wife asked, furry eyebrows knitting together. Her jaw was not quite the lantern he saw in the mirror and her jowls sagged a bit more, but other than that, she was a dead ringer. “Dead presidents? Elvis?”

Vince grimaced and closed his eyes. “Worse. Copy-paster.”

She laughed, and when Vince didn’t laugh she patted his cheek. “Good thing you’re so handsome, right? Maybe you can call in?”

“Not today,” Vince sighed. “Sales report, remember? The worst fucking day for it.”

“You’ll be fine. Maybe it’ll even help you relax.”

“Maybe.”

“Give me a kiss,” she said, grinning.

“No.”

“Come on.”

“No, honey.”

“Please?”

Vince picked her hand out of the sheets and kissed it. She laughed again and rolled over.

● ● ●

By the time he was downstairs, three doppelgangers of various sizes were arrayed around the kitchen island. Vince stopped in the doorway, watching himself shovel chocolate cereal into his mouth, drum a spoon angrily on the counter, giggle over a text message.

“Daddy, he took the whole box before I got any.”

Vince squinted at primary-color shirts and scrawny limbs. “Jason, put some of that in your brother’s bowl.”

“Tyler,” his son said sharply, milk dripping off his grizzled chin.

Coin flip failed.

“I meant Tyler.” Vince made for the coffee. “Tyler, give Jason some cereal.” He put an absent-minded hand on his daughter’s blonde hair. “Hey, sweetie, good morning.”

“Mooorning, Dad,” she said, reaching up to repair the damage. When Vince turned around with his coffee, she was using the back of her phone as a mirror.

“Jen, you don’t need to wear that stuff,” he said, watching in horror as strawberry pink slathered over his lips.

“Mom thinks it’s fine.”

Conjured, his wife entered the kitchen with a brush caught in her hair, streamlining the cereal transfer with one deft hand and beckoning for coffee with the other.

“At least put it on somewhere else,” Vince said.

“Mom?”

“Kids, your father picked up a little face virus last night. He’s seeing mirrors.”

Vince handed his wife coffee and watched himself take a delicate sip. “It’s nothing to worry about,” he said. “Just have to make it till lunch. Then I’ll get it checked out.”

“Daddy! Dad!”

“What?”

Tyler and Jason pulled at their stubbled cheeks and waggled their tongues at him.

● ● ●

The subway was a nightmare. Moving through shoals of his own clones, all jabbering on their phones and swinging briefcases and slucking coffee, was almost too existential to take, and by the time Vince was at the office, he already had pit stains.

“Ready to murder that report, Vince?” someone asked, sweeping by his desk.

Vince squinted. “Sure thing … champ.”

There was a puzzled backward glance and Vince decided to send a discreet memo around the office. He was going over his figures for the fourth time when a trio of Vinces waltzed to his desk. One was definitely Thompson, and he was relatively sure he knew the cut of Hooker’s suits and Morrison’s poor posture.

“So, Vince, once the execs get out of here and the smoke’s cleared, we were thinking we need to celebrate. How about we go to Nightshades? Nothing better to unwind.”

Vince had an image of the strip club and it must have showed on his face, because all three of them laughed.

“Just joking,” Thompson assured. “Heard about the facey. I had one last year. Celebrities everywhere.”

“Fuck off,” Vince said, grinning as widely as he could, given the circumstances.

“It’s not a big deal,” Thompson said. “You’ll be fine in there.” Each coworker clapped him on the shoulder and drifted off. Vince adjusted his tie and wanted to strangle himself.

● ● ●

Ten-thirty rolled around too quickly. Vince slipped off to the men’s room to sponge some perspiration out of his white shirt and inspect himself in the mirror. It was a shock. He didn’t quite recognize himself. The face looked too lined, too broad.

“Just an hour in there, Vince,” he told the mirror. “Then it’s done. Done. Done.” He wet his hands and slapped his cheeks and headed for the conference room. He looked around at his faces. Some nervous, some blank, some giving an encouraging wink. Vince shut his eyes and didn’t open them until he heard the door.

Mr. Nordtvedt entered the room like a weather front. Straight back, razored haircut, a suit that cost more than a house in Detroit. The handshakes seemed to take no time at all, and then Mr. Nordtvedt tapped his rugby-bent nose and asked what Vince had for him. Vince wondered if his mouth could really form so thin a line. He shuffled his papers.

“Well, Mr. Nordtvedt, it’s been a tumult of a year.”

“Ungh,” said Mr. Nordtvedt.

Vince stopped. Mr. Nordtvedt’s eyes had narrowed and his mouth, Vince’s mouth, had gone slack. A half-dozen people half-rose from their seats. There was stunned silence, and then a trickling sound. Piss was soaking into the carpet. Vince exchanged looks with himself, himself, himself.

“Call an ambulance,” he said, or someone else said.

Vince stared and stared.

● ● ●

“How did it go?” his wife called. “You’re back awful late.”

“Postponed,” Vince said, stepping out of his shoes in the entryway. He went slowly to the stairs. “The sales report was postponed.”

“Well.” She stuck her head out the bedroom door and raised a bushy eyebrow. “We should celebrate.”

“I didn’t get to the doctor.” Vince climbed the steps one at a time.

“Oh. Never mind, then.”

“Yeah,” Vince said vaguely. He prepared for bed like a robot and he brushed his teeth with his back to the mirror. When he rolled under the covers he buried his nose in his wife’s damp hair and put his arms around her waist. The lights clicked out and she moved back against him. Not a twitch.

“Not even like that?” she mumbled.

“Mr. Nordtvedt had a stroke today.”

“Oh.”

“Five years, six years older than me. Not that old.” Vince paused. “I mean, it didn’t look that weird, you know?”

“Oh, Vince.” She shrugged her shoulders into him. “I’m sorry.”

Vince closed his eyes and ran his fingers around the soft curve of her cheek.

This story was originally published by Wordhaus in May 2015.

Facebug

Vince woke up to the curve of his wife’s back. He leaned across, still sheet-tangled, and traced her shoulder blade with his fingers. She made an inarticulate morning noise and rolled over.

Salt-and-pepper stubble, thick brows, a nose broken once in a fight and twice in a rugby scrum.

Vince recoiled like elastic. “Oh, shit.”

“Hm?”

“Honey, I think I picked up a facebug yesterday.”

“What kind?” his wife asked, furry eyebrows knitting together. Her jaw was not quite the lantern he saw in the mirror and her jowls sagged a bit more, but other than that, she was a dead ringer. “Dead presidents? Elvis?”

Vince grimaced and closed his eyes. “Worse. Copy-paster.”

She laughed, and when Vince didn’t laugh she patted his cheek. “Good thing you’re so handsome, right? Maybe you can call in?”

“Not today,” Vince sighed. “Sales report, remember? The worst fucking day for it.”

“You’ll be fine. Maybe it’ll even help you relax.”

“Maybe.”

“Give me a kiss,” she said, grinning.

“No.”

“Come on.”

“No, honey.”

“Please?”

Vince picked her hand out of the sheets and kissed it. She laughed again and rolled over.

● ● ●

By the time he was downstairs, three doppelgangers of various sizes were arrayed around the kitchen island. Vince stopped in the doorway, watching himself shovel chocolate cereal into his mouth, drum a spoon angrily on the counter, giggle over a text message.

“Daddy, he took the whole box before I got any.”

Vince squinted at primary-color shirts and scrawny limbs. “Jason, put some of that in your brother’s bowl.”

“Tyler,” his son said sharply, milk dripping off his grizzled chin.

Coin flip failed.

“I meant Tyler.” Vince made for the coffee. “Tyler, give Jason some cereal.” He put an absent-minded hand on his daughter’s blonde hair. “Hey, sweetie, good morning.”

“Mooorning, Dad,” she said, reaching up to repair the damage. When Vince turned around with his coffee, she was using the back of her phone as a mirror.

“Jen, you don’t need to wear that stuff,” he said, watching in horror as strawberry pink slathered over his lips.

“Mom thinks it’s fine.”

Conjured, his wife entered the kitchen with a brush caught in her hair, streamlining the cereal transfer with one deft hand and beckoning for coffee with the other.

“At least put it on somewhere else,” Vince said.

“Mom?”

“Kids, your father picked up a little face virus last night. He’s seeing mirrors.”

Vince handed his wife coffee and watched himself take a delicate sip. “It’s nothing to worry about,” he said. “Just have to make it till lunch. Then I’ll get it checked out.”

“Daddy! Dad!”

“What?”

Tyler and Jason pulled at their stubbled cheeks and waggled their tongues at him.

● ● ●

The subway was a nightmare. Moving through shoals of his own clones, all jabbering on their phones and swinging briefcases and slucking coffee, was almost too existential to take, and by the time Vince was at the office, he already had pit stains.

“Ready to murder that report, Vince?” someone asked, sweeping by his desk.

Vince squinted. “Sure thing … champ.”

There was a puzzled backward glance and Vince decided to send a discreet memo around the office. He was going over his figures for the fourth time when a trio of Vinces waltzed to his desk. One was definitely Thompson, and he was relatively sure he knew the cut of Hooker’s suits and Morrison’s poor posture.

“So, Vince, once the execs get out of here and the smoke’s cleared, we were thinking we need to celebrate. How about we go to Nightshades? Nothing better to unwind.”

Vince had an image of the strip club and it must have showed on his face, because all three of them laughed.

“Just joking,” Thompson assured. “Heard about the facey. I had one last year. Celebrities everywhere.”

“Fuck off,” Vince said, grinning as widely as he could, given the circumstances.

“It’s not a big deal,” Thompson said. “You’ll be fine in there.” Each coworker clapped him on the shoulder and drifted off. Vince adjusted his tie and wanted to strangle himself.

● ● ●

Ten-thirty rolled around too quickly. Vince slipped off to the men’s room to sponge some perspiration out of his white shirt and inspect himself in the mirror. It was a shock. He didn’t quite recognize himself. The face looked too lined, too broad.

“Just an hour in there, Vince,” he told the mirror. “Then it’s done. Done. Done.” He wet his hands and slapped his cheeks and headed for the conference room. He looked around at his faces. Some nervous, some blank, some giving an encouraging wink. Vince shut his eyes and didn’t open them until he heard the door.

Mr. Nordtvedt entered the room like a weather front. Straight back, razored haircut, a suit that cost more than a house in Detroit. The handshakes seemed to take no time at all, and then Mr. Nordtvedt tapped his rugby-bent nose and asked what Vince had for him. Vince wondered if his mouth could really form so thin a line. He shuffled his papers.

“Well, Mr. Nordtvedt, it’s been a tumult of a year.”

“Ungh,” said Mr. Nordtvedt.

Vince stopped. Mr. Nordtvedt’s eyes had narrowed and his mouth, Vince’s mouth, had gone slack. A half-dozen people half-rose from their seats. There was stunned silence, and then a trickling sound. Piss was soaking into the carpet. Vince exchanged looks with himself, himself, himself.

“Call an ambulance,” he said, or someone else said.

Vince stared and stared.

● ● ●

“How did it go?” his wife called. “You’re back awful late.”

“Postponed,” Vince said, stepping out of his shoes in the entryway. He went slowly to the stairs. “The sales report was postponed.”

“Well.” She stuck her head out the bedroom door and raised a bushy eyebrow. “We should celebrate.”

“I didn’t get to the doctor.” Vince climbed the steps one at a time.

“Oh. Never mind, then.”

“Yeah,” Vince said vaguely. He prepared for bed like a robot and he brushed his teeth with his back to the mirror. When he rolled under the covers he buried his nose in his wife’s damp hair and put his arms around her waist. The lights clicked out and she moved back against him. Not a twitch.

“Not even like that?” she mumbled.

“Mr. Nordtvedt had a stroke today.”

“Oh.”

“Five years, six years older than me. Not that old.” Vince paused. “I mean, it didn’t look that weird, you know?”

“Oh, Vince.” She shrugged her shoulders into him. “I’m sorry.”

Vince closed his eyes and ran his fingers around the soft curve of her cheek.

This story was originally published by Wordhaus in May 2015.

Facebug

Vince woke up to the curve of his wife’s back. He leaned across, still sheet-tangled, and traced her shoulder blade with his fingers. She made an inarticulate morning noise and rolled over.

Salt-and-pepper stubble, thick brows, a nose broken once in a fight and twice in a rugby scrum.

Vince recoiled like elastic. “Oh, shit.”

“Hm?”

“Honey, I think I picked up a facebug yesterday.”

“What kind?” his wife asked, furry eyebrows knitting together. Her jaw was not quite the lantern he saw in the mirror and her jowls sagged a bit more, but other than that, she was a dead ringer. “Dead presidents? Elvis?”

Vince grimaced and closed his eyes. “Worse. Copy-paster.”

She laughed, and when Vince didn’t laugh she patted his cheek. “Good thing you’re so handsome, right? Maybe you can call in?”

“Not today,” Vince sighed. “Sales report, remember? The worst fucking day for it.”

“You’ll be fine. Maybe it’ll even help you relax.”

“Maybe.”

“Give me a kiss,” she said, grinning.

“No.”

“Come on.”

“No, honey.”

“Please?”

Vince picked her hand out of the sheets and kissed it. She laughed again and rolled over.

● ● ●

By the time he was downstairs, three doppelgangers of various sizes were arrayed around the kitchen island. Vince stopped in the doorway, watching himself shovel chocolate cereal into his mouth, drum a spoon angrily on the counter, giggle over a text message.

“Daddy, he took the whole box before I got any.”

Vince squinted at primary-color shirts and scrawny limbs. “Jason, put some of that in your brother’s bowl.”

“Tyler,” his son said sharply, milk dripping off his grizzled chin.

Coin flip failed.

“I meant Tyler.” Vince made for the coffee. “Tyler, give Jason some cereal.” He put an absent-minded hand on his daughter’s blonde hair. “Hey, sweetie, good morning.”

“Mooorning, Dad,” she said, reaching up to repair the damage. When Vince turned around with his coffee, she was using the back of her phone as a mirror.

“Jen, you don’t need to wear that stuff,” he said, watching in horror as strawberry pink slathered over his lips.

“Mom thinks it’s fine.”

Conjured, his wife entered the kitchen with a brush caught in her hair, streamlining the cereal transfer with one deft hand and beckoning for coffee with the other.

“At least put it on somewhere else,” Vince said.

“Mom?”

“Kids, your father picked up a little face virus last night. He’s seeing mirrors.”

Vince handed his wife coffee and watched himself take a delicate sip. “It’s nothing to worry about,” he said. “Just have to make it till lunch. Then I’ll get it checked out.”

“Daddy! Dad!”

“What?”

Tyler and Jason pulled at their stubbled cheeks and waggled their tongues at him.

● ● ●

The subway was a nightmare. Moving through shoals of his own clones, all jabbering on their phones and swinging briefcases and slucking coffee, was almost too existential to take, and by the time Vince was at the office, he already had pit stains.

“Ready to murder that report, Vince?” someone asked, sweeping by his desk.

Vince squinted. “Sure thing … champ.”

There was a puzzled backward glance and Vince decided to send a discreet memo around the office. He was going over his figures for the fourth time when a trio of Vinces waltzed to his desk. One was definitely Thompson, and he was relatively sure he knew the cut of Hooker’s suits and Morrison’s poor posture.

“So, Vince, once the execs get out of here and the smoke’s cleared, we were thinking we need to celebrate. How about we go to Nightshades? Nothing better to unwind.”

Vince had an image of the strip club and it must have showed on his face, because all three of them laughed.

“Just joking,” Thompson assured. “Heard about the facey. I had one last year. Celebrities everywhere.”

“Fuck off,” Vince said, grinning as widely as he could, given the circumstances.

“It’s not a big deal,” Thompson said. “You’ll be fine in there.” Each coworker clapped him on the shoulder and drifted off. Vince adjusted his tie and wanted to strangle himself.

● ● ●

Ten-thirty rolled around too quickly. Vince slipped off to the men’s room to sponge some perspiration out of his white shirt and inspect himself in the mirror. It was a shock. He didn’t quite recognize himself. The face looked too lined, too broad.

“Just an hour in there, Vince,” he told the mirror. “Then it’s done. Done. Done.” He wet his hands and slapped his cheeks and headed for the conference room. He looked around at his faces. Some nervous, some blank, some giving an encouraging wink. Vince shut his eyes and didn’t open them until he heard the door.

Mr. Nordtvedt entered the room like a weather front. Straight back, razored haircut, a suit that cost more than a house in Detroit. The handshakes seemed to take no time at all, and then Mr. Nordtvedt tapped his rugby-bent nose and asked what Vince had for him. Vince wondered if his mouth could really form so thin a line. He shuffled his papers.

“Well, Mr. Nordtvedt, it’s been a tumult of a year.”

“Ungh,” said Mr. Nordtvedt.

Vince stopped. Mr. Nordtvedt’s eyes had narrowed and his mouth, Vince’s mouth, had gone slack. A half-dozen people half-rose from their seats. There was stunned silence, and then a trickling sound. Piss was soaking into the carpet. Vince exchanged looks with himself, himself, himself.

“Call an ambulance,” he said, or someone else said.

Vince stared and stared.

● ● ●

“How did it go?” his wife called. “You’re back awful late.”

“Postponed,” Vince said, stepping out of his shoes in the entryway. He went slowly to the stairs. “The sales report was postponed.”

“Well.” She stuck her head out the bedroom door and raised a bushy eyebrow. “We should celebrate.”

“I didn’t get to the doctor.” Vince climbed the steps one at a time.

“Oh. Never mind, then.”

“Yeah,” Vince said vaguely. He prepared for bed like a robot and he brushed his teeth with his back to the mirror. When he rolled under the covers he buried his nose in his wife’s damp hair and put his arms around her waist. The lights clicked out and she moved back against him. Not a twitch.

“Not even like that?” she mumbled.

“Mr. Nordtvedt had a stroke today.”

“Oh.”

“Five years, six years older than me. Not that old.” Vince paused. “I mean, it didn’t look that weird, you know?”

“Oh, Vince.” She shrugged her shoulders into him. “I’m sorry.”

Vince closed his eyes and ran his fingers around the soft curve of her cheek.

This story was originally published by Wordhaus in May 2015.

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