Everatt Neilson sat in the cab of the mover's truck he had rented, and for the hundredth time, pulled out his wallet to examine the driver's license it contained. The face beside Harjo's name on the I.D. was his own, though his hair appeared darker and fuller, his nose broader, and his eyes, glassed over by the hard plastic casing of the card, were an entirely different color. He checked his appearance in the rearview mirror, confirming that it was the man pictured on the license who stared back at him in his reflection.
Neilson hardly believed his luck when a property in an ideal location came on the market. He rented an unassuming little house on a quiet residential street in Norborne, close to an outlet. He was cautious not to betray any hint of anxiety when he handed over his driver's license and social security card to be copied with his lease application. Within a relatively short space of time it began to feel quite natural, that upon being presented with his identification, people simply accepted that he was the person he officially seemed to be.
In the best of circumstances Neilson considered interacting with other people an irritating and laborious affair, and commonly found it completely intolerable. When he assumed the identity of Dr. Gephardt Harjo though, a subtle change occurred in his manner. He was more patient and considerate, more watchful. He found it oddly exhilarating, how the crystallized boundaries of self that dictated his normal habits with an almost surgical precision, seemed to soften in this separate persona.
When he had explained at the medical supply store earlier that afternoon that he was a doctor, and was moving back to Norborne to live with his aging mother so that he could provide her in-home care, the girl who helped him not only smiled, she held his gaze. People rarely maintained eye contact with Everatt Neilson. When she had explained that the company could provide home delivery for a nominal fee, Neilson assured her that it was not necessary; he had not yet returned the truck he had rented for his move. She had sweetly arranged for a few workers to help load the hospital bed, along with an IV and other equipment Neilson had purchased, into his rental truck. Neilson rewarded them with a nominal tip before he drove to his current location, where he parked and waited.
He had watched the afternoon fade from where he sat, parked along a curb that ran in front of the train station. When the red brick of the depot cast its rosy glow in the last diminishing light of day, Neilson got out of his truck and crossed over to the station, dusk settling rapidly over the street. The men who sat clustered on benches in front of the depot eyed him warily, their expressions buried beneath the leathery folds of sun worn faces. They had spent the better part of the day waiting for work to materialize. They were neither coming nor going except for the odd job, and it was an odd job that waited for dark before making an offer of work.
Neilson managed to recruit a few able-bodied men to help him unload the contents of his truck. They squeezed into the cab with him, and he drove slowly from the station to the house he had rented, satisfied that night was nearly upon them when they arrived. Porch lights were lit like beacons up and down the street as children and pets were ushered indoors, and out of the dark.
Neilson reversed into the driveway of the rental house, backing the large storage bed of the truck up to the garage. He opened up the garage; motioning for the men he had hired to follow him around to the back of the truck. If they were curious, their faces failed to show it as they lugged the hospital bed and other medical equipment through the empty house, arranging them as directed in the first bedroom off of the entry way. When the physical layout of the room finally matched the diagram that Neilson had neatly unfolded from his shirt pocket, he drove the men back to the station, and paid them more than their usual take for a day's labor.
Neilson looked forward to ridding himself of the van for the entire drive back to Oklahoma City. He stopped at a gas station to fill up the truck's tank before he returned it to the rental company, which was located in a large warehouse that sat squarely under an overpass just southeast of downtown. When he was once again snugly cocooned behind the wheel of his own car, its motor purring silently along the city streets, he passed Kaiser's as he drove home. The time he stopped out of the rain flashed into his mind, and he vaguely wondered if the same waitress, oblivious to his malice before, would recognize him now, in his guise as Dr. Harjo.
He would not risk blowing his carefully conceived cover, but he was intrigued, having recently realized how different the possibilities were that existed for different people, even when they were in fact the same person.
YOU ARE READING
A Singular WitnessScience Fiction
Quinn wants to escape her claustrophobic hometown after her father dies unexpectedly from a rare parasitic infection, and an internship filming feed in cities around the world for a software company developing a virtual running game seems like her t...