Friday, December 4, 2009

"John's Mustache"

by Faye Honig


mustcaches

John Pierre, living in America with his wife Annmarie, has a mustache. It is a men's normal mustache, nothing special. He has had the mustache since he was 24, and he is now 42.

He has had a hard day at the office and is pacing in his bathroom. His wife is away for two days on a business trip. He turns his face and studies it in the mirror. He needs to change something. Grabbing his razor and shaving cream, he gets rid of his mustache.

He goes to sleep, feeling satisfied and calm.

* * *

When Annmarie returns from Boston, John calls out from the kitchen: "Honey, dinner's ready!" Annmarie walks in. She takes a deep breath. "Smells great, sweetie! Thanks!" She gives him a kiss.

"Notice anything different?"

"Umm... new shirt?"

"I shaved my mustache!"

"What?"

"It's gone! See?"

"You had a mustache?"

"Ha! I've had it for eighteen years... I just decided I needed a change."

"Sweetie... you've never had a mustache..."

"What? You mean you actually can't remember it?"

"No..."

"Look at all the pictures!"

John goes to their photo albums, shaking his head. He grabs one and flips to the first page. He looks at a few photos that he barely remembers, even though he took them.

"Where are all the pictures?"

"What? Those are the pictures."

"No. Where are the pictures with me in them?"

"Well, you've always insisted that you be the photographer... You've never been in any pictures, come to think of it..."

"That's not true! Wouldn't you think that was a bit strange?"

"Well, yes, I did at the time, but I never really questioned it."

"I can't believe this. I had a mustache the other day, I swear!"

"Fine, John. Look, it's getting late. Let's just eat dinner and go to bed. We both have work tomorrow."

* * *

The next morning, after Annmarie leaves for work, John goes looking for evidence of his mustache. He tries the bathroom sink, but he cleaned it out after shaving and there's no hair. He only ever used scissors to trim it, too, so there isn't any telltale grooming equipment.

He rips apart his whole house looking for a picture.

"My commencement picture!" He runs to his bedroom and grabs his folder of documents from Wesleyan. He frantically goes through papers, his eyes searching for himself. Nothing. He knows his picture with gap and gown (and mustache) is there, but he can't find it.

"Where did my life go?"

He has to go to work.

* * *

John drives as close to the speed limit as he can. When he arrives, he swipes his ID card through the scanner by the turnstile. It beeps. The guard calls him over.

"The system denied you."

"Oh. I... you just need to talk to my boss, Mister Ryan. My name is John Phillipe. I work here."

The guard presses a button on the phone on his desk. "Mister Ryan, a man named John Phillipe is here to see you."

"What?" a voice answers.

"John Phillipe."

"Huh? He was fired years ago."

"What?" yells John. He races out of the office and into his car. He can't take it anymore. He spends the next two nights in a motel.

* * *

The third morning John wakes up and finds himself in his own bed. He looks around, dazed. He jumps out of bed and runs to his folder of Wesleyan documents. His commencement picture is there. His mustache covers his wide, toothy grin.

He breaths a sigh of relief. He goes to the bathroom mirror. His mustache is gone.

"Oh no."

The lock clicks.

"John? I'm home from my business trip."

"Hi!"

Annmarie walks into the bathroom.

"Oh, you shaved your mustache?"

"You remembered I had one?"

"Of course... you've had it for eighteen years!"
*


[This story reminds me of Mulholland Drive (2001). Also Franz Kafka's The Trial (1925). Good job Faye! --Ned]

2 comments:

Brian said...

This is already a movie, predictably titled: "La Moustache"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Moustache

I've had this happen to me a bunch of times. It's called convergence.

About the most originality that any writer can hope to achieve honestly is to steal with good judgment.
-Josh Billings

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