Halloween Writting Contest Entry
The following story was submitted as an entry in The Wanderer's fourth annual Halloween Writing Contest.
"Identity Theft" by Melonie Lefter
Off the highway and onto the byway, Edwin Hobnocker took the longer but more scenic route homeward. The drive helped him unwind from the workweek grind and the radio kept playing songs he enjoyed. During the ride, he spied a sign that would change the pattern of his life. Free for the taking was how it read. Next to the sign was a curiously designed human being sized cabinet. Edwin stopped the car to investigate the object. He ran his fingertips lightly over the intricately carved symbols in the wood. He liked it. He peeked inside and wondered about the buffed metal lining the walls.
Decision firmly fixed, he summoned the strength to load it into his trunk securing the treasure tightly with his own necktie. Now how could he convince his wife to let him keep it?
From top to bottom, outside and in, Mrs. Lillian Hobnocker kept a strictly ordered house. It had neatly tarred shingles on the roof with sharp gray trim around the edges. Along the lawn lined a natural fence of evenly clipped hedges. No wildflowers allowed amidst the blooms in the garden! Woe for the landscaper who missed one. Lillian's words stung like a wasp. Repeatedly. The same rules of perfection were applied to the twice-monthly maid. Lillian crossed her arms while vigorously correcting the woman who was toiling today. Her arms only uncrossed when it was time to pay.
"The world needs toilet scrubbers too." The maid blushed, her face a red flame, a color combination of anger and shame. She took the money then meekly shrank away.
Edwin made his approach cautiously. Long ago, the things he cherished had been gradually replaced. His motorcycle was transformed into a responsible sedan. His LP records became a pair of charming end tables. His guitars were now leafy houseplants.
Success! He nonchalantly slipped into the garage. His cabinet was unloaded quickly, quietly and most importantly, unnoticed by Lillian. Into the kitchen he went.
"What's for dinner?" he said.
"Where is your tie?" His wife asked with a furrowed brow.
Edwin was vague in his answer. He ruined it somewhere. No, he didn't know how.
While she slept he crept back out to the garage to examine the box. How odd!
The carvings were a mathematical equation if he wasn't mistaken and the bottom seemed to have a separation. With a slight push, the cabinet rotated like a lazy susan. A knob, a dial, a lever - all three seemed to be begging for a tug or a twist. On the metal inside a message was etched. Good Luck-Dr. Banzai. Edwin's fingers twitched. He reached toward the box and began fiddling with it.
The cabinet groaned starting a furious spin. The sound of ripping fabric covered the din. The door opened and closed over and over again and again. Edwin was stunned. A man had appeared who looked exactly like him. Then another. Then another. The cabinet kept spinning. More and more matching men continued filling the space. They started chatting casually with each other. The whole garage was packed with wall-to-wall Edwin Hobnockers. Upon closer inspection, the original man noticed they weren't quite exactly the same. One had brown socks instead of slate. One had a fresh scar on his face. Suddenly, the lights went on in the house.
"She's awake." Edwin cried. "Get out. Go back." He shouted.
Apparently, all forms of Hobnocker had known a Lillian in their lives. The chaos ensued in reverse. All the men quickly piled back into the spinning cabinet. The garage cleared itself of all but one man just as Lillian barged through the door. As she began a typical tirade, Edwin picked up a hammer. She paused as he approached her.
"Your not my husband. My husband is left handed."
She was correct as usual. The original Edwin Hobnocker was gone. Swept up in the tide of the recently departed.