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Nobody Knows Who, Nobody Knows What

Nobody Knows Who, Nobody Knows What

A Story by Lionel Braud

The Nobody: Nobody Know Who, Nobody Know What?

 

Stanley abruptly awoke by the sound of his tin can alarm, his head pounding. Waking up with a hangover, his head felt like a hollow tunnel that carried the sound vibrations of an eardrum.

 

 “Where is my headache medicine? I always keep them on the nightstand.” He tried not to yell too loud. He swayed his head in an aloof manner in the general direction where his girlfriend Maggie stood across the hall in the bathroom brushing her teeth. He had a tendency to delegate his girlfriend as the Finder of Missing Things.

 

“I don’t know. Wasn’t it on the nightstand?”

 

Annoyed, he slapped his face in a ‘duh’ motion. “Well, I guess the headache medicine troll must have taken them because I swore I laid them here. And I’ve got a series of chores to do.”

 

“So do I. Maybe it fell under… look I don’t need the attitude right now. I need to get to work soon.”

 

In the midst of scrambling for the headache meds, Stan lost radar reception to Maggie’s last comment about attitude.

 

Stan peers under the nightstand. “I need to get going. There are some answers I need to find out about. I’ve got those movie rentals at Blockbuster to take back. And now they have some absurd fee on my account. Damn buggars, I swear they are worse than collection agencies. Than I have that doctor’s appointment somewhere in north Georgia. Probably will need to shoot a flare in case I get lost.”

 

Maggie had seen this morning a thousand times over. The drinking poker game followed by the hangover. And the abrupt awakening followed by complaining at eight o’clock in the morning for headache meds. Most of the time they were on his nightstand, but this morning was a special exception… the morning started with things out of sorts. Now the bickering, that was routine. But special encounters awaited Stan.

 

Maggie waved her hair back in disgust. “Stan? Did you hear me? I can’t maid for you right now.”

 

But, just like everything else in Stan’s life, Maggie’s last comment had that sound proof bubble around it, and it would usually float off never to be heard or seen again. Today, that bubble was going to burst, and Stan would notice it.

 

Communication breakdown was always a factor in Stan and Maggie’s relationship. Stan lived in his own dialogue bubble, but it wasn’t a communication of exchange. Like a contained comic strip character, he mostly blurted out his selfish commentary about what he thought the day had in store for him.

 

Before Maggie could muster a sharp reprimand, Stan had stormed out the door.

He shoved his list of things to do in his pocket, and shuffled into his tinted windowed Volvo.

 

Stan did not like to be seen by the other drivers next to him, which heightened his private little world even further. Other people’s glances annoyed him making face to face contact that uneasy. So his tinted little shell was his impenetrable force field.

 

The only time Stan sought out others was to acquire information. Maybe the doctor could provide a prognosis for that irritable buzzing he experienced from time to time in his ear. His car radio, which he hasn’t been able to upgrade, played only one station. It was a country and western station that played Hank Williams, Conrad Twitty. How peculiar that the rest of the radio world did not shine its satellite signal onto Stan’s Sony.

 

Nothing happened in God’s world by mistake.

 

He at least expected that the answers would be provided for him, and that this time the doctor would provide some rejoin other than that doctor’s bluff of psycho somatic babble. The world had tried Stan numerous times, and by god he wouldn’t stand for it today.

 

The Blockbuster Video sign had been altered from vandals over the years. The C and K had been missing reading Blobuster video.  “I suspect if their negligent enough not to do their repairs, what should I expect anyway.” Stan thought.

 

The floor of the video store was stitched in annoying purple, yellow and green hexagonal shapes, like the floors you see in haunted hotels. And it only aggravated Stan’s headache the more. The piercing fluorescent lighting did not help either.

 

He checked out the movie “The Shining” to make his trip worth while just in case his complaint about the fee boiled down to the usual “I only work here” explanation.

 

After handing his video card, Stan assumed the role of Jack Torrance, “So, how’s my credit in this joint anyway.” Stan chuckles to himself.

 

“You have an outstanding fee of 23.70.”

 

“Yes I know. But why is that?”

 

“Uhmm?” The cashier appeared to be at the age of 21, and dreadlocks of hair harpooned into cone shapes off his head. He continued to scan the screen for answers. More silence followed, interrupted by some “Hmm’s” of doubt.

 

“It doesn’t say. It’s not a late fee, or an automatic purchase of a movie that you failed to return.”

 

 “Well that’s just brilliant.” Said Stan in a baroque, irritating tone. He waved his hand in the air like some magician whose magic trick hat failed to pull out the rabbit.

 

“So, you don’t know? So tell me uhh…?”

 

“Clarence.”

 

“What is it then, Clarence?”

 

Clarence had that empty look, that pothead look like he had been just dropped out of a bus that was heading to Monterey, but landed here instead. Clarence zoned in on the green font message. “Oh, here it is.” He reluctantly delivered the absurd message. “Violation of Section 10 of the honorary code?”

 

“Honorary Code?”

 

“It says you were caught renting at Hollywood Video.”

 

“…Are we making this up as we go along?”

 

“No sir, it’s right here on the screen.”

 

The weirdness accumulated in the air. A buzzing sound emanated from within his ear. It was then that Stan began to lightly tap his face to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. He also looked over his shoulder to make sure he wasn’t being Punk’d by Ashton Kutcher.

 

 “Okay, are we on Mars here? Said Stan

 

Without any suggestion of humor or any change in his facial expression, Clarence remained fixed and unperturbed by Stan’s last reply like a British Soldier.

 

“Actually, we are right here on earth, sir.” Said Clarence in a manner of fact tone.

 

“When was this code implemented?”

 

“I don’t know. I’m just reading what the screen says.”

 

His jaw dropping in disbelief, Stan placed his rental right there on the counter and walked out. What else could he do?

 

Stan drove past a 20 foot tall Paul Bunyan statue that was silhouetted in front of a used Car dealership. It shouldered the axe with both arms holding it in place. Stan spotted something a little off about using a folklore character to sell cars. It had this dopey grin. It was quite goofy looking actually. Its bulging strong shoulders may have intended to advertise chopped down prices, but to Stan he saw a big dummy shrugging its shoulders, waving hands in the air as if helplessly ignorant of what they sold there.

 

Pedestrians walked aimlessly towards some scent of unknown destination along the Cumberland strip. Mom and pop shops, a GAP store, a few other car dealerships might have been the end of the road for these weary travelers. Stan rolled down his window to ask one of them for directions.

 

Stan usually shopped at the C & C’s in his neighborhood, but his doctor’s appointment was quite a ways.

 

“Hey, do you know where C & C’s drugstore is?”

 

He didn’t know if he was a local or not. He was an old man wearing jean cut off shorts midway to the knees. He wore sandals and a straw hat. His face was a heavy white, looking like Brando from the “Island of Dr. Moreau.”

 

“I have no idea sir.” The stranger replied.

 

“Looked like he was a couple of brain cells short.” Stan mumbled.

 

A Ford pickup truck was tailing behind him as Stan scanned the strip for those numbers in a haystack. “D****t!” Stan exclaimed. He knew the address, but most of the numbers were either stripped or out of sight.

 

He asked a second pedestrian, this time a little more up-scaled, kind of touristy looking, yet all locals in the Atlanta area were from somewhere else. He wore white shorts with a polo shirt tucked in.

 

“You know where C & C’s drugstore is?”

 

“No, I don’t, sorry.” And then he went back to his cell phone conversation.

 

“What the hell?” Stan puzzled himself with brain teasers of the philosophical kind, ‘Why don’t these people know where such simple landmarks are like C & C’s? Don’t they ever get headaches too?’

 

Meet Stan, an overworked Insurance salesman in the corporate office. His job entails imposing difficult questions onto his coworker’s everyday. He exerts the same selfishness with his girlfriend at home. Soon enough, his need for interrogation will place him in the No Know Zone.

 

Before the light was about to change red, Stan had almost made the light, but the driver in front of him had tapped the breaks twice as if undecided whether to break beyond the yellow light or not. This of course delayed Stan’s destination by one minute.

 

“S**t shinola on the shoeshine!” Exclaimed Stan. “Are these drivers really that concerned about me running red lights that they feel the need to slow me down by flashing their red taillights at me?”

 

He finally found the drugstore after asking directions from ten more pedestrians. As Stan walked into the entrance he stops a lady in her late forties with a cigarette in her mouth looking like smoking has aged her quite a bit.

 

“What time do you have?” Stan asks.

 

“I don’t know. I don’t have a watch or a cell phone.” She said in a raspy voice.

 

“Unbelievable!”

 

Stan skimmed the medicine aisle for ache be gone, but the search was starting to go futile. Only Advil, Tylenol and, Aleve made up the majority. Ache Be Gone had been Stan’s so called herbal supplement answer to headaches. The advertising said that the drug was also an anti-oxidant. Stan started an herbal supplement diet a few years ago, which had been his quick fix answer to dieting, and his personal buffer for his alcoholic excesses.

 

“Sorry sir, that particular drug had been recalled by the FDA a few weeks ago.”

 

“You’re kidding me? Why?”

 

The climax of the day was beginning to get to him.

 

“Well certain ingredients were said to be a selling point scam.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“I don’t know sir. I’m not the FDA.”

 

“It worked for me. I know it wasn’t a placebo effect, and you’re a pharmacist. You should know.”

 

“You’d be surprised sir. I am only an intern.”

 

The droning sound occurred again like that of an airplane in high altitude. “This day has been extremely weird. I keep getting ‘I don’t know’ or ‘no’ for answers. Just give me Duramil.’

 

Some products like Ache Be Gone went through FDA processing, yet pain and cold medicines like Duramil were overlooked. The chemical properties of Duramil were similar to that of chemical properties found in Robitussin D. And Stan was allergic to those properties. As a matter of fact Stan would suffer slight hallucinations.

Stan didn’t realize it was his first exposure to Duramil until he passed The Big Boy car dealership and thought Paul Bunyan had thrown his axe down and called it a day. The hatchet had been buried, so to speak, because nobody knew what to buy, and the dealership went vague on their inventory and didn’t know what to sell.  

 

His field of vision left traces of everything in sight like ripples in a swimming pool. They became more numerous and frequent. His previous stops echoed in his head like an encore ensemble, ‘I don’t know/I don’t know’, the phrase reiterating itself over and over. Then the buzzing began, the irrefutable buzzing of ignorance, and the sounds of passing cars going by applauded the buzzing like an accumulation of working bees making their way through the hive.

 

‘Why don’t people know anything these days?’ Stan frantically exclaimed. ‘Its like their brains have been scooped out. My girlfriend at home doesn’t know! Nobody knows what’s going on. Went to the DMV yesterday and they didn’t seem to know. I try to stay on top of things at the office, but my secretary …d****t, can’t realize what shoe fits where. And the administration downstairs… they have papers and post-it notes stamped on their forehead, and they don’t seem to know either. Nobody knows!’

 

The hallucinations were minute, yet vibrant enough to complete Stan’s self-fulfilled prophecy that nobody knew what was going on, and nobody knew who the man with all the answers was. The drug’s after effects probed Stan to think that nothing else but stress was responsible for this hallucination. Stan, although not philosophically inclined, felt as if he were in a movie, and that he was not the one in the driver’s seat.

 

Stan had been told “I don’t know” so much that he had forgotten what it was he was looking for. It wasn’t like he was looking for that stairway to heaven; Stan just wanted some answers as to his financial and medical situation. Hopefully, Dr. Noah Paul could provide some certainty.

 

Stan was on the outskirts of Atlanta, somewhere in one of many suburban towns. He passed Cul de sac after Cul de Sac. Most of the enclosed neighborhoods looked alike, all housing the same familial and homey architecture, harboring the same two door garage after garage, the same whitewash paneling whose homes were lived in by the same people. Most of the men wore the same clothes with their white preppie shorts and tucked in Polo shirts with the Bluetooth in the ear to boot. The women wore the knee high pants. Some may have deviated in attire, manner of dress, but all of them suited up in their yuppie fashion. Stan thought they looked like clones that were generated from a singular prototype. Most of subdivisions were similar in name like Pine Ridge, Pine Forest, Pine Lake and Pine Circle. Stan could have sworn he was in a Sims game.

 

Again, he asked directions from several pedestrians. Stan had tried Mapquest several times only to be frustrated by its inaccuracy. He had followed the directions step by step, but his destination landed him in some alleyway behind a Mexican restaurant. So he banished the dreaded Mapquest.  

 

This time he depended on the generosity of other strangers. But we all know how that ended up.

 

“Where is the Nordic Health clinic?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

The clinic shot off the main highway uphill on Stan’s right behind a Moo Moo’s burger joint. The store mascot was not necessarily a cow in the sense of the word, but a cow-like creature, a mixed mutt resembling some deviant mutant form of the Hindu god.

 

The slogan on the sign read ‘Our Beef is so mystically delicious we don’t know where it comes from.

 

The big cow creature was in eyeshot to Stan’s peripheral vision, obscuring the view of the clinic. No wonder he had missed it twice.

 

“I’ve never seen such a burger joint in my life. I don’t think Hindu’s would be too happy.” Stan told the receptionist.

 

“Burger joint sir? What burger joint?” The receptionist had this needle point nose with oval shaped reading glasses. She looked like an eagle.

 

“Nevermind. I am here to see Dr. Noah Paul.”

 

“Ok sir. Just have a seat in the waiting area. He’s buzzing at the moment.”

 

“Buzzing?”

 

“Busy sir.”

 

Stan shook his head frantically. “Oh, I thought you said buzzing.”

 

Dr. Noah Paul was an internal medicine doctor; the kind of doctor you went to see when you couldn’t afford a psychiatrist and you thought something was wrong but not quite sure what it was. 

 

And he was buzzy, very flamboyant and energetic in the way he carried his walk as if his legs had a mind of their own, yet he gladly obliged them.

 

Stan was annoyed by his seemingly, unperturbed happiness.

 

“Well hello sir. Glad to meet ya.” He shook Stan’s hand with a great sense of urgency and enthusiasm, shaking his whole body as if the doctor palmed one of those joke buzzers in his hand.

‘Oh no.’ Stan thought. ‘It’s one of these Richard Simmons types. Always happy, totally oblivious to the suffering of life. Someone who will even make me feel more miserable about myself.’

 

The doctor’ room was paneled with yellow and white stripes and a couple of Monet paintings. There was one window that looked out to the street.

 

“So, how can I help you today?”  

 

Stan breaks into maniacal laughter. “Funny you should say that.”

 

“Funny that I should say may I help you?”

 

“It’s a long story.”

 

“I’m sure it is. So what other doctors have you seen in the past and for what reason?”

 

“Well, I’ve seen a couple of psychiatrists before, but they never seem to help. They always ask me what I think is wrong. How should I know? I’m the one seeing them for the answers, not the other way around. Why would I come to see them if I already figured that one out myself? And I’ve seen an otologist.”

 

Dr. Noah poises a finger next to his mouth, listening intently.

 

“What are some of your symptoms?”

 

“I have this incessant buzzing in my ear.”

 

“Hmm. Sounds like an infection. What did your otologist say?”

 

“He found absolutely nothing wrong with me.”

 

“Did he mention anything about high blood pressure, an allergy, or anemia?”

 

“Nope.”

 

“Interesting. Because usually it’s a sign of wax build up or some type of infection. So, how did the psychiatric visitations play into this?”

 

“Well, they told me it was psycho-somatic, whatever that means?”

 

“It means there is nothing physically wrong and what ever ails you resides in your mind. When do you find that this buzzing occurs?”

 

“When people annoy me. Happens when I can’t seem to get an answer.”

 

“To get answers?  How do you go about finding the answers?”

 

Stan rolls his eyes. “Well seeing people like you for one thing.”

 

Dr. Noah Paul brushes off his last comment like dandruff. “So what meds are you currently taking?”

 

“Zoloft for depression and Tenex for stabilizing my moods.”

 

“Do you drink or use drugs?”

 

“Who doesn’t?”

 

“Do you try to find answers through those means?”

 

“No, but it seems to lessen the disappointments when I don’t find the answers.”

 

The buzzing of the hive reinstated its position in Stan’s ear, and the Duramil he took earlier did not help either.

 

“So, basically you try to find answers through external means. You try to find answers through doctors. Do you have a wife?”

 

“I’m living with my girlfriend. What does this have to do with anything?”

 

“I’m trying to figure out the circumstances in which your buzzing occurs.”

 

“Well, I seem to be surrounded by idiots. Nobody knows anything.”

 

“Who is nobody?”

 

“My girlfriend, the people I work with…Christ everybody it seems like, the people I encounter on the street.”

 

“Nobody, huh? Nobody knows who, nobody knows what. Nobody is a negation. Your supposed idiots then would be illusions. How do you separate the true from the false when you have that buzzing in your ear?”

 

 “I’m not here for philosophy for Pete sakes. How do I get rid of this buzzing in my ear?”

 

“Well, I’ve looked at your medical records, and your doctors have found no physical causes.”

 

“So you don’t know?”

 

“No, but I’m following my inclinations on this one.”

 

“Why are you avoiding the issue?”

 

“There is no miracle cure for what you have.”

 

“What for the buzzing in my ear?”

 

“No, the buzzing is just a symptom. You suffer what the general population suffers from.”

 

“What?”

 

“Look out the window with me.” The window peered towards a busied street with thick traffic. Drivers were badgering other drivers. Window shoppers baffled themselves with indecision as what to buy.

 

“See the woman with the double F breast size, frail thin body and one who has had too many facelifts. See the man on the Bluetooth, holding the Wall Street section of the New York Times, probably bidding on numbers. It’s always a numbers game.”

 

They saunter away from the window. “Most of my patients frequent this place a lot, and for the most part I don’t know what to tell them. They are hell bent on redirecting their problems on a specific diagnosis. The point is, is that they don’t know the reason as much as you or I do.”

 

“Don’t know what?”

 

“Exactly.”

 

“Can you please give me an explanation for this buzzing? Also something strange happened to me today at Blockbuster Video. They charged me a fee because I was caught renting at Hollywood Video. How weird is that?”

 

“Hmm, I don’t know about that, sounds like a hallucination to me.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2009 Lionel Braud


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Featured Review

This story started out being funny and then turns nightmarish as Stan met more and more people who couldn't answer any of questions. I like how you weave this story and don't give a concrete explanation as to why this is happening to him. Could it be the drug he was taking or is it something else? That mystery is what makes each "I don't know" so chilling. There are some minor grammatical issues, but the story is masterfully told just the same.

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

This story started out being funny and then turns nightmarish as Stan met more and more people who couldn't answer any of questions. I like how you weave this story and don't give a concrete explanation as to why this is happening to him. Could it be the drug he was taking or is it something else? That mystery is what makes each "I don't know" so chilling. There are some minor grammatical issues, but the story is masterfully told just the same.

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

From now on I will be renting at Red Box - and keeping track of the hangover remedy. Funny story Lionel - I've had my days in the No know zone - usually happening here :P

Posted 10 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.


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Added on February 1, 2009

Author

Lionel Braud
Lionel Braud

Smyrna, GA



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Try JibJab Sendables� eCards today! I have a bachelors in psychology and earning my second degree in English Education. im student teaching next year for secondary English. I turned off t.. more..

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