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Anecdotal Spores: The Crazy Uncle

by Matt Hughes


Late one cold and drizzly winter night while I was traveling through the mountains, I stopped in a roadside bar for a beer and a sandwich and decided to sit at the counter, which was empty except for a very fat man at the far end.

The waitress was young and thin, with a bad complexion. She had glasses and wore her hair in pigtails. She was also a nervous blinker, blinking with every word she spoke as she asked what I wanted.

I decided that a beer might make me too sleepy to drive, so I ordered a coffee, along with a bacon cheeseburger. When I’d ordered, I glanced down at the fat man and saw that he was staring at me. I nodded, then turned back and looked at the mirror behind the whiskey bottles.

But with that first brief glance there seemed to be something oddly familiar about him. So after a moment I glanced back, and he was still sitting there staring at me. He was dressed in an old-fashioned shirt and tie and had a thick cluster of pens in his shirt pocket.

Finally he said, “Don’t you recognize me?”

“No, can’t say I do,” I told him.

He nodded sadly. “How can that be? I’m your uncle.”

I frowned at him a moment, then turned back and looked at the mirror.

A moment later he said, speaking to nobody, “His own uncle, and he doesn’t know me.”

Finally, sighing, he got up and ambled to the men’s room.

The waitress came back to pour my coffee. Blinking, she said, “Don’t mind him; he’s crazy. He thinks he’s everybody’s uncle.”

I shook my head. “Yes, but he does look familiar, somehow.”

“People always say that, too,” the waitress said, blinking the words at me before going back to the serving slot in the wall to see if my bacon cheeseburger was ready.

 

Matt Hughes lives in the country in the wooded Appalachian foothills of southeastern Ohio. The Theatre Studio in Manhattan recently produced four of his one-act plays, the latest being Inside the Outside, or the Mobius Trip. He collects old and rare books and, with his wife of many years, antiques. He likes to go yard saleing.


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