The Other

John Egan

He turned around and looked into the eyes of his best friend, or what appeared to be his best friend. Because, you see, his best friend was dead. Had been dead for several years. He looked exactly like him, Paul thought. He had the exact appearance: small eyes, thin blond hair, thin frame, long nose with large nostrils and patchy skin. Even his clothes, from what Paul could ascertain, were similar in style.

So who was he? Could he be the same person, somehow resurrected from the beyond? Heíd read about things like this, but never in his wildest imagination could he believe that someone could comeback. Had Harry comeback.

They both stood motionless in front of a local video store, neither moved, their eyes still fixed on each other. Paul was carrying his video back from the night before, some horror film, his favourite genre, that he had rented the day before. The other just stood there. It was 9.00pm.

"Who are you?" Paul blurted out. He was fidgeting with his coat, trying to calm himself down.

"I'm whoever you want me to be. I could be a dream, I could be a nightmare, I could even be your mother. But Iím nothing more than myself."

"I meant what's your name?" Paul said, looking into the others eyes.

"I'll tell you if you follow me."

"Follow you where?"

"Over there." The other pointed to a nearby chair in the front of the video store. "Just over there." He walked away, with an upbeat walk, resembling John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever.

Paul was somewhat surprised. Should he follow? Why not he told himself. What could I lose anyway? Either itís him our it isn't, he thought.

He followed.

Sitting down, Paul decided to push on with his questions.

"Your name?" Paul said, still a little nervous.

"My name is Harry."

Paul went pale, he felt cold inside, a trembling emotion was edging to the surface. He wanted to vomit. Could it be a coincidence? It has to be. Did Harry have a twin? Possible? So why the fuck didn't he grow up with him?

"Does that surprise you." said the other. "You looked surprised when I said my name, almost frightened."

"What?" Paul said, startled.

"Surprised."

The other reached inside his pocket and took out a packet of cigarettes. Paul was still thinking about his answer.

"No, not really."

"Smoke?" The other said, reaching out toward Paul.

Should I take anything from this guy? Paul thought. It's only a smoke you idiot. "Yeah why not." He took one and put it to his lips, the other reached over and lit it. The other put the packet way. Strangely there was no smoke in either his mouth or hand. I wonder why? Paul thought.

He inhaled deeply and let the nicotine take its effect upon him. He still didn't feel anymore relaxed. Oh well, he thought.

Why am I still thinking of him as the other? He has a name now you idiot - HARRY - He isnít Harry! I know he isn't Harry, not the Harry I know. It can't be Harry, he's the other, another Harry. He'll always be the other. Just tell him. No. Yes. No.

"You look like someone I used to know. Someone I went to school with, a friend of mine who died." What the fuck, Paul thought. Why did I say that?

"And his name was Harry?"

"Yes." Paul said, again drawing back on his smoke.

"Well I can assure you I'm not your dead friend." The other said all a little to reassuringly for Paul.

Now why would he say that? Paul thought.

He threw his smoke onto the ground leaving it there to distinguish itself on the nearby concrete. It was a cool night, no wind, it'd go out, Paul thought.

"Well that's bloody obvious isn't? I mean how could you be dead and yet living at the same time. You look so much like him that's all."

"Maybe I am him, who the hell knows anyway? I don't think anybody really knows who the hell they are anyhow. Right?

"Except you're here, and he's dead."

Paul pictured times gone by with the real Harry, fun times, times he would always remember as some of the best in his life.

"Which school did you go to?"

"A school in the country, far from here, buts that's irrelevant. How old are you?"

"Twenty One." Stop telling him everything about yourself, you idiot, Paul thought. But he couldnít, he was compelled to talk about Harry. "I was 14 when Harry died. He died in an accident when his father and him were out fishing, they never found his body. I guess it just washed away."

"You don't say." The other said. "Just washed away?"

"Yeah."

"And now you think I'm him, back from the dead, or where ever."

"Not really."

"But you're not sure?"

"I'm not sure about a lot of things and this is just one of them." Paul said still feeling uneasy, but more relaxed than earlier.

"Does it matter who I am? I mean if you think that I'm your Harry, then I'll be Harry, for tonight anyway. Just let your memories of him flow back." The other said. "That makes no sense at all you know. I know you're not Harry and pretending will not change that." Why was he going on with this Paul thought.

Paul wanted to leave but he couldn't, he felt a connection to this guy even if he wasnít Harry back from the dead. Whoever he was, Paul wanted to stay, just to make sure he wasn't Harry. "It might. Was he such a great friend that you want him back so desperately." The other said shifting slowly along the chair.

Paul only now realised that there was no one else around, no one entering the video store, and no one leaving. Strange, he thought, were the video store still even open.

He still felt uneasy, uneasy about the whole night. He'd only come to drop of some videos and he ends up meeting a guy who looks like his best friend, only he's dead. Not only that, but he is talking to him as well.

"We all want what we can't have I suppose."

"Right." "You know, I better get going man, drop these in the box and head on home, it's been great meeting you, but you know?"

"Yeah whatever. You see me and you think that Iím your dead best friend, and now you wanna leave, was I that boring?" The other said agitated.

"Hey man, I didnít mean anything by it, you just looked like someone I knew, that's all. Thereís no need to get excited."

Paul moved further away from the other, slowly, so he wouldn't be noticed.

"What if I told you I was Harry?"

"I wouldn't believe you."

He didn't truly believe what he was saying, but he said it anyway. Things like this just don't happen he told himself.

"I am Harry!"

"I don't believe you." Paul said, shaking his head.

"Really Paul."

"Really."

Paul pictured himself earlier with this guy, had he told him his name, he didn't think so, but couldnít quite remember. Then how, Paul thought, did this guy know his name? Was it Harry? No? Yes? How?

The other quickly got up and stood in front of Paul. Paul remained seated, unsure of what to do.

"You know who I am, you always knew, from the first time you saw me tonight. And you also know how I died."

"I know. Didn't I mention that before; anyway you're not Harry."

"Denying it wont help you Paul. Do you think I'll just go away, vanish again like I did all those years ago? What happens now.? Well, who knows? I doubt that I could just let you go though. I mean this pretty much changes everything, don't you think?"

"I think you're insane!" Paul said standing up. "Completely fucking insane!" He moved away from the other, but the other followed. "Look, I'm leaving, I don't care where you go, but I'm outa here man." Paul turned his back on the other and walked away.

The other reached into his coat, and felt around its warm insides, delving, searching and finding. He pulled out his hand and held a knife. He followed Paul.

"Oh Paullllll, maybe you should turn around, you know it's probably better if you do, you know, face up to the sins of the past."

Paul turned around and saw the knife and panicked. He ran, tripped and fell on his front. The end was near.

The other mounted him from behind and sat upon him.

Where the hell was everyone, Paul thought.

"Why are you doing this?"

"Ah, I don't know, you tell me?"

"Because you hate me, because you blame me for something?"

"Maybe or maybe I just like hunting people. You think that I drowned Paul, well guess again. You think that my father couldn't save me?

"How the fuck should I know?" Paul said struggling.

"The drowning was a story Paul, a story concocted so my parents, and god bless their souls, could get rid of me from their minds. They wanted to forget about me, so they said I died. You know, the real quick and easy way. But instead of drowning, I was committed to a mental institute.

"Really, is that all?"

"Your flippancy will get you nowhere."

"So you're going to kill me?" Paul said, still struggling inside.

"I'm not going to kill you! Or am I?" the other placed his knife down beside Paul. Paul was unaware of it. "I'm going to help you find god."

"I think I'd rather go to church."

"Bad luck, you're going to hell!"

"Then doesn't that defeat the purpose of finding God?"

"Just shut up."

The other picked up the knife and placed the point at the back of Paulís neck. Paul tried to move, but he couldnít, he was frozen.

"Why?" he asked

"Because I blame you, Mr. Goody, Mr. Do Right, Mr. Never Wrong. 'Can't you be more like Paul?' my mother used to say. Your goodness sent me into madness and now my madness is going to send you to whatever.

"That's all?"

"It's enough, isn't it? Goodbye Paul

. "Yeah whatever."

The other pushed the knife down into Paul's neck, it was like pushing a knife through an orange the other thought. This way of killing had become his favourite over the years. There was no blood and no sound. Paulís body went limp.

The other got up, pulling the knife from Pau'ís neck. He looked down and admired his work, now there would be another for his dark god. His messiah. He turned and left.

The body moved, it stood, it followed, it found.

The other was startled, stunned. He turned back and faced it.

The body was different, it eyes were red, its teeth elongated, pointed. It has taken on a new appearance, a new height.

The other couldnít move, he was frozen. The body spoke.

"Did you think you could kill me? Me! Me! he pointed to himself. "You fucking fool! You canít kill what you are! Fool! Aaaaaahhhhhhh!"

As the body reached out his hand the other collapsed to his knees. The other took it and kissed it and loved it. His master was back.