Sydney Stone was not at home, which was unusual, even odd, he was a homebody, albeit not by choice. He just had a very boring life, no real friends and he suffered from agoraphobia. Not just open spaces but uncomfortable situations. Not a deep rooted fear, just a smidgen, but the smidgen made things uncomfortable, and that just made everything worse in a spiraling sort of way. So he mainly stayed at home, worked from home and shopped from home, but he sensed that he might be coming down with a touch of claustrophobia as well.
He was not into video games and found that all the cool old television programs had been replaced by politicized drivel. One black woman was now always the heroic protagonist, hopefully lesbian but bisexual would do. One Asian, one Hispanic, perhaps a member of a local indigenous population and one dweeby white guy who always reminded him too much of himself, with gender roles, including transgender, carefully distributed equally. So he was not much for television either. Lately he’d mainly been trying to come up with a cool nickname for himself and not doing all that well. “Sid” of course, was out, as was “Ney”. The “Stoner” might have worked if he’d been into drugs, but he wasn’t. “SS” had strong anti-Semitic elements and he was sort of concerned with the sanity of Zionists, so that was out as well.
Sidney, it’s sad to admit, was not all that creative, except when it came to illness. There, he was an artist (he suffered from a touch of hypochondria as well). It provided a bit of spice to his spiceless life but unfortunately, paramedics would no longer come when he called, all having realized that he was just a very lonely and bit eccentric kind of guy. One, a redheaded girl named Lucy, had come for a while, but eventually, she’d stopped coming too. Evidently she had mental issues of her own. Not dangerous ones but apparently, she’d come to believe she was married to a Cuban band leader and had two imaginary friends named Fred and Ethel, and she’d just sort of dropped out of site.
He wished he had a girlfriend who was good at nicknames but the truth was, he didn’t have a girlfriend (even Lucy had never been a girlfriend), or even a friend who was a girl (ditto again with respect to Lucy). It was hard meeting other people of any kind, stuck in his apartment. He also didn’t have, as we implied before, any guy friends, or even any pets. Just himself and his mirrors; three of them, one in the bathroom, one in the foyer (to make it look larger), and one behind the bedroom door that had been left there by a prior tenant. He frequently talked to his mirrors, usually complaining about his situation, but often also asking about prior tenants or their guests, or even workmen and women, any people at all really, people whose images they’d reflected in the past. Kind of crazy he realized but, you never knew, and he hadn’t all that much better to do. Plus, every once in a while, the mirrors would respond, but that was only when he was asleep and dreaming. He’d try to recall the dreams when he woke, and he almost could, at first, but then, the harder he tried, the faster they’d fade.
He had one favorite book, an old one from tenth grade literature class about a guy named Walter Mitty, with whom he identified. “If only I had an imagination like Walter’s”, Sidney (for lack of a nickname) would say to himself, “my life would be a lot cooler”. Walter Mitty, had he been non-fictional, might have been pleased by Sidney’s admiration, of course, depending on which daydream he was in.
Thinking of Walter Mitty usually led Sidney to consider the viability of developing a multiple personality disorder but he had no idea whether that was volitionally possible. He also wondered whether or not multiple personalities could interact with each other, realizing that, if not, then the only benefit would be if the alternative personalities lacked his phobias and could get out and meet people. But then, pessimistically (he was a pessimist as well), he was sure his primary personality wouldn’t derive any benefit as he was pretty sure the principle personality would be unaware of the others, all of which would, in all probability, gang up on him, ridiculing him to his metaphorical back, which of course would worsen his agoraphobia. Apparently, he was paranoid as well.
“Hmmm”, Sidney whispered to himself, as though he was afraid someone would hear him, an epiphany of sorts breaking through. “How do I know I don’t have a multiple personality disorder”, and wondered whether, in fact, other personalities were keeping him in the dark. “Yuck” he whispered (for the reason we previously mentioned), he was afraid of the dark as well. Now he was also developing both delusions and paranoia, but “Hell” he whispered (you know why), “it’s better than sitting at home with nothing to do.”
Then he realized he wasn’t at home at all and really panicked.
One wonders if narrators count as aspects of multiple personality disorders.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2023; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen). Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). However, he is also fascinated by mythology, religion, physics, astronomy and mathematics, especially with matters related to quanta and cosmogony. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.