“Just because you’re necessary doesn’t mean you’re important.”
There it was, clearly printed in blue ink on the side of Marty’s coffee mug. He remembered the day he ordered it from despair.com as a reward for surpassing a thousand dollars of donations for one day of storytelling. That was how he termed his façade.
Beggars who held signs and waited silently for handouts hurt the business. Sharpie marker signs on cardboard turned people away. No one cared if you would “Work 4 Food;” they weren’t going to hire a sorry-**** homeless guy in Washington. No, if you wanted to earn a handout, you better have a good yarn. Better yet, a performance. Find a harmonica at the Salvation Army and teach yourself to play it. It’s not like you don’t have free time.
Not being musically inclined, Marty concocted tales. He even had regular customers who used their lunch breaks listening to his “recollections” of ‘Nam. Huong, the ten-year-old girl who knew every hiding place in her village. Flannery, the sergeant who motivated his battalion by crying proud tears. The fun-and-suddenly-deadly mudslide that claimed Jefferson. ****, he had a million of them. Interns ate it up. Marty figured he’d someday have to thank Oliver Stone. Then pitch him for a film of his life story.
Spark Some Change! was fiction too. Until OCD decided to upgrade the propaganda. How the hell was he supposed to rally the homeless? Free booze?
Marty cracked his knuckles, sipped hot coffee, and sat at his laptop. He wanted nothing more than to be somewhere else. At this stage, he’d even settle for Saigon.
He looked out his window and contemplated an escape. Should he make a break for it and hitchhike up 27? What about stealing one of the suit’s Explorers for a getaway vehicle? He suspected both of those wound up with dead ends.
He reassessed his situation for the hundredth time. Fitzgerald wanted Yoder to be president; that much was fine with Marty. The methodology was the big question mark. The OCD had Marty’s tax records and could probably erase his existence altogether. They weren’t adverse to violence, though (to this point, Marty appreciated) it left little more than headaches. They sought Marty out specifically because if his blog. If he stopped posting, would he possess any value to them? If not, what was he supposed to post? Marty had never been part of a conspiracy before – what else could he call this – but he assumed there was more direction. Corralling. What would happen if he revealed the truth on his site? Could he construct a red herring big enough to provide the time to escape?
His cursor blinked twice more before his screensaver appeared.
How could he have missed something so simple?
The only way the OCD would leave Marty alone was if there was no more Marty. He had to be dead. Disappearing wouldn’t suffice; they’d find him. Martin Bryant Bishop needed to become a memory and nothing more.
He’d seen enough movies to know about dental records and DNA. A fire couldn’t guarantee an identifiable corpse. The shark tank at the aquarium was overkill. Suicide from the Potomac Bridge? Only if the OCD saw him jump. He typed.Bigger challenge: uniting the homeless to kill the president or finding a suitable replacement body to fake a suicide?
These were the kind of questions Montgomery College didn’t prepare him for.