* * * * * DO WHAT YOU LOVE * * * * *
[Reddit Writing Prompt] You're walking down the street when someone suddenly yells, "That's it! I can't do this any longer," and takes off his wig. Everyone stops and one by one, does the same. Turns out, everyone is bald...except you.
"Erm, asswipe. Hello! Is this thing on?" I tapped my invisible mic and looked around to see why Snead wasn't laughing at my off-color joke. He was standing at attention, a slack-jawed expression on his face but the weird thing was...his head was completely bald and shaped like a perfect cue ball.
I froze in place and then began a slow pirouette as I took in the scene unfolding before my eyes. The sidewalk was littered with wigs and people with blank stares and slack-jawed expressions, eerily similar to Snead’s. I noticed a small trickle of drool slowly rolling down his chin and a little spot of mustard just above his lip. We were just walking back to the office after a quick sandwich at Sal's.
All faces in succession turned my way, reminiscent of the Rockettes as they performed their perfect stagger-kick move.
I looked down at the ground too afraid to make eye contact with any of these bald and drooling humans. Were they human? I allowed my eyes to quickly shift to the left where my coworker Snead, who’d been my best friend since third grade, was standing and noticed beads of perspiration on his scalp. Seemed to me like a human reaction to stress or maybe the sweltering heat of the summer day.
The thing that stood out to me the most though, was a tiny tattoo visible just above his right ear. It looked like a series of numbers but I could not be sure. I side-stepped a bit to my left in order to get a closer look, noticing I could feel a heat radiating upward from the sidewalk as I drew near, and then took a big step back as the reality of the tattoo set in.
It was a series of numbers, alright...a series of three. Numbers that were what I considered to be the stuff that horror movies were made of. The numbers 666, what some people called the “mark of the beast”. I, being an agnostic, really didn't have an opinion on this one way or the other.
The blank stare left the eyes of my friend and of the frozen people all around me as they bent down to the sidewalks to retrieve the fallen wigs, placing them atop their bald heads neatly covering the devil's numbers. The wigs looked askew and I berated myself for not noticing the obvious shellacked appearance of the false hair before.
Snead clapped me on the back in a hearty manner and asked, "Will you join us? We are many and time is short."
I briefly thought this over and realized I had floated through life never committing to anything in my 35 years on this earth. I’d never even noticed that my best friend had transformed into some sort of devil worshiper—communicating with Satan through…maybe telepathy. What did I really believe in? I didn't believe in marriage. I didn't believe in a god. I didn't even believe that smoking was bad for one's health. I was a true passive passing through this life unnoticed. What did I have to lose?
I slowly reached into my man satchel extracting the crumpled pack of cigarettes and a lighter. Lighting up my third smoke of the day; I inhaled then exhaled the sweet tobacco that my body craved and smiled my crooked smile. "Sure. I am with you, my friend. Like you said, time is short. What...besides my hair...do I have to lose?"
By Lisa H. Owens
Inspired by a Reddit writing prompt