“I just talked to a news reporter. I’m going to be famous.” Guy bounced on his toes and smiled proudly at his coworker.
She looked back at him with a mostly understanding smile and replied slowly, “You is famous?”
“Yep, I’m going to be famous. The newspaper wants to write an article about me.”
“Why is you famous for?”
“Well I’m a special person. And I just got a raise: $26,000 a year.”
Guy beamed with a mixture of pride and sheepishness as the woman looked on.
She congratulated him as best she could in English and turned the vacuum back on, and he resumed stacking boxes of paper towels in the musty closet.
Guy’s boss felt good about himself. He felt sorry for Guy and wanted to do something to make him smile, so he decided to call the newspaper.
Guy stepped over a cowboy hat on his living room floor and sat down to watch TV. He gnawed hungrily on the buffalo wings he had picked up on the way home from work. Memories of his mother’s homemade fried chicken came to mind. That was always his favorite growing up—hot, dripping, sizzling, hardly touching his plate before being snatched up and devoured.
Guy was alone in front of the TV. He was used to being alone, but that didn’t mean he liked it.
It wasn’t so bad today, though—he was going to be famous.
Guy informed another co-worker of his triumph the next day: “I’m going to be famous.”
This woman smiled less understandingly than the previous one, but Guy only saw approval in the expression.
“The reporters are coming in tomorrow to interview me.”
The following morning, Guy pulled a steaming bowl of oatmeal out of the microwave. He normally had cold cereal for breakfast, but on special days, he had instant oatmeal.
“So tell me, Guy, what do you like about working here?”
“Well, I’m pretty outgoing, and I like getting to see the residents. Some of them are pretty messy, though. I found two whole slices of pizza behind one of their desks yesterday!”
“Wow, that is messy! Well, when I talked with your boss on the phone, he said you’ve been doing really good work here. What other types of jobs have you had?”
“I used to drive a truck some. Then I worked at a grocery store. I also used to be a crossing guard—some of the kids really liked me. But I like this job a lot. And I just got a raise: $26,000 a year!”
“That’s wonderful, Guy. Sounds like they definitely want to keep you around. What sorts of things do you like to do in your free time?”
“Well, I work a lot, but I like to watch rodeos. I grew up in Montana, so I saw a lot of those when I was a kid. My family used to go to them all together, but they don’t visit very often.”
“Hm. Well what would you like our town to know about you, Guy?”
“I … I just want people to take the time to get to know me. I’m a very nice person, and some people don’t even think there’s anything wrong with me. I want people to love me for who I am.”
Guy stood proudly with his back against a wall and smiled for the camera. The reporters also got action shots of him vacuuming and of him restocking the paper towels in the bathroom. But his favorite was one they took of his reflection in the mirror as he wiped it down professionally.
“When will my article be in the paper?” Guy asked, eyes slightly widened with anticipation.
“We’re shooting for this coming Monday.”
Guy smiled. He continued to smile later that evening. He was still alone, but he was going to be famous.
Guy rushed outside to find the newspaper on his front step. He scooped it up, shaking off drops of water from it, and hurried back inside.
He eagerly but carefully set down his bowl of instant oatmeal on the small, worn table. Finally, the moment had arrived. He slowly opened up the newspaper and carefully turned its pages until he saw it—“Local Guy Johnson: Cleaner, Friend.” He sat there with his mouth open in stunned silence. He could hardly believe it. He was actually in the newspaper. And there was his very own picture. No, there were two! They included the one of him wiping the mirror.
As he read through the article with awe, he wanted more and more to share it with someone. He looked up from the paper—but there was no one there. He saw the postcard his sister had sent him a year ago taped to the fridge; he saw a picture of his whole family farther down; he saw an aged photograph of himself with a childhood friend from decades ago; and he saw his own handsome picture in work uniform at the very top.
“That’s okay,” he thought to himself. “I’m famous now.”
Bio: I’ve been at Aims since January of 2016 and have been really grateful for my time here. I’ll be transferring to CU-Boulder this fall to study Linguistics. My last class of a creative writing course was this week, and I wanted to submit a short story I wrote to The Aims Review as a last hurrah.