#199 Today

#199 Todayr

 

Wish You Were Here, a brand new social site, invites me to join. I log on and fill out a questionnaire, but it never asks me what I wish for. Since I filled out that form someone has been sending e-mails saying, “Don’t wait too long to call me if you really want to find IT.” Another message arrives before I even log out, “If you want IT, don’t wait. There are others waiting to push ahead and be number one on my page.”

I reply. “Maybe someday we’ll meet in a non-electronic world where we can touch, feel and know what we see is really there.” I had no idea who or what this person looked like, or what IT was.

Another e-mail comes through. “I’ll be at Starbucks at 3.”

How does the sender know that’s where I go every day at 3? He/She knows what I look like and where I go, so I may as well go see what the hell IT is.

I arrive at Starbucks and look around to see if anyone fits what I think may look like an e-mail stalker.

I sit next to a guy wearing an expensive-looking suit, polished shoes, a designer watch and a ruby ring big enough to excite any pawnbroker. He surveys my off-the-rack clothes as though they are mere rags. I stare hard at him.

He smiles. “Can you play the blues?” He points at the harp in my shirt pocket. “Saw the Mississippi saxophone sticking out of your pocket and figured you must.”

“Yeah, I play some. Why?”

He reaches into his inside jacket pocket and pulls out a chromatic harmonica and blows several chords of classical, then changes to down home blues. Inspired, I pull out my harp and join him in belting out some bluesy sounds that changes Starbucks into a different place.

Customers clap their hands and stomp their feet in a beat. Before long, the entire clientele stands around listening to our music. A few even throw money our way.

“My dad used to play this hobo harp,” says a guy in his early twenties, wearing a ripped- up T and jeans. He yanks it from his pocket and joins in. Three of us blowing harps, clapping hands, beating on tables and stamping our feet gets the entire place rocking with the blues. I have such a good time, I forget why I’m here.

We play for two hours. The place is packed and a few hundred bucks lies at our feet. Every time we stop playing, they yell for more and throw money to entice us. I look at the guy in the suit, he looks at me, we both look at the kid in raggedy jeans and we know he can use the dough, so we continue to play.

We finally take a break and get coffee on the house because our music put everyone in a generous mood. We talk and I mention my e-mails and tell about IT.

“My name is Frank,” the guy in the suit says, “and I received the same message and came to see what the heck IT was too.”

“Me too,” says the kid, whose name is Jimmy. “Seems like playing together we really have IT.

“Yeah we do,” I say, “but that’s a coincidence. Can’t be what the message meant. Can it?”

All heads turn. At the entrance, a tall, good-looking blonde has just strutted through wearing a white, almost transparent T-shirt with the letters I. T. blazoned across her massive breasts.

“That’s, why I’m here,” I say and jump up before Frank or Jimmy can move and rush to her side.

“You’re the one I’m here to find.” My eyes glue to the letters IT on her shirt. I explain that we three were waiting to discover IT.

“Me too,” she says. “I’m late. I was supposed to be here at 3. My name is Sue, and I’m a singer. I filled out a form on ‘Wish You Were Here’ three days ago. Then I got received an e-mail to come here to find IT.”

“Me too,” says Frank and Jimmy.

“Let’s do a set,” I say and all three of us play while Sue sings. The patrons fall in love with the sound her vocal cords produce, and her T-shirt. We agree that we’ll be a hit wherever we play. We exchange info and plan to get an agent to get us some local gigs before we record an album of our own. Quick, I know, but we know we have IT.

When I return home there’s a message waiting for me from the Wish You Were Here site. “You have found IT, now there is a price to pay.” Kinda cheesy, I think, charging me for an intro, but I figure it’s worth something for meeting my new group. I ask, “How much?” I watch in amazement as letters appear on my screen one at a time. “Not how much. Who do I have to kill is the correct question.”

I type in, “You’re kidding!”

“No. You got your wish, now you need to fulfill another’s.”

“But I didn’t make a wish.”

“You filled out the form and an algorithm decided what your secret wish was and fulfilled it for you. Now you pay the price or you become the victim of another customer who needs to fulfill his wish to rape and murder a man.”

“You’re Bullshitting me, right?”

“You have 15 minutes to decide.” The screen goes blank. Can this be real? I think of the four of us meeting up at Starbucks and how well we fit together. I always have had a secret wish to be a famous blues musician.

Can I victimize another to fulfill my dream, or do I become a victim to some maniac?  It’s not long before I begin to type, “After carefully considering your proposition, I . . . .