Author : JC Crumpton

The brown-haired man raised his eyelids that felt swollen and heavy to a sky filled with a burning light as it bore pain angrily into the back of his head. A deep crack split the right side of his bottom lip, forcing him to wince and shrink from the pain when he tested it with the tip of his finger. But the fact that he had entirely no recollection of his name momentarily frightened him and forced a shiver to run through his body.

He sat up, pushing his hands against the gravel on the dirt road. The pieces of rock bit into his palms, and a warm breeze began to build until it blew several strands of hair across his eyes. He couldn’t remember why, but he knew that the last time this had happened to him was just before he had met his second wife. And for some reason, that thought relaxed him enough that he felt buoyant and almost exhilarated.

White, chalky powder dusted off his hands when he ran his fingers through his hair and then smoothed it away from his forehead. A quick search of his pockets for some sort of identification turned up nothing other than sixty-five cents in change and the numbered stub of a raffle ticket. After he absently reached for a pack of cigarettes that weren’t there, he realized that he must smoke, or did at one time. The thought made his pulse race, pounding a drum beat in both temples as he stood up and brushed the dirt from his knees.

When he tucked his shirt deeper into his pants, he noticed the crest on his breast pocket—Tommy Hilfiger—and decided that his first name would be Thomas. His watch read 3:16 in the afternoon, the black leather band fitting a little loosely. And he knew that his last name would be Movado.

The fact that his current predicament no longer caused him any anxiety bothered him most. It felt almost natural, planned even, as if he had intentionally perpetuated his own lack of detailed memory. No sense of panic caused his stomach to roil uncontrollably or forced him to swallow back rising heartburn. His heart beat a little quickly more for the want of nicotine than for any concern about his situation—one that would have been considered worrisome by any normal standard. After his initial panic, his thought patterns had become more methodical and structured.

He took the white, silk handkerchief from his back right pocket and quickly buffed his Lorenzo Banfi shoes, rubbing the cloth over it until he had removed all of the yellow dirt. A particularly caked on piece of mud on the inside of his left arch took a glob of spit and a dedicated scratch with his fingernail to dispatch it. But it proved not to be too difficult, and he tossed the handkerchief in the brown grass of the nearby field.

The sun glared down from straight overhead, and he shaded his eyes with his right hand as he looked down the gravel road. A plume of dust lifted off the road where it came over a distant hill at the horizon, approaching quickly as he watched. He started walking, grinning at the prospects presented him by his new name and reset life. A quick glance down revealed a streak of dried blood on the back of his left hand. Everything was going to be perfect this time—if he could only get the blood off his hand before the car arrived.

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