STORY: The Catfish Game

Andrew and Betsey are lounging together in a hotel room after he tricks her into yet another secret date. Andrew is watching HGTV while Betsey is looking through her Tinder profile on her phone.

“How many of these profiles are you?” she asks, looking down at the phone suspiciously.

Andrew grins at her and takes the phone out of her hand. He scrolls through and points out at least six different accounts aside from “Alex.” Betsey looks at each profile carefully.

“Where did you find these pictures?”

“I used random pictures from Facebook. I tried to go for your type in order to get more matches. You know, beefcakes.”

“How many accounts did you make?”

“At least 20. I thought it was enough to get at least one match with ya. It turns out I got seven.”

“I wonder which ones I didn’t go for?”

“If I told ya that now, I won’t be able to use them in the future.”

“Oh boy.”

“What? I like this game. It’s fun. I like pretending to be someone else and then showing up to surprise ya. It gets you every time! It’s hilarious! I’ve taken to calling it The Catfish Game. I’m really starting to get off on it.”

Betsey sighs heavily and puts down the phone.

“At least your alternative identities are all different enough to be entertaining. Every single guy has a different profession and set of hobbies. It’s actually kind of scary how much effort you put into making up your other personalities.”

“I just really like pretending to be someone else.”

“That’s weird, Andrew. You’re weird.”

“It’s not weird! Besides, you enjoy it. It’s because you’re The Writer Extraordinaire! You appreciate having an endless well of ideas following you around everywhere you go. Admit it! You need me. I’m your greatest source of inspiration.”

“It’s coming at a pretty great cost.”

“I know. We’ve really gotta figure out a way to get ya some cash. Let’s figure it out together, right here, right now.”

“I have an idea. Why don’t you just give me the cash in an unmarked envelope and go on your way?”

“Because I’m from South Dakota and I’d rather see ya work for it. It’s important that you work for it. It’ll teach you valuable life lessons about work ethic, responsibility, and independence.”

“I don’t know what you think I’m doing right now. Dealing with you is a chore.”

“Yeah, but you like having me around, so it’s not, like, a job. You need a job. Tell me, what do you like to do for work? You’ve had lots of jobs.”

“I like mixing drinks, hanging out in bars, playing Jeopardy, and talking to old people all day.”

Andrew jumps up and snaps his fingers as if he is the first genius to come up with this idea.

“Oh! I know! You should be a bartender!”

Betsey gives Andrew a look of fake surprise.

“Oh my god!” she exclaims sarcastically. “That totally explains why I’ve been hanging out in random bars around town all day. It’s like I’ve been trying to get a bartending job but no one in town will hire me because I’m Betsey Horton!”

Andrew grins at her.

“That’s okay. There are more interesting opportunities around. You’ll get better stories if you go out of town. You just have to be sober.”

“The most sober I ever was was when I was a bartender. I prefer to set aside a different time for binge drinking. I think we can all figure out the reason why.”

“That’s smart,” he says. “That attitude will get you far. Keep at it.”

“Wow! Thanks Andrew. I’m so glad I have you here to play The Boss!”

“He’s just another one of my many characters. Besides, you need him. Without me, your life is a fucking mess.”

“Thanks.”

“I’m just being honest.”

“Oh, that means so much coming from someone who’s favourite hobby is lying compulsively about his identity.”

“It’s just a game,” Andrew says innocently. “Besides, you’re having fun playing. We’re doing exactly what you wanted to do right now. Isn’t this what you always wanted?”

“I don’t know what I wanted. All I know is that I ended up stuck with you.”

“It’s not so bad. I promise.”

“Easy for you to say. You’re the one who gets to go home to your Perfect HGTV Dream Home and everything that comes with it.”

“I thought I told you not to worry about that anymore.”

“It’s hard not to.”

“Don’t. Please.”

Betsey sighs again and gets up. She takes her slippers out of her overnight bag and shuffles off down the hall to get some ice. For one brief moment, she finds herself reflecting on her life. Finally, she realizes she is still just as lost as she was when she was living out of her car out in the Southwest.

The End

 

 

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