Paulson glided down the stairs of his apartment complex on a cloud, imagining all the possible permutations his adventure could take. Visions of racing down streets of some imagined city, wearing something dark and mysterious did an ephemeral glide through his inner vision. While passing through the heavy doors of the lobby, he imagined what other doors he might see that day, what could lie on the other side of those doors for someone such as himself-Someone with nothing to lose, willing to risk all, which wasn’t much, if he was honest with himself. But it was the willingness to act that was important, wasn’t it? Waiting at the bus stop, he briefly entertained thoughts of sexual encounters with lovely and dangerous women. The bus’ s screeching brakes and cloud of exhaust fumes woke him from his idle dreaming, and as he stepped up to pay his toll, Paulson felt a smile transform his face for the first time in years. Turning to sit down, Paulson began examining his options. Both sides of the bus were almost full. The only seats left were at the front of the bus, where, no matter how old you were, you knew you were uncool if you sat there. True to form, the bus jolted forward with no warning to its harried passengers, spilling drinks and papers alike for all unsuspecting riders. The sudden motion catapulted him into the first seat on his left, and with relief, Paulson thanked the Universe for making the decision for him.
Paulson Tanger was cursed with an adventurous name. While his name was out visiting exotic locales around the globe, saving busty women from dire situations, rescuing whole governments, entire businesses, and restoring the faith of the people, he…didn’t. Paulson’s physical presence sat on his couch wearing boxers that lacked the elasticity of its newer counterparts, eating leftover Chinese food from the rattling fridge occupying an ignoble corner of his lamentable apartment, its tired walls heaving silent sighs over the humdrum life of its occupant. At the DMV, the tired, angry employee behind the counter telling him his paperwork was wrong and that he needed that form, not this form, and that the line he needed was over there, always spared his driver’s license a skeptical glance, looking from his name to his face with lizard-like movements of the eye, as if they didn’t believe such a slight, unassuming man could have the name Paulson Tanger, full of such promise and mystery. Though he often considered changing his name, in the end he always decided to keep it. Because even though he hated his name, he admitted to himself that the name saved him from a rather stunning level of monotony. He felt it in every day that passed: He was completely and utterly normal. Standing naked in front of a full-length mirror, his unsmiling face and pale limbs reflected back at him, Paulson struggled to find something that shone beyond his inescapable brownness. Nondescript, light brown hair that fell negligently over his brow, average brown eyes. Brown freckles and moles dusting pale skin.
It’s a quiet night. The corner of Willard and James is ominously dark. The traffic lights that we demanded have finally been approved by the city, and are set to go up tomorrow. As soon as people saw what happened to you, they rose up like a tsunami. I had eight hundred and fourty seven signatures within a day of your wake. I only needed five hundred. The city, of course, responds much slower, so it’s taken another year for it to actually get put into effect. The whole ordeal has brought the town together. People are friends again. Neighborhood parties. Just like it used to be. I just wish you were here to see it, brother.