Stanley sat down on the streets, ready to commence begging for the new day. Yesterday was a good day as he raked in fifty dollars. He also got food and some kind soul brought him hot chocolate. Yeah, yesterday was a really great day for Stanley.
He sat down at the street corner and looked around. It was still early as people were now about to wake up to get ready for work. He wondered what he would come up with today.
He settled down and out of the corner of his eye, he noticed another beggar coming his way. He knew who it was. Lester, his rival in all things begging. But he paid him no mind.
Begging was an art, a science. Science and art was in everything and he certainly knew how to apply these to his beggalicious ways.
“Yo Stanley,” Lester greeted. “How’s you today?”
“I’m good,” Stanley shrugged. “What you want?”
“Nun,” Lester grunted. “Jus been curtus is all.”
“Aight,” Stanley nodded and turned away. Lester still stood there and Stanley wanted to know why he wasn’t leaving.
“Dur a problem Lester?” Stanley asked when he realised that Lester was not moving.
“Naw,” Lester said, “no problem.”
“So why you still standing dur?” asked Stanley.
Lester hesitated a moment. He held onto his hat and looked around nervously, as if he was carrying a secret so terrifying that he did not know what to do with himself.
“I know you man,” Lester said, staring at Stanley blankly.
“What you mean by that?” asked Stanley.
Lester rubbed his hat and looked down at the ground. “I know you.”
“Look man, I don’t know what you harping on ’bout but I tinks you must be mistaken,” Stanley said to him.
“No, no. I ain’t mistaken,” Lester went on.
“So where says you know me from?” Stanley asked him.
“You that billionaire guy from the TV.” Lester fidgeted and looked at the ground.
“You drunk?!” snorted Stanley. “I ain’t no billionaire. If I was a billionaire, woulds I be living here on the streets?”
“Well,” Lester started, “I don’t know.”
“See man, don’t be spouting these nonsense. I ain’t no billionaire so don’t be spreading that vicious rumour aight?” Stanley looked at him.
Lester nodded. Yet, he was not convinced. In his heart he believed that Stanley was the billionaire car maker Stanford Truman. But what he couldn’t figure out was why he would be living like a beggar. It’s true that Stanley had skills in working people, skills like no other beggar. But not only that, it was the way in which he carried about himself. It was as if he had a certain…aura about him.
Lester vowed to get to the bottom of it. He knew that Stanley was Stanford. He just needed to know why he was pretending to be a beggar.
Stanley watched Lester out of the corner of his eye as they both made their way to the street corner. He was surprised that Lester would think that he was the billionaire Stanford.
They did their usual begging. However, Stanley toned it down for the day. He did not want people getting more and more suspicious. Well, he did not want Lester to get more suspicious of him. It made him uneasy.
The next day, he didn’t see Lester so he was relieved. However, he wondered about what Lester had told him. He decided to see what information he could find on this Stanford Truman fellow that he was talking about.
As luck would have it, he found an old magazine with Stanford’s picture on it and sure enough, Lester was right. He did look exactly like the guy in the picture. Or was it the other way around?
This guy was rich off of his stellar investing skills and car making business. Stanley wondered if he would be able to meet him. Maybe, he thought, they were long, lost twin brothers.
He was no longer hungry as these thoughts filled his head. As he went through the magazine, there was an interview done with Stanford. He read it and realised that Stanford’s wife had been murdered and the police had never solved the crime.
Such a pity thought Stanley. He then tried to remember his past and for some reason, his memory became hazy and he felt dizzy. As he grabbed onto the wall to support himself, Lester came into view and held him before he fell to the ground.
“You’s aight Stanley?” he asked concerned. “Yur don’t look all right.”
Stanley shrugged slightly. “I’m fine. Just dizzy from not eating is all,” he responded.
“Let’s go get sum tuh eat,” Lester said and he went and got them a couple of sandwiches and some hot chocolate. They sat on a bench and ate in silence. The warmth of the hot chocolate awakened Stanley’s senses. It really hit the spot.
“Tanks Lester,” he said. He took a couple more sips of the hot chocolate and then said hesitantly, “You were right Lester.”
“Huh?” Lester stared at him blankly.
“About the resemblance,” Stanley explained, “about the resemblance between me and that Stanford guy.”
“Aww man,” Lester cried. “Is dat why you’s feeling down? Don’t worry ’bout it man, it’s just a crazy coincidence, which by the way, yuh should feel happy ’bout.”
“Ah don’t know ’bout that happy feeling, jus feels…weird teh look like someone else,” Stanley said glumly.
“Man, don’t sweat it,” Lester said smiling. “Yuh should be happy dat yuh look like a billionaire. Yer could even take his place, if yer know what I mean,” he winked.
Stanley listened to Lester’s last remark. He never thought about it. But one thing that did resonate with him was the fact that Stanford’s wife was murdered. For some reason, it weighed on him heavily.
That night, he could not sleep. For some strange reason, the resemblance bothered him. The interview was done by Retsel Simmons, a very popular journalist, one who was renowned for going undercover and getting his hands dirty just to get that diamond of a story. It was strange that he had decided to do such a mundane interview of Stanford Truman.
When he finally fell asleep he dreamt of dead bodies and blood. Ever since Lester pointed out this resemblance, Stanley’s life started to do some flips. His ordinary life of begging suddenly became distant.
For the next few days, Lester seemed to Stanley, quite cheerful. He didn’t know why, but that cheerfulness seemed to bother him.
One day, while they were sitting to have a bite before returning to begdom, Lester started talking about Stanford’s murdered wife. Stanley didn’t know why, but it bothered him. He wanted to tell Lester to stop but he just didn’t have the energy.
That night, as they were about to sleep, Lester brought it up again. This time Stanley reacted. He didn’t mean to do it but suddenly he jumped on top of Lester and choked him. He choked him so hard he heard Lester’s neck pop.
When he heard that, it jolted him out of his trance and he looked down on Lester’s lifeless form. He couldn’t explain it, but he felt very satisfied. Then, he felt someone hit him from behind and he knocked out.
“Sir! Sir! Wake up Sir!” Stanley heard a voice call out to him. It was difficult for him to open his eyes. When he finally did, he saw two faces looking at him earnestly and with concerned.
“He’s awake,” a lady sighed in relief. “Thank God he’s okay.”
Stanley tried to sit up but a sharp pain shot through his head and he laid back down.
“Where…am I?” he asked.
“You’re home Sir,” the guy replied.
“Home? What you talkin ’bout? I ain’t got no home,” Stanley said.
The lady realised what was going on and said, “Call the doctor.”
Soon, the doctor came and all she said was one word, “Claudette.”
And with that, Stanford’s hypnosis came to an end. He had accomplished what he set out to do, get revenge on the person, who had taken his wife away from him.