He got the call around midnight. At the time he thought it merely bothersome, just a bored prankster in the night.
“Your name is now Guerhart.”
The number was private. Dennis Robertson did not have the kind of friends to make pranks. They maintained the proper social etiquette lest they lose their position as a friend of Dennis. Dennis was a very serious man and didn’t associate with that kind of riff-raff.
“Who is this?” Dennis mustered in his formal voice.
“Your name is now Guerhart. Good luck.”
Dennis stared at the phone screen, studying the amount of time the prankster has wasted: 0:24. A little more curious than he’d care to admit, Dennis shrugged off this intrusion, determined to not let that punk kid (though it sounded an awful lot like a grown man) carry any further weight in his mind.
When Dennis awoke the next morning it was business as usual. He ate his high-fibre cereal, brewed his coffee, showered, donned his respectable office attire, and threw on his lanyard with pride, before marching off to catch the 8.32 train, everything as normal.
The security guard at Douglas Space reception gave him the due nod. “Beautiful day outside.”
“And I’m stuck in here,” joked Dennis, one of the few jokes he considered reasonable for small talk.
“Well at least try to have a good day, sir,” the security guard smiled.
Dennis took a silent lift up to his office on the fourth floor. Reaching the glass doors he scanned the keypass on his lanyard, only to see Sandra from HR approaching the door. Ever the gentleman, Dennis held it open for her.
“Morning, Guerhart,” she said with a customary Sandra smile.
Dennis’ eyes widened, struck by a strange sense of deja vu. Before he could correct her, Sandra was off around the corner, busying herself in the office maze.
Where had I heard that name before? he wondered to himself. His bearings loosened, Dennis tried to regain some strength in his stride, making his way down the long hall before reaching his pod of office cubicles. As his eyes fell on Ashley, Morgan, John, Kelly, Craig and Amir, a pang of unease shot forth in his stomach.
“Morning, guys,” Dennis said hesitantly, tightening up as he anticipated their responses.
“Morning,” they all responded in varying forms.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Dennis made for his desk, assured of himself once more. Plunking himself down in his trusty office chair, Dennis found his sense of control returning; the feel of the chair, the sight of the two computer screens, everything as normal.
“Guerhart, just got an email from the client. Looks like we’ll need that CP5 report sorted ASAP.” It was Amir, having ghosted over in his usual style and now standing over Dennis’ shoulder, a friendly hand placed that was sometimes anything but.
Dennis turned and gazed wide-eyed up at Amir, stopping him in his tracks. “Everything OK?” asked Amir.
“What did you just call me?”
“The name. You said: Guerhart.”
“Are you OK?”
Dennis then stood, rising to meet Amir eye-to-eye. Immediately he realised this was a mistake, everyone else in the pod stopping their typing and calls to watch as tightly-wound Dennis was finally going to lose it.
“Why did you call me Guerhart? Was it you?”
“What the—what did I do? Your name IS Guerhart.”
“My name is Dennis! That’s the name I was born with, that’s what you’ve all called me since I’ve worked here. This isn’t funny in the slightest, I must say.”
Amir was taken aback. His hand shaking, he raised a finger at Dennis’ chest.
“What are you pointing at?”
Dennis followed the finger all the way down to his lanyard with his business-orientated smile and identification. Printed professionally below this captain-of-industry smile was the name: Guerhart Guerhart. Dennis brought it up to his wild-eyed face and inspected these letters of deception. He rubbed at the letters, as if some forgery would be exposed or his old name—his true name—would magically reappear just the same as it had left. “Can’t be… This isn’t funny anymore guys!” It was at this point that Ricky, the young gun, started pissing himself with laughter.
Dennis brushed past Amir and in a flurry was standing over Ricky, coming up to him with such speed one would suspect Dennis was going to lash out and throw a punch. But Dennis did not throw a punch; he was a gentleman after all, and this flurry of pace was abruptly halted right next to Ricky, the anger in Dennis unsure how it should best proceed.
“What have you done with my pass—where is my pass, Ricky?”
Ricky, still smiling, said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Guerhart.”
“Then why are you laughing?”
“Because you’re always so uptight! I just wondered when you were going to finally crack.”
“Then what happened to my lanyard? Why does it say Guerhart Guerhart?”
Everyone around the cubicle responded in kind, “Because you are Guerhart!”
Dennis stomped his foot on the ground like a spoiled child.
“But Guerhart Guerhart—the same name twice—it’s just ridiculous.”
“Talk to you parents about that one then,” laughed Ricky, a suppression of snickering spreading throughout the other cubicles. Amir was then in Dennis’ face. “Let’s talk about this in my office. Everyone else, back to work!”
Amir offered Guerhart the chair, though this felt less like a manager talking to an exemplary employee and more like a shrink and his twitching patient. Dennis tried to compose himself as he slumped into the chair.
“So, lets start from the beginning, shall we?”
“There was this man, last night, he called me—on the phone—and he said my name was now Guerhart!”
“Did you get this man’s name?”
“No, because he hung up, see, and I thought it was just a prank. But now you all seem to think I’m called Guerhart and I’m just tired off it, because it must be a prank. Otherwise you’re all crazy.”
“Now just calm down a second, Guerhart.”
“It’s Dennis! My name is Dennis Robertson! For goodness sake.”
Amir shakes his head. “No, no, no. Since you’ve been here we’ve known you as Guerhart Guerhart. That’s what it’ll say on all your records here with us.
Dennis reached into his pocket, fumbling for his wallet. “Here, I’ll show it to you,” he says without first checking his wallet…
Driver’s licence 4435661
Bank East Debit Card
4333 4555 5651 9217
MR GUERHART GUERHART
Rochester Fencing club
Member since 2008
Dennis sprayed the deceitful cards on the desk and hung his head in his hands. Amir collected and inspected.
“Guerhart, I think you’d better go home and get yourself sorted out so that you can come in tomorrow, no dramas, okay?”
Dennis wanted to correct him, tell him his name was really Dennis and that he should be addressed as such. He wanted to cry. But all Dennis did was nod and collect his identification and walk straight out the door, avoiding the intrigue of the others who couldn’t help but stare.
As Dennis shambled through the city streets, he scrolled helplessly through his phone, flicking through name after name of associate after associate, but found he was short on folks he could confide in about this bizarre shift in reality he had just experienced.
The thought of calling his mother crossed his mind—such an impulse being only natural—but the fear of Mildred getting his name wrong was not something Dennis was ready to confront. There was no one really, except an old work friend he hadn’t seen since SmartCorp. Feeling the weight of the world bearing down on him, Dennis called old Francis Henderson with butterflies in his stomach.
The phone rang for an excruciatingly long time, a cruel minute of doubt where Dennis resisted long and hard the desire to hang up.
Finally, a voice clicked on.
“Guerhart, it’s been a long time.”
Dennis should’ve hung up while he had the chance.
“Hi Francis, I know this is out of the blue, but I was wondering if I could meet you for lunch today?”
“Highly unorthodox I must admit. I’m at work now but I guess I could make time… how does lunch at 12 sound?”
“Yes, yes of course.”
He had three hours until his rendezvous. He thought about not doing much, just finding a bench to sit and think, catch a breather before it all kicked up again. But that wasn’t like him, that wasn’t how he, Dennis Robertson, acted. Dennis Robertson was a do-er. Dennis Robertson got on with the job and this matter would be no different.
A straightening of his gait and Dennis strode off to the Metro City Police Station, where the perps would be efficiently caught and prosecuted and everything was going to all go back to normal. At the front desk of the Metro Police Department, Dennis had to ring the bell several times before the constable appeared from behind a plain white door to greet him.
“How can I help you, sir?”
Dennis then did his best to explain to the constable how his cards had been changed over and everyone was now referring to him by a name he’d been given by a man on a phone in the middle of the night. The constable’s eyes began to fill up in a spluttering panic, unsure of whether to call the insane asylum or her supervisor.
She settled on her supervisor.
Dennis was then asked to wait in the waiting room for his case to be heard. He sat down along the rows of chairs but soon found himself restless and began pacing back and forth through the waiting room, believing it would calm his nerves. His terse pacing did not make a great first impression on the detective who came out to meet him.
The way Dennis’ eyes bulge in barely restrained fury at this name did him no favours either. “My name is actually Dennis Robertson. That’s what I’ve come here to talk about in fact…”
Dennis was taken to an interrogation room like those he saw in the police procedurals he enjoyed every Tuesday and Thursday: Midsommer Murders and the often vastly more garish Crime Scene LA. He wanted to protest this, but knew resisting would agitate Detective Crossbin, bushy moustache and all. Crossbin offered Dennis a seat, shutting the door behind him.
“Are these not the kind of rooms you interrogate criminals in?”
Crossbin laughed. “Yeah, I guess you’re right, but it’s quite noisy out there today and I want to be able to get the specs on your…peculiar situation here, Mr. Guer—”
“Well, I got this call last night saying that my name was now Guerhart. I took it as a prank but now I find that all my identification cards have been changed and my co-workers seem to recognise me only with this other name, this—”
Dennis cringed at the very sound of it.
“Let’s check these cards of yours then.”
Dennis handed them over. The inspector inspected. As he did this, Dennis fretted over Crossbin’s eyes, trying to read his mind: “What’s this piddly schizo on about? Will I have to restrain him? I wonder if I’ll get to discharge my weapon—that’d be pretty cool. Will a padded cell be enough for this loopy freakazoid?” Crossbin brought Dennis’ driver’s licence up to his attention. He angled the card into the light so Dennis could see the official lamination, worn old.
“See here, this is quite old, and states your name as Guerhart Guerhart. There’s no way this could’ve been tampered with only one night ago. Your address is 8/24-38 Faulkner Road, correct?”
Dennis tried his damnedest not to snap. Crossbin could see this, and in Dennis’ mind Crossbin wanted it. There’s no work outside, the rest of the office is quiet. Crossbin just wanted Dennis to lose it. He was practically begging for it.
“Yes… yes but if you could please just run the number through your systems… The call, please I need to track down whoever called me last night.”
“Was the number private?”
Crossbin scoffed. “Then you’ll have to call your phone provider.”
“But you’re the detective! A crime has been committed!”
“Look, as far as I can see, no crime has been committed. If I run your driver’s licence through our ID system and it shows up as Guerhart Guerhart that’ll prove it, won’t it?” Crossbin then relaxed. “They can’t have changed it on our end, now could they?” His voice softened at the end like he was talking to a child.
Dennis anticipated another embarrassing dead-end and his hands began to shake again, but what choice did he have?
“Yes. Please. Just do it.”
Crossbin left him in there alone for an excruciatingly long five minutes. Dennis imagined Crossbin snickering away as his story was shared round the department where just another circle of snide jokesters would laugh at him, belittling his weird, little problem. Dennis unbuttoned his top button and loosened his tie, a true sign of the times at hand. Maybe if he begged, Crossbin would do his job and call Dennis’ provider.
When Crossbin returned, he shook his head, feigning dismay.
“Do you have any family you’d like to speak to, maybe just to confirm all this?”
Dennis trembled all over, his heart pounding, as he knew the logical next step, a step that would crush all sense of him if found failing. “My mother… I was hoping it wouldn’t have to come to that. I just don’t know if I could stand hearing that wretched name from her.”
“If you like, I could call her.”
Dennis handed Crossbin his mobile.
“Would you say your mother is of sound mind?” asked Crossbin, now clearly enjoying himself.
There was a painful silence until Mildred answered the phone.
Crossbin was so confident he used Dennis’ adopted surname right off the bat. “Hi Mrs Guerhart, this is Detective Peter Crossbin from Metro Police how are you today…no there’s nothing wrong, I’ve just got your son here and he’d like to have a word with you. He’s claiming that his name is not Guerhart Guerhart and is in fact a… what name did you say it was?”
“Right, he says it’s some other name. Would you like to talk to your son about this Mrs. Guerhart? Okay, thank you. I’ll put him on now.”
Crossbin handed Dennis the phone.
“Here, talk to your mummy.”
Dennis slowly pulled it up to his ear. He didn’t say anything for a while before muttering out the softest “mother” he’d ever spoken. “Guerhart, what’s going on? Why did that man say you changed your name?”
“Mother, my name is Dennis Robertson. Your name is Mildred Robertson. Father… Father’s name was Bruce Robertson.”
“Gerty, what’s gotten into you? Has someone hit you over the head? We’re Guerharts. We have been since forever.”
“No, Mother!” Dennis shouted into the phone like a child. “No, it’s not true. There was a man, last night, he called and said my name was now Guerhart and now he’s even got you convinced your surname is Guerhart!”
“That doesn’t make any sense, Gerty.” His mother was now weeping. “What have they done to you? My poor boy. I named you, Gerty, I sang you lullabies when you were small enough to fit in my arms…”
“Mother, did someone call you last night? A man?”
“What, I don’t know. Why would a man call me? That is so improper. What are you talking about, Gerty?”
Dennis didn’t answer her. His mind shut off. The nightmare was real. Pinching himself was useless. Resistance was useless.
“Gerty. Come visit your mother. We can talk about this.”
“Don’t call me by that fucking name!” screamed Dennis, hanging up.
Crossbin tensed up, ready to let loose if Dennis became feral.
“No way to speak to your dear mother now is it?”
Dennis tried to reset, reconfigure. He did his tie up once more, tears bubbling at the edge. “If you’re not going to help me, I guess I’ll have to do it myself then.”
His walk out of the police station was painfully awkward. He imagined a chorus of laughter erupting once he’d left the building and Crossbin had made himself the big man. He also imagined returning with a machine gun and doing some awful things to shut them up.
Once outside, his face finally cracked and Dennis started to sob uncontrollably. Many people walking past noticed Dennis but dared not approach. Eventually, an elderly woman came to his aid after seeing his pain. She saw him crying outside the police station and put two and two together. “My poor boy. What has happened, are you okay?”
Dennis debated telling her, before his face began to well up and he accepted her hug, sobbing into her shoulder. “It’s going to be all right, Gerty. Don’t you wor—”
Dennis pushed her off him. “What did you call me?” he interrogated the old spinster. The woman was dumfounded, her eyes filled with fear. “I called you Honey, what—WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH YOU!” And then she readjusted her scarf and stormed off, leaving Dennis the recipient of more embarrassing stares. The old woman has walked off in the direction he needed to go. Dennis meekly went the other way.
Francis’ trademark smile left him immediately after he spotted Guerhart at the table with a drink in a short glass that may very well be alcoholic. Guerhart stood to greet him, but his face was all over, like it’s been constantly pinched and all his features were about to come undone. “Guerhart, how are you going? How long has it been, sire?” Guerhart seemed to cringe at this.
“I’m afraid I’m in a real tight spot and I don’t know if you can help me… In fact I don’t know if I can even tell you what it is now because it’ll make me sound crazy and I don’t want you to think I’ve lost the bloody plot.”
“Whoa, hang on there, Guerhart. What’s going on? Are you having some kind of financial troubles?”
“I’m having an identity crisis, Francis.”
Francis did a double take at this. A bore Guerhart could sometimes be, but an assured bore with no lack of forthrightness. “What happened?”
“My name is Dennis Robertson. In my mind, I’ve gone by this name all my life. And then last night I get a call from someone, a man, who tells me that my name is now this Guerhart Guerhart…” Guerhart watches as Francis laps this up, processing it into a logic that only lends itself to one prognosis: cuckoo.
“And everywhere I go, everyone I’ve known, now sees me as this Guerhart Guerhart.”
Francis went quiet for a long while. Dennis’ eyes darted all over him attentively, searching for bodily cues as to what Francis was thinking. In truth, all he needed to do was look in Francis’ eyes to know that any comfort would not be forthcoming.
“How many times have you told this story? More importantly, have you shared this around at your place of work?”
“I only found all this out at work.”
“And how many know?”
“The whole office.”
“You made a scene, didn’t you?”
“Christ. Have you said things that can be cleared up?”
“They all thought I was crazy.”
“And what did your boss say? Have they let you go?”
“No, he—no they did not let me go!”
“Well what did he say?”
“That I should take a day off and come back into work tomorrow.”
“Good, that’s good. You can pass this off as just a stress-related snap. If you apologise to everyone and ensure it won’t happen again then you should be able to keep your job.”
“But what about my name?”
“I don’t understand.”
“My name is not Guerhart. Someone has taken my real name and replaced it with this stupid, German-sounding farce.”
“Yes but if you keep it, you’ll keep your job.”
Dennis jerked back in the chair, his desperate state burning into indignation.
“I think I’m going crazy and you’re concerned about me keeping my job?”
“I don’t know what to tell you, Guerhart. For as long as I remember, I’ve known you as Guerhart. So either I’m crazy, or you are, and seeing as how it’s your name, I’m guessing it isn’t me. We used to enjoy talking business; that was the nature of our friendship. You always came to me for advice and in this case, the same rules should apply, otherwise I can’t help you.”
Dennis’ face went blank. Like the calm before the storm, there was a brief moment of peace before all hell broke loose. Dennis stood up and then slapped Francis in the face. It was a very girly slap. Dennis had never been in a fight outside of fencing and the slap was a reflection of this. Francis, having taken a few boxing classes at his gym for a short period a couple of years ago, jabbed Dennis in the face before the two were bundled up in a pathetic ball of flailing arms and tie pulling. Everyone in the restaurant had ceased what they were doing and taken out their phones to record these two heavyweights going at it. It was not long before they had fallen to the ground; Dennis’ slaps remaining as useless as ever, until Francis grabbed the upper hand by landing a hook to the ribs. Luckily they were pulled apart by the wait staff before Francis could get into a rhythm. Dennis’ collar on his shirt has been badly frayed and Francis’ tie has been tightened into a tiny, aesthetically displeasing knot. They stared each other down, each unsure of where to go from here. The attention was too much for Dennis to handle and he stumbled backward until the staff let him go. Francis, now taken with madness, began howling, “Guerhart! Guerhart! Guerhart!” as Dennis fled the restaurant and the rest of the city that had turned on him.
Dennis paced around his living room, his mobile in his hand. A sheet of paper had been set down on the table, detailing a multitude of conspiratorial accusations. Finally he pressed call and waited, each ring making his bladder antsy.
A man picked up.
“StralComm Records, you’re speaking with John.”
“Yes, hi my name is… Guerhart Guerhart and I received a call last night from a private number. I believe it to be a malicious call and I would like to obtain a transcript of the conversation, for evidence in a court of law. I’ve read up and seen that I need to provide you with my number, time of call and any other details.”
“Absolutely, I can help you with that. Let’s start with your number and the time of the call.”
“Of course, my number is 0412 191 362 and I was contacted at
12.04 pm on the 11/08… the call was obviously a private number.”
“And can I grab your address?”
“Yes its 8/24-38 Faulkner Road, Rochester.”
“Okay, yep. I’ve verified you in the system. So before I send this information off to our police rep, do you have any suspicions as to who may be calling you?”
“No. I have no idea.”
“Okay, and just one other question.”
“Do you like your new name?”
Dennis felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up. It was only as he processed the voice, replayed it inside his head, that he finally realised who was speaking. “It’s you!”
There was a cackle of laughter, high-pitched, as if it were the sound bite of a mad clown or a demonic hyena.
Fury flooded Dennis’ brain. It surged all through his body, ready to pop all blood vessels and leave enough steam to power a steam-trained engine into space if it were so inclined. Dennis readied his verbal assault but before a word was launched the phone cut dead.
As Dennis came to realise this, he felt his chest tightening. It’s a heart attack, he thought. This was it, justice be damned. He collapsed to the floor, ready to give up, only to find after a while nothing was happening to him. His heart rate slowed. He was fine.
There was nothing wrong in the whole wide world, nothing wrong except his little name.
When Dennis was quite sure he hadn’t had a heart attack, he dialled again. This time he was routed to a prompter that asked him to choose from four options. From there he was offered an additional four options and then another four, until the Russian doll of a phone system finally connected him through.
“I’m sorry we don’t have a record of you calling this number.”
“What did this man sound like?”
“We can lodge a report with the police but as we don’t have a record we’re not too sure if it will help…”
There were more details, more utterances of a name that wasn’t his, but it all counted for nothing in the end.
Dennis waited patiently, flipping through an old Time magazine, reading about a civil war that seemed tragic and newsworthy at the time but was now largely forgotten by the wider world, despite the fact it was most definitely still raging.
He had avoided speaking with the other person in the waiting room just as much as the other person has avoided speaking to him. There was an acknowledgement at the beginning but nothing more than that. And once the other man was called in, Dennis was able to relax and get back to preparing inside his head recounting the crazy journey he’s been on.
It wasn’t long before Dennis heard the man becoming agitated in the therapist’s room. Dennis glanced at the receptionist but she seemed to pay it no mind. Then there was a voice on the intercom from the receptionist’s desk and the receptionist burst into action, making an urgent call. “We need you up here now!”
Dennis was on the edge of his seat as he heard footsteps barrelling towards the front door while the yelling in the therapist’s room continued to grow louder. The therapist swung open her door at the same time a couple of surly security guards dressed in black emerged through the front entrance and rushed to pry the pleading patient from her. Dennis just stared at the man, who pleaded for reason as the guards carried him by his arms and legs back through the front door, while the whole time he yelled, “But its not my name! It’s not my name! It’s a stupid name!”
Before Dennis could react, the therapist had readjusted her coat and asked him to join her in her office.
Dennis sat down on the chair he had thought would be a couch.
The therapist greeted him with a dulcet, caring tone that betrayed the fact she just had a man removed from her office, kicking and screaming.
“What was that?” asked Dennis.
“The man. Why was he screaming, ‘That’s not my name’, over and over again?”
“Oh—that!” she acted surprised. “That’s nothing.”
Dennis had shaken his utter shock and was now making the connections. His eyes lit up. “No, it’s not nothing. That man, he was saying, ‘that’s not my name’. What happened to him? What did he say his name was? It’s very important that you tell me what happened to him because I think the exact same thing has happened to me.”
The therapist did not respond and they stared at one another in an intense silence. Dennis glanced at the door and calculated in his head the chances of finding that man if he were to run out the door.
He stood up.
The therapist stood up too.
Dennis then bolted for the door. He gripped the handle and pushed and pulled but the door was locked. “Open it,” he demanded.
The therapist was slow to rise, slow to walk and slow to produce her keys, despite Dennis stomping his foot on the ground. By the time the door was opened he found the two security guards with their arms folded, standing at the entrance, blocking the path.
“I’d like to help you,” said the therapist, “but I can’t do that if you’re being this way. Please, come back into my office and we’ll talk about it.”
Dennis calculated his chances of maneuvering past the two foreboding amateur bodybuilders. He decided his chances were not good.
His shoulders dropped and he dragged his cowardly feet back into the office where the therapist was now once again smiling.
“Excellent stuff. Now why don’t you take a seat? That’s good. Now we can begin.”
“What was his name?”
“The man who was just kicked out of here.”
“Oh yes, of course.”
“What happened to him?”
“Oh, I can’t tell you that. It’s confidential.”
“Well what about his name?”
“I’m afraid I can’t tell you that either. Doctor-patient confidentiality and all that.”
“It’s just a name.”
“Is it though? I would think a name says a lot about someone.”
Dennis studied her face, trying to see if she was in on the whole conspiracy and that last sentence was just to turn the knife, but the lady gave nothing away but a warped sense of compassion.
“Now, why don’t we talk about why you’re here today?”
Dennis sighed. “I’m here because someone stole my name.”
“And how did they do that?”
“By changing all of my cards—all my details—to this new name; by replacing the memories of everyone whom I’ve ever known or met to think that my name is Guerhart Guerhart. A stupid, stupid German name. I’m not even German. And whenever I try to change my name, legally claim it back, they say I can’t, they say I’ve already changed it: from Guerhart to Guerhart. It doesn’t make any damn sense. Not one bit. I’m the only one who knows the truth.”
“How does it feel to know this truth?”
Dennis looked at her with tired eyes. “Lonely.”
“Wouldn’t it be better to accept the other truth? Swim with the current, so to speak?”
“But they’re wrong.”
“But who’s the one losing out because of this? Who has to explain this awfully puzzling tale every time he meets someone? I can’t imagine it would be well received.”
“What would you have me do?”
“Well, in my professional opinion, I think you should stop complaining about your name. There are a lot worse things to worry about, honestly. I think you should just accept it. Stop acting like a little bitch.”
She didn’t say anything after that; instead just letting her advice stew uncomfortably in Dennis. Dennis left in silence after the therapist, a benevolent smile wrapped around her face, got up and showed him to the door. Before she closed her door, she said to him, “It’s a mad world, Guerhart, and we must all play our part.”
Guerhart resigned from his job soon after the incident. Luckily he was soon able to find employment in an industry he much preferred. He eventually came to decide that a new name meant the opportunity to be a new person. He stopped being so uptight. He undid his top button. He took up bike riding and started learning the guitar, something he had always wanted to do but felt was not ‘him’. He wasn’t so good on the guitar, but that was okay too, because it was just for fun.
He loosened up at work too. It wasn’t about the bottom line anymore. It was about getting to know everyone he worked with. Finding out what they liked, what they didn’t, what they got up to outside of working hours. He even tried his hand at being funny, joking that he was an uptight German Commandant in another life. His accent was awkward at first, but he was okay with that too, and when he got better at it, the others joked along with him.
Soon he was getting invited out to Friday night karaoke, and he even belted out some ‘99 Red Balloons’ to the delight of his coworkers, his friends. They started calling him Gerty, and he started to like it…
And when he got another call around midnight, and the man on the other end said, “You’re name is now Bfana Bfana,” well Gerty just said to him, “Sure, buddy. Why not?