You Dear, Sweet Man
by Thomas Neviaser
Genre: Psychological Suspense
The subway ad is enticing. One might even consider it elegant as well. A beautiful woman, sitting atop a desk in a sparsely decorated office, staring directly at Bobby Fastow, a blue collar worker, on his way to his monotonous yet physically exhausting job. The photograph has an unusual charisma, a spectacular presence. It seemingly leaps off and out of the poster.
Bobby Fastow intensely absorbs the information directed at him. BurgerBlast, his favorite fast food restaurant, famous for quick service and reliable, if not artery-choking fare, is announcing a new name and a new direction.
But, in the world of advertising, nothing is as it seems. What if the line that separates an advertisement from the real world were erased? What if an image stepped from an ad and beckoned you to follow it back, inviting you to melt into its world. Could you resist? Bobby Fastow couldn't, and his decision would turn his world upside down.
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Bobby had noticed advertisements posted here many times before, but this ad seemed to leap out of its metal frame and demand his attention. Bobby Fastow had ridden the subway to and from work for most of his adult life. As a low-to-middle-income, unskilled factory worker with a wife and two daughters, he had struggled from paycheck to paycheck. Sometimes, he felt there was something unfair about it all. It didn’t matter if his knees ached, he had a terrible cold, he felt down and out, or
there was a foot of snow on the ground. No circumstance seemed to warrant a day off because every dollar earned was a dollar needed for survival.
So, Monday through Friday, he boarded the 6:04 a.m. subway, sat down in whatever seat was available, nodded his head, and tried to catch as much shuteye as possible. “Shuteye” was different from sleep. Bobby didn’t always nod off because he was tired, but closing his eyes meant he could shut out and escape the real world around him and enter another level of consciousness more of his choosing.
Today, he was going to close his eyes, but there, in front of him, was an advertisement illustrating a most attractive woman, whose features were conjuring up feelings he’d had only when younger. He let his overweight body slide forward in his seat, rested the back of his head on the subway window behind him, and closed his eyes. He imagined this woman sitting across from him in a bar.
She’s reaching across the table and taking my hand, bringing it to her lips, then lowering my hand onto her thigh, and leaning slowly forward, puckering her lips.
The emotion from this fantasy was so inviting, almost real. Maybe too unbelievably real for Bobby Fastow!
Just before her lips touched his, the subway swayed and jarred his eyes open. He knew from experience that another stop was imminent. Suddenly anxious, Bobby checked the station sign to be sure he hadn’t missed his stop. He was not sure how long he had been daydreaming.
Noticing he had a few stops remaining, he wiped his damp, shiny forehead, sighed with relief, and straightened his bulbous body back upright in his seat. He had gone into this make-believe world too deeply several times over the years and passed by his destination. It wasn’t the embarrassment, hassle, or frustration of getting back to his exit that bothered him but the prolonged ribbing he had to endure from his fellow employees for being late. This was what he really dreaded. He had never
been late in his twenty-plus years of work.
“Get Fit, Eat Fast Food!” What in the hell is that supposed to mean?”
Bobby let his gaze drift from the headline to the photograph beneath it depicting a young, strikingly slender woman in her late twenties. She was dressed in a black pantsuit and white blouse with ruffles around her neck. He noticed her silky nylons but was surprised she had no shoes on. She was sitting at the end of a long oak conference table with her legs crossed, Indian-style, her right elbow placed on her knee, her forearm and hand supporting her chin. The table was not unique and could have
been found in countless board rooms across the country. Bobby gazed at her face: beautiful, soft, but with minimal makeup. She was looking at the other end of the table at a hamburger and fries smothered in ketchup. Below the photo were dishes of salad, fruit, and broiled chicken, and a
message that read:
The Food You Crave Without the Guilt
We will select the finest ingredients with your tastes and health in mind.
We will make your dining choices easier by providing delicious and nutritious choices to suit all tastes and budgets.
Today, Fit’n’Fast, Inc. is synonymous with the words healthy dining, quality food, and of course, our fast, personal service. Our ability to deliver unique, quality foods in a time-sensitive, fast, and casual
environment is unrivaled.
(Formerly BurgerBlast, Inc.)
Bobby assumed the model ate the healthy selections rather than the traditional burger and fries. That certainly seemed to be the obvious message the ad meant to convey; however, Bobby was amazed that BurgerBlast, Inc., the fast-food takeout restaurant that had hawked greasy burgers, fries doused in sugar, and gaseous sodas for years had now become FitnFast, Inc., a health-conscious corporation.
In spite of its new name, Bobby knew he would continue to refer to he restaurant as The Greasy Spoon. He knew it well because he had eaten hundreds of meals at BurgerBlast, Inc., and now it was copying other restaurants of its type and advertising the hell out of it. He also knew that hundreds of gullible folks would go to the restaurant to stand in line and soon become captives of the smell of their greasy burgers and fries and conveniently forget the healthy food.
It has to be a ploy to get them into the joint.
~ ~ ~
The forty-six-minute subway ride was over, and Bobby exited the subway, along with the hordes of other nine-to-five working stiffs, to enter his private purgatory of work orders, printing presses, and
drudgery. This was his world, where nothing changed from day to day and everyone watched the clock until quitting time.
The memory of that young woman on the conference table with no shoes continued to stir his imagination. As he exited the subway terminal and walked up the concrete steps to the street, the heat of the day engulfed him.
It’s going to be a hot one today.
As he hustled across the street and into the Page Newspaper Company’s print shop, the image of the ad and the woman to whom he had been so physically attracted just minutes ago gradually disappeared…
—but not for long.
Dr. Neviaser is proud of his orthopedic guide book for the lay person, THE WAY I SEE IT: A Head-to-Toe Guide Guide To Common Orthopaedic Conditions and his first novel, YOU DEAR SWEET MAN.
He is now especially excited to introduce to his new novel, THE MYSTERY OF FLIGHT 2222,
to be published this 2018 summer.
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I’ve written two novels now. My first was YOU DEAR SWEET MAN. The story is based upon an advertisement I saw while riding a subway. I don’t remember the company that promoted it, but the photo of an oval conference table upon which sat a professionally looking woman contemplating a healthy lunch struck me as so vivid I wondered how exciting it would be if she moved within the poster. I kept waiting for her to make some action even if it were miniscule. Even days later, I was captivated by this woman being so life-like. That is when I decided to write a short story about a woman in an ad seducing a vulnerable rider.
Well, 66,000 words later, I finished the story. This was my first attempt to write anything more than a short story compendium ( THE COMB IN THE URINAL and Other Perplexities of Life) and another little guide book for men (MAN’S UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO THE USE OF HIS GARAGE). After all I am a retired orthopedic surgeon and now I had time to stop and smell the flowers and give up my knife for a word processor. Interestingly, I heard how difficult many authors found it difficult to write their first novel, but It seemed to come to me so quick that the faster I wrote, the faster the characters came on as real and the story plot line developed. The more I wrote, the more ideas came to mind, and all I had to do was write them down.
In fact, now that I re-read the manuscript from time to time, I can hardly believe I wrote those words. The antagonist, Bobby Fastow, has many of my own quirks within him. I don’t think he’s me, but some of his actions and thoughts have been mine many times in my life. Charles Hamilton’s personality changes as he realizes he needs others in his life, and Freddie and Preston are just good, educated, freaky, lovable nerds. Samantha, the girl on the cover, is a loner striving to create a life of her own but uses her psychic abilities totally for evil than good.
Starting out, I had no outline, no specific ending in mind, and minimal characters to start; so I broke all the rules of writing. I’m sure, some people who read this book will say, this guy didn’t know how to write, but so far, the book has some pretty good reviews. Have I made a bunch of money? No. Marketing is really difficult, and there are a lot of people out there who will tell you how to do it, charge you to help or do so, and they make the money, not us. Could I have done better? Yes, I know a few things now that I was clueless about then, for sure.
I guess the point of all of this is: if you have just an inkling of an idea, the passion to embellish it, go ahead. No one can tell you everything to make it a best seller, but it should be fun and give you an impetus to go forward and learn. That’s what I did, and now I have finished and about to publish my second novel, THE MYSTERY OF FLIGHT 2222.
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