Max was just an ordinary 35-year-old, single man. There was nothing spectacular about him. He had an ordinary job in an ordinary town. He was very content at his stage of life. That was until the man in the black coat started following him.
The office was in its usual Friday afternoon buzz. The weekend was just a few hours away. For a toothpaste salesman, that was something to look forward to. Max was finishing up his last pile of paperwork when he got the eerie feeling that someone was watching him. As he turned around in his chair, he noticed a dark figure with a black coat watching him. The figure suddenly disappeared around the corner.
“Strange dude,” Max muttered.
At the local pub, Max ordered his usual whiskey before going home. That same unease crept up on him. He saw the same dark figured man sitting in a booth nearby watching him with eagle-like eyes. Max got up and went straight to the man in the coat.
“Sir, I beg your pardon, but is there some sort of problem?”
The man looked at him and said, “You can’t hide and you know that.”
“You must have mistaken me with someone else ‘cause I have no idea what you are talking about.”
He turned around and walked back to his place at the bar. He couldn’t help but notice the strange glances people nearby was giving him.
Only one week later, Max was doing his grocery shopping at his favourite supermarket. He was reading the differences between two cans of beans, when someone bumped him from the side. The same man he saw at the bar looked back at him.
“You can’t hide forever Max. No matter where you go, I will always be there.”
“Hey man you seriously have the wrong guy here. I don’t know who you are and I’m not hiding from anything or anyone.”
“Be careful Max. No matter where you hide I will find you.”
Max started to lose his calm. “You better watch it man. This sick game you are playing is not funny. Go stalk someone else.”
“Excuse me sir, is everything alright?”
A small, plump woman was standing nearby, obviously eavesdropping on the conversation.
“Everything’s fine mam. This guy was just leaving.”
Max turned to look at the man in the coat, but only saw a few people looking nervously at him.
“The guy that was standing here. He said some bullshit about me hiding from something.”
“I’m sorry sir but there is no one there.”
“What do you mean? You saying I am crazy?”
“No sir, I’m just saying.”
She scurried off into another aisle. Max left all his groceries and stomped out of the store. No way was he ever going to be humiliated like that again.
Low and behold, when he showed up for work the following week, the man in the coat was waiting for him at the entrance. Without hesitation, Max lunged at the man and gave him a good beating. As onlookers gathered, he gave the man one last fistful of anger.
“What the hell are you doing?”
One of his colleges pulled him up.
“This bloody idiot keeps following me!”
“Who? You are scrambling around on the pavement like a lunatic!”
Max looked at the spot where the supposed man would have been. There was no one there. The crowd was looking at him with curious eyes. Was he going mad? Surely these people saw what he saw?
“You mean there was nobody?”
“Man, you need a vacation,” his college said.
Max blindly walked away from the scene. He went straight home. He took off his shoes and got into bed. Just as he wanted to pull the covers over his head, the man appeared.
“Now you won’t ever hide again.”
“Who are you? What do you want?”
“I will be with you until the day that you die Mad Man Max.”
Up until this day, Max hides in his house. He never comes out. His garden is a mess and litter creates images of dismay on his porch. Inside you will hear Max argue with the man in the coat. The man no one else sees. The kids in the neighbourhood never walk past the house where Mad Man Max lives. No one will ever know the dark figure in the coat. No one except Mad Man Max.