October 3rd
Ricky Tango Does Not Live Here
by ali gordon

It was a long day at work, so I shuffled in the front door feeling largely defeated, the mail from the mailbox clutched in one hand, a brown bag of fast food in the other.

I threw the mail down onto the dining room table and picked through it absently. A bill. A notice from Comcast. A flier from the local Thai restaurant. At the bottom of the pile was a thin envelope, most notable because it had been addressed to my exact address and apartment number but instead of the tidy print of my junk mail, it was handwritten in blue ink. I was intrigued.

The handwritten scrawl read ATTN: Mr. Ricky Tango.

Unfortunately, that was not my name. Curious, I held the envelope up to the light but couldn't make out anything inside. I knew better than to open mail not meant for me, so on my way out to work the next day, I slid the letter back into my mailbox with a post-it attached for the mailman: RICKY TANGO DOES NOT LIVE HERE.

When I got to work, the receptionist looked up from her computer as I pushed open the door. “Hey there, Ricky,” she chirped, turning back to her screen.

I froze.

“What did you call me?” I asked.

“Dennis,” she answered.

“But you didn’t,” I persisted. “You called me Ricky.”

She screwed up her face as if in deep thought.

“Did I?” she mused. “I don’t remember.”

She seemed unconcerned so I didn’t want to press further. I shrugged it off and headed towards my desk.

“Heyyy, Ricky boy,” my desk mate Biff said, with accompanying finger guns. I recoiled.

“You’re fucking with me,” I said. After all, this was Biff, whose real name is actually Franklin, but had insisted by being known as Biff around the office.

Biff pulled his headphones off his ears.

“Who fucked with you?”

“You!” I insisted. “You just called me Ricky, and so did Marie at the front desk.”

“Why did she call you that,” he asked, almost hollowly. If this was his prank, he didn’t seem to be enjoying it much.

“You called me that, too!”

He seemed, for a moment, genuinely perplexed.

“That isn’t your name,” Biff said, and nodded stiffly. “I don’t know why I said that.”

After work I had a date with a girl I’d met a few times at my softball league games. We happily went home together, and things were going wonderfully until she shouted, “oh, Ricky Tango!” in ecstasy.

I wasn’t sure if I was furious or frightened.

“Why did you say that,” I pleaded.

“Why did I shout your name?” she asked, completely unaffected. "Do you not like that?"

I fled to the bathroom to splash water on my face. The mirror frightened me. My reflection seemed to swim in my vision - fractal, blocky - as if downloading an image in higher resolution. What was there was me, maybe, partially me but not enough, not entirely enough to be certain. I couldn’t think the two parallel thoughts at once: that’s me, I wanted to scream, while another part of me was certain it was not. That the man in the mirror was Ricky Tango.

I stumbled away to the sound of my date asking, Ricky? Are you okay? I returned to the mailbox outside, where this all began last night. The mailbox was overflowing with letters: all handwritten, all in blue ink, all addressed to Ricky Tango.

Ricky Tango, please RSVP
Desperately seeking Ricky Tango
Ricky Tango We Need You
Ricky Tango Home Address

Lastly was the letter from last night, with my post-it note still attached: RICKY TANGO DOES NOT LIVE HERE.

“I’m Ricky Tango,” I said, numbly. "I live here.”

And then I opened my mouth to utter Ricky’s famous catchphrase; one I knew with certainty, indelibly etched into my brain. A brain which suddenly could comprehend memories which were not mine, but were now mine, and could be perfectly recalled as the life of Ricky Tango.

“Yeehaw,” I said, as Ricky has always said, and wished Ricky had chosen a better catchphrase.

That I had chosen a better one, I mean.

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