For three weeks, all the mirrors in my house had been turned to face the wall. Perhaps, I speculated, he would lose interest and leave me alone. He had been there all along of course, but I never really considered him anything more than a figment of my imagination. I pictured him sniggering at my inability to exorcise him, waiting and waiting for that day when I could pluck up the courage to face him again. Today was that day.
Oh yes, I thought of the obvious many times, took a hammer to every mirror in my house, watching him fragment and tumble to the ground. But, no matter how many times I smashed the scattered pieces; there was I tiny slither of him staring back up at me.
He was there in shop windows, crawling over parked cars and looming in their hubs, his eye expanding as I bent to confront him. I’ve tried to cook him in the microwave, tumble him to death in my dryer, lose him in a revolving door. … I can’t begin to explain how enraged I get when he sticks to me like fly paper. He got me banned from using public transport four weeks ago, simply because he was too cowardly to show himself to others. At least if I had mirrors, I could keep him prisoner. That was a little recompense.
Three cans of Carling and a spliff later, I flipped the first mirror. At first, I thought he’d gone—moved on to haunt some other innocent soul, but as the angle grew shallower, he slipped back into view.
“Fucking arsehole. Leave me alone!”
As usual, he mouthed the very same words.
I ran through the house, approached the second mirror, thinking that he would struggle to keep up, and turned that too. No such luck! ‘How is it possible?’ I thought. He couldn’t know where I’m going or what I’m going to do next. Again, I ran through the house, but this time I kept running. Into the living room, up the stairs, into the bathroom, back down the stairs, out into the garden, back to the living room and into the kitchen, where I flipped the third mirror. There he was. One thing I noticed though. Something I never noted before: Clearly, it had taken it out of him. There was sweat at his brow.
“Not so fit?”
I stepped away from the mirror and jogged on the spot, keeping it up as long as I could, before jumping back in front of the mirror again. I was right! He looked exhausted, his rheumy eyes running with tears, jaw slack, skin glossy. Perhaps he was mortal after all.
I decided it was time to take drastic action. I headed to my bedroom where I kept my handgun and took it from the drawer. As I checked the magazine for bullets, I smiled to myself. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? For the first time in months, I felt in control as I approached the bedroom mirror and nonchalantly turned it. He was smiling, but not for long.
“Think you’re clever, don’t ya…”
I aimed the gun straight at his head, looking through the sight. To my astonishment, he had a gun too and was aiming it straight back at me. This was going to be trickier than I imagined. My gun and his gun were at equidistance from the mirror and I knew if I pulled the trigger, he would probably have time to pull his too, shooting me dead. I would have to rethink. Placing the gun on the dresser, I sat on the red, padded seat there, rubbing my chin.
After many questions, I had narrowed it down to a couple: was he made of flesh, or was he a ghost? Should I leave it to chance? Should I flip a coin? Then it came to me, as clear as day: perhaps I was the mirror man.
There was a 50/50 chance that I could be, and considering that good odds, I rose from the seat and faced the mirror once again, pointing the gun in the hope that this time he would think better of mimicking me, but no, there he was, gun in hand.
If I was the mirror man then when I fired my bullet there was the possibility my gun shot blanks, and his bullet could kill me. If I was not the mirror man and he was, then my bullet could pass straight through him and his bullet could still kill me. Could I take that chance? I had to decide which one of us was the mirror man, but there was no way of knowing for sure. I decided to leave it to chance. From my trousers pocket I took a ten pence piece and tossed it. Heads I was the mirror man, tails I was not the mirror man. Heads! I paused for a moment though. … Were my bullets real? Once again, I left it to chance, tossing the coin. Heads they were real, tails they were blank. Tails!
I aimed the gun and grinned. He grinned back as if he knew something I didn’t.
“You think you’ve got the better of me, don’t you,” I said, “I am the mirror man aren’t I, you know, I can see it in your eyes … and these are fake bullets.” I laughed, realising what I had to do.
Confidently, I took the gun with blank bullets and aimed it at him; he did the same, looking pleased with himself. Then I turned the gun and placed it to my head, which he of course copied. His face grew fearful.
“You never thought of that, did you,” I said and pulled the trigger.