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Chuck Tingle

NEW TINGLER: Rammed By The Realization That I Am Not, In Fact, Chuck Tingle, Just Somebody Who Dressed Up As Him For Halloween

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hello everyone thank you for coming this is my BRAND NEW TINGLER wrote it just for you about very special connection one buckaroo has with a very special idea cant wait for you to read it and let me know what you think

of course SITE RULES means the connection can only go so deep but if you want you can go to one of MANY other tinglers and find a way to have the ending also include Hank and myself (personally recommend Slammed in the Butthole by my Concept of Linear Time) you're smart i know you can do it thanks bud

ok here we go

Rammed By The Realization That I Am Not, In Fact, Chuck Tingle, Just Somebody Who Dressed Up As Him For Halloween

Spoiler

You get used to the stares, I’ve found, when you wear a pillowcase on your head and sunglasses going into the coffee shop. It’s very easy to rationalize, actually. That person? They’re looking at the “LOVE IS REAL” scrawled on my forehead. That other person? They’re just looking at themselves in the reflection of the sunglasses. Them? Okay, they might be wondering what the taekwondo gi brings to the ensemble but it’s my look and I wear it proudly.

And really, once you’re a regular customer, the stares drastically go down. Just like the college students nursing their one coffee and scone as they work on their term paper or study for finals, just like the two lovebirds who have a little miniature date every morning at the same spot, the author, eccentric or no, will eventually become a part of that same ecosystem. That’s been my way of experiencing things, at least. It’s gotten to the point that even I don’t always remember that I’m wearing the sunglasses and pillowcase and gi at all.

Which, admittedly, comes with its own set of problems. Just because I am a part of the coffee shop’s ecosystem doesn’t mean the barista’s put my name on the cup without prompting, for example. This isn’t normally a problem but the one time it was it led to a complete shattering of my entire worldview and I’ve never been the same since.

What happened was, well, I had just set up my laptop in an open space near one of the cafe’s many outlets ready for a good few hours of writing when I heard one of the barista’s call out, “Chuck?” They had a cup in their hands that I assumed was my order, so I went up to take it. The moment I touched it, though. I knew it was wrong. This was… this was a mocha! What else would I order but a nice tall glass of chocolate milk? I knew it would look bad if I made too big a fuss, but I did have to correct this mix-up.

“Hey, excuse me,” I said. I was still trying to be polite but I think there was still an edge to my voice. “I think I got the wrong order.”

The barista looked at the drink then looked at me and said, “Oh! Oh yeah, sorry. I think I got used to just handing the ‘Chuck’ drink right to you.” They went over to their ticket screen and gave it another look. “Yeah, you gave us a different name this time, didn’t you? Yeah, sorry about that.”

It wasn’t that big a deal, and I told them that. Both Chuck and I eventually got our correct drinks, and I even put a little extra in the tip jar when I went back up. By the time I was deep in the writing process, I’d forgotten all about it. I suppose the chocolate milk helped in that regard, though.

I think I made pretty good progress into the story I was working on. It was called “Pounded In The Butt By My Inability To Come Up With A Good Throwaway Title” and it’s probably going to be my masterpiece if I’m perfectly honest. But I did have to go home eventually, lest I get too many wistful stares from other people looking to take my seat and too many frustrated stares from the staff just willing me to leave.

The walk home was equally eventful, though. Maybe even moreso, actually. First was this random person who ran up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. When I turned around, they looked at me and frowned, saying “Oh, sorry, I thought you were someone else.” But even more perplexing was this phone call I also got.

My cell phone rang (my ringtone is the Bruce Hornsby and The Range song “The Way It Is” for those wondering) and when I answered it, I answered like I always do: with aplomb. “Hello, you’ve reached me, thanks for calling bud,” I said into the phone’s speaker. The call started on their end like most do also, with stunned silence. I’m used to it. Eventually, though, they did begin to speak.

“Hey, sorry, is this- is this Chuck? Hold on, let me make sure I have the right number.” The voice then proceeded to read off a phone number that I won’t repeat here for a whole bunch of reasons. The fact that the number wasn’t mine was the most obvious one, and I told them so. “Sorry, yeah, got the wrong number.” And that was it.

“What’s going on?” I said to myself. What was with all these cases of mistaken identity? Sure, one of them you could argue was my fault, but they still all added up to one heck of a coincidence if there really was no reason behind the other ones. It was something I pondered the entire rest of my walk home.

My apartment is pretty small. The landlord has apparently been trying to squeeze four studio-sized rooms into what would normally just be, you know, a house. Maybe a duplex if they were feeling cheeky. The point is, to get to my apartment, you have to go up a pretty narrow flight of stairs, and when I tried to do that when I got back, I found myself face to bulb with a six-foot-tall, aesthetically pleasing idea.

I say “aesthetically pleasing” as though that gets the point across at all. He was beautiful, sitting there on the steps with his shirt off and a prominent six-pack. But even his other features were nice to look at. His head was like a lightbulb, for example, in that it was literally a lightbulb, and his body, the parts that weren’t chiseled, at least, looked like they were fluffy like a cloud. The way he posed was like he was always ready for a photograph, which only drew my eye to him more.

“‘Sup,” he said. His voice was deep, too, very deep, even, a rich bass that reverberated within my very being. 

But it was my turn to be confused about identity. “Hi, do I know you?” I said, trying to be casual as I checked my mailbox.

“In a manner of speaking, though maybe you don’t realize it yet,” was the response. “One might say I’m even a part of you from the future.”

That was a weird thing to say, but at the very least I had to humor him, right? He was blocking the way, after all. “Uh huh?” I said. “So if you’re from the future, I assume you have some sort of message for me?”

“Obviously. Though given how timelines work and whatnot, I can only really help you get there on your own. If I just told you, I might just cease to exist.”

Another strange thing, but now I felt constrained enough by the narrative to keep going. “Alright,” I said. “Well, can I at least get a hint, then?”

“No prob,” he said. Then he stood up and brushed his pants with his hands. “Can I come in? We can talk better in your apartment.”

Like I said, it’s a studio apartment, so it was really just a bedroom with a kitchenette in the corner. I don’t really keep company there, so I had this part of me I hadn’t quite met yet sit on the one chair in the room and I just sat on the bed. I noticed throughout this whole process that even the way he moved rippled charisma.

“My name is Hank, by the way,” he said. “Sorry I didn’t introduce myself before, but that’s kind of the hint I wanted to give you. Now you introduce yourself to me.”

That was the hint? “That’s the hint?” I said.

“Yeah, pretty sure things can work out from there.”

“Okay.” I scratched the back of my neck, shifted a little on the bed, and took a deep breath. “My name’s Chuck Tingle,” I said.

Apparently that was the wrong answer. Hank kind of leaned forwards in his chair and shook his lightbulb head. But he didn’t say anything about the answer out loud, at least, not directly. “Okay, Chuck, let me ask you a question. Do you know what today is?”

Obviously I did. “It’s October thirty-first,” I said. “Halloween.”

“And what do people do on Halloween?”

“Dress up. Wait...” Hank wasn’t suggesting what I thought he was suggesting, was he? Even if he wasn’t, he had at least brought the idea into my mind.

Hank seemed to know what I was thinking. “You do seem to have a distinctive look. ‘Only Chuck Tingle dresses this way.’ I bet you were about to say that.” He saw my dumb nod and continued. “So combine my doubt with your dress and that means I’m…”

I looked ahead. “You’re my realization that I am not, in fact, Chuck Tingle, just somebody who dressed up as him for Halloween.”

Hank smiled, and his lightbulb head turned on. “There, see? You can even put that in the title of the story.”

Again, Hank seemed to know just what I was thinking, because I was definitely thinking about writing about what had just happened. How many people get sentient manifestations of ideas sent back in time to tell them things? Who does that happen to (besides me, obviously). “I suppose,” I said. “But, I mean, is that the story? You just show up and then you travel in time?”

“Well, no, that’d probably suck as a story,” Hank said, rocking back in his chair. “You’d probably have to get super self-referential with it too. But if I can make a suggestion, maybe you could take the ‘pretending to be Chuck Tingle’ thing a bit further. Make it erotica. Or if that’s too risque for wherever you’re posting this, at least say that it’s erotica.”

“I guess that could work…” I was unsure about a lot of things, really. Was I really about to imply that I made out with an idea of my own creation? The idea actually seemed kind of hot, almost as hot as Hank certainly was. “But wait, Chuck Tingle’s a real person, right? Would he be upset that I pretended to be him? How long did I do this, anyway?”

“Okay, that’s a lot of questions,” Hank said. He brought a hand to his light-bulbous chin. “He is a real person, yeah. And you pretended to be him for, like, two weeks, about.” Two weeks! I think my mouth was agape as he said that. “But as for that middle question? Would he be mad? I guess you gotta ask yourself, did you prove love in those two weeks?”

Prove love? Now it was my turn to have my hand on my chin. Memories I had sealed away were flooding back to me. “I hope so?” I said. “I mean, as Chuck might say, I tried to have a wholesome way. I didn’t talk to too many other people, but I was inclusive, I hope. I tried to lift people’s spirits at least a little bit. Halloween sucks right now since nobody can do it, but if I got just one person to feel at least a little better I guess I did my job.”

“Nice,” Hank said. He smiled a shiny smile. “Here’s the secret, I think: just trying to prove love is in itself proving love. And, to me at least, that makes you a pretty cool buckaroo.”

The love inside me overfilled in that very moment. I had seen something in Hank the moment I laid eyes on him, but now that we had just experienced what we had together, I couldn’t help it. “Alright, Hank,” I said, ripping off my mask and sunglasses. “Then let’s end this just like Chuck Tingle would want us to.”

That shiny smile of Hank’s grew wider and he uttered only one final word: “Let’s.”

And then
we had
sex.

 

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