I was having a party one night and Troy showed up. Troy was a good friend before he went away travelling, but we lost touch. When he showed up that night, I hadn’t seen him in seven years.
Troy was the life of the party. He got a little drunk, but not hammered, and he was chatty and charming. The only thing was he dropped names all night. The next morning when I swept up, they were everywhere. They got stuck in the gaps between the hardwood and they wouldn’t fit neatly in the dustpan and they were hard with sharp edges and I had to get the Hefty bags from the hardware store to put them in. I bagged them all and cursed Troy under my breath.
Two weeks after the party a skinny young woman with a Bavarian accent showed up at my door and demanded that I let her in. I allowed her in, got her a Coke and asked her what she wanted. She asked if I knew Troy, and I said I did. She said so did she, and she’d talked to Troy and he’d told her that he’d dropped her name at my place during a party and she wanted it back.
I said I didn’t have her name, and she asked what I did with it. I said I didn’t know that I’d even seen it, but if Troy had dropped her name it must have gotten swept up.
The woman said that was just great. She said it was awfully inconsiderate of me to sweep up her name and chuck it, because she needed her name, and did I know who she was? I said I didn’t know who she was, and she said of course I didn’t. She said neither did she, because her name was her identity, and she didn’t have her name. She said she’d gotten pulled over while driving to my place, and she’d had to try and explain to the officer why her driver’s licence didn’t have a name on it, and if she hadn’t been young and skinny and white she’d probably be in jail instead of sitting on my couch.
I said I was sorry about that. I said I didn’t know, and I’d just swept up and thrown out the names, because what else was I supposed to do with them?
After the woman left, I called Troy and asked him why the fuck he’d had to drop so many names at my place. Troy said to relax. He told me to put the names in a bin outside the door, or keep them behind the couch or something. I said I’d thrown them out, and Troy said who told me to do that with them? He said even the idiot Swedish guy in Thailand had known better than to throw out the names that he found lying around after a party.
Two days after the German woman, a middle-aged American man with a handgun came by. He said he’d talked to Troy, who had told him I’d thrown his name away, and he asked why I’d done that — who knew? — but I’d better figure out what had happened to it and get it back ASAP, and did I know who he was? I said I had no idea who he was, and he told me not to get smart and then he smacked me around with the butt of his pistol.
I called city services to try and track down the names, but they said they didn’t know where the garbage had ended up. They said there was a good chance it had been incinerated, and then they hung up on me.
The day after the American man, I had visits from five other people missing their names. The last two showed up at the same time. One said she was a singer and the other said she was a corporate executive, and they both said their names were their brand and they were nothing without them, and if I didn’t give them back immediately, they were ruined.
The corporate executive asked how would I like it if she dropped my name. She said if I didn’t tell her where her name was, she was going to drop mine somewhere where I’d never find it. I told her to go ahead, and she did, and the next day when the American man with the handgun came back, he looked at me and asked who the hell I was, and then he put a bullet through the painting over the mantel, and he said that if the prick who threw out his name ever came back to tell him, he was a dead man.