The man behind the newspaper

Al Saranson and Ned Flergen sit on a bench at the bus station. There’s some other guy sitting to his left holding a newspaper directly in front of his face. He’s breathing loudly, and grunts on occasion.
“I hate this shit,” Al says, “I really do.”
“Yeah I know…you keep telling me.”
“Everyday it’s the same shit -”
“Wait for the bus, go to work, come back home -”
“Smoke a joint, drink some whiskey then go to bed.”
Ned laughs. “Pretty much sums it up for me.
“Yeah…but don’t you ever just wonder…”
“What my life would be like if we got abducted by aliens?”
Al looks at Ned like he has eight heads. Then, Ned starts growing heads. Eight of them. Then seven of them disappear…back to one.
“No,” Al says, trying to shake off the strange vision, “not exactly…but if something new happened…anything…I just wasn’t thinking to that extreme I guess.”
“Well, maybe you should.”
“Why would I take any advice from you? I see you what, like five minutes every day? How do I know you’re not some crazy glue sniffer that walks around in a suit as a cover…” Al pauses shortly, “for his glue sniffing habit…”
Ned shrugs. “I guess you really have no way of telling. But…you did just take my advice. That was some pretty extreme thinking.”
“Yeah, I took your advice and now I’m thinking like a paranoid schizophrenic. Real good advice. Did you go to the same school as Dr. Phil?”
Ned laughs and says “yeah, as a matter of fact I did.”
“Fuck you.”
“No bullshit. I went to school with Dr. Phil, and let me tell you he was a fuckin’ annnnimal.” Ned lights a cigarette and everything goes blurry, then comes back to focus in a fraternity house kitchen.
People crowd around the kitchen table, where a game of beirut is set up. Dr. Phil holds a ping-pong ball in his hand, taking aim with one eye lazily closed. Everyone’s chanting: Phil!…Phil!…Phil!
One guy is out of synch with the rest of the crowd. …Phil!…Phil!…Phil!
Dr. Phil motions to silence the crowd as drool dribbles down the right side of his lip. Everyone stops, except for that out of synch guy that seemed to have missed the bus. …Phil!…Phil!…Phil!
Dr. Phil plants his feet, motions once to get the feel of it, then shoots and sinks the last cup. The crowd erupts and Dr. Phil starts pouring beer on himself, then runs up to a well-equipped blonde in the corner and gives her a bronski.
“Brrrrronski!!!” Dr. Phil yells, rubbing his face in tit.
Everything gets blurry again and the bus stop appears again. Ned takes the last drag from his cigarette and stubs it out on the ground, then throws it in the trash.
Meanwhile, Al’s looking at Ned in that eight-headed way again. “Do you really expect me to believe that?”
A bus stops in front of them. The man next to Al shakes his paper to straighten it out, coughs and grumbles.
“This is my bus,” Ned says, “adios muchacho.”
“Yeah…peace dawg…”
Ned hops on the bus. The bus drives away as Al’s bus approaches. Al gets on the bus and the bus drives away.
The man with the newspaper slightly pulls the newspaper down, only revealing his eyes at first. He looks left, then right, then drops the newspaper in front of him. It’s Dr. Phil. He laughs like a maniac and dives into the bushes behind him.

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