By David Henson
The man shoves past Hector for the last seat on the bus. When the man’s not looking, Hector stares at him. Hard. The man’s hair thins, belly protrudes, eyes sink. Now he looks like Hector.
Hector first started getting his ability in grade school. A kid made fun of his shirt. Hector stared at him. The kid started to look a little like Hector. Not fully Hectored, but a little. By the end of the year, the whole class looked slightly Hectored. Except one girl. Her dresses never fit right. Hector liked her. She moved away.
Things got worse in high school, and Hector’s power grew stronger. He feared once he started Hectoring, he wouldn’t be able to stop. So he used his power only when he had to. Like with the captain of the football team. Made him a Hector. A “splitting” image as Hector’s stepfather would say. Hector, he said, was the splitting image of the dumbest kid he knew in school. Hector Hectored his stepfather. His mother didn’t seem to care.
Hector quit school and drifted job to job. Left a string of Hectored bosses behind.
Had a serious relationship once. Lydia. She had one leg slightly shorter than the other. Lydia wore special shoes when they went out. But when they were alone, she took them off and let Hector see her limp. Hector fell in love with her limp. He begged her to throw away her special shoes and share her limp with the world. When she wouldn’t, he started limping to show her the beauty. Lydia thought Hector was mocking her. So he cut off his little toe. When she told Hector she couldn’t see him anymore, she was respectful. He didn’t Hector her.
Now Hector lives alone and works nights mopping the supermarket. Occasionally he stays in the store after his shift ends. Watches people push up and down the aisles, dirtying the floors.
Hector keeps staring at the man who bullied the last seat on the bus from him. Lately he’s had that feeling like in high school. Start Hectoring and not be able to stop. Here a Hector there a Hector, everywhere a Hector Hector. Like the song he loved when he was little. Before he had the power. Before he needed it.