By Norman A. Rubin

(When you look into a mirror you do not see your reflection – your reflection sees you. – Japanese proverb)

Something weird had happened in my life a few years back. A strange man in his elder years moved into my house. He just entered with bag and baggage without even uttering an ‘if you please’. I had no idea at first who this stranger was, where he came from, or how he entered, but I do know that he is residing in my house right now. One day he wasn’t there and the next day I had an elderly pensioner. I did not invite him to my house. He was not a welcomed guest; but there he was roaming through the rooms following every step I took; he is still tracking my footsteps at this very hour.

When I catch a glimpse of him; it seems his appearance changes a bit with an added wrinkle to his face, a slight bend to his back or a cane in a brown flecked hand.

He is a clever chap and he manages to keep out my sight for the most part, but whenever I pass the mirrors in my residence, I get a glimpse of him. Whenever I look into the bathroom mirror to groom myself there he would be hogging the whole view, completely obliterating my rather mature yet handsome face and part of my onetime upright body. Of course it is mighty rude of him. I look at him sternly and tell him in no uncertain words to go away. But, all he does in return is mimic my actions.

Well I had enough of this gentleman’s presence in my life. At least he could offer to share in the paying of taxes, the many utility bills, and the rest of the expenses in the upkeep of the house. But no. Once in a while this elder tries to heed my request: I find a dollar bill or two tucked in one of my coat pockets or some loose change scattered under the sofa’s cushions. But, that isn’t enough, no siree!

I don’t want to come any sort of conclusions, but I have a feeling that this chap is stealing from me. For example, a couple of days ago, I had withdrawn a hundred dollars from the automatic bank teller and now I find it all gone. Now, I certainly do not spend money that fast, so I have come to the assumption that this boyo is pilfering from me. At least he could spend part of the money for some hair cream to keep his wispy white hair groomed.

Money is not all that is disappearing. Food, especially my favorite dishes, is vanishing at an alarming rate. The elder chap must certainly have a sweet tooth, as cake, cookies, candy and ice cream are also missing from the usual place in the refrigerator. I have a suspicion that he knows I know as he tries to cover his actions by tampering with my bathroom scale to make me think it is me that is putting on weight.

The elder pensioner must be fond of games as he always acting with tomfoolery towards me. Some of them are quite nasty, like fooling about in my walk-in closet and altering my clothes so they don’t fit properly. Or at times messing with my papers so that I can’t find anything; quite a nuisance, especially when you can’t find the correct documents needed for official business. That is an annoying habit as I am usually a neat and tidy person.

Oh, there are other tricks this chap plays on me. He gets into my mail, newspapers, books, and other written documents before I have a chance to scan the contents and he deliberately blurs the print. Of course, he misplaces my thick reading glasses, which takes me a considerable time to locate. He laughs when I discover that the bifocals are on the white of my hair.

There is something sinister about his ways. He tampers with the volume control of my radio and television set to such a point that all I hear are mumbles and whispers. And what he has done to my telephone is equally bad; many a time I receive only garbled messages.

The elder plays games with me, forcing me to guess the names of good friends that I meet on the street or at social gatherings. He never gives me a clue and I am forced to apologize for my misconduct. He even interferes with me when I am composing a letter by confusing words that are on the tip of my tongue. He should be ashamed by his constant trickery.

Oh, he has done other bits of tomfoolery, like making the steps to the upper floor steeper and harder to climb. I do not know how he did it but he somehow raises my bed so that it takes a bit of effort to get in and out without a bit of difficulty. He finagles with my comfortable rocking chair, so that after a spell of sitting it is difficult to rise with ease.

Somehow he has fooled around with handles to doors and knobs to drawers making them difficult to turn. Lately he has been fooling around with the lids of jars putting glue around the edges, which makes them difficult to open with my limited strength. But I fooled this trickster by buying a gadget that makes the opening of all food containers quite easy. (My son, who is quite handy with tools, fitted it for me on a kitchen wall.)

The elder follows me when I am shopping around for a new pair of trousers or a fashionable and warm winter coat. He stares at me through the shop’s dressing mirror and makes fun of me. The boyo pushes me aside and monopolizes the view; he looks quite ridiculous in some of the outfits with his paunchy stomach and slightly bent posture. Somehow he keeps me from seeing how great I look in some of the new clothing.

I wanted to do some traveling and had the suspicion that this elder couldn’t be with me in my preparations, but I was wrong. There I sat in an automatic photo booth getting my picture taken for a new passport when he rudely jumped in front of the lens when the camera shutter clicked in the flash of lights. There on the photos were snaps of my elder companion with the weariness of the passing years etched on his wrinkled features.

Yes, I am correct in saying he is still my everyday companion, sharing the comforts of my remaining years. He is near me during the lonely and forlorn hours.