A Million to One
A Short Story by Tim Josephs
Written using the suggestion "Clothing"
Originally featured on 04-23-2007
As part of our series "Things you can live without, but most people choose not to"

“So, what about you?”

Dawn put down the TV Guide and picked up the remote. “Hmm?” she muttered. She wanted to see that new reality show about the circus freaks.

“Come on, there has to be someone.”

After a few seconds of flipping, Dawn settled on a channel and looked at Brian.

“I don’t know. I guess I’ve never really thought about it,” she said.

Brian grinned. “I’m sure there must be somebody. What about Brad Pitt? Isn’t he every woman’s fantasy?”

She grinned. “I’m not saying I would kick him out of bed, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“Ah ha, I knew there had to be someone.”

“But he wouldn’t be my first choice.”

Brian looked intrigued. “Oh? And who would that be?”

“I like Matt Damon.”

Brian laughed. “Matt Damon?”

“Yes, what’s wrong with him?”

“Nothing, if that’s who you like. Okay, so if by chance you ever meet Mr. Damon and he wants to get to know you a little better, I give you my permission.”

He reached down to the coffee table and picked up Golf Digest and started thumbing through it.

“So who’s your choice again? Paris Hilton?”

Brian cringed. “That skank? I wouldn’t go near that. My choice is Jessica.” He smiled and a dreamy expression came over his face.

“Jessica who?” Dawn asked. It seemed like every other young female celebrity to pop up these days was named Jessica. Brian looked surprised.

“Jessica Simpson of course.”

Dawn rolled her eyes. Yeah, I’m sure she’s a lot more wholesome than Paris Hilton, she thought. She got up from the couch and kissed Brian on the cheek. “That’s nice, honey. If she ever comes over I’ll leave for a few minutes and you two can get busy.” She headed for the kitchen.

“Minutes? If she does come over I’m gonna need more like hours!”

Dawn stopped for a second and was about to turn around and say something but thought better of it—let him have his little fantasy. Besides, he’d probably be finished before she got her bra off, she thought and laughed to herself. Plus, what are the odds that Ms. Simpson would ever be in tiny Spencer, Maine? And that she would take one look at Brian and want to jump his bones?

From the kitchen Dawn looked at Brian. He wasn’t an unattractive man, far from it, she thought. But at 36, he wasn’t as muscular and athletic as the man she had married at 25. His stomach was a little bigger and his hair was a lot thinner but he was still handsome; Dawn’s friends thought so.

So it wasn’t completely out of the question for Jessica to come here and- Stop it! she told herself. You’re being ridiculous. How did a stupid conversation start making her feel nervous and paranoid? She always did this. Brian could talk about anything—no subject was taboo—and it wouldn’t affect him at all. But not her, she just couldn’t let things go like he could.

Determined to forget the whole thing, she grabbed a bottle of water from the refrigerator and headed back to the living room. “Anything good on?” she asked.

“Sure, if you like circus freaks,” he said.

Luckily, she did.

 

 

The following Friday, Dawn met Brian at McGuire’s for dinner.

“What is it?” she asked, when she noticed Brian had stopped eating his steak and was staring over her shoulder.

“Who is that guy? He looks really familiar.”

Dawn turned around and scanned the people sitting at the bar. “I don’t know.”

“Look at the guy at the end, in the green shirt.”

Dawn did a double take and then slowly turned back around. “That looks like- no it can’t be.” She turned to look again.

“Who? Who is it?”

Dawn stared at him, her eyes wide. “That’s Matt Damon.”

“No.” He glanced back at the bar. “Really?”

“That’s him. Oh, my God!” Dawn half whispered. “What would Matt Damon be doing here?”

Brian shrugged and began eating his steak again. “Beats me, maybe they’re filming a movie around here.”

“Maybe,” Dawn said. She started picking at her crab salad again but every once in a while would steal another glance at the bar.

“You know it’s funny,” Brian said.

“What’s funny?”

“Remember a few days ago we were talking about Matt Damon and now he’s here.”

Again Dawn glanced at the bar; Matt Damon was still there drinking a beer and eating peanuts.

“That is funny.”

“Hmm,” Brian muttered.

“What?”

“It’s just that, what are the odds? It must be like a million to one, maybe a billion to one that he would be here.”

“What are you saying, Brian?”

“Nothing. Just that if you wanted to, you know, go talk to him and see what might happen you could.”

Dawn chuckled. “Are you saying that you want me to go try and pick up Matt Damon?”

“Well yes, no, I don’t know. It’s just if you want to you can. Remember what we talked about.”

“I didn’t think that was serious,” she said. “You’re saying that right now if I went over there and talked to him and we went somewhere and had sex it wouldn’t bother you?”

“I’m not saying it wouldn’t bother me. But it’s just that if the situation was reversed and it was me and you had said it was all right then…”

“Oh, I get it,” she said. “You mean if Jessica Simpson was sitting at that bar, you would want to go hit on her and because I said you could it would be just fine.”

Brian shifted in his seat. “It’s just that we, um, talked about this,” he said quietly. “And who would’ve ever thought we’d actually meet these people?”

Dawn smiled. “You know, Brian, you’re absolutely right. The odds of me meeting Matt Damon are so high that I couldn’t possibly pass up this opportunity.” She picked up her purse and grabbed her coat.

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“To pick up Matt Damon, of course,” she said. “It was your idea.” She started walking away and then turned around. “I’ll see you later tonight. Or maybe not ‘til tomorrow, who knows?” She hurriedly walked to the bar.

Dawn sat down next to Matt and soon they were talking. As Brian watched his wife flirting he began to feel extremely jealous. It was clear that Matt had offered to buy her a drink and she accepted.

Brian couldn’t remember the last time he had felt this jealous, or jealous at all for that matter. As he watched Dawn giggle and touch Matt’s arm he began to see his wife differently. He had always thought of her as pretty; he loved her slim body and was crazy about her long, auburn hair. But now as he watched her flirt with another man he realized she was beautiful. Apparently Matt thought so too; Brian noticed he hadn’t taken her eyes off of Dawn since she had sat down.

Dawn was putting on a great show: she had moved closer to Matt and her giggling and touching had increased. Brian thought this was for his benefit even though she hadn’t once glanced over at him. This couldn’t go on too much longer, could it? Again Brian shifted in his seat. He finished the last of his beer and peered at his watch.

When he looked back at the bar what he saw made his heart leap: Matt had his arm around Dawn and they were walking towards the door. Brian was stunned. He quickly got up but then just as quickly sat down. What could he do? Should he stop them? After all, this had been his idea, like Dawn had said. He had given her permission to do what he thought she was about to do.

Brian felt woozy. Right now his wife was on her way to have sex with another man and he practically threw her into his arms. Normally unflappable, now he was, well, flapped.

The waitress came by and asked him if he needed anything else. Brian stared up at her wearily. What the hell? he thought. “Sure. I’ll take a scotch.”

“I’ll be right back with that,” she said.

“Make that two,” a female voice said. “Mind if I sit down?”

“I don’t think so,” Brian said. “It’s just that right now I’d rather be-” He looked up at the woman and stopped. His mouth hung open as the she sat down across from him.

 

 

What the hell am I doing here? Dawn thought. At the moment she was sitting on a motel bed waiting for Matt Damon to come out of the bathroom. She had never meant for it to go so far; she only went over to the bar because Brian was being such a jerk. But once she had sat down and was only a few inches from Matt Damon and could actually smell him, things seemed to change a little. At first she wasn’t sure she’d even remember how to flirt, but it came back quickly.

Perhaps a little too quickly, she thought now as she glanced around the small room. Matt was so charming and so cute and even though he looked different up close, Dawn was still a little hypnotized. When he suggested they go back to his motel room, she heard herself agree without hesitation. But even at that point she hadn’t intended to go through with it.

As she and Matt got up to leave, she looked over at Brian. He seemed more concerned with his beer than her and that’s when she decided to do it. Screw him, she thought, serves him right.

Dawn heard the faucet in the bathroom turn off. The door opened and Matt came out in only a pair of black boxer shorts. She gazed at him and smiled nervously. Again she noticed how different he looked in person. His chest wasn’t as muscular as it had been in a recent film she had seen. Plus, he looked a little shorter and a few years older. Must be those great Hollywood make-up artists, she thought a little skeptically.

“Why don’t you make yourself comfortable,” he said.

Dawn started taking off her jacket but then stopped. Although she couldn’t really hear too clearly in the noisy bar, it now sounded like he had a bit of a southern accent.

“You sure are pretty,” Matt said, sitting down next to her.

Yes, it was definitely a southern drawl. Wasn’t Matt Damon from Massachusetts?

“Thank you,” she said. She stared at him. It had also been rather dark in the bar, but now she could see him clearly.

“Is everything all right, darling?” he asked.

“Uh, I think so. You’re not Matt Damon, are you?”

He laughed. “Sure I am.”

“But-”

“A genuine Matt Damon look-a-like. That’s why I’m here—for the big celebrity look-a-like convention.”

Now it was Dawn’s turn to laugh.

“Yep. People are usually fooled for a little while. I think it might be the talkin’ that ruins it.”

“Well, you got me.”

“Now how ‘bout it?” he asked, leaning back on the bed. “You could always tell your friends I was the real deal.”

Dawn thought for a moment. She could still do it and Brian would never know the truth. She glanced at Matt. He still was cute and if she squinted he really did look exactly like Matt Damon. But, now that she really thought about it, even if he was the real thing, Dawn realized she couldn’t go through with it.

“Thanks, Matt, but-”

“The name’s Ned.”
“Thanks, Ned, but I really think I should be going.”

“Well, suit yourself. But if you change your mind I’ll be here for a few days.”

Dawn said good-bye and left. As she crossed the parking lot to her car, she gazed up at the huge gray and yellow Royal Budget Inn sign. It was rusting and many of the letters weren’t lit up. She chuckled. I probably should have guessed a little earlier that he wasn’t the real Matt Damon, she thought.

She drove home hurriedly, anxious to see her husband.

 

 

“Brian! Are you here?”

Dawn began calling for him as soon as she came through the front door. Although his car wasn’t in the driveway, she called anyway.

“Brian?” She looked in the kitchen and then went up to their bedroom.

Finally realizing he wasn’t there, she began to get changed. He’s probably upset, she thought as she slipped on a pair of red flannel pajama pants.

“He deserves it,” she said softly to herself, but not as forcefully as intended. At the moment she just wanted him home with her.

About an hour later, Dawn heard a car pull into the driveway. She put down the book she was reading and peered out the window. Brian was just getting out of his black Cherokee and he quickly walked up to the front door and let himself in.

“Dawn! Hey, Dawn, are you here?”

Funny, she thought with a smile, I don’t see his car and think he still might be here, he sees mine and thinks I might not be.

“Are you here, Dawn?” he called again, this time from the stairs.

“I’m here, Brian,” she said, trying hard not to sound anxious to see him.

He rushed up the stairs and burst into the room. His clothing was a little disheveled and his hair was messy. He kissed her on the cheek and sat down next to her.

“You are not going to believe what happened to me,” he said excitedly, taking off his shoes.

Dawn frowned. She was hoping he’d be at least a tiny bit upset. Right now he looked like a little kid who had just come back from a successful night of trick-or-treating.

“Right after you left the bar, and by the way, seeing your wife leave with another man, not the best feeling in the world. But anyway, right after you left I was feeling pretty shitty and I ordered a drink — scotch. Can you believe that? When was the last time I drank scotch?”

He was babbling now, and Dawn, in spite of herself, thought it was cute.

“Brian, there’s something I need to tell you.”

“Just wait,” he said a little impatiently, taking off his dark blue sport jacket. “So right after you left, this woman asks if she can sit down. And I told her I really didn’t feel like talking to anyone, but she sits down anyway.”

Dawn examined Brian a little more closely and suddenly didn’t think he seemed so cute. Was that perfume she smelled on him? And that mark on his collar looked like lipstick.

“And I look at her, and you’re not going to believe this. It’s Jessica Simpson! Can you believe it?! Jessica Simpson sits down across from me!”

Suddenly Dawn was nervous.

“Brian, did you do something tonight?”

“Just let me finish.” He stood up to take his pants off. “So I’m sitting there drinking scotch, feeling like crap, but talking to Jessica Simpson! My mind is racing, I don’t know what the hell I’m saying, but the next thing I know I’m in her motel room.”

Now wearing only a pair of green and blue boxers, Brian gathered up his clothes and walked over to the hamper. Dawn watched him stuff everything in, including the sport jacket. Her mouth now felt like she had just eaten a large quantity of sand.

“So I’m sitting on the bed while she’s in the bathroom. And I’m thinking, what the hell is going on? Should I really be here? But then I thought about you, and the things we talked about and I figured it was okay.” He walked into the bathroom. “Man, I really need a shower.”

Dawn felt nauseous. She heard the shower turn on.

“But then there’s a knock on the door and I get up and open it and holy crap! Do you know who’s there? Drew Barrymore! I mean, what are the odds!? I know she’s only number three on my list but don’t worry.” He stuck his head back into the bedroom. “She only watched.”

Dawn remained frozen on the bed. She thought if she moved she might throw up or pass out or both. She heard the shower curtain rustle and Brian get into the tub.

“You know, it’s funny,” he called. “They really looked a lot different up close. Huh. I guess that’s the magic of Hollywood. So, how was your night?”

Read More By Tim Josephs

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Portland Fiction Project

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