“I want my name back.”
“Well, you have certainly come to the right place, Mr..?”
“What’ll it cost?”
“Hmm. There will be a cost. Your request is unusual. To reunite you with your real name? You must understand that...”
“Name a price.”
The office was airy and minimalist – blonde woodwork, steel and glass, kind of Scandinavian on steroids. The man behind the desk smiled; the sort of smile that might have been accompanied by a spangled glint and the sound of cash registers.
“Please take a seat.”
Murph looked at the name tag on the desk. Hitachi Siemens-McDonalds. Identity broker.
“Yes, I see you eyeballing my name,” said McDonalds. “Three Fortune 500 companies. I clear half a million per annum in presumed nomenclature royalties alone. I’m not even going to hint at what I earn from specifics, but I carry a three-figure CPM rate. A secondary income is important. Affords one a certain presence amongst the ladies, you follow? Sharp suit, fine car, sculpted looks. Money can get you all of these things, my friend. You like the surname? MacDonalds? Minimum sacrifice. Born McDonald - all I did was add the ‘S’. Mythic. All processed here at IdentMart. Our CEO, Mr General Electric BP Royal Dutch Shell, put the package together personally. I can do the same for you, my friend. We are the country’s leading brokers in identity vending. We guarantee increased bandwidth. We’ll triple your exposure profile within two weeks.”
“A nice sales pitch Mr McDonalds, but I don’t want to increase my profile. I just want my old name back.”
“Could I ask that you call me Mr Siemens-McDonalds? You may call me Hitachi once in every three addresses. My current revenue maximisation ratio, you see. Compliance will, of course, earn you the usual five-percent in reciprocals.”
“Mr Siemens-McDonalds, can you help me?”
“It would help if I understood your reasons.”
“Well, I want my wife back. She’s left me for a... Well I guess she was uncomfortable with my new name.”
“A recent contract? Which agency did the brokerage?”
“Niftynames. I found them in the back of the newspaper.”
“Ahh. Shysters. Cheap-and-not-so-cheerful. Quick returns with no consultation. Flat fee, no royalties. Am I right?”
“So, what did they saddle you with, Mr..?”
“Murphy. RoxieOLearyWhoreHouses.com Murphy.”
“And let me guess, your wife is unhappy about being Mrs RoxieOLearyWhoreHouses.com Murphy.”
“Just a bit.”
“I’ll need to see your present contract.”
RoxieOLearyWhoreHouses.com Murphy handed over a dog-eared scrap of paper, whereupon Siemens-McDonalds began the ritual sucking-of-air-through-teeth noises.
“You see Mr RoxieOleary...”
“Murph is fine. My friends call me Murph.”
“Ahh, but then you’d be placed in breach of nondisclosure. You are bound by contract, Mr RoxieOLearyWhoreHouses.com Murphy. And from what I can see it is a rather watertight contract.”
“I believe a trade-off is our only option here.
“I don’t want another corporate name. I just want to be called Frank again.”
“Frank was it? I could work with that. ‘Frankie & Bennys’? Do you like pizza?”
“No. Not Frankie. My name is Frank. Francis Sean Murphy.”
The man formerly known as Frank gave a sickly smile.
Mr McDonalds leaned forward in his chair, a sudden look of gravity in his eye.
“There is another avenue. You could try the priesthood. The Roman Catholic Church provides a small bursary for registering a change of name. Father Francis has a certain ring to it don’t you think? And I doubt if Father RoxieOLearyWhoreHouses.com would sit well with the Vatican.
“I don’t want to be a priest. Remember? I want my wife back?”
“I can see how the celibate life might be an obstacle.”
McDonalds took out an A4 pad and a biro.
“What about your exposure?”
“I, er... not good.”
“Blogs or other by-lines or attributions?”
“Subscriptions? Professional bodies?”
“Well, er... library card?”
“Withheld. Overdue fines.”
“You really haven’t put your name out there, have you, Rox... Mr Murphy.”
Murph gave a shrug.
“Can I ask? What was the consideration in the contract with Ms O’Leary’s organisation?”
“Five hundred quid.”
“Per week, month?”
“I see. There are perks then? Benefits in kind?”
“No, I’m married. I’d never...”
“So why, Mr Murphy? Five hundred pounds? What on Earth were you..?”
“I needed the cash. For a... professional arrangement. I saw the ad in the paper. Make money fast. I applied online. Instant service – new name, print the certificate, cash deposited in the bank.”
“What about cooling off? Did they advise you about the cooling off period?”
“Fourteen days, yes.”
“And did you...”
“I called. They were out. I emailed. Mailer-Daemon sent it back. I wrote. The letter was returned. Then the fourteen days expired.”
“I think you need a lawyer, Mr Murphy.”
“So do we.”
“I’d hoped we might be able to... come to an arrangement?”
“We could talk about my wife,” said Murph. “Samsung.”
“Samsung?” MacDonalds turned pale.
“Yes. You know Samsung Murphy? Your mistress?”
“And how did you..?”
“A private detective. Cost me five hundred pounds.”
“Money well spent. He was very diligent.”
“Diligent?” said Hitachi Siemens-MacDonalds. He started to tremble.
“It appears you have been increasing your own exposure, Mr MacDonalds. Not only my wife but that of your employer, Mr GeneralElectric BP Royal Dutch Shell. What kind of a man is your boss? How might he react if I were to, say, forward him the email that is sitting on my PC right now?”
“What do you want from me, Mr... er, Murph.”
Murph nodded. He smiled. “Not sure if I want her back, now. I’ll think on it. But thinking on what you said earlier. ‘A secondary income stream is important; gives one a certain presence amongst the ladies?’”
MacDonalds squirmed and perspired.
“That is a temptation,” said Murph. “But for now, Mr MacDonalds... How about we just get my name back?”