“How did you like it?” my colleague asked as I handed him the novel I had borrowed from him a couple of weeks earlier.

Matt Jones — Illustration Börkur Sigurbjörnsson
Illustration Börkur Sigurbjörnsson

“Pretty good”, I replied and wasn’t exaggerating. I had enjoyed the book very much.

“Wasn’t it!”

“Indeed. In particular I found the character development to be good. They were so alive somehow—the characters. So believable. As if one knew them in real life.”

“Yeah, exactly. I experienced that too.”

“I found the Matt Berg character especially realistic and convincing—somehow.”

“Matt Berg?”

“Yeah, the social scientist.”

My colleague lifted his eyebrows.

“The ambitious one,” I continued. “The dude who was thought to be so promising and clever but turned out to be an arrogant, hollow and narcissistic idiot.”

“Oh, that guy. You mean Ollie Smith?”

“Ollie Smith? Was that his name?”

“Yes, most definitely,” said the colleague, with total conviction. “How could you misread the name in such a way?”

“No clue,” I answered, shrugged my shoulders, looked out of the window and saw the grinning image of Matthew Steinberger. Matt Berg, who had so often made attempts to humiliate me in high-school all those years ago. Tried to cast doubt upon my abilities. Tried to promote his own work by attempting to make mine look dodgy.

There at that moment I saw his image clearly in my mind. I who had all but forgotten his existence.