Born Allejandrus Sinclair Lunlip in June ’58, Alex was called ‘Alex’ by common agreement from early childhood by his entire family and that was the name that ended up on school registers and most of his paperwork, and was thus assumed to be his real name by pretty much everybody. When he turned eighteen and – on that very same day, as one of his gifts – had his name legally changed to Alexander Lunlip, it didn’t cause much of a ripple. His mother had recovered from her Latino phase by then, and his Uncle Sinclair didn’t know he’d changed it and hadn’t even been in the same country as Alex since Alex was four years old, so ultimately it was fair to say that nobody cared.
He was fairly sure this would change if his tiny circle of friends were ever to find out that his name had originally been Allejandrus Sinclair, but this seemed unlikely to come to light. And in any case, his friends already called him Labellum, and enjoyed relating the anecdote of its origins. Whether they would trade up upon learning the truth, or simply keep both handles ready-to-hand for the purposes of mockery, was not something he wished to put to the test.
 Geometrically speaking, of course, there was no way two people could be described as a circle and Alex was nothing if not technically correct, so he had to admit that what he actually had was a line segment of friends. The fact that he referred to them as such, and explained to other people why he did so, probably went quite a long way towards explaining why he never really graduated to triangle.
 No, really; nothing.
 Back in his King William High School days, during a group assignment on the elements of the Periodic Table, Lunlip had insisted for about thirty seconds longer than he should have that labellum was the element used in the creation of self-adhesive tags. It wasn’t really a funny anecdote unless you were fourteen years old, but for people who had been fourteen when the event occurred, it turned out to have surprising staying power.
Nothing much happened in the small town of Vanning. After scraping through with a graduation from King Billy’s and failing on three separate occasions to get a job, Alex moved into a shabby hotel and exchanged janitorial services for the dubious cost of the room and an informal food-ticket system that was too far separated from minimum wage to qualify as employment.
 Three was more or less the upper limit of any visible attempt he would make to do anything. He would, however, continue trying and failing to do less conspicuous things more or less indefinitely, as long as nobody witnessed his failure and he was able to maintain some reasonable expectation of one day being able to do whatever-it-was in front of them and make it look effortless. Card tricks, yo-yo moves and quick-spoken song lyrics were classic examples of this odd brand of quantum perseverance.
 Or even slavery, since most cases of slave ownership required a consistent feeding-and-watering program and at least some rudimentary book-keeping.
When the food tickets didn’t cover the month, he staved off starvation and the eternal gnawing of impulse consumerism by making increasingly stupid and undignified bets with the actual hotel staff, helping out with larger maintenance jobs that only fell under the very edges of the janitorial umbrella, and street performance. He played the kazoo and performed mediocre acrobatic stunts under cheap shade-cloth.
 Card tricks, yo-yo moves and quick-spoken song lyrics predominated.
Alex Lunlip was, in short, the sort of character you’d only expect to see in a story if he was an unwitting Lost Prince of Destiny, or a Prophesied Right Hand of the Gods, or was supposed to die in order to provide evilness contrast to the bad guys, heroic incentive to the good guys, or – in the case of a hilariously-random and preferably buttock-related death – simple comedic relief.
And that about covers it.