Thursday, February 20, 2014

Story 21: The Encounter

             “I feel like a ghost haunting my own childhood.”
            The man sitting at the library computer at first didn’t realize the comment had been aimed sideways at him.  The speaker tried a different tactic and faced his now-listener directly.
            “Don’t you ever feel that way about your life?”
          The next two seconds spanned an infinity for the listener, whose reactions ran the gamut of panic, anger, uncertainty as to what answer, if any, would not be stupid, rude, and/or wrath-inducing, and panic again.  The result: “Uh… sure?”
           That was enough: “I mean, really, like, we work through school, man, and, like, college, and, like, everyone expects you to be successful and rule the world, and here I am, still living in my parents’ basement.  Don’t you think the government and this country’s gone down the toilet since World War II?”
           The listener realized the subject had abruptly changed from the futility of youth to politics.  “Uh… sure?”
            “I mean, you had the Cold War, right, and Korea then, and Korea now, the Middle East for, like, ever, recessions, Darfur, the IRA, and the rich getting richer.  What’s the point of it all, man?”  He waited for The Answer.
            The listener saw some sympathetic glances shot his way.  Sympathetic, useless glances.  “Uh… nothing?  I mean, well, just… try… to do the right thing.” 
            “Yeah, but the CIA, man!  I’m telling you, it all goes back to World War II!  And then the Soviets – ”
            A stroke of genius: “Bees.”
            “The honeybees are dying everywhere.  No one knows why.”  It was pretty much known why.  “The honeybees are us.”
            “Gotta go.”  He got up and left.  A librarian stopped him on the way out.
            “I was about to ask if you needed help – he tends to trap anyone who listens.”
            “I’m fine, thanks.  He may need help, though.”
            “I’ll speak to his mother again; she’s hoping he’ll grow out of it by the time he turns 7.”