Part 1: When the colorful are color blind
“Aren’t you even going to fight back?” the bully said as he pushed me to the ground. Those were the first words I heard on the first day of senior year. I lay on the sidewalk ready to block a second assault. “He’s so pathetic!” the bully continued as he walked with his friend back to his car that he had parked on the side of the road just to harass any loser students that got off the bus. In his defense, he was right. I was pathetic. For starters, most seniors in my class had cars so they didn’t have to ride the bus like me.
I lifted myself up from the dirty sidewalk. Oddly, I thought I felt somebody help me up. I looked around but I was alone. “It’s going to be a long year,” I groaned as I headed into the school.
Certain bullies had always spent a lot of time harassing me, as if it were their part-time job. It almost made me feel important, like a respected gangster that everybody wanted dead. The girls were the opposite; they didn’t even want to look at me as they walked by. Around here, if you are an indecisive and socially awkward loner, you don’t stand a chance. I wanted to fit in. How do people automatically seem to know what clothes are in style? I simply wore my flat cap and my Cons. I managed to stay out of the spotlight for the rest of the day.
On the bus ride home, I worked on my homework until my pencil became dull and watched the Amish movie playing through the bus window. “What is their story?” I asked myself after passing an apartment complex filled with random people. When I returned, I retired into some video games and a 6-pack of soda. My parents were always working, and I usually preferred to be alone anyway. My eyes and fingers started to hurt from my game session so I decided to go outside for a walk.
As I paced down the mean streets, a street light turned off as I walked under it. “That’s the fourth time now,” I thought to myself. I had a feeling of deja vu come over me. I’d had some problems lately with intrusive thoughts and odd little coincidences like predicting what song was going to come on next on the radio. But this time, I got a long vision.
In the vision, I looked ahead and saw a school bus full of kids crash. As my mind showed me these images, I started running to the spot my vision showed. Sure enough, a bus started coming. I ran out into the street and waved my arms. The driver noticed me, hit the brakes and turned toward the curb. The bus crashed gently against it. I noticed the car from my vision drive safely by. Everybody exited the bus.
The last person to come off the bus was a short boy wearing a flat cap like mine. He turned his head and started mumbling to himself as if he were talking to somebody.
“Are you a homicidal maniac or something?” the boy suddenly asked me. I just stared at his Tripods t-shirt beneath his unzipped hooded sweatshirt.
When it comes to words, my brain is like an Apple IIe computer. The only thing I could say as my eyes made contact with the ground was, “I guess I am a maniac, but not a homicidal one.”
He glared at me for being a smart-ass. When I am tense, I have a tendency to want to be funny, even in a situation like this. I moved my shoe when a cricket almost touched it and asked, “What’s your name?”
The boy leaned towards me and said, ” I almost got killed back there! I’m nothing to you. I’m just just a water boy for my school’s basketball team! Why the Changents wanted me to meet you is a mystery to me!”
I said, “My name is Zac, but everyone calls me ProZac.”
The boy seemed amused and said, “Really? I have a friend named Fritz, but everybody calls him Skitz. Most of us go by names that bullies gave us, because we kept them as a badges of honor. By the way, call me Waterboy.”
He suddenly looked off to the side listening to something again. He took off running without a final word.
I yelled, “Who are the Changents?” He did not respond.
Part 2: To ever-rest on ground moral-high
A couple of months went by, and my routine stayed the same. The weather was turning colder, but that part didn’t bother me like it seemed to bother everyone else around me. My depression increased though, due to more intrusive predictions I kept getting. I told myself it was all just coincidence whenever something weird happened, like predicting that the phone would ring seconds before it actually did. With the help of my therapist, I was convinced that the bus accident was a coincidence too.
It was hard shaking my disturbing thoughts away, though. I found myself envying Mt. Everest, but not in the usual way where it is a symbol of achieving a daunting task. The way I saw it, the blasted thing took a beating all year round from the elements. All it knows is loneliness and pain. It has no concept of joy as a reference point, so things are the way the’re supposed to be. In other words, Mt. Everest has nowhere to climb.
One day in October, things started off badly. My first period teacher caught me not saying the Pledge of Allegiance. She wanted me to go to the front and recite it alone. I was cracking my wrist with one hand and picking at my lip with the other as I walked up to the front. I noticed one of my socks hugging over part of my pants. After a couple phrases, I paused. My palms started to get sweaty. I had forgotten the words!
“Didn’t you learn this in kindergarten?” the teacher asked. “I should hold you back about a decade.” She laughed.
“Thanks for sticking up for me,” I thought. If only I could say it.
I stood there scratching my thumbnail with my index finger. I felt a strong urge to run out of the room. “Fuck it,” I said and ran not only out of the room but out of the whole school. As I was standing outside the entrance, I paused to catch my breath, then ran all the way home crying. I stopped at the front porch. Through my tears, the view of it looked like an expressionist painting. I noticed that a window was partially open. Against my will, the image of the teacher snapped in my mind. My body shook hysterically. All my well-rehearsed reasons for suicide over the years followed in hot pursuit. I ignored the open window, ran inside and picked up a large knife. It may seem over the top to attempt suicide over just what happened in class, but it symbolized much more than that. My wrist stung as the knife broke the skin.
“Now!” somebody shouted as I felt something invisible grip me from behind. “Don’t you dare, you coleslaw-for-brains!” Waterboy said as he jumped out of the closet. “You didn’t find me ass jack. I was on my way to see you!”
I stood there wiping away my embarrassing tears and noticed that mom did a nice job washing the floor.
“Come on,” Waterboy said as he led the way through my own house to the living room. It was full of stupid pictures of my relatives and some of me in a grade school basketball uniform. I thought I saw Waterboy roll his eyes before throwing himself on the sofa. I sat on the floor.
Waterboy broke the silence, “I have a friend that only I can see. Gale was watching you for a while and reported her findings to the Changents. We know that you can see briefly into the future. Skitz can do it too. He knew you were going to be at that bus stop.”
“Yeah, I get it,” I said. “This is an elaborate hoax that my tormentors put you up to. I’ll play along. Who is Gale and who are the Changents?”
Waterboy made a fist as if he held the last laugh tightly contained inside and spoke, “First question: She is my friend who is a ghost.”
I didn’t give him a chance to elaborate and got up from the floor.
“I know the drill,” I said.
He stood up from the couch with a fist raised at me. “Are you as dumb as the smartest brick?” he said. “I’m not making this up!”
All of a sudden, he paused and looked off to the side. I stood there fidgeting with my hands before I got the courage to say, “If it is alright, I have some homework to do. Is alright if I get to it? I mean, if you want or whatever.”
“You don’t believe me,” Waterboy said as he crossed his arms. “Well, believe me on this! Gale has been watching you for weeks. We will meet again!” Waterboy headed out the door and slammed it as he left.
I opened the door and ran after him. To no effect, I yelled, “Who are the Changents?”
I stood there panting, feeling terrible that I made him mad at me. Being a bit paranoid, I also wondered if there was some truth to what Waterboy was saying.
I went inside and lumbered back to my room. I paced back and forth thinking about Waterboy. I tried to get my mind off things by writing another poem idealizing suicide.
My concentration broke as I heard my mom come home from work. Just then I remembered that my relatives were coming tonight for dinner. I went back to my poem. Just then I heard a bunch of people come in the door along with my dad. I put my pen and paper down as I couldn’t concentrate through all the fake pleasantries I heard downstairs. I sensed it was rude that I didn’t come down and mingle, but I couldn’t bring myself to do so.
“Zack,” Mom called. “Dinner!”
“I don’t feel well,” I yelled back. “I have homework to do.”
She yelled louder, “Come on, there is plenty of time for that. My cooking will perk you up!”
I had a hard time saying no to people. It seemed every time I gave a reason, they would counter me with something that undermined it.
As I walked downstairs I could cut the awkwardness with a knife. I heard a couple of people clearing their throats and I noticed my uncle rearranging his already perfectly-placed silverware. I know that my relatives think I’m weird. Like that Smiths song: if I seem a little strange, well that’s because I am! As I sat down, I didn’t feel like talking in that phony kind way that normal people like to do. When the food was served I hardly ate anything. After I was done I returned to my lair upstairs.
Part 3: Souvenirs from home
A week passed and I was glad that Waterboy never bothered me. “He is crazier than I am,” I thought. But I still couldn’t explain the invisible entity that had grabbed me.
Normally, if I felt strongly about something in class, I would chicken out and not share my thoughts, leaving a terrible regretful feeling in my stomach. Maybe it was the drugs my headshrinker gave me, but I was starting to raise my hand more and more. This didn’t prove to be a good idea. I loved psychology, since it seemed to hold the answers for human motivation. I especially took note of all the hypocrisy in the world of adults that think they know better than people like me. I loved history class as I got to study all the other bastard adults that led up to today. I often questioned our history book in class, criticizing the U.S. for doing things that I felt were wrong such as what we did at Hiroshima and in Vietnam. I became fascinated by people who were ostracized or killed for their beliefs. It didn’t matter if I agreed with the actual ideas or not. I was just attracted to the idea of going against the grain and standing up for what you believe in.
I kept writing about people who had controversial ideas. People were growing afraid of me. The girls started calling me creepy.
I thought of how some people can’t afford running water while we bitch that our iPods don’t hold enough songs. I was compelled to write a paper for psychology class called, “Is Suicide Ever Justified?” I made the mistake of mentioning that life may just not be for everybody, like myself who could never fit in to the standard mold that society demands from us. When the teacher handed back the graded papers, he told me, “I will not tolerate these kinds of attention-seeking papers. Our country that you hate so much allows you to say the crap that you do. I know you get picked on, Zac. Everybody does. You have to learn to take it like a man.”
“Now the teacher notices me,” I thought. “I don’t need to a vision to tell me things will get worse.”
The teacher removed his glasses and rubbed the top of his nose with his finger and said, “I already told Principal Judd about you disrupting my class. But now that your paper suggests suicide, I’m required to send you to the principal immediately.” He grabbed my arm and led me next door to the principal’s office and rang a buzzer.
“Come in,” said Mr. Judd, the school’s principal.
The psychology teacher pushed me inside and left, having done his duty. He followed suicide procedure like a good boy so he is sure not to get fired.
“Well Zac,” Mr. Judd said as he shook his head. “I received lots of complaints by students and the faculty about your behavior lately. You are hereby suspended for two weeks. You need help, Zac. I’m sure your parents will agree. This isn’t a punishment. The school nurse will take you home and discuss this with your parents.” My body felt numb.
When the nurse came in, as sexy as she was, I forced myself to escape the room and run outside. Talk about deja vu again. It was a long run home. When I got there, I unplugged the phone and gathered up video games and food so I could try to find Waterboy. I was distracted by the knife again. I held it and started to playfully cut myself. Suddenly, Mom opened the door. I threw the knife down.
“You’re early,” I said.
“Mr. Judd told me everything,” Mom said. “We are taking you to get help. Come on.”
Just then, I felt something grab me and lead me outside. The last thing I noticed was Mom crying. My panic led to a hysterical fit as the force dragged me across a back road behind my house and towards a park. I waved my arms to no avail. Suddenly I stopped and was laid onto the grass.
“So we meet again,” Waterboy chortled. “Now do you believe me I can talk to spirits? Her name is Gale. We decided to let you learn for yourself where the main road will take you.”
“By the way,” Waterboy said. “You will need to be well rested.” All of a sudden he put a cloth over my face which must have made me pass out.
When I awoke, it seemed to be morning. Waterboy smirked as he hovered over me.
I noticed two guys mixing something near some trees ahead. Waterboy caught me looking and snapped his fingers in my face. “They are Changents like me,” he said.
“What the hell,” I said as Waterboy snapped a device on my wrist. It said “Insomnia” on it. Those words made me wonder if this thing will put me in a permanent sleep. I went to remove it before Waterboy held up what I thought was a detonator.
“We need your help,” Waterboy said.
Suddenly one of the strangers up ahead came running over. He was wearing a shirt advertising a construction company he must work for. He caught me looking at him. “The name’s Skitz,” he said. “Do you sense anything about the Capitol Building? Anything at all? How about if I mention fire, or explosions?”
I stuttered a bit in my reply, “My visions only come when they feel like it, I guess.”
This Skitz guy shook his head. He walked towards the guy ahead that was still mixing something. “Hey Insomnia,” he yelled. “Please hurry and get that solution ready!”
This Insomnia person glared at Skitz and replied, “My special Forever Freeze has to set! We just may need it and it can’t be hurried. You stick to your element and I will stick to mine from the periodic table!”
Insomnia must have invented this bomb on my wrist. As Skitz went towards him, I was left alone like the invisible ghost I am used to being. At least I wasn’t the only one, if I was to believe in this Gale. I decided to catch up to Skitz. We stood around staring into the large mixing bowl. “Ding,” Insomnia said. I felt bewildered as Insomnia started loading the liquid into a large neon green and purple water gun wearing gloves. Insomnia put the gun in a messenger bag and started running off.
Waterboy came running up to hand Skitz the wrist detonator. “Let’s go!” Skitz said as he grabbed my arm and followed Insomnia. I looked back and saw Waterboy playing a DS.
I panted as I tried to keep up with Skitz and Insomnia. We eventually reached a van with the same logo that was on Skitz’s shirt. Skitz opened the door and pushed me in. He and Insomnia sat in the front. Skitz threw the van in gear and started hauling ass across town. I listened in as Insomnia bragged to Skitz about technological inventions that he was working on. My brain wandered off to analyze Insomnia’s appearance. He wore an old 70′s suit. He looked like he was about 30. I tried to clear my mind and relax, but it only enhanced my anxiety. “Where the fuck am I?” I thought.
Skitz broke my trance. “Maybe my vision is false,” he said to an ignoring Insomnia. Skitz turned into a residential zone and parked. Skitz and Insomnia got out. Skitz opened my door and glared at me. “Keep up,” he said.
Skitz led us all by foot. I was apprehensive about what these people were planning. “What does Skitz mean about a fire or an explosion?” I thought. “And the Capitol Building?”