I saw him again today, outside in the yard, his head down, looking at the ground as if staring through it, staring at the devil from the Earth above. Who was he? He was me, a younger me, a childhood reflection.
I approached him today. The closer I got to him the more he seemed to fade away and almost completely vanish. It was as if we couldn’t fully be in the same place at the same time. At least not occupy the same physical space in terms of proximity. Think magnets, except one magnet would vanish if too close to the other, the friction visual rather than physical. Realizing this I kept my distance.
I stood several feet away and asked myself what was wrong. The kid me, as in he, looked up at me and said that he had skipped school. I asked him why. Kid me said he was being bullied. I asked by who but I already knew the name he’d say: Billy Borges. Hearing my childhood self say that name made my fist bawl up in thinking of all the times Billy Borges had tormented me.
I told myself that someone needs to do something about that. Kid me said that he told the teachers and his parents but none of them did anything about it. He said the other kids didn’t do anything either. They just laughed. I remembered that. I told kid me to stand up to Billy Borges. “Don’t let him push you around.” I told him to do something back to him. I told him it’s okay to defend yourself.
My kid self said he was scared. I know that feeling. Going to school, wanting to be left alone, wanting to get the day over with because you were forced to be there in the first place, being interested in learning but being unable to do so because some kid had to be there to stop you, to torture you, to be that speed bump in the road guaranteed to misalign you. Funnily enough he never did seem to skip school either. He was always there when I was, specifically there for me, to torment, to tease, and to make life that much worse.
I told myself to wait there. Then I went inside and into the kitchen. The whole time I thought about the pushing and the kicking and the spitting and the slaps to the back of the head. I thought about the name calling. I swear I could hear his voice again. I heard him tease me in that same snake voice, slithering insults, calling me those same names with that same lisp. Hate began to swirl inside.
I left the house with the device in hand. I couldn’t approach fully so I laid it on the grass, took steps back and then asked myself to pick it up. Wisely he asked what it was and I told him. The little black thing with the chrome siding was a tool, originally designed to burn and melt down materials. I told him to take it and point it at Billy Borges. Point it right at his face. Press the little button on the side and then watch him melt. Predictably, the eyes of my kid self lit up. He took the weapon and slid it into his pocket. Next he thanked me and walked off my yard. Then he was gone, faded away, I would have missed it if I blinked.
* * *
I heard sirens yesterday. A man came to pick me up. An obvious mistake, I thought so at least, because surely he didn’t mean to take me in. I didn’t do anything. I told him I didn’t know anything. The man said “your fingerprints were all over the weapon.” Well of course, I put the thing together. Then the man said something about mass murder and I thought to myself: geez, how many people did you melt? I assumed the laughing kids and the teachers, deserved though unnecessary. I guess even smart kids do dumb things.
Besides the bullying I wondered what prompted kid me to be at my home in the first place. And what was his mode of transport? My questions were not answered instead more were raised soon enough by the arrival of another me. This one outside my cell, this one looked to be me fresh out of high school. This me scolded me, then after, simply slid the device to me through the cell bars and left as quickly as he appeared. I took the device and melted enough bars so that I might escape, and I did escape.
My other self had already melted the security cameras and taken care of the guards. Good thinking me. I left my holding place and headed home. Upon arrival I noticed that my front door was open. Had I left it ajar? I entered my home slowly and checked around. Good thing it was dark already. Might I be able to surprise myself? I did. Upon reaching the kitchen the lights flicked on. An ambush, had they already known of my escape? No, an old man sat in a wheelchair before me. Something was in his hand. He and I shared faces. I thought fast and pointed the device at him. He laughed. I pressed the button. He laughed harder.
I said my thoughts aloud. “Why doesn’t it work?”
The old man simply said “Prototype.”
But that couldn’t be true. I looked down at the device. Sure enough, it was true. I hadn’t noticed. I’d been so desperate to escape that I hadn’t noticed the differences in design. It had been so long since I had used the prototype. It had a much weaker charge.
Old man me had stopped laughing now. He pointed what he had at me, the real thing. How did he get it? I didn’t ask. I only watched.
“Let me now rest in peace,” he said. Then I felt so warm all over.
Rickey Rivers Jr was born and raised in Alabama. He is a writer and cancer survivor. He has been previously published with Fabula Argentea, Cabinet of Heed, Back Patio Press, (among other publications). https://storiesyoumightlike.wordpress.com/
Image via Pixabay