On an orange afternoon I reclined on the banks of the stream next to The Riverman; this soft skinned boy, who stared with glass eyes at the willows languidly dragging their fingers in and out of the water. He knew nothing about bricks and microchips, but his knowledge of every reed and globule of algae reminded me of how alien our own world can seem; especially when you experience it through the eyes of someone who knows… someone who sees. Out here I breathed trees and nature in simplistic sensation… but inside his head the machinery clicked with precision, as though seeing thousands of unsolved formulae rippling on the surface.
I’d given him some advice earlier, but it was pointless. I’d told him, after his latest attempt to lose his virginity, don’t point between a girl’s legs when she’s naked and say “that’s where people come from!” He nodded, he pretended to agree. But I knew he wasn’t interested in sex. He wasn’t interested in anything alive that walked and talked. The Boy only concerned himself with silence. Trees can hiss in the wind, birds can chirrup at the dawn, but words, skin and flesh… nothing, except the grinding confusion of someone trying to understand a sentence with all the letters rearranged.
He smelled oddly sour, as though quietly dying inside. Every time we met, I looked carefully at his cheeks for signs of putrefaction… I examined his fingers and fingernails for bloat.
I told him recently about a past failed relationship of mine. I detailed the hurt, the loss, the fucking of a bus driver that put the No. 93 behind schedule every day for nearly six weeks… the very one I needed for work.
I said, bitterly, I fell for a lie. He cupped a handful of my groin smiling. No… you feel for a lie. She had the eyes of a cat.
The eyes of a cat… Not helpful during heartache, and yet I found it hard to disagree.
There were days I wanted to drop a block of stone on this Boy’s head, to release the thoughts trapped inside that thick cranial bubble, to alert him to the real world that he so willfully ignored and never attempted to learn. Then again, as the afternoon turned from orange to red, and as he described the complex chemical dance that is performed by the watching organisms, bobbing on the water weeping for the sun, his world seemed to make more sense to me. Perhaps, if I really wanted to break that skull, it wasn’t to let thoughts out… it was to let me in.
You’re right I said. That is where people come from. And I think we have enough people, don’t you agree?
The Riverman said nothing, and continued staring at the water.