I dunno what this is, what it’s for or if it will continue. But for now – here it is. If you want more, tell me.
We’re all around you. I don’t mean that to sound creepy, or anything, but it’s true. You have no idea how many of us there are. Hell, you don’t even think we exist at all. Which, mind you, works in our favor enormously. It’s so much easier to hide in plain sight when everyone thinks you don’t exist in the first place. It’s like, I could hang a sign around my neck and declare myself you the world. Wouldn’t matter. No one would believe it.
Within reason, of course. I mean, there are limits. That’s why we do keep things fairly low key as often as possible. Hell, back in the sixties, one of us (and no, I won’t tell you his name) even became famous for making up stories about us and telling kids stories. They were all true, in a sense, and untrue in a lot more, but it worked. It kept us sliding into the realm of the impossible. The more impossible we are, to you, the easier we have it.
The best part of it is, for me, that you do most of our secret keeping for us. Sure, you hear about bits and pieces: a mother lifting a car to save her child, someone who seems to catch fire for a second but suffers no harm, a guy who survives a nail through the skull, someone goes skydiving and lives despite their chute not opening. You chalk it up to incredible luck, adrenaline, whatever reason you can hang a hat on rather than look the truth square in the eye. And we thank you for it.
Look, let me tell you a story. I was walking downtown, heading back to work after lunch. Nothing out of the ordinary there. I’d stopped at a hotdog cart, after spending my actual break looking to see if the bookstore had any copies of a kid’s book my son wanted. No luck. So I walked down the street, my tie tucked into my shirt, hoping mustard wouldn’t drip and hit the shirt, even though I’d removed the chances of tie stains.
Anyway, right, so there I was walking down the street. A woman walked in front of me, talking on her phone. I paid her no mind. When you’re walking in New York, you don’t often even notice the other people around you. I think it’s a defense mechanism. So she’s walking and talking, I’m walking and eating and everything is fine. It’s even sunny out, a nice day.
I heard a stranger noise and looked up. There, falling from the sky, was a bunch of rubble. Bricks and glass. The building we were walking near was under construction and I guess some of it got knocked loose. I moved. I knocked into the woman, hard enough to spin her around and push her out of the way but not hard enough to break anything. The time that took, of course, cost me any chance of getting free of the debris myself.
Stone and brick slammed into my back, my head, my neck. Dust rose off of the rubble and surrounded me, choking me. I coughed, and realized the woman had locked eyes with me. She watched it happen. She saw me clearly get hit by, no fooling, a ton of bricks. At no time during this did I worry.
As soon as the barrage was over, the dust not even starting to settle, the woman screamed. That’s how fast this all happened. She hadn’t found time, or breath, to scream. I just stood there, waiting. I didn’t fake injury, or run away or anything like that. I stood there and dusted off the arms of my jacket. Ripped and torn, I still felt the need to dust them off. Habit.
The woman got up and ran toward me. One of her heels broke, but she didn’t slow down. “Are you all right?” she asked, looking all around. “How could you survive all of that?”
I didn’t say anything. Talking just interrupted that flow of excuses from people’s brains. I didn’t even let my eyebrow raise. All I did, actually, was let out a tiny cough, the dust tickling the back of my throat.
“I can’t believe how lucky you were!” she said, looking all around. “Pushing me out of the way, and you only got a bit cut up? How did all that stuff miss you?” Remember, she saw it hit me square. There is no way she could have missed what actually happened. But here she was, saying something else.
I shook her hand, and told her I’d be fine and kept walking, even as sirens sounded and crowds gathered. I took off my jacket, turned a corner and found a cab. We rushed back to my place where I changed, grabbed a quick shower and ended up back at work not too late. Not late enough to get into trouble.
The news that night mentioned a Mysterious Stranger who saved a woman and escaped with only cuts, before leaving. They called it miraculous and wondered who I was. No one questioned why I’d left, not openly, or doubted the woman’s story of my incredible luck – despite there having to be at least a hundred eye witnesses, each of whom talked to a news camera twice within twenty-four hours. Not one of them mentioned seeing the stones hit me. Not one.
Chances are that at least one of them did mention it, of course. But they didn’t air that guy, because they decided he was crazy. He didn’t fit the narrative that’d been established. His view was an outlier against reality.
But the truth is – we’re all around you. We eat with you, date you and sometimes manage to save you from an oncoming train when you’ve fallen onto the tracks to retrieve a watch. We’re there, watching and hiding in plain sight. Because, let’s be honest with each other, we all know what happens if we go public. If we prove ourselves and adjust the narrative of your lives: panic, fear, chaos, anger, wars.
It’s not worth it. Hell, it doesn’t even feel like we’re hiding. We just get to laugh a bit at your own silliness and scoff at how easily you believe everything but your senses.
Though, this isn’t to say each and every one of us is down with the plan. There are dissenters. People who want to use their gifts to take advantage of the status quo. Who want to rob banks, steal things, take advantage of people physically and mentally, and generally be selfish pricks.
This is the story of my son, and how he became one of those pricks. And what happened after that.