Friday, September 12, 2008

Joseph Godspeed (Part One)

Joseph Godspeed made his way down the crowded street. Careful not to bump into anyone, he pushed and dodged his way through the globs of people that poured down the side walk. The sun shined brightly and the wind was but a gentle breeze. All this considered Joseph still pulled himself tightly inside his brown jacket. His green satchel swung gently by his side. He found him self steering down past his dirty gray jeans to his feet. There his brown sneakers where worn to the souls, but not from travel as one would think, but more from simple age. Joseph thought about the color of his sneakers, brown like the number four he thought. It had been five years since Joseph had bought a new pair and the thought that maybe his next pair should be five colored made him giggle.

Joseph hadn’t had much need for a new pair since his mother died. Not much need for a job. Not any real need for a good number of things, the very things that motivated all the people who sped past him on the side walk. By now he had slowed down to a slow walk. At first he had wanted nothing more then to get home as quickly as possible from the doctors office. But now he was lost in thought counting the people on the street, each number bright with color, all but 7 it was almost too dark to see. Soon Joseph was consumed counting and calculating everything he could see. The radius of a passing taxi cab’s wheels, how the bus formed two perfect Pythagorean triangles, and even simply the number of windows he passed all shown bright with a rainbow of calculations. His mind exploded in a psychedelic blur of numbers and calculations.

It was in the middle of this explosion of thought, brought on by his sneakers that it happened. One moment he was walking. The next he found his body in a terrible collision with the body of a young women. They struck smack into each other and her chest pushed his hand, still clutching the strap of his green bag, trapping it between the young women’s soft breasts. He leapt back hot with shame confronted by the most beautiful young women he had ever seen. Consumed at first by rough shot estimates of force and mass he now found himself consumed by the perfect curve of her hips. She was an unconventional kind of beauty, a quirky kind of beautiful; a kind of beautiful that goes un-noticed until one day someone collides head on with it. Joseph’s mind was now overloaded. In a mix of shame, confusion, and pain he fled.

Lost in the collision, lost in the pure shame of lust, lost in his own reality the ground began to move under his feet. Soon the street was spinning like a tunnel around him. Nothing could be held onto. Nothing could be judged. Nothing could be said to be real. Joseph ran. As fast as his legs would carry him, he was leaving the young women behind. He couldn’t keep his balance and bounced off lampposts, people, and buildings like an iron ball flying down the plane of some twisted pinball game. He had to get home; he had to escape the confusion of the street.

The real question of importance, for those of us looking on, is what that young woman felt. Did she feel violated or put out in some way? Maybe she had been violated countless times in her life. Was she excited by the encounter? Maybe she was a lesbian. Or did she simply brush it all off and move along her way? She may have not even have noticed Joseph. All the answers to these questions seem to depend upon the reality of who that girl was. But for Joseph all that mattered was finding something to hold onto.

When Joseph finally made it home to his apartment building a weight was lifted from him as he slowly climbed the stairs to his apartment. The world around him came back into focus as he reached the safety of his apartment. He always avoided the elevator. Strangely he had forgotten why. His sneakers pounded the old wooden steps as he made his way ever higher. Each step had a number for Joseph; therefore each step had a color. The stairs reached up like a twist rainbow, one colored by a kindergartener with a very odd set of crayons. His apartment was on the top floor far above the city streets below, and as he made his way down the soft green corridor to his door, his breathing had returned to normal. In the entrance of his apartment he hung up his brown jacket and laid to rest his green bag, the only witnesses to follow him home.

He locked the door behind him and made his way in to the single large room between his bedroom and the kitchen. With a push of a button the large plasma screen on the wall turned on. Its light filled the room but its sound was mute leaving the constant image of news reporters and scrolling headlines. Joseph turned on a single light just bright enough to cast a warm glow around the room. Another button pushed and a stereo came to life filling the vacant space of the room with crisp soft music. Finally his desk was revealed, empty all but for a brilliantly white computer monitor and matching keyboard and mouse. He turned the computer on and sat down in the large comfortable chair in front of it.

Joseph’s walls were not visible as they were covered in heavy wooden book shelves. The shelves were packed with books, DVDs, records, CDs and an assortment of three ring binders. The floors were also covered by collections of these objects along with boxes in varying states of openness. It seemed that Joseph’s collection was always growing. It had since college and the beginning of his search.

Joseph thought back to his college days, sitting alone in the quad behind the old student union. From across the fields the ring of a baseball bat dinged like a metronome in the distance, its heavy sound echoed and seemed to dictate the pace and rhythm of the whole quad. Between his classes he’d read all the books he could find. Philosophy, religion, psychology anything that might help him cope with who he was. Nothing seemed to ever work. As he looked across the common three small trees stood like armless crosses. They reminded him of the trinity, the center one ever so slightly taller, and a great rock in the middle. Each had its own color. The first was one-colored, the second two-colored, and the third three-colored. Together they had a strange bright heavenly aura. The rock they crucified his or their or the savior on. Joseph couldn’t make up his mind and turned his attention back to his computer.

A bump of the mouse and the screen came to life. After some deliberation, Joseph’s fingers began to type keys. A flurry of messages and bits of computer lingo flowed from Joseph’s fingers through his keyboard and into the command line on the screen. Joseph liked computers and because of the way he perceived numbers he had no use for visual displays and colorful desktops. He could see the structure of the computer in his mind. A strange synergy formed out of the psychedelic haze of numbers within his mind and the constant inputs and outputs of the machine in front of him. Sadly Joseph had never had need for a career and his abilities would never come to the benefit of society.

Soon Joseph was lost in the protocols and servers which the more terrestrial among us perceive as the internet. Joseph was searching, searching for not only himself but for some brief interaction with humanity outside himself. His brush with the young women in the street was fresh in his mind still. Joseph was wondering how ‘melody_448’ was. Soon he had found her and the digital equivalent of a conversation began.

josephus_31415: Hey! How are you?

melody_448: not good…

josephus_31415: What happened?

melody_448: my boyfriend… just having troubles again…

josephus_31415: You told me you were going to break up with him?

josephus_31415: You said you weren’t going to put up with his shit anymore…

melody_448: i know i just don’t know how to get rid of him

josephus_31415: Well you could just stop talking to him.

melody_448: it’s not that easy you think every thing should be so logical well its not and never is

josephus_31415: Well it should be.

melody_448 logged out

Just like that Joseph was alone again. Another conversation, another brief brush with humanity and Joseph was once more alone with his mind. Sometimes that was all right for Joseph. Other times it was nightmarish. It was too easy to be consumed by anxiety, and sleep never came soon enough for Joseph.

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