What he thought when he was a kid was that he wasn’t wired like other people. He imagined it that way, wiring, electronics, titanium, circuit boards, diodes. He was full of that stuff, he thought. He imagined. Kid. Weird kid. Someone could write a pamphlet. How to Identify Weird Kids. It would be short. Page one: “Weird kids are by themselves a lot." THE END. Instant classic. So yes, he was by himself. A lot. He had a brother, older be a few years. Lots of other kids on the street. Suburban. Wide. Not many cars. They played in the street, and the parents didn’t tell them not to. What were the parents doing? The dads were driving things or loading things, repairing broken stuff. There was a real culture of fixing broken things with the dads on that street. A couple of them did stuff in offices. Bookkeeping? Managing? The kids didn’t know. The moms, some of them, worked at a grocery store or at the desk in a dentist office or waitressed. Part time. Most of the time they did the kids and the house. Took breaks to smoke cigarettes together at each other’s kitchen tables. Where are the kids? Playing in the street. The kids were a jumble. Mostly boys. The two girls were girls and also a little younger. The boys, a couple sets of brothers and a few non-brothers, were separated by maybe three years, oldest to youngest. He was youngest of the boys. Being left out is a hazard of that job. Being picked on also comes in the description. Someone has to be youngest. Littlest, they would say.
It was a good jumble of boys. Typical. Stack of bricks, in the street, a board leaned against them to make a ramp. Someone on their back at the end of the ramp. Someone else riding their bike as fast as they could. Up the ramp, a few seconds being airborne, and the rear wheel touching down inches from the kid on his back, feeling the sun radiating up from the blacktop, grit. Eyes closed tight. This is how you earn your turn to jump. But no one would be under the ramp when he took his turn. No one thought he could pedal fast enough to clear a kid’s prone body. Man, were they right about that. Kid. By himself a lot. Weird kid. Not wired like other people. It extended, he thought, to his ability to ride a bike. It was all a front. Everyone was tricked. He could ride a bike as fast as any of them. Faster. Run. Jump. Whistle. Climb. Throw. Kick. Mow a lawn. Anything really, better than any of them. Better than anyone. Because he was wired different. That was the thing they didn’t know. Not even his mom and dad. He was wired. Different. Why was he the way he was? Why different? Why weird?
Because he wasn’t human.
Not really. Not quite. Cyborg. He didn’t know the word. He just had the idea. The fact of who he really was. So much of him, his body and even his brain, it wasn’t human. He’d been made this way. Secretly. Picked out for it. Those trap doors in the sidewalk, diamond plate steel. What you saw when they were opened, when men like their dads, hardhats and tool belts, when they opened those trap doors to fix something, you didn’t see what was really under there. A little well filled with wires and connections that those men fiddled with. Not the real thing. Underneath, the trap door under the trap door. A whole city. A second world. That was where it happened. When he was alone. Which he was often. Alone. The doors opened and he was taken under. He was wired then. Not all at once, but over time. It didn’t change him. It confirmed what he was already. Weird. He’d been identified as being right for this. He was one of the few who should be wired. But it was a secret. Why? Why keep all his specialness a secret? Because no one would understand. It was like that. He had a button. A badge made with a little kit his brother had and let him use sometimes. This was when he was a few years older. He’d been identified by then. Weird kid. They were on to him, at school or away from school. He could be spotted easy. Kids he’d never seen before, just playing at the park. Hey weird-o. Like it was on his face. What was he going to do about it? He wasn’t going to fight. He wasn’t wired for that. Besides, if he fought with his cyborg strength, he’d kill someone. He knew the word cyborg by then.
Some point, he made a badge. I’m weird. Small black letters, off center on a white background. Just get it out of the way. Let everyone know there was no reason to announce it to him. He knew already. Message received, world. Long time ago. You have to piece together stuff like this. Memory is a liar. Not even a good liar. Memory changes its story. Put memory in an interrogation room, third degree, the story keep changing. Interrogators are like, This asshole can’t keep their story straight. Hiding something. Memory. What is it hiding? From who? So memory isn’t enough.
Public records. Witness accounts. Primary sources. Is there a diary? Did someone keep a dream journal? That’s the most accurate record for something like this. Memory lies. Dream can’t stop telling the truth. That’s not fanciful, it’s the facts. Does it help to know someone if they want to be known? It does not. Wanting to be known, that’s a lens that will distort. Right there, want, too specific. Directed. Someone wants to be known. What do they want to be known as? How do they want to be known? As themself. The truth. Just the truth. Someone says. What is that? Do not tell me that. Meaningless. The truth. Someone, a person who wants to be know, they want who to know them? Who do they want someone else to know? The real me. Where to even start with that. No where. Don’t try. Real. Truth. Essential. Facts. History. All of the liars. Yes, consult the liars. Get those stories, too. Always grains of something useful in there. Useful to what? The exercise is what? To know. Maybe. To understand. Maybe. Whatever it is, it takes some digging.
Archeology, how they divide a site into a grid. Dig deep into a square in the grid. Find shards in one square. How do they relate to the square next to it? How do they fit with the splinters from the square on the opposite side? Mostly, don’t rely on what you think you already know. A piece of something by itself, you can imagine it is anything at all. Context. It may look like a fragment of a wing of an airplane, but this dig is from 500 BCE. Context.
Here is a piece of wire. This came from a circuit inside a weird kid’s head. Forty-something years, maybe fifty years ago. Look at what a computer was fifty years ago. How’d they fit something like that in a kid’s head? The context is telling us something. Is this a fact, this bit of wire? Physical evidence. Holding it, feeling it. Here in the hand. Real as real gets. So. From a dream then. The realest stuff is from the dreams. This piece of wire, did it fall out or was it removed? And is that why, years later, is that why he still felt weird? His connections to the world. So many ways to reach out and plug in.
Here, my thoughts.
Here, my pictures.
Here, my vacation in Cancun.
Here, my values.
Here, here, here.
Me, me, me.
So many way to know and to be known. And memory isn’t the only liar. He had an idea for a story about a girl who invests a phone app. It has ultimate access to your data. It digs so deep, it can see into your underneath. It knows your dreams. It can show you your own dreams. Which dreams the app sells to third parties so they can send you ads for the things you most deeply dream of having. He thought that this idea was real. Something that was bound to happen. Was happening. The new electronic world penetrating into dream life. The most real thing of everyone’s life. Of course, his hardware, the wiring he’d received as a child, it was incompatible with all this. No updates available. Legacy product. He wasn’t wired for any of it. Being known required something else. He though about his badge.
I’m weird. He should have never taken it off. He was maybe most like himself when he was wearing that thing. Announcing the obvious before anyone could accuse him of it.