I’ve been looking for that dude in the white hoodie, my buddy Bryon Heck.
He’s nowhere to be found. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen that crazy joker Vivek, the bro who can’t tell a joke if his life depended on it.
I used to run into them everywhere, everyday, without even looking for them.
Go to the library–they’d be there. Grill up some hotdogs, there they were. Stop by my mailbox to drop off a manuscript, one of them would stop by.
Plum it all, the drifter life is hard. When you’re homeless, everybody sees you everyday, and they just expect that you’re always there, like a lamppost, and you’ll be there everyday. Sometimes, they don’t even think to say hello or goodbye because you’re a fixture in the town. They’ll see you tomorrow, right.
But these dudes are gone. My brothers.
Did they get swallowed up by that rogue culling disaster called DTS? All my drifter friends have been worried about it. We don’t think it’s hit our world yet, but no one seems to know when it comes, and when it hits, it hits hard, fast, and without warning.
Like I always do when I’ve got something on my mind, I stopped by my gals Emma and Cathy Tea.
“Have you seen Wilkes and Heck?” I asked them.
Their eyes got big. You seen saucers? Yeah, like that.
Emma told me to pull out my tablet. She dialed up this blog. Bryon’s face looked out at me from the screen–dude was clean-shaven with fricking ruby studs in his ear. Vivek smiling over some gorgeous wisp of a woman.
What the plum.
“It’s ok,” Emma said. “Take it easy. We’ll explain it the best we can.”
The best they could didn’t do plum for me. But the gist of it is that Heck and Wilkes are gone. Out of this world.
“That’s not the only thing,” Cathy Tea said. “I’ve been having memories. Well, not really memories, but more like…”
She trailed off and just looked at Emma.
“Do you know anything about string theory?” Emma asked.
“My guitar’s got strings,” I said.
“Yes! Exactly!” cried Emma. “That’s where it all starts! Now imagine the guitar string released from the guitar, curled upon itself, and in places it crosses over itself.”
Here’s where it got too big for my feeble mind. Sometimes, I get this duh-look. I think I had it then.
When I started listening again, Cathy Tea was going on about these other lives she had.
“In one, I’m young, with all these skills, and I’m living, well, actually, I’m living with Emma!”
They both started laughing.
“In the Emma world, I live with a bunch of hippies, too. We just hang out and have fun. In another, the world is so quiet. I live in this simple, peaceful house, full of books and a piano and a sweet, wise, funny, chess-playing man. And it’s like we’re there, waiting. I don’t know what we’re waiting for.”
“But what does this have to do with anything?” I asked. “This metaphysical stuff. It’s just electrical impulses, right? Your digital hormones gone wrong shaking up some illusions of other aspects of reality.”
Emma shook her head. “It’s not that simple. There are other simultaneously existing worlds, dimensions, places in space and time. And in some of those, there is an Emma and a Cathy Tea. They are us–and Cathy Tea is learning to feel connected with those other aspects of herself living in those other worlds. I’m not venturing there, myself. I’m allowing myself to fully and completely live in the here and now–wherever that here and now happens to be!”
They burst into laughter again, but whatever it was they found funny beat the plum out of me.
“Are there other me’s?” I had to ask eventually.
They shook their heads. “Not that we know of! There could be, there could not be. It’s not essential that one have multiple instances of one’s self.”
“And it doesn’t really matter,” Cathy Tea said. “If there are other instances of you, and if it’s important for your growth and development to know about them, you’ll know about it somehow. The knowledge of other experiences will come to you. You don’t need to do anything to try to bring them about. Just live this life–fully, completely, and in your own way, being the you that you want to be! If you do that, everything else will fall into place.”
“What about Heck and Wilkes?”
Emma and Cathy Tea looked at each other.
“We have reason to believe,” Emma said, “that there are only single instances of each. Just one Bryon Heck. Just one Vivek Wilkes.”
Cathy Tea continued softly, “And they’ve left this world, Jack. They’ve gone to another hard drive. There’s something there that they need to do. The lives of many homeless depend upon it.”
I felt something strange in my eyes. Like they were tired or heavy. My throat felt tight. I couldn’t really talk for a moment, and I could only blink.
Wilkes and Heck left, without saying good-bye. And that mattered to me. How many countless times have I just drifted out of others’ lives, without saying good-bye?
I took my contrition into my heart, hugged Emma and Cathy Tea good-bye and told them I’d see them soon, and headed over to the Robisons’.
I headed to the Robisons’ because they were expecting me.
Somehow, it seems like it matters that I do what I tell people I’ll do.