Storytime: From A to B.

August 10th, 2016

Five weeks after Jesse was born, his mother heard a sharp, sudden yowl emit from his room, immediately followed by the blurred, orange shape of their cat, Pinkerton
She raced in with her heart in her mouth and her stomach in her throat, but what she saw turned her fears to tears of joy.
Gentle curves spun round the crib, barb-tipped and slowly nudging their way around the room.
Arrows, she realized through the warm rounded puffs of her own head. Her baby boy was thinking in arrows.

From that point on, Jesse’s path was well-marked, well-monitored, and well-trodden. A gift like thinking in arrows couldn’t be left to lie fallow and blunt itself. It was an investment.
Tutors, of course, were mandatory. To place Jesse in public school, amongst public plebeians, would be tragic for all involved. The teachers – those careful, stolid square-makers, so diligently turned to the nineties at each degree – would only blunt him at best, while the mushy and unformed masses of his fellow classmates might suffer injury from exposure to his unfettered attention.
No, Jesse was to be turned and honed to higher purposes. His tutors were lean and tall and set their feet broad and firm on the ground, matching their bodies to their triangular thoughts. Raise yourself high, they told him. Raise yourself high.
Jesse listened, and as he listened he learned, and as he learned he grew past them. Their points were sharp, but their aim was lacking. They were good teachers, but they were poor examples. When he was seventeen he fired all his tutors – for he had since assumed control of his own finances – and applied for several advanced schools. Education loomed ahead of him like Everest; vast, touching the heavens at its tip but arising from an endless range of lowly dirt.
He had spent years learning triangles such as these, and graduated some two years later, with little difficulty. He was, after all, a reasonable, rational adult, and thought as such.
From there, Jesse’s life reached its goal: he was hired. He was placed in an office, in a company, in a building, in a block, in a city, in a country, all of the highest quality as could be determined by the finest metrics. He was given tasks of vast and vague size, which he unerringly skewered to the heart. His gaze was sharp and unwavering and came from unpredictable angles, and wherever it landed it sundered waste and pinpointed profit. No one dared meet it, and if he derived any satisfaction at all from anything that was not purely and wholly his job it was the way everyone else’s thoughts seemed to get just a little smaller and tighter when he walked by them in the hall.
This was the absolute, and if Jesse could be said to be content he was, or at least he had no end of targets to inflict his contentment upon.
And then, there was the park.

It was not a good park.
There was too much grass in the fountain and not enough grass on the lawn. There was one swing out of two. The slide was broken, and besides it had been too hot to touch in the summer.
It was not a nice park.
Plastic littered the bushes; cardboard crept upon the ground. The one park bench there was permanently occupied; half by a tired old man and half by a duffle bag that had sat there for six years.
It was, however, a very good opportunity.
Jesse spoke to the city, and his expertise and authority pinned them to the wall with its force. He spoke to the neighborhood association, and they saw the magnitude of his points and surrendered immediately. He phoned the police and directed to them the most pressing of their problems that day which was a tired old man sleeping on a bench.
And it was a nice day and everything was all set right up until the demolition foreman phoned Jesse in his office and told him he’d better come down here.
“Why?” asked Jesse, probing him from across the line.
The foreman’s wince was a tickle against his forebrain. “There’s someone here.”
“Remove them,” said Jesse, pushing a little harder. “They’re trespassing.”
“Yes, but…there’s someone here.”
Jesse didn’t repeat himself. It wasn’t a matter of principle, or of policy, or of a private rule he kept. It was just one of those things that didn’t happen to him, like flying by flapping your arms very hard or turning into a giant cockroach.
“Remove them,” Jesse repeated. “They’re trespassing.” And he frowned, because something troubled him and he wasn’t sure why.
“You’d better come down and see this for yourself.”

The park was even uglier in person. But Jesse saw past it, because that’s what he did. He peeled aside its simple surface and darted to its core: the real estate, the value, the prize to be claimed from the bullseye of its existence.
And he bounced off it quite badly, so hard that he blinked instead of swearing.
“What?” he asked.
It had not been directed at him, but the foreman answered anyways. “Just there,” he said. Sensibly squared as he was, he had to point with his bare arm and hand to indicate. “Down by the swings.”
Jesse walked around the bench – empty of the tired old man, but strangely, still bedecked with its duffle bag – and into the park, past broken grass and dead lights and under a half-living tree, and in that swingset he found a person.
They were hunched, a little, and small, very. Their legs kicked up short in the swing, and it was taking a lot of work to keep it moving. The chains jangled like an old man’s keychain.
“You are trespassing on private property,” said Jesse.
The swinger did not reply.
“You are trespassing on private property,” said Jesse, and he felt that twinge of discomfort again. “And you must leave,” he added hurriedly.
The swing ceased movement. The person looked up at him through the oddest eyes he’d seen. They were very blank. Not empty. Halted, maybe.
“This is my swing,” they said.
“This is my property,” Jesse said. “This is not your swing,” Jesse said. “You will leave now or I will have the police remove you,” Jesse said. “Your eyes are very peculiar and this alarms me,” Jesse said.
And Jesse didn’t say a single one of those things, instead he squared his shoulders and folded his arms and furrowed his brow and set his thoughts freely upon the small and strange person, because he was very uncomfortable and he wanted no part of this any longer than was absolutely necessary. Out folded his sleek arrows and his firm lines and from every which angle they shot out at the hunched frame before him, jabbing at critical points and cutting through the bullshit and
blunted, bouncing on nothing. Each and every single one.
Jesse did not scream. Jesse did not sweat. Jesse did not stare.
Jesse didn’t even panic, because he didn’t know how.
Instead he narrowed his eyes, reached out again with all his streamlined intent and careful aim and slid out towards his target.
Right there, right where it should be. There should be corners. There should be angles. There should be weaknesses, points of entry. Deliberately constructed arguments to undermine and penetrate.
And instead, there was nothing but smoothness, almost nothing there at all. Where there should be a complexity and a comprehensibility and a humanity to interrogate and infiltrate, a shape, a reason, a MEANING, there was instead something impervious to pressure and perfectly sealed in upon itself.
It reminded Jesse a little of a marble, he realized. Or a beach ball.
“You have to go,” he said. With words, like a primitive, like a primate.
“I can’t go,” said the thing in front of him. “I walk here. I walk here every day at ten o’clock. I walk clockwise around the park.” They pointed at the bench, at the bag that shouldn’t be there. “I pick up the nicest stone I can find and I put it in the bag.”
“Why?” asked Jesse.
They looked at him, and for the first time they met his gaze deliberately rather than his having to hunt it down. “Because it’s what I do,” it said. “It’s what I’ve always done. I have to keep doing it.”
“You have to go,” Jesse said. His brain was starting to hurt. His hands were starting to shake. “Be reasonable. You are a reasonable, rational adult and you see my point. You have to go.”
“I can’t go,” said the person.
Jesse shook his head twice, shot out his breath in a tight swear, and made every single point he could inside his head ten times over.
Then he threw them like thunderbolts.

Phonecalls were made, later that day. Later still, they were heard. Secretaries had to listen to them first, of course. You couldn’t rush these things when you were the sort of man who talked to that sort of man.
(they were still mostly men)
They concerned the country, and more specifically the city, and more specifically the corporation and the park and the entire city block surrounding it and what had happened to it just the other day, and how to deal with it.
What the precise details were, well, that didn’t matter. Details don’t matter to those men. They think in broad terms, in only three terms.


That day, it was concluded that Jesse <

The park is still there. Nobody knows what to do about it. The earthmovers left in about a week. Someone paid the foreman.
The bag is still there. The tired old man isn’t. He may have found a shelter. He may not have.
But nobody wants to look too closely at the park. Nobody wants to find what Jesse did.
No reasonable, rational adult.

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