Of course, those you help others have either been: a) those who are just plain NICE; always having that copy-and-paste smile slapped across their faces, b) those whom hate the idea of “not being polite” so they can get their special brownie “points” also known as their parents, spouses, friends, teachers YOU name it! And of course, category c) those who have been helped and don’t necessarily want to help, but they just DO it.
I don’t want to give you the wrong impression about me-the unreliable but also reliable-to-his-parents narrator- but that would assume the plastic-fakeness in me, am I right?
“Josh, hand me that book” Older brother Jimmy tells me.
Since when did he read books?
Jimmy, the jock of the family; the one who drinks straight from the milk-carton, the one who says, “libraries are for chicks” and the one who’s had endless amounts of girls circle him-like wildfire- ‘round the hallways at school.
He’s asking me for a book.
“Dude, just hand it over, will you?” Jimmy repeats in monotone.
And, he’s dressed all in black.
------ --- --- ---- --
People say that I was quiet as a kid. Monotone, talking-to-no-one, lone wolf type A. (Type A meaning aware). While all the other boys my age roused around and tackled one another-with such force that my wimpy arms could never do- I was that kid. That kid whom was the first out of all of my peers to get very bad vision in kindergarten. That kid whom was short and chubby. The one who wobbled down the halls in an overstuffed backpack-because my mother wanted me to bring around two thick world encyclopedias because she assumed that primary school teachers required such things- and turned tomato red every time someone pointed and laughed.
These were the names that I endured throughout my primary school years up until the eighth grade.
Not that it mattered though.
--- --- ---- --- --
It’s sort of a funny story how I ended up here. Awash on the seashore, somewhere in Destin, Florida. The pebbles gnawed at my skull; my arm bloody.
And it all started with a simple question:
“Do you want to help me?”
The simple, vast childhood of mine seemed so distant now. It was like someone had erased all that I knew and did throughout my childhood and replaced it with nothing. Nothing because all I remembered from my past was Jimmy asking me to hand me a book.
Not like it mattered, though.
But, nonetheless, the air was crisp, the palm trees swaying. It was a beautiful day.
As I limped down the shoreline, I winced in pain.
“Dammit!” I muttered to myself. Nothing good ever comes out of coming out of your comfort zone. It’s been forty-eight hours; hours spent roaming ‘round the shoreline, scavenging for bits and scraps of leftover food. Leftover food that was meant for the whole weekend’s trip.
But, here’s the thing about bad luck: karma always comes sweeping in.
Like a hurricane.
Not like there was a hurricane just earlier.
The once peaceful family cruise trip was no more. While I remained alive; ma, papa, and Jimmy are all nowhere to be seen, nor found.
Another hour flew past, and I recall my memories: none. None but that day.
“Ok then, here’s your damn book! Never knew you read anything other than that Moby Dick book from English.” What I had said to Jimmy was rude.
I know that.
That day, it was a normal eleventh-grade experience, one that consisted of being forced to enter seven different classes-all different teachers and “experiences- where we yearn to be on our iPhones and chit-chat with friends.
If I were to go back to school the next day, would people pity me for my loss? Would I even have the strength to go on with my life when all my financial support-my parents- are gone?
I recall back to the lone homeless man on the street, the one who lays on a red-sleeping-bag and carries around a cardboard sign reading, PLEASE HELP. GOD BLESS. Funny how I’m not even sure if the God above would even do anything-or even help-the poor old man. He who strolls down the bike-road-pavements sporting a red-and-black flannel and faded jeans. His goatee is scruffy, his eyes tired. Begging, even though it’s raining outside. Outside where every single person whom he even interacts-and pleads- to ghosts him; like he’s not even there.
Will I become what I most loathe? Would I be able to have even the courage to beg to random strangers?
“Oh, help me! Fucking help, me!” I scream to the nothingness. The sun is shining, so bright it burns my eyes.
How I wish that those who helped would help those who want TO be helped. After all, not everyone wants to be helped. If you saw a little kid crying for help at Wal-Mart because he lost his parents, everyone-including those who hate kids- would rush to his aid. But, if a grown sixteen-year-old boy cries at the Wal-Mart because his whole family died on a cruise, would the very same people come to my aid?
“Are you ok, young man? Do YOU need a ride home?” An elderly woman in her eighties asks me, in pity.
At least she has pity.
“Yes. I’d appreciate that, ma’am” I flash a kind smile and thank her for her kindness.
A grey minivan is parked on the paved sidewalk beside the shoreline. The old lady, introduces herself as Delilah. So, I call her Ms. Del, out of convenience.
“And be warned, young man, if you hear other cars honking at me on the road, holler out to me, ya hear?”
I nod in response.
“Good. Now, another thing: DO NOT dictate the music ok? You young folks don’t appreciate the art of classical Beethoven.”
And, it was a silent ride “home” you see.
After a few hours in Ms.D’s grey-minivan, we arrive at our destination.
But, it’s a bookstore.
The small, vintage bookstore reads: “Little Jones Book place” And, without thinking I enter its wonders.
Dreamcatchers of all sizes, colors, shapes, designs, and patterns line the walls. The walls are a cream-yellow on the far end wall; the wall near the bathroom. The other two walls on my left and right are a bright robin’s egg blue. Those walls have giant bookshelves lining the walls; all filled with books of different genres and functions.
Usually, I’d run straight to the classics: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, To Kill a Mockingbird-just to name a few of my favorites. But, this time, I’m immersed in a particular book in the self-help section of the bookstore:
The book called: “How to help, and be helped”