Let me tell you about the strangest day of my life … so far.
First, a little bit about me; my name is Reggie Best. I was born in and currently live in Nateley, the smallest region in the Unified Regions of Holrud. The incident happened when I was about eight years, four months, and six days old. I got up from a nap in the late afternoon that day, still yawning. Then I walked into the living room, the nondescript gray carpet tickling my bare feet. And sure enough, Mom was sitting in her accustomed spot, in that frayed green armchair that she liked better than the couch. There was some fast-cut reality show involving divers actually looking for sharks or some other such stupidity on the tube; she was rapt with interest, of course. When I opened my mouth to speak, it was very dry. “Listen … can I go outside?”
“Please do.” She picked up her gin screwdriver from the round side table, took a sip and began to swill it around in her mouth the way she always did; I guess it was to appreciate the taste. “I’ll call you when dinner’s ready,” she said. The truth be known, I still had to write an essay for english class that weekend and hadn’t started it yet; but I had all that night, the next day, and the next night to make sure that it was ready for Monday. So, I pulled on my dark blue sweatshirt, swung the front door open with some effort and began walking down to the park with my head in the clouds. I cut through a gap in the low cement wall and walked into the woods. I knew where Mike would be; and there he was, sitting on a tree stump, long-haired and wearing far too much jewelry for a young man. He was playing that guitar of his that only had the lowest three strings remaining unsnapped on it; he knew the rough approximations of many heavy metal songs, and considered himself quite the virtuoso. “I was wondering when you’d get here.”
“You were waiting for me?”
“Yeah, numbnuts. We’re friends, ain’t we?” I looked around. At the forest, at the trees individually, at random large stones on the ground before returning to his eyes to make contact. I had never had a friend in my life; frankly, my mom rarely even let me out of the house, and I was homeschooled. “Uh … yeah, man. Sure.”
He got up from his seat on the whorled stump. “Cool, then. Well, let’s go exploring.”
“Yeah. It’s like hiking, you’ll like it. We’ll walk around until we reach the edge of the woods. See what we can find.”
“What about your guitar?” I said, as he was putting it in his scuffed black case, which looked to be older than the musical instrument itself. “Out here?” He laughed. “It’ll keep.” Then, and only for a second, it seemed as if his dark pupils were leaking out into the whites of his eyes in places; by the time I had made eye contact with him again, they were normal.