Robed Man #4

 He got robbed.

Beaten up by a few dudes in an alley in Newark. Two black eyes, bruised rib and cheek bone, but otherwise okay. That’s why he’s been out of the dorm for the last few days.

The fat kid cleans his glasses, then adjusts him on his face.

“Yeah, that’s where he’s been.”

“Thanks.”

I don’t know what I’m going to tell him. He’s been on my case a lot more these days about this Ian kid.

“He’s the key.”

“Key to what?”

It’s just us to talking in the dinning hall. Since joking about the powers, Javier lost his happy demeanor. His mind wanders, but not to daydream. He gets lost in thought. Bumping into Ian changed him.

“Key to what, Javy?”

“Oh, yeah. The powers man.”

“Why do you care about these powers so much?”

“Dude, didn’t you ever dream about stuff like this?”

“No. Not really.”

“You’re weird.”

He turns, studying the ginger kid, the one that everybody blamed for the accident. He’s doing well considering a lot of the school hates him. Oblivion runs deep in that group. The only care in the world that red-haired head of his is that Asian girl he’s always following around.

“I hate him so much.”

“I mean, I don’t think did anything-”

“He’s not better than us. Just because he survived…”

Watching the news, the accident is Nova University’s version of a school shooting. Ton of victim personal stories, angry politicians ranting in their spotlights, and massive amount of emails coming from the school. The kids who look normal on TV were the only ones we saw. The news mentioned those deformed, but without any footage. The powers portion was underplayed as well. We learned about all the separate list of activities developed for the power kids. Though powers were mentioned here and there, but it was never explained. The first time I even saw it was in the gym, with the fire kid. My mom always checked up on me.

“What do you mean, fire kid?”

“He lit himself on fire.”

I know how it sounded, but I let my mom’s silence linger.

“Oh my god, Jimmy, I- you saw the whole thing?”

“Yeah. He did in the middle of our psychology session.”

“I’m on my way.”

“No, Mom, listen.”

“No more listening, I’m tired of all the things I’m hearing on the news.”

“You’re not paying attention.”

“Jimmy.”

“Mom! He’s fine.” I take a second to try to figure how to say it. “He started the fire, put out the fire, and is completely fine.”

“I…I don’t understand.”

“Remember that one Stephen King book, from like…the 80’s?”

The Shining?”

“Kind of, but different book.”

“He has a lot of books, honey.”

“Mom, the one with the fire.

“Oh.”

“It’s more like that.”

“How?”

“I gotta go, Mom.”

I spend about five different conversations trying to explain, but she still hasn’t caught on. I wonder if she’ll ever understand, but I guess I need to really gasp it before I can explain it. Javier has some theories.

“Just because he can uses more than 10% of his brain, doesn’t make him better than us. I bet he isn’t even smarter than us.”

“I don’t think it’s an intelligent thing.”

“Yeah, Ian doesn’t even see that smart. He’s more…I don’t know the word for it- autistic?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Could you be?”

I had never spoken to him, and in Javy’s mind, made it the perfect solution. He had bumped into him already, and he casually mentioned the psychic powers to him, and even though he was interested, Ian wasn’t. He walked away. Javy tried to speak to him several times, but it could never get past small talk. Ian never brought up the powers again.

“Besides, I have really heavy footing. I’m like Big Foot, but one that‘s not mysterious because I stomp everywhere I go.”

“Wouldn’t Big Foot stomp? Being a large creature and what not?”

“Then why hasn’t anyone found him yet, stomping around in the forest?”

Reporting back, Javy was different. He was reading all the time, but not like real books. Titles with keywords, like metaphysics and astro-physical covered his side of his room. I’ve stayed in the room a few times with him, not even acknowledging my presence. I was graced with the presence with the beta version of Ian.  Javy went from scribbling into a notebook to reading on of his weird books.

“He’s in the hospital.” Javy didn’t even look up.

“Why aren’t you?”

“I can’t…I don’t have that kind of access.”

He looks up at me, and then back into his book. I knew he was done talking to me. I figured I’d try to keep talking to at least…cheer him up or something.

“He’s coming back soon, or at least, that’s what I’m hearing from Robert and his girlfriend. Peter, that ginger kid, he’s living there too. All of your favorite people are in the same place.”

Still nothing.

“I’ll come back when I have more, and when you chill on being a dick.”

My room fills empty. There weren’t enough students to come back for me to need a roommate. I spread out as much as I could, even combining the two twin bed to have the illusion of a full. It was comfortable, but yet, the room doesn’t have anything purpose for the second desk. It faces the wall so I don’t have to think about it too much, even though it’s covered in clothes. I’ve been spending extra time in here. No class, which has been a joke, and my laptop stopped working, so I’m just…staring at my ceiling.

“I’m living in the fantasy world, Mom.”

“Jimmy, I don’t care if you try a little a weed now and then, but I don’t want you smoking it all the time.”

“Mom, I-”

“I don’t want you to become one of those low-lives that need to smoke several times a day, every day, with all your clothes constantly smelling like smoke, and you teeth, oh god, honey, you’re teeth.”

“Mom! I’m not smoking. I’m literally living with kids with superpowers.”

“I still don’t know what you mean by that.”

“Open your mind, Mom. Just try to imagine it before you see it on the news.”

“Okay. I’ll try to.”

“Good.”

“How are you?”

I’m still starting at the ceiling.

“I’m fine.”

“Okay.” She pauses. “You would tell me if you aren’t, right?”

“I have no reason not to.”

There’s a knock on my door.

“Mom, I have to go. Love you.”

“Love you too, honey.”

It’s Li at the door.

Li resents her mother. She’s the opposite of the tiger mom most people would expect, but having one herself tends to eradicate that parenting technique. Anything you want, honey are words she hates more than anything, causing her to rebel for reasons she can’t comprehend. She has had all the pieces of her face pierced, but decided to tone it down coming to Nova. She only kept the hole for her nose hoop. It keeps her at ease, and when she’s out, she had a supernatural need to study and keep her straight A’s. Nova was the best school should could have gotten in to, because all the liberals degrees her mom kept recommend drive her nuts, and she knows Li getting into STEM would make her easy.

“You don’t have to. I mean, I want you do what you want.”

“That’s not your job. You have to tell me about the stuff I need to be studying.”

“That’s not up to me.”

“That’s not what halmeonmi would say.”

It’s the only way Li can throw her mother off. She transforms until the tiger mom she wants. She uses this to help lay off the niceties, but still, it was never enough.

“Don’t talk to me about your grandmother.”

“She wants me to be a doctor.”

“Then be a doctor.”

Li enjoyed it when her mother stormed off. It was how she envisioned her growing up, stomping away from her mother, screaming at the top of her lungs. I hate you, mom. I don’t want to be a doctor with the stern eyes of Grandma, just watching, expecting her daughter be the pinnacle of the American dream. It threw her off when she turned back away.

“But only do it if you want to.”

“Do you want to be a doctor?”

She still looks at the ceiling. She’s…glowing in a way that looks familiar. It’s the way Eva would glow sometimes, when she’s was deep in thought, or about to say something profound. I miss her.

“I don’t know.” She looks at me. “Do you still talk to Javier?”

“Yeah.” I look back up. “Do you?”

“No. He got weird. I still chat it up with Ruby and Nilesh though. You know they’ll be fucking soon?”

“Oh wow, really?”

“Only if Nilesh realizes it. It’s the only thing that’s stopping them.”

“Poor Nilesh.”

“Yeah.”

“Do you want powers?”

“Powers? Like the other kids have?”

“Yeah.”

“No if I have fuck up my head.”

“But if you didn’t?”

“Eh, I guess. Depends on what I’d have to do.”

“True. That makes the most sense.”

“Do you?”

I don’t know. I didn’t answer the question, and still don’t know. I’m curious about it though, and now, I find myself following Ian again. He’s back at the dorm, but still stuck in his room, working the powers things again. I thought of just trying the sneak in and grab it, but four people live in that room. There’s no way I could get in without anyone of them knowing.

Being direct though, that could be the way about it. Javy learned about all this by just talking to him. I figured I’d give it a try. I could hear the typing by the time I got to the door. Two raps, and I waited. A few minutes pass by and I tired another. Minutes more pass and I realize it’s hopeless.

The door swings open.

Ian storms by me, holding his phone. Did he see me?

“Hey, Ian?”

He kept walking. I followed him.