PAIN
Alex walks to the door and, with a shaky hand, unlocks and opens it.

“Hey Alex!  I have your assignments for you,” Jason says with a smile.

Alex stands there with his jaw hanging down…

“Umm… can I come in?”

“Yes!  Come in.  I thought you were someone else.”

“Oh.  If you have someone else coming over, I can show you what your assignments are and leave.”

“NO!  I mean, you don’t have to leave.  I thought my dad forgot his keys again; he just left and then I heard the bell ring, and…”

“Hahaha… slow down, Alex.  It’s OK.  Let’s start over.  Hey Alex!  I have your assignments for you.”

“Hi Jason; come on in.  Do you want something to drink?”

“Sure, that’s cool; how about water?”

“No problem.  Why don’t we go in the kitchen?  Mom and Luke are taking a nap and I’m getting supper started.”

“OK, lead on.”

They get to the kitchen and Jason takes a seat at the table.  Alex gets a couple bottles of water out of the fridge and hands them to Jason.  Then he gets the potatoes, carrots, and peeler out and joins him.  He starts peeling the vegetables onto a paper towel.

“I can’t believe Mom called for my homework.  What was she thinking?”

“Well, ummm… she didn’t exactly call…”

“What?!?”

“Umm… when I got back, I sorta volunteered to bring it over when I was signing in at the office.  Then they called your mom and let her know I was coming and when… you know, to make sure someone was home to get them.”

“Asshole!  Hehe.”

“Well, I needed a reason to see you again.”

“Oh?” Alex asks, raising his eyebrows and hoping they were on the same wavelength.

“Yeah, I wanted to talk with you about your accident.”

“Oh,” Alex said curtly, and just a bit disappointed.

“Huh?  What did you think I wanted?”

“Nothing.  What would you like to know?”

“Well, I sorta overheard Nurse Wilson talking with Dr. Fowler.  She said that during the accident, while the bus was rolling, you said you felt like you were floating.  What was that like?”

“Dude, it was the strangest thing!  It was like I was planking, but I wasn’t lying on anything!  As the bus rolled over, I stayed parallel with the floor of the bus, so I was kinda spinning, but I was suspended in midair!  As the people were screaming and tumbling, I just stayed were I was and kept my perspective with the floor of the bus.  When the bus stopped tumbling and the people landed, I gently turned over so I was facing up, and I was lowered to the floor… fortunately, not on anyone.”

“Whoa! You must have been dreaming.”

“No, man!  It’s as clear now as it was then; it wasn’t a dream!”

“I heard the guys in the Emergency Room saying you were in a trance when you arrived.  How did that happen?”

“I wish I knew.  When the bus stopped rolling and I ended up lying on the floor, everything went black.  I don’t remember anything clearly until I woke up at 6:30 this morning.”

“Nurse Wilson also said you had some weird dreams; what were they?”

“Well, I kept going to a dark place, but it wasn’t a bad place.  In fact, I felt safe when I was there, but I don’t know why.  I sensed someone or something there, but I couldn’t see or touch them.  I just know that the closer we got to each other, the more relaxed and calm I felt.”

“Wow!  That’s really strange.”

“Tell me about it!  I still don’t know what caused it or what it was.”

“I think I might have an idea about what it was, but you’ll probably think I’m nuts.”

“Not a chance, Jason.  I just told you all this and you didn’t laugh at me once; you didn’t even raise an eyebrow.  I expected you to think I was crazy.  Trust me; I want to hear what you think it might have been.”

“OK, but most people tell me I need a psychiatrist when I talk about this.  You see, I have psychic powers, and…”

“Riiiiiiiight!” I said with a huge grin on my face.

“OK, this isn’t going well,” Jason said and he held out his hand to Alex.  “Take my hand, this way will be faster and you’ll see what I’m talking about.”

Reluctantly, I reached out and held Jason’s proffered hand.  As soon as I touched it, I froze in place and could see things in my mind involving Jason.  Jason was a mind reader!  He was transferring his thoughts and experiences to me as well!  I didn’t know how he was doing this.  It didn’t hurt, but itdid confuse me a bit more than I already was.  I don’t know how long Jason held my hand, but when he released it, I was alert and I retained what he transferred to me.

“Jason!  What the heck was that?!?”

“That was a demonstration of some of my psychic abilities.  You have psychic abilities, too.  I can read minds and plant thoughts in the minds of others.”

“Wow!  So you can read from and write to minds?”

“Yes, and that’s what I just did to you.  I wrote to your mind and now you know what I can do.”

“I sensed that you can hypnotize people, too.  Is that what you just did?”

“Well, not exactly, I just transferred information to you.  It’s related to hypnosis, but they’re not the same thing.”

“Why are you telling me this?  Shouldn’t you keep it a secret?  What if I tell someone?”

“Haha!  Go ahead, Alex, tell someone.  Good luck getting them to believe you.”

“Yeah – I guess I would sound kinda nutty.  But why did you tell me this?”

“I came to recruit you, Alex.  You see, you have psychic abilities, too.  Don’t try to deny it; before I brought your breakfast in this morning, I watched your display with the door and then saw the water bottle shoot from the table to your hand.  Alex, you have the ability to control things with your mind… that’s psychokinesis.  Sometimes it’s called telekinesis.  But either way, it’s a gift and it needs to be trained, much like you were doing this morning.”

“OK, I’m not ready to buy into all this yet, but if what you’re saying is true, how did psychokinesis help me to float?”

“It didn’t.  Well, not directly.  You see, you can also levitate.  You’ve seen magicians levitate their assistants, haven’t you?”

“Yeah, but that’s all fake, right?  Thin wires, mirrors, stuff like that?”

“Exactly, but that’s because they’re entertainers.  They show you an illusion.  You, on the other hand, actually can cause objects, even yourself, to levitate.  During the rollover, your subconscious took over and protected you.  If you can’t fly around, you can’t get hurt.  So your subconscious allowed you to float and keep out of harm’s way.”

“Jason, this is a bit much to accept.”

“I can understand that.  I was confused when I discovered my abilities, too.  With all the psychokinetics that we’ve identified, more than 98% are also levitators.  Just like most of the telepaths we’ve found also have the ability to hypnotize as well.”

“Wait!  You said ‘that we’ve identified’, there are more like you?”

“No.  There are more like us, Alex.  Remember, you have psychic abilities, too.”

“OK, you lucked out and found out about me, but what about others?  How do you-”

“We,” Jason interjected.

“Sorry, how do we go about finding others?”

“A lot of the time it’s just good luck.  I mean, how many bus accidents kill all the passengers but one?  Of those accidents, how many times is the sole survivor not injured in any way… not even a scratch or a bruise?

“Your case was unusual to say the least.  But the truly lucky part was having me working at the hospital.  I received a call from my cell leader last night around 7:30.  She briefed me on the situation and I was asked to see if I could learn more.  You really made it easy when you gave your demonstration this morning.  Hehe.”

“Wait a minute… you have a ‘cell leader’?  What is this, some kind of secret organization?!?”

“Nah… we’re in the phone book; we have a webpage; we’re open and above board… but most people think we’re a bunch of kooks.  This actually helps us, so we don’t deny it.  Haha.  Stop and think.  What do you think when you hear that someone is a psychic?  Be honest.”

“Well, I think about Psychic Readings and crap like that.”

“Yep.  Crap like that.  ‘Crap’ is the operative word here.  People don’t believe it and we don’t try to change their minds.  This lets us hide in the open.  They just say, ‘Oh, it’s just the kooks from P.A.I.N. again.  They’re harmless.'”

“Pain?”

“It’s an acronym: P-A-I-N.  It stands for Psychics Against Injustice Now.  We use our abilities to help, and if we do it right, no one realizes that we did it.  That’s the cool part.  Unfortunately, that’s also the uncool part; we never get any recognition for what we do.  Of course, if we did, we wouldn’t be invisible to the rest of the world.  So, it’s like wetting your pants in a dark suit… you get a warm feeling, but nobody notices.”

“Hahaha!  That’s a great analogy!  So what is this all about?  Are you trying to recruit me for your ‘cell’?”

“Not yet.  First I’m recruiting you for my team.”

“Team?  How many people are on your team?”

“Including you and me?”

“Yes.”

“Two.”

“Haha!”

And so the boys went on talking…

 

* * *
Across town, Mark was arriving at his dojo.  He had never had anything like that happen to him before; he couldn’t explain it.  His arm was in motion and came to a complete stop with nothing and no one interfering with it.  He didn’t let on to Alex that his arm was paralyzed… that would be showing weakness!  He couldn’t let his son see him as being weak!  Ever!  The damn kid already sucker punched him once.  It wasn’t going to happen again, dammit!

‘I have to find Sensei Lee.  He’ll know what to do,’ Mark thought.  Unfortunately, Sensei Lee was with a class for another 15 minutes.  Mark used the time to allow himself to relax.  He had lost two of the last five fights that he had in the Mixed Martial Arts matches last week and his chi was conflicted.  Alex ending up in the hospital didn’t help matters any.  Alex was OK, but they must have given them every fricken test they could think of.  With an 80/20 split with the insurance company, he’d better start winning more, and soon, or the 20% would break him.  He talked with Sensei Lee earlier and was able to get a couple more classes every week, but he really needed the money from the MMA matches to pay the bills.

Finally, Sensei Lee’s class ended and Mark waited at his door until he was called to enter.  He approached the Master and bowed deeply out of respect to the Sensei’s age and position within the organization.  The men sat on the floor facing each other.

“Sensei, I have experienced something today that is unlike anything that has ever happened to me.”  And he told the story of his arm becoming paralyzed, leaving out the parts about knocking Alex across the room and swinging in anger at Luke.

“Mark, would you rather have struck your baby son and caused him harm?”

“Of course not, Sensei, but the fact that it happened is gnawing at me.  What if it happens during a match?  I could be slaughtered!”

“Mark, you have left parts out of your story.  Without a complete explanation, I cannot help you.  Are you ready to tell me what really happened to you?”

Mark sighed and told the complete story this time.  Sensei Lee thought for a minute before speaking.

“Mark, you are showing anger towards your sons.  Neither of them has caused your problems.  Somewhere inside you, something knew that what you were doing was wrong and that ‘something’ stopped you from injuring your sons further.  If you want this to stop, stop striking out in anger.  You knew that discipline and patience were required to become a master, and you succeeded, but you have to use that discipline and patience with everything in your life… especially with yourchildren.”

 

* * * 

“Alex, I’ll give you some time to think about this.  Today is Wednesday.  Let’s meet again on Friday night.  By the way, when you held my hand before, I couldn’t help but read your mind momentarily.  That was unprofessional of me and I apologize, but I can’t undo it.  What I can do is give you more information about me.”  And he took Alex’s hand again.

A moment later Alex had a happy yet surprised smile on his face.

“You mean…”

“Yes.  That’s exactly what I mean.”

Then the boys stood, hugged each other, and shared their first kiss.

“What do you want to do Friday night, Alex… besides get a hotel room?  Hahaha!”

“I think a movie would be cool.  What do you think?”

“That sounds great!  What period do you have lunch, fourth or fifth?”

“Fourth,” Alex said… and crossed his fingers.

“Excellent!  Same as me!  I’ll see you at lunch tomorrow.  But now I have to get home and do myhomework.”

“Shit!  Thanks to you I have homework too. *sigh*”

And Alex hugged Jason once more and walked him to the door.  Before leaving, Jason asked for Alex’s cell phone.  He dialed a number and handed the phone back to Alex.  Then he answered his phone when it rang.

“Now we have each other’s numbers.  Call or text any time.”

“And you do the same.”

They hung up and Jason went on his way… smiling.

Published November 1, 2011

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