power. Despite everything he’s seen on TV and read in the papers, he retained a faith (founded on what?) that the world was essentially fair. He
certainly never imagined that this kind of thing occurred in his country. Mistakes were made now and again, yes, but corruption was dealt
with sooner or later. He suspects that had he not been white, he might
have realized the way things were way earlier. A man who witnesses
three murders is himself imprisoned while the killers go unpursued and
unpunished. It fascinates him like a math problem, raising questions
life has never before shoved in his face like this, though he’s always suspected the deep state was merely the surface of consciousness.
Without a mirror in the room, he soon begins to forget what he looks
like. He has never enjoyed checking himself out in mirrors, so maybe
there isn’t very much to forget. Yet he did it regularly once, when he took
a stab at acting in high school and even in college. His juiciest role was as
the Stage Manager in Our Town. Ole Thornton knew the score.
He knows his eyes are blue. His mother used to say to him, “Quit
robbing the sky. Where else would you get such a blue?”
His mother he remembers vividly, even passionately. It is a mercy
she’s dead. It would kill her to see him now, and he’d never be able to
explain why he was here. His mother the activist. He remembers her
telling him what she and her fellow feminists used to chant on antiwar
and antinuclear marches back in the day: We’re tired, we’re cranky, and
we hate our government. He learned a lot from his mother. She was like
Rome: not an empire but a history.
Now he thinks about it, he realizes she would probably applaud him.
She would understand and support him. His mother was straight up.
His father, on the other hand—but leave that for another time.
But what else can he say about himself? How else would he describe
himself? With no one to reflect him back to himself, he could look like
anyone. He could have six heads and thirty-four arms, just like a Tibetan
deity. He might be grotesque, with a hunchback and boils on his face. He
runs his hands between his shoulders and over his cheeks. No, doesn’t
seem so. So what does he look like? Were his friends always taking selfies
just to make sure they were still who they were a few hours earlier? Did
they fear they might disappear, burned away like fog in sunlight, unless
they posted their images everywhere?
He thinks about things to which he’s never given a second thought
before. He thinks of the freedom he now has and how strange it is that