Yesterday was release day for a book I wrote called Beacon, book one of the Nation of Five series. The book is about young men and an impossible task they set before themselves. Well, I know a lot about impossible tasks. I’m a DID survivor who suffers from hallucinations. I have bipolar and Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder. Getting through a day where I make dinner, hang out with my kids, be a husband to my wife, and not end the day screaming, is the completion of an impossible task. Well, it may be an impossible task that’s undertaken in the book Beacon, but it’s only even considered because of the friendship between four boys. Four teenage boys attempt this daunting feat. Got me thinking about the boys and men in my life. And so this weekend to celebrate the release of Beacon, I will be dropping upon you chapters from Reality of the Unreal Mind. These chapters are from the unreleased third volume, titled The Keep. I start at 7:30 in the evening on Friday, and will end at 9 at night on Sunday. So follow me now into the story of the men who made me possible.
You ever hear of it? It’s an old book about a Roman born to privilege. He is brilliant, probably the greatest mind, or at least one of the greatest minds, of his time.
He was born crippled and would never be normal. He was ruled over by a powerful and abusive matriarch. He was ridiculed by all of his peers. Misunderstood and looked down upon. He was abused verbally and physically by his family. And he was the outcast. The one they never talked about and that they hid from the public.
Broken. Abused by a mother figure. Abused by his peers. Abused by his family. A mind to rival any other. And one day Claudius ruled all of Rome.
This book was given to me by a man who is no longer in my life, and I am less without him.
The name I give him is Pear. He will know why. You will never get it. But this chapter is as much for him as it is for anyone, and why not have a bit of an inside joke with him?
He gave me that book, gave me I, Claudius for Christmas one year. Now this is when I am not in Bekah’s family. I have gone to Christmas with her, but the two of us are just friends. He has no reason to treat me with any kind of kindness. Almost everybody was fake. This man with this book reached out to me in a way no one else did.
See, Pear and Plan used to be married. It didn’t work out. Why, you ask? Well you shouldn’t even have asked because it is none of your business. I won’t tell you and I don’t even have all the details. They were not meant to be. They realized it while they were young and they still had years of happiness to live. I call that as much of a win as divorce can ever be.
He is gone to me now, but let’s look at the majesty of that present. That is not a light read. No one in that family values me for my mind, and no one in that family would ever think I could read that book. It is an academic’s book, and Bekah’s family does not think of me as an intelligent person.
See, I am the Street Rat. I am Billy’s Boy. I am the gangster who can’t whistle. I am the guy from the Waynesville Mafia. I barely graduated. I flunked out of college. I tell wild stories and write books that are not popular yet. They see me as a mongrel. A lot of them don’t mean to, and they are looking for a way to respect me for my mind, but they are not there yet. In all of this, Pear gave me I, Claudius.
He was speaking to me that Christmas. He was accepting me as more than the others.
Now when it came out that I had DID, he and Plan became very interested. See, they had a college friend who was diagnosed with the same disorder. They had experience with it. They were not scared of it, and they wanted to get involved. They talked to everyone. They had a real conversation with Tier back when he was Shush and couldn’t talk. They gave me love with every word and they celebrated my disorder. They spent time.
One day Plan saw Lenore across the room and saw the vacant stare, the open mouth, and the shocked eyes. Plan asked no questions, and she acted very out of character when she came over and hugged Lenore.
Now Lenore loves four people. She loves Bekah, Rayph, Willow, and she loves Plan. This was back when Plan was married to Pear. They as a couple made a point to get to know us and accept us.
Pear is a mathematician. Man, I fucked up spelling that. But Bekah is going to clean this up, so I will move on.
He is a math professor who specializes in geometry. Shapes are this man’s life. He wrote entire papers and did months, maybe years, of study on the dynamics and mathematics of bubbles. I like to picture him walking around in a classroom or lab somewhere with a pink and yellow container of kid’s bubbles blowing on the wand, getting soap on his fingers as it drips on the floor, and he tries not to slip on it and stares wide-eyed and calculating the intricacies of a bubble.
Well, it is high math so don’t make fun of it. You can’t do it most likely and neither can I. This guy was obsessed with trees. He did geometry equations on the mass of trees. At least that is what I think it was. The dude figured out the geometry of a fuckin’ tree.
This is a mind to rival all others. I think we can say this muthafucker’s got game. But even with his violent intelligence, he never spoke down to me, not even once. His mind worked differently than mine did, but he knew what I was even before I did. He had faith in me when no one else did, and I do remember blowing his mind one day on a car ride through Milwaukee.
They lived in the same city but about twenty minutes from us, and he had to drive from our house to his and back for some vital thing they had forgotten. They have kids. It’s not that crazy an idea. Anyway, I rode with him and we were talking about his work.
“My work is at the level where it is not even practical anymore. I am at a level of theory and mathematics where the things I am working on have no real application,” he said. I was asking him about his work, and you can’t really do that with this level of expertise.
He would have to explain to me for about thirty hours all the backstory before I would even be able to comprehend what he was saying. It’s not even worth trying. At his level to mine. Expert in the field to destitute layman. No, this is not a conversation he is willing to have, but I love to get this guy talking about math.
I love to get anyone talking about the things they are passionate about, and I don’t have to understand any of it at all to enjoy it. See, I like the way he lights up. I just have to get him to do that before we get back to my house.
“So give me an example. I won’t laugh. I understand academics, I can imagine how wild these things get. So hit me. What are you working on?”
He looks at me exasperated and says, “Fine. I have spent the last few years studying mathematically the best way to stack oranges.”
“Fuck that is amazing,” Shadow says. “That is up there shit. Man, I can’t even imagine what goes into that. At the store they just do what works but they aren’t taking into consideration all of the technical shit, so they are all doing it wrong.” Shadow looked at him and saw his smile beaming. “When you figure it, you publish it, but don’t tell those fuckers at the grocery store.”
He laughed like he would bust a gut. Then I blew his mind by thinking about his field and forcing him to think about it in a way that he never had before. This guy has been working shapes for most of his life and he was stunned when I asked him, “So what is your favorite shape?”
This is a kid’s question. This is not a question you ask any adult. It is a completely inane question specifically designed for the guy who has been stacking oranges for a few years. When I look at his face, I sit amazed as I know exactly what he is going to say.
“I have never thought about that before.”
Try to wrap your head around that. At this point, this guy has been a doctorate level geometry god for over a decade. He walked all the steps it took to get to that point. He has been looking at and thinking about shapes for his entire adult life. Probably fascinated with them as a kid, too. But his highly brilliant mind has never entertained this question before.
He stares at the road for a few minutes, completely lost in his math. I am sure he can see shapes floating before the car, but he is still behind the wheel. He turns to me breathless and gasps out, “Triangle.” And he blinks. He can barely catch his breath now. His eyes are wide, his pupils dilated. His hands tremble on the wheel, on the steering wheel of the car. He’s had a real moment here. I’m witnessing this man think about his entire world in a different way.
Like and dislike. Approve and disapprove. Pear is choosing. Stop and think about that for a minute. This man studied the dynamics of a bubble. With a measuring tape and a pad of paper, Pear can tell you the mass of a tree, and he has never thought of this question before. When he says triangle, he shouts it out. It’s violent, as if fired from a canon. And in the wake of that canon blast, is he deaf? Because he looked around as if stunned. He gasped for air as if the smoke around him was filled with the explosion of gun powder. And what then? What effect, if any, did my question have on Pear? We’ll never know. Maybe his math questions changed, maybe they didn’t. I’m not going to tell you the effect moving forward that my words had on him. What I will tell you is what I experienced in that moment. I asked him the absurd question, and I watched the man explode, fire off into the world his answer. I draw no conclusions of the effect that question had on him. I can only tell you the effect his answer had on me. With a canon there is a wick. There is a rod. At the end of it, a curve with a spark that lights the wick. For me, and maybe not him, that question was that rod touching the wick. I saw the effect it had on him and it has never left me. I am different now from having seen a genius mind asked a ludicrous question and explode with the answer. “The triangle is my favorite shape. It’s so beautiful. That is my favorite, a triangle.”
So even though you are not in my life anymore, and I will likely never see you again, I want to thank you for everything you were and did while you were in it. And thank you for I, Claudius and respecting my intellect when no one in the family but Bekah did.
With the love of a brother, I say, I wish you well. Your spot in my heart never closed, and I think of you often.
Your son’s a badass, huh?
Gray, an entirely different kind of badass. Let’s defend them, embrace them, and uplift them in every way we can.
This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 3: The Keep.