Our hero is sitting, perched on his mother’s rust coloured couch (his father is upstairs), and he is telling me stories about things that are “really true.”
It is evening and the day has been unusually pleasant and warm. He has spent it walking around town running errands with his father, and with the smaller creature that is upstairs wailing in her bathtub. Intermittent are squeals of delight, as her snot and mud go callously unappreciated and down the drain. These screams that punctuate the quiet evening in the city house, which our hero ignores with a practiced hand, bubble out and over the settled room cascading down from the upstairs bathroom. We both listen as the day’s hard won grime is washed away.
Poised, as our hero is, upon the edge of an adventure, I soon realize that he has finished planning for our future expeditions. These involve, but are not limited to, movies, French fries, and more of the soda that I had brought him, as a treat earlier in the evening, and, which he informs me, was surprisingly good! He is now telling me about the secret place that he often likes to go to, which is a swamp, and that there he has found many dead people.
I ask him if they speak, or move, or communicate telepathically. He nearly closes his eyes in a look of cool superiority (or perhaps disdain), and tells me they do not.
He continues and explains to me. What he has done is, he has put on his special glasses that once you are wearing them they dissolve into your face and then you can turn them on or off simply by blinking (they are magic). With these he has been able to take what he needs from them (I assume this refers to the dead people from his secret swamp, which he later confirms) and he has been able to fashion boots that allow him to fly, very fast, anywhere he wants. He has used these to travel sneakily in the night to his grandparents’ farm where he has, again sneakily, gone into their house and found books that prove that his Uma was once a spy!
I recognize a suggestion that I had made over dinner.
He is involved in deciphering her codebook and with this he is sure I can be of some assistance. The code is possibly in some form of ninja, he informs me. He had discovered this because the language, when looked at through his invisible glasses, turns out to be Japanese and not English, as one would initially assume. Our hero looks at me slyly as he makes his assertions and I find this to be somewhat suspicious, yet I return his sideways look and so he is satisfied and continues.
His next secret, which is also, he assures me, quite true, is that there are two lights that he can see out of a certain window behind us. As we turn around he tells me that these are in fact eyes. He urges me, quite loudly, to watch as he can make them move and dance about, simply by looking at them while his head bobs and squiggles through the air, and he squeals, “See! See!” I watch and nod.
Although I had not at first realized it, he informs me, he can confirm the fact that those eyes actually belong to an invisible guy who lives in an invisible place. This is a place he could go to (and could even take me with him), if only he knew where on our planet it was! He is very serious and gives an earnest moment to the expression of puzzlement and mild exasperation that this situation evokes. It seems, being invisible, this special place is somewhat difficult to locate. Luckily he has an invisible friend from whom he can ask for advice in such matters.
I ask if this friend is nearby. It takes a moment to blink on the invisibility glasses that have long since merged with our hero’s face. But as it turns out, the friend is indeed present. I am not to interfere as the two of them communicate. I can watch, if I’d like, but I am not to say a word, as the invisible friend speaks in a certain way that sounds just as if he were actually not speaking at all! The conversation is incredibly involved. Our hero asks for the secret magical decoder ring, but then leans over to tell me, laughing, that this is really a joke because obviously our hero has had this ring all along.
I ask what his friend’s name is. There is another moment of puzzlement (in these moments the small face is always very stern). The hero shrugs and says that he calls him Invisibility Destroyer. I ask what, if anything, does this friend call him, and he says, of course, that the friend calls him Master.
At last the invisible friend comes through with the sought after wisdom. It turns out that our hero is to don his special jet boots this very evening and fly, very fast, to a secret far away and invisible location, and that this will give him the next clue toward finding the invisible place that exists on our planet. He tells me that he cannot, therefore, take me with him since I am not sensible enough to be spending the night; as he had earlier decided I really ought to do, though unfortunately I could not. The reasons for this were deemed ridiculous, but were endured with great patience by our long-suffering hero.
I try to demure appropriately. He looks suspicious, but continues.
He is currently looking (he informs me) for a new pair of special glasses, which would allow him to look through things like walls and people. I suggest that these might be called ‘X-ray Specs’. He is excited by the designation and readily concurs. He tells me that these, like the others, will dissolve into one’s face after they have been put on, thus imbuing one with their powers forever. He blinks as he shows me the various glasses he has already found and describes their special powers of invisibility, blurriness, and also secret revealing. He is very animated as he describes how, once he has found these new x-ray glasses, he will then (very sneakily) wear them at night and look through the walls of all the houses, and then look inside of all the people while they are sleeping, and he will find different things there inside of them, like little notebooks, and stars, or maybe little pieces of metal in the shape of cute animals. This, I will admit, leaves me speechless. He, meanwhile, looks out at the night in silent contemplation.
The sounds from upstairs have dissipated and all that is left is that comforting yet empty soft nothing sound that grownups make after a child has gone to bed. The footsteps of his father squeak as they move sedately down the stairs. Our hero watches the cars drive past through the streetlights outside. His hair floats in white sprays about his head and down his neck, paradoxically frizzy and silky at once. He pushes it away from his eyes in the front, very earnestly, and looks at me in an elated yet serious fashion.
“Would you like to see me do some real magic?” He asks. “I can fly, and also be invisible!”
“I know. You have already shown me this before” I reply.
These incredible feats often involve a great deal of jumping and running about the house very fast, accompanied by the screams of delight that express the understandable wonder and amazement at such miraculous accomplishments.
His magical enthusiasm is segued by his father into thoughts of bedtime stories. Our hero points out, once again, how it would make a great deal more sense my spending the night instead of driving home. He is, of course, always right, and yet I give my goodbye kisses and hugs, disentangling his small hands from my own and from my legs and arms where he has occasionally clung like a small monkey playing on a tree. His response is to crawl onto my lap like a cat seeking attention, though he is not yet big enough to keep me from rising and throwing him off.
He throws his arms around my neck and pulls his face close to mine. He tells me in a whisper that I am not quite exactly like a grown up, because I am so small (he refers, of course, to my height) and also he thinks that I can maybe do a little bit of magic myself, because I am a ninja too! This is also perhaps due to my stature. He tells me that because of this, I can comprehend the veracity and importance of his secrets. I nod and tell him that this is true.
As I drive home I think about how I might one day like to put him into a story. But the idea of ever having to write an ending is too uncomfortable, and so instead I look (the way he has taught me) for magic glasses and special secret invisible places that might lie along the highway as I go.