I am not like ordinary men. I think in a way that makes the mass populous shudder. My thoughts and dreams are banned from most libraries, my ideas and schemes forbidden from any textbook. I’m just a human being trying to navigate my way through a world crammed tight with let-downs and setbacks. I write because I need to, not because I want to, but there’s a magic beneath the pen as it scrawls word for word, as I scribble my internal drama between the lines. It’s almost like giving birth, painful to let it out, but boy does it feel good that it will fester inside you no longer, and now you can raise and nourish it. That’s a magical thing, isn’t it?
You were maybe 14 or 13 years old when I met you. I can’t remember your name but I remember the tears. You were suffering. A young teenager from a small town in Maine. Lost on a train going through Boston. How you got there, you had no idea. You got on the wrong train and ended up in Boston in the middle of the night and had no idea how you got there or how to get home. First, I saw the pricks in the aisle in front of you laughing cuz they thought it was funny that you were crying so openly on the subway. I called you over to me and asked what was wrong and you told me. I asked if you had a phone; you said it had died. Sometimes I wonder if you were high, if this is how it happened. Maybe someone talked you into getting on the wrong train and here you were, heading in to the darkness of the city. I let you use my phone and you phoned your mom. I told you to stick with me. I knew what to do. One night I got lost in Mattapan at 3AM—I had gotten on the wrong bus—and this older black guy protected me from the dangers of the innercity and kept me with him the whole time and eventually he flagged down a cop car and when the cops said they wouldn’t drive me and my girlfriend to a safer location, the black guy asked if he really wanted to risk turning on the news the following morning and seeing that two white kids had been murdered on his watch. The cops told us to get in. So when the train pulled in to the station that night, I brought you to the MBTA security guard standing there and he probably thought we were high but I explained him the situation. I didn’t know if you made it home. Two days later I called your mom from my phone since her number was saved on my phone and she was so grateful I was there to help you. Those assholes making fun of you did not help the situation but I’d like to think if I wasn’t there someone else would have stepped up. Today I was at the UPS store sending out some presents and there were a lot of people there and this woman by the door was struggling to get in while she held all her packages and no one helped her and I turned from the front desk and saw her there and hurried over and helped her in. She was so grateful and I said don’t worry about it. I felt it was just the right thing to do. I guess most people don’t care enough to step up. Most people don’t want to help out. They want to laugh and point rather than do the right thing. If I wasn’t there to help you that night, I hope things would have worked out still, but I don’t know. I’m just glad you made it home safely.
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen you again. The world is a big place, with many people who never cross paths, but fate has a way of planting certain people in our lives at just the right time///or perhaps the wrong time, depending on how you want to view it. I’ve only been to Maine one time since then, with my wife Michelle, to her hometown Bathe, MA. Maybe you’ve come to Vermont at some point, who knows. I was living in Vermont when I helped you. I was in Boston visiting family and especially my on-&-off girlfriend Samantha. She was the one who had suggested I call your mom the next day, although I waited a day and called her the day after that, after my dad had driven me back home. I wonder if you still remember me, if I played an important part in your upbringing. I’m probably just tooting my own horn and all, and I bet this event hadn’t even stuck with you over the years. But it stuck with me, and I’ll tell you why::::
I know you might think I was the one who had helped you that night—I know your mom at least felt that way when I had called her—but truth be told, I needed some event like this to help me realize that I do have a good heart and a good soul, and I am someone who can be counted on at times. I’ve done some bad shit in my past, and I know that doing things like this doesn’t exactly make up for all the mischief I have caused, but it’s a start. For me, it was a beginning. As selfish as it is to say, you being there in trouble and me being there to guide you to safety that night, was a major turning point in my life.
I said to someone I worked with for a long time in AA that I didn’t feel there was a point to helping anyone because it’s not like I can save everyone. This guy had a very interesting way of explaining things to me; he told me of this fable where a young boy is walking down the beach and picking up crabs that have been washed ashore and tossing them back into the ocean. An older man—of course it’s an older man who says this to him—asks the kid what he is doing. The man tells the kid that there’s no way he could make a difference. The kid points out into the ocean and says: I MADE A DIFFERENCE FOR THAT ONE.
When I spoke to your mom, I gave her my number and said that you were welcome to call me yourself. I don’t know if she put you up to this or if when you called me you were completely genuine, but it doesn’t matter. The fact that you called me yourself really made a huge difference in my life. Played a huge part in my journey. You were very grateful I was there that night. I told you to keep my number and if you ever needed anything, you can feel free to call.
You were grateful I was there; I was grateful you called me because it made me feel so much less like the piece of shit that I was.
That was seven or eight years ago and I’ve never heard from or seen you again. You’re probably an adult now, having graduated from college. You’ve probably lost your virginity, dropped acid, drank whiskey till 3 in the morning with your friends and passed out and woken up the next morning naked in some strange woman’s bed. You’ve probably left Maine and studied poetry in France, or became an engineer who had graduated top of his class at MIT. You joined the army and went AWOL and got locked up in the brigg for the next five years. You joined a band and toured all around the country in your beat-up van. I wonder if when your band played in Boston, you remembered getting lost there and that weird older man you had met on the train who had helped you get home.
I hope you have an outstanding, adventurous life\\\
— Jeremy Void