“You’re breathtaking.” That’s what he said the first time I ever met him.
He wasn’t talking to me. He was saying it to the girl I was with. She wasn’t my girlfriend, so it was alright I guess. But how could he have known that? He had never met her either.
Although, looking back, I imagine he did know. He had a way with these types of things—knowing things. He didn’t know things the way you or I know things. We mostly know things because we know them. We’ve heard or seen them before. Adam tended to know things even when he didn’t know them. That’s what made him such a sky rocket—he operated mostly on intuition and fueled it with hope. His intuition was damn good and he never seemed to run out of fuel.
I’ll say this much about his intuition. That day, he knew that girl would like him. I imagine it didn’t even matter to him whether she was my girlfriend or not. That wasn’t his affair. His affair, as was always his only affair, was to be himself, whatever the hell that was. However anyone else reacted to him was their affair. And he generally knew how they would react. Then again, Adam knew things that he didn’t know.
Most people chalked it up to confidence, but I think it was more than that. It was more like an eagle soaring high above us, but looking down with such powerful eyesight that he saw everyone up close.
“The sky is beautiful today.” That’s what he said to us next. It was nearly sunset and the tinted windows shaded all the sky’s colors with fuller hue.
“You should know, you’re the weatherman.” That’s what I said in reply, after a few seconds of hesitation. I was nervous, alright. When you see a guy on TV everyday, seeing him in real life is more like seeing a ghost. The next time you see a ghost you tell me if you’re nervous. Or don’t, the fact is, we would all be nervous, most of us at least, not Adam.
That’s just how people acted around him. Talking to him was like talking to a moving statue. He had for so long been a fixed image of perfection in my mind, and now he was moving. He was a portrait leaning out of his frame and into my world. He had always been so solid. Now he was real. It wasn’t the moving that was so wierd for me, it was the solidness about it. He was still a statue, yet moving. How anything so solid could move and laugh and smile without crumbling I do not know. Anyway, to me he was frozen, and the de-thawing would prove somewhat of a process.
“What’s your name anyhow?” he interjected.
“Nick, pleasure. I’m Adam.”
He knew that he didn’t need to introduce himself, but he did anyway. That was comforting. That was the first drop of meltwater and I didn’t let it miss my tongue.
“And who are you?”
“I hear karma’s a bitch.”
We all laughed. I laughed a little too hard because even if I had previously imagined a talking statue, I had never before heard it use profanity. Statues are too perfect or something, too timeless to reach into pop-culture’s most plentiful bag of jokes.
“It’s actually Karmen—they just call me karma.”
“Oh everyone. Friends, acquaintances, even my parents. I kinda like it I guess.”
“Um, yeah. I mean I guess I’m just so used to it now. But yeah I like it. Everyone else seems to like it.”
The three of us stood in silence for a while. I continually possessed the urge to say something and never had anything to say. Karma just kept looking up at him and then looking down, beginning to bite her lip and then reigning her pearly whites back in like angsty horses. But her brown eyes couldn’t hold anything back if they knew it. Adam didn’t say anything either, but it didn’t seem like he felt the need. His eyes were diversely shaded green and unwavering, like a bronze statue left out in the rain. It fit because his tan skin had a that golden hue, like he had seized just the right amount of the sun and was content—golden, like a marshmallow cooked just right. And that’s how he did everything. He walked tight-wires between the clouds. He was the in between, in the best of ways. He walked that perfect balance on everything. We had all fallen off of one side or the other and crashed to the ground. Looking up, no matter which side you had fallen off, you always though he was on your side. That’s what Adam was—on your side.
That’s why he was a tight rope man. He walked thin lines effortlessly. We could only see him from below, where it always looked like he was leaning toward whichever side had pulled us down. He wasn’t a two-face. Certainly not. He just had good balance, and he liked his air a little thinner than the rest of us, and statues don’t blow over in the wind.
When we reached the next stop he spoke, not to me but to karma, with a sincerity that told me for a few moments, I didn’t exist.
“Karmen. I’d like to take you out sometime.”
“Uh. Sure. Yeahs—yes. Anytime.”
The train was stopped and he was just watching her, her eyes. She was lost, and quickly he was finding her. His door was open and an ugly voice blasted the station name from the speakers. Neither of them heard it. He let go of the pole we were holding onto in the middle of us, and I think his finger brushed her knuckle on the way down to his side.
“Call me tonight at seven.”
He pulled a calligraphy pen from his pocket and wrote his number on the back of her hand, the one still clutching the pole.
He turned and walked out, not quickly or slowly, not rushed or hesitant. The doors closed just after he left, as if they were waiting on his cue. I swear those doors nearly caught his coat-tails, but they wouldn’t dare.
Karma had melted into a pile of wide eyed softness and was useless for the rest of the day. We got off the train at Reber street and tried to go to lunch. Tried. I ate half of her food, just because I feel guilty about wasting. Her eyes had turned to glass. She was talking, but it was clear to me that she was also watching reruns on screens layering the inside of her eyeballs. What her recent memories projected onto those screens was as clear to me as it was to her, though not as vivid and captivating. Women have an unshared ability to multitask and assume that men don’t know whether they are getting the better half of their attention. But I know. I had her home well before seven. No need to cause a fuss.