Some people lie inherently. Some people like instinctively. The man in the old leather jacket did both. My mother always told me I was special, 'cause of the way I heard and saw things. When people speak to me, I don't hear their words. I see them. I see feelings and instincts, and truths sometimes people hide even from themselves. I see colors, too. Colors that surround people. I guess you could call them auras, but that's not really what they are. They're more like feelings. Lies are that way too. I see them before they come out. They swirl around a person, muddling all the other colors. The man in the old leather jacket was nearly obscured by grey. I saw him from the far end of the street, next to another man to whom I didn't pay much attention. I was startled by the grey, I'd never seen so much on one person. He was like a storm cloud. I doubted the man had ever said a true thing in his life.
Then the man in the old leather jacket stopped in front of me, close enough that I could see his other colors. When I see colors, I don't just see them. I feel them, too. That's why I sometimes try to hide from people. See, a person's built to feel a certain amount of emotions at once, and that's alright. Then there's being overwhelmed, which usually happens with extreme emotions like anger and sadness and joy. But when I go out and am surround by people, I feel all of them all at once, and sometimes I feel like I'm going to explode. Like a million things are inside me, all clawing furiously to get out.
I'd gotten better. Usually I didn't feel overwhelmed except for in big crowds. Angry mobs were definitely something to avoid. But as the man in the old leather jacket approached me, I felt as though a bus had just smacked right into me. Behind the lies was a solid wall of misery and loneliness and more self-loathing than I'd ever seen in one place. I had to bite my lip to keep from crying out.
The man opened his mouth and out curled a tongue of undulating grey lies, tinted with pale orange impatience.
I answered him truthfully - I try to always tell the truth - that I had in fact seen the riot outside the gas station. It had been an accident, a very painful one. I thought I was going to die when I first stumbled upon them. So much anger. But I told the man in the old leather jacket that all I saw was a huge flash of pure white light, the whitest white I've ever seen. White is truth, or pure undivided intent. Nobody I ever met is that true.
I didn't tell him the part about the white. I learned pretty quickly that everyone who hears that gets the swirling yellow with spots of red of totally weirded out. The man asked if I'd seen anyone do anything strange, besides fighting like the German trenches in the middle of idyllic Wisconsin. I told him about the man who had remained after the explosion of white. He had knelt in the middle of the leftover carnage with his head bowed, and all around him was the true white. The purity of purpose. Except it was tinged with the dull silver of blind faith.
Looking closer, I saw a little of it in the man with the old leather jacket, hard to discern amongst the grey clouds of lies.
The other man, who wore a blue tie the color of serenity, now spoke, and for the first time I registered the positive rainbow which surround him. There was a lot of grass-green confusion. He was a stranger, didn't quite fit in. A sickly pink fear, the kind that grows from concern and festers into worry and finally all out panic.
There was a bit of that dull silver, but it was quickly fading. Black loneliness, desolation. Someone who's had their faith ripped brutally away. Red bubbling anger, simmering softly, buried deep.
But when the two exchanged words, I received a surprise: every other thinned into almost nonexistence, and I saw the brightest, most dazzling purple I'd ever seen. There's never been a purple like this. Most times, love is pink, in varying shades. Pale pink is lovey dovey. If it sparkles, there's infatuation, magenta you get with the sweet old couple who've been married 40 years. But purple, real, deep purple, that's fairytale. Nobody really loves another person so truly.
And then something happened to me that's never happened before, nor since. I had no idea what was happening, and yet knew beyond a doubt exactly what was. Reality and time shifted. The two men disappeared, but the colors remained. More grey. So much more, even the man in the tie. Yellow annoyance, orange irritation, fury red like a river of blood. Searing bright black betrayal. Horror, desolation. A touch of pale blue forgiveness and relief before it started all over again. More anger, but this time only like the thin covering on the outermost layer of a jawbreaker, covering the darkest grey heartached, swathed in lies because the man in the old leather jacket wouldn't accept it.
My mother once gave me a set of paints. Right now I wanted to mix more of the pale blue, cover everything in forgiveness. there was so much anger, so much pain.
I blinked, and saw a miracle: beneath it all, beneath every pigment of red orange, black so deep I thought I would fall in, there was still the blinding purple. Hold onto the purple. I blinked again and had to grasp the railing in the shock of being yanked back to the present. The two guys stared at me. More grass-green confusion. Their faces now, barely lined. Young and handsome. All I wanted to do was hug them tightly, tell them everything would be alright. Tell my first real lie.
And yet, remembering them now, two years later, I see the two guys again. The man in the old leather jacket and the one in the serenity-blue tie. They're going to fall, fall so deep and so far they won't even remember their own names. They're alone now, lost somewhere so terrible there aren't even colors to describe it. But there's still that purple. After everything, all the terror, all the black and brown and red, the purple is still there. It's always there.
Yeah, these two will be alright.