The Blue Man

The blue man is lying in the middle of the sidewalk. The crowd flows around him like a river, foamy collisions on either side of him. Between the storefront to the right and the city traffic on the left, there’s room for about two and a half people to get through at one time.

Half a cell phone conversation passes by on my left. Look, if they don’t like the deal, they don’t have to take the deal, but this is still the deal. The man, suited, moves around the blue man lying in his way. Flowing like water.

“Yeah, screw you too, buddy,” the blue man says.

The blue man is propped up on his elbow like a model. The blue man’s big belly is spilling onto the pavement, long hairs curling off his exposed belly button, curling around his rubbery purple nipples.

The blue man looks up at me, at me looking at him.

“The fuck are you looking at, asshole?” the guy says.

“What does that mean?” I say. “The coffee can?”

The rusted coffee can in front of him has a sign on it:

 Truth: $1

“The fuck you think it means?” he says.

“You’re selling…the truth?” I say.

“Yeah! It’s not fucking rocket science, is it?” Like I’m the crazy one here.

“How are you — I mean, how does that work?”

“Pay up, buddy.”

At my back, the crowd on the side walk splits and splits and splits, one stream to the left and one stream to the right. We are invisible. The blue man is invisible, and I am invisible in his sphere of influence.

I take my wallet out of my pocket. I throw a dollar in the coffee can. It falls in there next to some quarters. I’m not the only person who’s tried to buy the truth today.

“Truth is,” the blue man says, “you’re lost. You don’t know where you’re going, in this city or in your life. And you need to get your shit together before you end up on the wrong side of town. They’ll kill you for a buck, over there.”

He looks up at me.

I look down at him.

“What, you want some more?” he says.

“I mean. That doesn’t really answer any of my questions.”

The blue man sighs. His fat belly rises and falls. He reaches out with one hand and twists the coffee can.

The sign on the other side:

Questions Answered: $5

I throw a five in the coffee can.

“Ask away.”

“Who are you?”

“I am the God of Truth. I know all things about all things.”

“Ah.”

“My name is Truman.”

“That’s kind of…on the nose.”

He glares at me.

“I’m just saying.” I look at the crowd flowing around us. “What are you doing here?”

“Trying to make a buck.” He shrugs. Shoulders wide enough to hold up the world but so fat it would keep sliding off. “No one’s interested.”

“Well, you do look kind of crazy.”

“Screw you, buddy.”

“Can you tell me–” I look over my shoulder, but the crowd is ignoring me. I am crazy by association. “Can you tell what I should do with my life?”

“I’m not a fortune teller.”

“Oh.” I shrug. I put my hands in my pockets. “Okay.”

“You want anything else, it’s gonna cost you, okay?”

I let myself drift back into the crowd. The current carries me away.

Maybe it’s just me. But I feel like people aren’t bumping into me so much anymore. I feel like I have a little more elbow room. People aren’t looking at me. People are walking a little too far to either side of me. I wonder if a little of the truth got on me. I look at my hands. They don’t look blue to me. But I don’t know what other people see.

From far away, I hear the blue guy’s voice: “Hey, lady, you wanna buy some truth?”

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Hi, I’m Mitchell Nelson.

I wrote The Cannibal’s Daughter and some other books. I blog on this site occasionally, but I spend most of my time writing new fiction. You can read more about me here, if that's what you're into.

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