The Audist

     He had never really been sure of what had happened to him. At two, his parents considered him precocious, but his vocabulary was still too limited to provide much in the way of context.
     By three, however, his gift was apparent. It was a marvelous parlor trick, one that his parents loved to display. Dad would bring him into the pub now and again, and the delighted patrons would be quick with a drink.

     By the time he was five, it was apparent that his talent no longer had a place in the family’s evolving scenario. His parents resented their lack of privacy, and were also concerned that little Johnny might be wrongly perceived as a freak of nature. They worked very hard with the boy, and before long, believed his gift had been forgotten.

     By the age of fourteen, John Parker was an emotional shipwreck. Pimpled and gawky. Slow; not stupid, but stunned. He was hearing voices, voices that seemed to have no meaningful agenda. Sometimes they would seem to be right beside him, whispering into his ear. He knew they were real.

     By the age of seventeen, Jade Parker knew all that he needed to know. It was an anomaly, his talent, much like color vision in a dog. In the future, he thought that it might be the norm. There were things that were gifts, and there were things that were not. His talent was special. He could pitch his hearing. At seventeen, what a blessing this was. He could hear his sophomore date confer with her senior sister, and he could react to her with perfection. He learned the art of blackmail, then quickly learned it wasn’t needed.

     At twenty-three he learned empathy. It was a terrible burden.

     At twenty-seven it was almost unbelievable how hard he rocked. There were no sounds other than his own as the monitors gushed forth pure color.

     At thirty-five he began to live a long quiet period of astonishment, alone in a cold remote region of the Northwest.

     At forty-four he was gone, not shaken, but stirred.

©2003, Mark Hoback