“If you don’t see my race, then you don’t see me.”
Boyce and Max were mired in a debate over an issue that had only subtly affected their friendship. They had long ago agreed that they were starting from slanted angles; they were viewing the same subject from alternate viewpoints, so they agreed to factor in their differences from the start.
“Max,” Boyce said. “Only a white guy would insist that he doesn’t see color. That’s a white privilege thing… and it’s intellectually dishonest.”
“Theoretically,” Max said. “You are absolutely wrong.”
Boyce barked his laughter.
Max continued. “I’ve heard black people say the same thing. Many times, in fact.”
“They were intellectually dishonest too.” Boyce paused. “Max. Are you telling me that you can actually look at me, in my face, and tell me that you don’t see this Bronzed Mandingo Warrior standing before you?”
“I thought you said you were Mau Mau?”
“Let me have my moment here, Tarzan.”
Promenade Park was a small park that overlooked the eddying Upward River that streamed past. Its waters, flowing down from the Tunya Mountains, gave it the look of constant movement. When they were younger they would throw objects in the water just to see how far the currents would take them downstream.
“I guess that you could say that I don’t look for skin color then,” Max said. “It’s not something I look for. I don’t make judgments and stuff based on color.”
“Don’t matter,” Boyce said. “But I’m not invisible. See me. Everything about me – just see me. Because everything I am is everything I am.”
Max nodded his head in understanding.
Boyce was going through some things. He constantly found himself wrestling with an anger that he didn’t understand. It tickled his blood an riled him up and gave him violent thoughts. He turned to look out at the river, the swirling surface and the many memories that drifted away with the tide.
“He’s changing”, Max thought “His body is changing. And I don’t think that he recognizes it. He’s gotten stronger.
“How are you feeling, Boyce?”
“I feel good. My body feels pure. Clean. Like I’m at peak condition. Tip top shape.” Boyce raised his arms and flexed. “See?”
“Yes. But how do you feel?”
“This is crazy!” Boyce said and took a seat on the bench next to Max. “I’m confused, man. And a little bit scared. I don’t’ know what to do with this… power. And I don’t know what it’s doing to me. I feel like I’m bigger. Stronger.” He looked to Max. “I don’t know what’s happening to me.”
“You are bigger,” Max said. “And it’s noticeable too.”
Max wore his geekiness with stuttering gravity. Tall and slim with the eyes of a hawk, quick and sweeping, he could always be counted on for the truth. That’s why they were friends. “We need to test you,” Max said with all of the nerdiness he could muster. “Test your strength levels.” He pointed toward the track of forest that sat between the park and the river. “No one will see us in the woods,” he said. “Come on, Boyce! I want to see you pick up a boulder. Maybe throw it as far as you can. Like Hercules.”
“Like Samson,” Boyce said.
“No,” Max said. “Hercules was stronger.”
Boyce laughed. After a moment he said, “Maybe we will, Max. Maybe we will.”