Professor Epstein

I must of been 23 or 24 years old.  I was in Boston for the weekend hanging with Bub, Jewett, Tai, and Ads.  We had spent Friday and Saturday partying on the campus of BC.  Sunday we wanted to do something a little different and a little more mellow.  Bub had suggested a day in the city.  It sounded perfect.

The day started off on a rather sinister note.  Brian lived on the 9th floor of the dorm.  Earlier in the weekend he’d informed us, occasionally when he and his roomies get wasted they would throw things out the window.

Jewett and I were sitting in the living room waiting for everyone else to get ready.  Above the fireplace I noticed a giant wooden egg.  It was a gift from Brian’s grandmother.  Kind of an Artsy-Fartsy thing if you ask me.

Anyway, for no reason what-so-ever I grabbed the egg and without thinking twice, tossed it out the window.  Jewett’s eyes opened wide as saucers.  He sprung from his chair and darted toward the window.  I didn’t look to see the egg land.  Jewett laughed and said “It smashed into a thousand pieces on the ground”  We agreed not to tell Bub.

Jewett giggled to himself as we made our way to the elevator and out into the city.  I felt guilty.  But just a little bit.  It was a wooden egg for Christ Sakes….

Our first stop was JFK Memorial Park.  We sat on a bench just bullshitting and drinking coffee.  We watched casually as pigeons landed in front of us and fought tooth and nail over crumbs.  Our pigeon gazing was interrupted by the sound of screeching brakes.

We looked toward the road.  A blue pick-up truck had almost mowed down 2 French tourists.  How did we know they were french?  Because the dude was screaming at the truck driver in a very thick french accent.  His lovely frog wife was trying her best to calm him down..but to no avail.

“Zee crosswalk is for ze Pedestrians…Is not for You!”  the man shouted as he waggled his finger in the motorists face.

The fat redneck driving the truck kinda just laughed.  This only infuriated Frenchie more:

“Oh a wise-ass eh…You want a piece of me!” 

At that point the Frenchman’s female companion pulled him aside and the truck went racing away.  I was hoping for a fight…but cooler heads prevailed.

That’s when we met the drunk guy.  We had been standing around watching the commotion when a bum casually walked up to us.  He was a short man.  I’d say early 40s.  He had a big bushy mustache.  His clothes were torn and tattered.  He was dirty.  And he was drunk.

“Hey……fellas…..can you guys spare some change”

He was slurring his words.  Mark, Ads, Tai, and I said nothing.  Bub however saw these kinds of people every day.  He firmly said “NO…we’ve got no money!” This did not get rid of drunky.  He wanted to talk.

“Hey….fellas….I was just in a bar…and they wouldn’t serve me.  They said I was drunk.  You guys want to know something…..I ain’t even had a drink yet……”  he began to mumble some nonsense that I couldn’t understand.

Bub could tell we were feeling a bit uncomfortable so he took the initiative.  “Sorry buddy but we gotta go”  I didn’t know where we had to be but Bub started walking and like soldiers we started following. 

As we walked away the drunk guy continued to talk as if we weren’t leaving.  Still mumbling about not being served at a bar because he was too drunk and still insisting that he hadn’t even had a drink yet.  As we approached the crosswalk I turned around one last time.  The drunk guy was talking to the pigeons.

Bub had lead us into a record store.  As soon as we walked in another crazy Frenchmen came running up to Jewett.  He was excited and had a wild look in his eye.

He grabbed Joot on the arms and said:  “Excusa Me but can yew tell me how to get to zee bath-a-room!”

Joot pulled away from the guy, grabbed him on the arms just as the man had grabbed him.  He looked him dead in the eye and like a teacher talking to a student said “I DON’T KNOW!”

The Frenchman smiled and said excitedly “ZANK YOU!” and hurried away.  I think we could all agree, that’s enough French people for one day.

After about an hour in the record store we walked back to the park.  We laughed and joked around as we made our way through the twists and turns of JFK Memorial Park. We came upon something odd in the middle of the park.  It was a little plaque that read “JFK MEMORIAL”  Next to the plaque was a cement pathway that lead to what appeared to be….an open grave…surrounded by a giant cement border.

Without saying anything we kinda just followed the path.  I thought hard about all the history books I’d ever read.  Is JFK’s body on display in a tomb in Boston?  Was I about to see the frozen, fully preserved body of John F. Kennedy?

We came upon the stone monument.  It looked kinda like a coffin…but there was no lid on it.  We were lined up single file and like clockwork we all peered in at the same time.

Nope!  The body of JFK was nowhere to be found.  Instead this “open stone grave” was filled with sandwich wrappers, beer cans, used condoms, and dirt.  If JFK had been here, he definitely had one hell of a party.  Without saying anything we walked away.

We made our way onto The T to take us deeper into the city.  I remember the train being crowded.  We had to stand and hold onto the handles to keep from falling over.  We didn’t talk much while moving.

That’s when I heard the voice.  I heard it as plain as day.  We were about 4 stops in and about 3 stops away from our destination.  The conductor’s voice came over the loudspeaker and said “Next Stop HELL

I smiled and laughed a little.  I turned to Tai.  “Did you hear that?”  But Tai ignored me.  I looked at my friends.  None of them were looking at me.  It’s almost as if they were purposely ignoring me.  The T began to slow down, finally coming to a STOP….in Hell?

The doors opened….but nobody moved.  What was even scarier, everyone around us was looking at me.  Except my friends.  They were looking at the ground.  I was starting to feel uneasy.

An old man behind me said “I think this is your stop”.  Was I dreaming?  Am I in Hell?  The train doors were open but it was just dark.  I couldn’t see the platform.

I took a step toward the open door.  That’s when Ads grabbed me: “This isn’t your stop Gouda”  After he finished that sentence the doors closed and the train started moving. My friends looked up and began to talk normally.  I wasn’t sure what just happened but it was eerie.

We walked around the city for about an hour just kinda browsing here and there.  No agenda, just a carefree day in Boston.  Jewett and I were in a toy store looking at the Teletubby display.  This is about the time all the controversy had come out about the gay teletubby.

“Which one’s the gay one?” Jewett asked me.  I wasn’t sure.  But according to the sign these were “Talking Teletubbies”.  Mark pushed the stomach of The Yellow Tubby and it said in a very sweet voice: “Girls are Great”  I then pressed the stomach of the red Tubby.  In a voice just as sweet it said “I’m Straight!”  Joot then pressed the Purple Tubby and in a very evil voice it said “Fuck me up the ass!”

What?  I went to press the Tubby again when the female sales clerk walked by.  She leaned in and almost under her breath she said “Soon they will all see”

See what?  I thought.  What going on?  I was a bit nervous so Mark and I left the store.  We tried to tell the gang about the crazy sales lady and the homo Teletubbie but they didn’t wanna hear it.  You had to be there I suppose.

The day was winding down.  We decided to sit in front of an ice skate park and rest our weary bodies.  We sat, relaxed, drank hot chocolate, and watched the skaters.  I’m not sure who noticed first, but after about 2 minutes we were all well aware what we were watching.

These people weren’t just skating casually.  They had this crazy synchronized routine going on.  It was as if we were watching a professional ice skating show, but we were the only one’s who knew it was on.

Music pumped from the speakers surrounding the rink.  The skaters did flips, and spins, and jumps.  It was all perfect. They formed 2 lines and made an isle in between.  The music stopped and a spotlight shun on the entrance to the rink.

The music started up again.  We couldn’t believe our eyes.  Who should coming skating out onto the rink but…..THE DRUNK GUY from the park!

Only he wasn’t drunk.  And he was no longer dressed like a bum.  He was wearing a Tuxedo!  But there was no mistaken.  It was him!  He skated down the isle, did a couple of flips, twists, and turns, and ended with something I believe was called a triple lutz!  He had the grace and agility of an Olympic athelete. 

As he stuck his landing he stretched out his arms like Jesus. Pigeons, most likely the same pigeons this “drunk” had been talking to in the park, swooped down and landed on his outstretched arms.  The guy took a bow.

Then….he skated toward us.

He motioned for us to come over.  Without saying anything, as if we were in a trance, we walked toward him.  He spoke in perfect, clear, sober, English:

“My name is Professor Epstein. You fellas were part of my big experiment.  Congratulations boys.  You passed the test” 

He smiled from ear to ear.  My mind tried to process everything.  What experiment?  What test?

At that moment Professor Epstein reached into his pocket and pulled out:

Brian’s wooden egg.  The same one I’d thrown out the window 7 hours earlier.  He handed it back to Brian and said “Nice work”  Bub was just as confused as me.

Epstein began clapping.  Soon everyone was clapping.  We looked around and couldn’t believe who we saw:  The Feisty French Pedestrian, The Redneck Motorist, The French Tourist Looking For The Bathroom, The Old Man From The T, The Sales Lady From The Teletubby Store.  They were all there and they were all clapping.

Something was going on.  We just didn’t know what.  We all kinda smiled and waved to the crowd.  At that moment we were rockstars on a grand stage….we just didn’t know why.

To this day I’m not sure what went on in Boston.  Myself, Jewett, Bub, Ads, and Tai rarely talk about it. 

Sometimes, when my mind has almost pushed that day out, I swear I see old Professor Epstein walking by and the events of that day come rushing back.  Maybe Espstein’s “experiement” continues each day and we just don’t know it.

Bub swears he’s seen him too.  Maybe he’ll always be there.  Watching us….All of us.

Rest assured, we’ve taken one BIG precaution.  One that will prevent this strange, crazy, unexplainable day from ever happening again:

NO MORE ACID!!

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