Relaxed Reads: En route to New York, part 3

En route to New York

En route to New York

Seth Murray

We were in the bedroom section of the truck, which in itself was exciting for me. I had never been inside one before and always wondered what they were like. I wasn’t disappointed. There was a bunk bed with a nightstand next to it, a larger-than-average mini-fridge (oxymoronic, I know), a loveseat and, of all things, a telescope. The floors were carpeted and the walls hung bare except for a poster of Brueghel’s famous Fall of Icarus. It was nearly five in the morning, and Jane was asleep on the spare, top bunk while I sat on the loveseat. Archimedes was sitting cross-legged and serene on the floor — and he had actually taken his sunglasses off. 

“She really likes you, you know,” he said.

“I don’t get it. When do you guys discuss these things?” I said. Just like Jane telling me before that Archimedes was actually beginning to like me, I didn’t understand where they had found the time to discuss such matters.

“What do you mean?” There was a hint of incredulity in his voice.

“I’ve been with you guys the entire time since we met, and here you both bring up each other’s views on my presence here in a way that implies you’ve discussed it in-depth with each other.”

He laughed softly.

“You haven’t spent much time around twins before have you?”

He went on before I could answer.

“No matter. When you’re tied so uniquely to someone, not to mention when you’ve spent a more-than-considerable amount of time with them, you begin to be able to read deeply into how they feel, even through small things such as the batting of the eye or a flashing grimace,” he said, quietly. “You can tell when they need you, when they don’t want you anywhere near them. You can tell when they feel alone in the world, and then you have to remind them that they have you. It’s one of the most unique, and rewarding, bonds in the world. Now, that being said, I repeat: She likes you.”

I had, in fact, heard him the first time. I just wasn’t sure what to make of it.

“Yeah?” I was turning red, I could tell. I can still remember my mom gently making fun of me for my ears turning into little red peppers whenever I felt uncomfortable, and the hotness of my head and the sweatiness of my palms left no doubt. Archimedes smiled, but, for once, it wasn’t a cold smile, but rather a warm, compassionate one. It was really quite powerful; it made you feel as if someone was finally paying attention to you after a lifetime of being ignored.

“Lex, you’re a nervous person, aren’t you?”

“What do you mean?”

“I see the way your hands shake, the flashes of terror in your eyes. You find life in this world a battle, don’t you?” Archimedes said.

It was an interesting way of putting it, but it was also spot-on. “You, you could say that.”

“What are you running from? Seriously.”

“I dunno, man. Just, all of it. Everything.”

He just looked at me for a moment, then said, “You know Archimedes isn’t my real name, right?”


“Of course not, you fool. What parents would name their son that? My birth name was James.”

“What caused the change?” I asked.

“I went by ‘Jay’ for a long time, then I stumbled across this quote when I was fifteen: ‘Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.’ It just stuck with me. It reminded me that, with the right amount of push in just the right spot, anything is possible. Then our parents were gone, so I began anew. And I’m beginning anew once again, leaving behind this foolish snake business. That’s what I’m trying to get across to you: You don’t have to finish your life as the same person you were when it began. The universe is presenting you with a unique chance to become someone else, don’t ignore it. New York City is one of the few places on Earth where such a transformation is possible.”

“Amen to that.” A deep voice called from up front. Our driver, Christopher, had yet to say a word other than ‘hello’ and to ask us our final destination (he, too, was New York-bound). He was a tall, thin man with no hair and a full gray beard. He wore a red dress shirt and a black vest, with faded blue jeans and Doc Marten boots.

“We’ll be in New York very soon. Lex, buddy, listen to what your friend has to say.”

Neither of us said anything, but Archimedes had the same knowing smile on his face as always.

“I think I know what you need to do, man,” Christopher said. “I think you need to pick a new name for yourself, like he did. Something extraordinary.”

“I’ll have to think about it.” I said.

“Well, you don’t have much time,” Archimedes said. “Because I’m looking at the Manhattan skyline right now. Jane, wake up!”

He actually sounded excited, for once. It was almost as if being near the city again was rejuvenating for him. Jane sat up in bed. We looked out of the window and there it was: skyscrapers lit up like Christmas trees reaching towards heaven. Each light symbolized a different person’s life, a different story, but they all came together to fit into a larger pattern. Very soon I would fit into that pattern.

“Oooh, we’re almost home!” she said.

“Yes, we are.” I said. “And I’ve decided to change my name. I’m Ulysses, now.”

She flashed a brilliant smile and I’m pretty sure I caught a wink between her and Archimedes.

“I love it.”

“Agreed,” Christopher said.

We turned to look at Archimedes.

“There’s only one problem. Don’t say ‘I’m Ulysses, now.’ You always have been — you’re just now realizing it. And just like Homer’s Ulysses, you’re almost home after a long Odyssey. I hope you realize you’re one of us, now.”

“Here we go guys,” Christopher said. “Lincoln Tunnel.”

So we entered the tunnel, moments away from a new world and a new life.

Contact Seth Murray at [email protected].