Visits From A Man Named Nobody 33

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 33

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 // PT 17 // PT 18 // PT 19 // PT 20 // PT 21 // PT 22 // PT 23 // PT 24 // PT 25 // PT 26 // PT 27 // PT 28 // PT 29 // PT 30 // PT 31 // PT 32 //

“This calls for a celebration!” Paul’s mother took a moment to take another bite of her dinner before standing and heading into the kitchen. 

“Your project truly does have a lot of potential,” Bill said.

“It’s our project.” Paul couldn’t understand why Bill wouldn’t take any credit.

Bill shook his head. “It’s just like I told the university. All I’ve ever done is provide you research and formulas. Everything on those boards is yours. I’d never have even considered these possibilities before meeting you. I’m honored to be your mentor, but this is all yours.”

Paul shook. Every inch of him wanted to hug Bill. He couldn’t remember ever doing so. There was a sort of fear denying him. If he hugged Bill, it would mean he’s choosing him. It would mean he’d found a father. Then he’d have to let go of the last ounce of anger he held for his bio dad. 

Bill walked up to him, and Paul felt the desire to step back, but he was still every bit as frozen as he was the moment before. He was trapped between his fear of letting go and his fear of moving on. 

Bill wrapped an arm around him, and something broke. Paul threw his arms around him and hugged him. He didn’t weep, but tears flowed down his eyes freely. The more joy he felt, the tighter he squeezed. 

He heard Bill grunt, but he didn’t stop, and Bill didn’t ask him to. They held each other there. 

Paul looked up to Bill, who wasn’t that much taller. “I’m going to figure this out,” he said. 

“I doubt doubt it,” Bill said smiling. 

Paul coughed as if he had something stuck in his throat and tried to pretend he wasn’t drying the tears from his eyes. “I’ve … “ He took another breath. “Did Mom tell you about what happened?”

Bill nodded his head. He understood where Paul was going.

“My bio dad never showed an interest. I was like another muscle to him he could exercise or train to be his. At least, that’s how I felt. I was an annoyance. I never felt like I was a son.”

Bill moved and sat down in his chair. He didn’t say anything. Again Paul noted the similarities between Nobody and Bill. Nobody was quite. It was like he wanted Paul to feel free to say anything. 

“I’ve never felt chosen before,” Paul finally said. “I never felt wanted.”

Bill smiled. “Before I ever met you, before the world was made, you were chosen.”

Paul chuckled. Of course Bill would find a way to make this about God, but not in some sort of sermon. It’s just how Bill worked. 

“You still don’t know that yet,” Bill said. “But I’ll keep planting. The joy is mine, Paul. You’re a gift, and I’m glad God gave you to me.”

Paul felt another urge to hug the man, but grunted instead. He wasn’t sure he was ready to trust his feelings. Instead, he changed the subject. “Where’d Mom go?”

He walked to the kitchen without waiting for an answer. Paul turned around the open frame that led to the kitchen and found his mother sitting on a stool, crying. Three white bowls sat next to a tub of ice cream, and she sat there weeping. 

Paul rushed up to her. “Mom! What’s wrong?”

He gently wrapped her in his arms before stepping back to check for injury. She laughed. It might have been the most melodious and cheerful laugh he’d ever heard. “I’m not sad or hurt.” She pulled him back into a hug. “I’m happy.”

She held him there for a long time. “I’m just so very happy.”

After another long time, Paul started to feel a bit silly. “You know, Bill’s out there waiting.”

His mother laughed again. “Isn’t it wonderful!?”

Paul chuckled. He grabbed the bowls, and she picked up the ice cream. They headed out to the dining room to celebrate Paul’s scholarship. 

It might have been the best night in Paul’s young life. They just talked and ate ice cream, but it was wonderful. After they finished, Paul stood to grab and rinse the dishes. 

“It’s getting late,” Bill said. 

“Do you have to go?” His mother asked. 

“It’s OK if you stay,” Paul called out from the kitchen. 

“It is most certainly not OK if I stay,” Bill said. “Though I am very tempted.”

Paul heard the sound of kissing, so he turned up the water and scrubbed the bowls as hard as he could. He didn’t leave anything to chance. He washed ever dish by hand just to make sure he didn’t have to overhear his mother making out. He hoped they were, but he didn’t want to have to listen to it.

When he shut the water off, he heard them talking. 

“ … have to do things the right way,” Bill was saying.

“Who’s going to know? Who’s going to care? Whose business is it?” His mother asked.

“Ours, and we’ll know.” Bill said. “You’re more important to me than my desire.”

“But aren’t I the one you desire?” She asked. 

“Of course you are,” he answered. “But I don’t want you for a night. I want you for the rest of my life.”

Paul wondered if they’d noticed him eavesdropping. It’s like the air got sucked out of the room. He felt the urge to peek around the wall, but stopped just as his mother let out a deep breath. 

“Are you … are you asking … “

“Not tonight,” Bill said. “Tonight’s already special, and it’s Paul’s night. Let it be his. But maybe I could take you out tomorrow.”

Paul felt the urge to shout for some reason. He actually covered his mouth like to make it sound more like a sneeze. That gave him an excuse to turn the water back on. He washed his hands. As soon as he turned off the water, he shook his hands dry and rushed into the dining room.

“Where’s Bill?” He looked around, but it was obvious he’d gone home. “What happened?”

His mother smiled. “He had to go, but he’s taking me out tomorrow.”

Paul smiled back and snatched her into a hug. She laughed again, and it was wonderful. 

They talked for a bit about unimportant and silly things, but it didn’t take long for his mother to yawn, fighting back a rare evening of work. 

Paul said goodnight and headed to his room. He opened the door and found Nobody sitting at his desk. 

The End of Chapter Nine … To Be Continued …

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 32

Visits From  A Man Named Nobody 32

16 // PT 17 // PT 18 // PT 19 // PT 20 // PT 21 // PT 22 // PT 23 // PT 24 // PT 25 // PT 26 // PT 27 // PT 28 // PT 29 // PT 30 // PT 31 //


Oct. 23, 2027, 9:33 p.m. 

18 Years, 145 Days Ago

Paul and Bill sat at the dinner table talking about scientific theory. They’d gotten a series of white boards and had somehow started jotting down notes that became an honest to goodness theory. 

Phrases and formulas littered the bulk of the boards, and they’d have to buy a new batch soon. Jordan quickly joined the effort, but he wasn’t there at the moment. Paul let the experiment slip in class, and the next thing he knew, even the school had started showing an interest. Honestly, other schools, started showing interest.

Paul distracted himself from the news by checking his latest numbers. Bill probably knew something was up, but Paul was waiting for his mother to get home. Which meant Paul needed a more powerful distraction, and he also wanted to try and test a more unusual theory.

“Do you ever, um, evangelize?” Paul asked.

“Hopefully every day,” Bill said, “but I imagine you mean something more formal. I’ve done two missionary trips, and I’d like to do more, but I haven’t really set anything up yet.”

Two? Paul had seen Nobody far more than that, and neither Bill nor Nobody would ever lie. They were eerily similar. The problem was it was hard to remember Nobody’s physical attributes. They may have only been standing together once, and Paul was much shorter then. Nobody always wore that mask, which muffled his voice just like it covered his facial features. 

He couldn’t exactly blurt out the questions he wanted to ask. “Are you Nobody?” “Why did you wait years after visiting me that first time to talk to my mom?” 

Then there was the experiment. If Bill was Nobody, he’d already know how to teleport. Could he just be teaching Paul how to do it in one of his drawn-out lessons? 

“The problem is researching a way to break down a physical object in a way that doesn’t destroy it,” Paul said. “Right now, I’m thinking of teleportation like a sort of physical email.” 

Bill nodded. “It’s a line of thought to consider. It may not lead to the answer, but in things like this, all a person can do is develop theories and test them.”

This was actually their eighteenth theory. The front door opened, announcing that Paul’s mother was home. 

“We’re in here!” Paul called.

“Where else would you be?” She walked in smiling. She gave Paul a hug before accepting a light kiss from Bill. In all these months, Bill had never stayed the night. He’d hang out until bed time and go home. 

Paul originally thought Bill would circle around back and sneak in so things looked appropriate, but even an all-night observation, one he felt both idiotic an ashamed about, proved Bill never stayed the night. 

This was one of the odd nights Paul’s mother worked late. Bill went into the kitchen to heat up some of the leftovers from dinner while Paul’s mother looked around the dining room.

“I think it’s time we think about getting something like a small garage with a space heating and cooling unit,” she said. “I want my dining room back, but I don’t want you to stop your studies.”

Paul smiled. “About that,” he said. “I have some news.”

“He’s been exceptionally quiet this evening,” Bill said as he walked back from the kitchen and set the plate in his girlfriend’s spot. “I imagine whatever it is will be exciting.”

“It is!” Paul waited for Bill and his mother to sit down. “This experiment … It’s important.”

“I certainly never expected you to be this passionate,” Bill said. “One day I hope you’ll trust me enough to tell me where the idea really came from.”

Only if you trust me enough to tell me why you’ve been visiting me all these years, if you are Nobody.

“I’m not lying,” Paul said. “I met someone years ago, and I think he vanished.”

“So someone can do what you’re trying to learn how to do,” Paul’s mother said. 

Paul nodded.

“Wouldn’t he be selling his idea?” she asked.

“I don’t think he’s very interested in money,” Paul said. “I’m not either really. I just want to see how he did it.”

Paul kept the more unusual details out of his story, but by the time they realized Paul really wanted to develop this technology, he had to at least explain why he was so adamant that it was possible. 

“Anyway, the school found out, and I guess they told, well I don’t know who all they told, but Carnegie in Pittsburgh found out,” Paul said.

The mention of one of the more prestigious technical schools caused Paul’s mother to sit up straight. 

Paul smiled. “They offered me a scholarship if I study this at their universi— ACK!”

Paul’s mother practically flew from her chair and flung her arms around him. It was genuinely hard to breathe. 

“I’m so proud of you!” she said. 

“Mom, can’t … breathe .. “ he wasn’t exaggerating. She was much stronger than she looked.

She let him go, but then she covered him in kisses. Suffocation would have been a preferable alternative to embarrassment. Paul stepped away. She thankfully realized she was being dramatic and sat back down.

“That’s an incredible achievement,” Bill said. 

Paul shrugged. “I still have to graduate high school. Oh! and yes, I told them you were helping me. They didn’t seem to mind.”

Bill shrugged. “It’s not like I’m doing much more than offering you research.”

Paul frowned. “They called you, didn’t they?” 

Bill nodded. “Not to convince them to offer you a scholarship. They only wanted to see if you were helping me more than I was helping you, and I told them the truth.” “

“Why didn’t you tell me you knew?” Paul asked.

“I only knew they called,” Bill said. “I had no idea they’d actually offered you the scholarship.”

… to be continued …

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 31

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 31

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 // PT 17 // PT 18 // PT 19 // PT 20 // PT 21 // PT 22 // PT 23 // PT 24 // PT 25 // PT 26 // PT 27 // PT 28 // PT 29 // PT 30 //

“I don’t think he’ll be harassing you anymore,” Bill said, “but let me know if he does.”

Paul laughed. “Dude, you totally shut him down.”

“I didn’t do any such thing,” Bill said. “If he had been willing to sit down and look at scripture, that would have been better. If we could have been reconciled, that would have been even greater.”

Bill really sounded sad. A part of Paul had no issue feeling smug about someone shoving Mr. Dorney’s words back down his throat, but it was hard to feel that way when Bill, who also claims to be a Christian, was the one who did it. On top of it all, Bill felt remorse. 

“Why are they all so different?” Paul asked. They were still making their way back to the house, so Paul came to a stop. He wanted to understand.

Bill turned around to answer. “I assume you mean why so many people who claim to be Christian can have so many different views and attitudes?” 

Paul nodded his head. 

“There are at least four religions who all share a portion of the Bible,” Bill said. “They have at least the bulk of the same text, that being the Old Testament and even a significant amount of the New Testament, save those of Judaism, who do not recognize Christ as the Messiah.”

“You’d think God would make it clear,” Paul said. 

“You mean like sending his son down to earth saying, ‘Listen to me’?” Bill said. “The trouble with religion isn’t God; it’s man.” 

That caused Paul to cock his head in confusion. 

Bill gave one of those knowing and patient smiles. “God is perfect. God is all knowing. Humanity was made in his image, after his likeness.” 

Bill firmed his lips. Paul guessed that Bill was fighting the urge to cite the scripture he just quoted. Does he always cite the scripture he’s referencing in his head? 

He didn’t offer the verse he was referencing. Instead, Bill continued. “But man has ever wanted to be God himself. That might sound harsh, but it’s true. We want to be masters in our fields. We want to be masters of our homes. We want to satisfy our own desires and our own goals. This is the nature of sin.”

“What does this have to do with why so many religions are so different?” Paul asked. 

“I’m coming to that,” Bill said. “Humanity ultimately has two choices. The first is to honor God and submit to him. The second choice is to refuse to take the first. But there are those who want to maintain the appearance of faith, so they create new gods, idols. Or they deny the existence of God, thus making themselves an idol. True Christians will ever seek God’s authority on the matter. They’ll read his words and work to come to an understanding. Indeed, if the word seems unclear, they’ll accept the differing opinions as equally valid and let the matter go without judgement because True Christians are called to judge rightly.”

“Wait,” Paul said. “I thought they weren’t supposed to judge at all.”

“You’re referencing Matthew 7:1-3,” Bill said. “Where Jesus warned about hypocritical judging. There is absolutely a wrong judging, and I’d define it as judging designed to elevate yourself rather than bring the person you’re speaking to closer to God. There is also a right judgement, which Christ talks about in John 7:24. And that’s the answer to your question right there. When people seek after themselves, they might cherry pick parts of the Bible that fit their ideals, letting the rest of the word pass away, but no one who wants to honor God can only follow part of his word. Sure, we’re human, but we’re meant to pursue knowing and honoring him. We’re not supposed to just take the parts we like and cast the rest aside.”

“That’s what Mr. Dorney does.” Paul realized it as Bill was speaking. “That’s why he didn’t want to sit and look through the whole scripture with you.”

Bill nodded and smiled. “A True Christian would be excited to sit and look at scripture with another person. I’m not saying Mr. Dorney would have welcomed us into the house that moment. I’m not implying I don’t do anything but read the Bible. Otherwise, how would I be dating your mom. The point is, we’d have made arrangements. If the issue of dispute was critical, we might very well sit down that moment and look at it, but that, to me, is the difference.”

“I’m not sure it makes sense,” Paul said.

Bill nodded. “Let’s say you’re playing a board game.”

Paul shrugged.

“During a board game, if someone breaks a rule, you have a choice to make. You can let it slide, or you can challenge him on it,” Bill explained.

“OK.” Paul was just trying to show Bill he understood, at least so far.

“Well if you challenge the player on it, you create a new choice. The simplest thing would be to open the rule book and see what it says.”

Paul scoffed. “Of course.”

Bill held up a finger. “But what if the person you challenge says something like, ‘I don’t play that way’ or “That’s not how we do it in my house’?”

Paul scoffed again. “Doesn’t matter. The rules are the … “

Bill smiled. “People unwilling to look through all the scriptures, are those trying to create their own rule books. That’s something I never want to do.”

“What if I don’t want to follow that rule book?” Paul asked.

Bill took a deep breath. The comment honestly hurt Bill to hear. Paul sort of understood. Based on religion, if you don’t follow God, you go to Hell. Bill obviously didn’t want Paul to go to Hell. The problem was Paul wasn’t sure there was a Hell, so why be afraid of it?

Bill shut his eyes, probably thinking or praying, or both. He opened them just before speaking. “Christians are supposed to evangelize and spread the Good News, you may not know what that is, and that’s also a place where Mr. Dorney went wrong, but for now, I’m just trying to answer your question.”

Paul nodded to encourage Bill to continue. 

“If you choose not to follow God, that’s your choice. At least, it is in the simplest sense of the idea,” Bill said. “For those who aren’t of the faith, I’ll only ever be a light to shine for it, and I will continue to offer the Good News, but that’s it. If the word of God isn’t enough, nothing else I say is. I’ll be sad, but there’s no point in being angry. If I’m angry, it’s probably based on some degree of pride on my part. Think of it like finding a hungry person on the road. I bring him the tastiest fruit I have, and he rejects it because he doesn’t want it.”

“But if he’s starving, won’t he eat anything?” Paul asked.

“Maybe if you were inches from death,” Bill said. “But you’d be surprised how many people turn away perfectly good food because they don’t like the taste, so I think the metaphor holds up. Speaking of food, your mother told us to be back quickly.”

Paul smiled and followed Bill to the house for a few steps. But then he froze again. 

“What …. what is the Good News?”

Bill turned. He had a huge smile. “Well, Mr. Dorney probably covered the first part. He’s not wrong when he says that those who don’t follow God are doomed. The point is, all men have sinned.”

“I get that part,” Paul said. Mr. Dorney really loved talking about how evil every man was, every man but those who went to his specific church. 

“Every man needs to come to terms with the fact that he isn’t perfect.”

“Of course they’re not.” Even the statement sounded ridiculous.

Bill nodded as he sighed. “But one needs to understand that the fact that you’re not perfect means you’re evil in the sight of a perfect God, in whom there is no evil.

For some strange reason, Paul took a step back as if Bill had shoved him. It’s one thing to admit you’re not perfect, but to think that being imperfect makes you evil?

“That’s the part most people struggle with,” Bill said. “Who wants to think that the slightest imperfection makes you intolerable? But that realization, that hopelessness is why we need a living hope. It’s only the first part. God knew this from Eternity Past. So he sent his Son, God in the flesh, to pay the price of man. It is Jesus who gave himself up, so that his perfection could become ours, if we earnestly confess he is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead. So we need Christ to give us his righteousness, so that we can enter God’s presence as adopted sons.”

Paul waited for a few moments, but Bill just turned back and started walking to the house. 

“That’s it?” Paul asked. 

Bill kept walking, but he answered. “Yep.”

“But I didn’t say I believed.” 


Paul waited again. He actually had to jog to catch up to Bill. He managed to get along side him. “But aren’t you going to say more?”

Bill still didn’t stop walking. “Like I said, if the word of God hasn’t taken root, nothing I think of with my mind or say with my mouth is going to do anything. But please know that won’t stop me from offering the Good News again. Maybe the soil needs a bit of tilling, but I’ll keep planting because that’s my job.”

“Planting?” Paul asked.

“I’ll explain later.” They had made it to the driveway of Paul’s house. “For now, let’s have dinner.”

Paul was willing to wait, but he was far more interested in how Bill spoke. He sounded exactly like Nobody. But how could Bill be Nobody? Could it be coincidence? Paul meant to figure it out. It was a new puzzle, but at least he felt pretty sure he could think about that puzzle on the way home. He didn’t think Mr. Dorney would be botching him anymore. 

The end of Chapter 8. To Be Continued.

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 30

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 30

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 // PT 17 // PT 18 // PT 19 // PT 20 // PT 21 // PT 22 // PT 23 // PT 24 // PT 25 // PT 26 // PT 27 // PT 28 // PT 29 //

“I’m Bill Tayro,” Bill said. “I’m courting Paul’s mother, and he’s told me you’ve been speaking with him.”

“I’ve been trying to save his soul,” Mr. Dorny said. 

“Evangelism exists to lead people to Christ, who is the only one who can save anyone,” Bill said. 

Mr. Dorny smiled, but it didn’t have any warmth. It was a picturesque definition of condescension. “What would an adulterous man know about salvation?” 

Paul felt his body tense, but Bill’s hand fell onto his shoulder. Paul looked at the man, who had a truly contemplative face.

“You’re accusing me of adultery?” Bill said it like a question, but he didn’t sound defensive or angry.

“You’ve confessed already,” Mr. Dorny said. “You’re dating a woman, doing who knows what with her.”

“She’s divorced,” Bill said. How did he keep that calm?

“Divorce is a sin,” Mr. Dorny said. “To have relations or even look at a person’s wife in lust is a sin.”

“I’m not sure your comment aligns well with Matthew Chapter 5 clearly enough,” Bill said. “Would you like to open the word together and look more closely?”

Wait. Paul thought. Did he seriously just offer to open the Bible and read it together?

“I’ve no interest in debating scripture with a clear unbeliever,” Mr. Dorney said.

“But you’ll use half-truths to harass a child to a point to where he’s afraid to even walk by your house?” Bill asked. 

Mr. Dorney’s eyebrows furrowed. “I’d have anyone not of Christ fear my presence.”

“I thought you said you were trying to save him?” Bill asked.

“I am.” Mr. Dorney’s tone grew louder.

“Have you tried sharing the gospel?” Bill asked. 

“No unrepentant sinner is ready for the gospel!” Mr. Dorney had started shouting.

“Why are you angry?” Bill asked. “If your goal is to evangelize to this young man, simply offer him the complete gospel.”

“He won’t even admit his sin!” Mr. Dorny stabbed a finger in Paul’s direction. 

Paul again tried to step forward, but Bill gently pulled his shoulder back. 

“What you’re doing is harassing a young boy,” Bill said. “You’re countenance is fallen, Geneses 4:6. You’re not acting with kindness, patience, or love, Colossians 3:12-13. Neither are you treating this outsider with graciousness seasoned with salt, Colossians 4:6.”

“You dare quote scripture to me!” Mr. Dorny shouted. Now he seemed ready to hit someone.

“Are you unwilling to discuss scripture?” Bill asked. “How is it you intend to help any souls find Christ if you’re only willing to use his word to condemn?”

Through the whole exchange, Bill never wavered. He wore the same smile that was gentle, not condescending. His tone was patient and kind. 

Paul hadn’t seen anyone use or understand the Bible this way, no one except …

Paul looked at Bill. Could he be? That didn’t make sense. Bill didn’t even know Paul’s mom when Paul was a kid. But they spoke so similarly. 

“You false teacher!” Mr. Dorney said. “You’ll be put to death for your sin!”

“I’m not certain whether or not you’ve just threatened my well being.” Bill sounded like he was reading a particularly complex book. “But you’re quoting Deuteronomy 18:20 as if you know I’m speaking against one of God’s commandments. I don’t believe you’ve tested my spirit in accordance to 1 John 4:1-6. If you had, you would have remembered that I began this conversation acknowledging that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, John 14:6. He came in the flesh from God, and only those who come to him can find salvation.”

Mr. Dorny’s face turned red. “You blasphemer!”

“I think I’ve heard enough shouting.” The more Mr. Dorney shouted, the stronger Bill looked just keeping his tone and posture under control. “I’m not of the opinion you are worried about anything other than passing judgement, which isn’t anything like evangelism. So here’s how this is going to go. I’ve approached you personally in accordance with Matthew 18:15. Paul has witnessed this exchange. You’ve refused to repent. You’ve shown no desire to be reconciled to a brother.”

“You’re no brother of mine!” Mr. Dorney said. He sounded like he was trying not to laugh or shout, so the sound came out like some strange sort of cough. 

“Very well,” Bill said. “But I truly pray you search the scripture and reflect on this exchange. I pray that your eyes will be opened, and you’ll see you’re acting far more like Saul the oppressor rather than Paul the evangelist.”

It was weird for Paul to hear his name so many times and know that Bill was talking about an apostle who supposedly lived thousands of years ago.

Bill stepped behind him to put a second hand on both Paul’s shoulders. “This young man will be using this road to get home. You will not harass or approach him. If you do, the police will be notified. More importantly, I hope you’ll leave this young man to walk the path God has chosen. He’s a child, one of those to whom belong the Kingdom of Heaven, Matthew 19:14.”

Mr. Dorney sneered. “Fine! Go enjoy your flesh and adultery. You’ll burn in Hell, and I’ll be happy to see it.”

“Would you be Lazarus standing with  Abraham? I’d be far more concerned about the plank in my eye.” Bill turned and started to walk back to the house. 

Mr. Dorney shouted a lot more as they walked away, but Bill didn’t appear to pay any attention.

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 29

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 29

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 // PT 17 // PT 18 // PT 19 // PT 20 // PT 21 // PT 22 // PT 23 // PT 24 // PT 25 // PT 26 // PT 27 // PT 28 //


April 2, 2027, 3:33 p.m. 

18 Years, 349 Days Ago

Paul plopped down from the wall behind his house and walked through the back door. Bill was there in the dining room. He turned to Paul in surprise.

“Why are you coming in through the back door?” he asked.

Paul froze. He wanted to rush up to Bill and start asking a million questions he’d had from the last time they’d spoken a few days ago. Bill had visited at least another two times since they first met, but this was the first time Bill was at the house before him. 

“It’s a shortcut,” Paul lied.

“No it isn’t,” Bill said. “You’d have to walk a block in the wrong direction to even get to that wall.”

Paul’s mouth froze open. His mother bought the lie when he’d used it, but his mother probably didn’t think about directions. She was happy if Paul was happy. Bill on the other hand, liked to understand things. In this case, the habit was pretty unfortunate.

Paul shrugged. “I just … “ Lying took a ton of effort. “Think it’s cool walking on the walls.”

Bill raised an eyebrow. “And the neighbors don’t mind? Doesn’t one of them have a dog?”

Why on earth does he ask so many questions? “No one’s ever asked me to stop.”

“So what brought this on?” Bill asked. “You were just walking home one day and thought, ‘Gee, I wonder what it would be like to walk on those walls over there?’”

“Sure,” Paul said. It was a lot easier to lie when someone gave you one to approve. 

Bill shook his head. “You’re not that sort of adventurous. What’s really going on?”

“What, you know me for, like, two weeks, and suddenly you know everything about me?” Paul shouted the question.

“Of course not.” Bill’s tone didn’t change a bit. He even kept a gentle smile on his face. 

“But you’re gonna interrogate me like you have some right to? Are you my dad now? You and Mom get married while I wasn’t looking?” The more Paul thought about the questions, the more justified he felt in shouting them.

“What is going on?” His mother’s question came out in a series of slow, emphasized words. She’d come from the kitchen and didn’t look too pleased.

Paul froze again. It was one thing to have a tirade against Bill. Actually, Bill didn’t deserve it either, but it still felt more wrong for his mother getting involved.

“Do you think Paul and I could talk?” Bill stood up from the wooden dinning room chair. Strangely, his tone only became more gentle. 

“It doesn’t sound like you’re talking. Paul, are you being rude?” His mother tried to look at Paul, but Bill used a pair of fingers to gently turn her chin back toward himself.

“Sweetheart, it is your right to discipline your son,” he said. “But I’m asking you to let me talk to him.”

Paul coked his head. Why did Bill talk like that? 

His mom let out a deep sigh. “I’m fine with you two talking.” She looked at Paul. “But if you raise your voice again, I’ll use my right to discipline you until you graduate college.”

Paul’s had sank in shame. “Yes, Mother.”

She backed out of the room as if taking every moment she could to observe Paul’s behavior. 

After she’d been gone a few seconds, Bill turned his attention back to Paul. Those brown eyes of his were so kind. Paul shouted at him, and he just kept that patient tone.

“Why are you so defensive about what you were doing?” Bill asked.

“I’m not defensive!” Paul said defensively. 

Bill smiled at him. “In my experience, I’m the most angry when I’m the most ashamed, embarrassed, or afraid.” 

Paul just stood there in front of the door. 

Bill narrowed his eyes. “If something is bothering you, I’d be honored if you trusted me enough to share it with me.”

Paul just looked down at his sneakers. 

“You’re a good young man,” Bill mused. He sounded like he was talking to himself, but he definitely wanted Paul to hear. “So I don’t imagine you’re ashamed or embarrassed. Besides, what would using the back door hide that you’d be ashamed or embarrassed about?”

“It’s this guy,” Paul muttered. 

Bill immediately stopped talking. He moved back to his chair and took a seat, offering Paul the one next to him. 

Paul sat. “He stands there or rushes out of his house to tell me all about how I’m going to Hell and … other things.”

Bill cocked his head in thought. “So he claims to be a religious person?”

“You’re religious,” Paul argued.

“I’m Christian, which is a religion, but not all religious people are Christian,” Bill explained. “What does he base his opinion of you on?”

Paul shrugged. “I went to his church once. It wasn’t fun.”

“What’s the name of his church?” Bill asked. 

“The Way,” Paul said. 

Bill grimaced. 

“You’ve heard of it?” Paul asked.

The only way Paul knew Bill was frustrated was the odd moment he spent thinking before he answered. “Yes,” Bill said. “What’s this man’s name?”

“Mr. Dorny,” Paul said. 

“And Mr. Dorny has you so worked up, you’ll use parkour to avoid him?” Bill asked. 

Paul shrugged. When Bill said it like that, it felt stupid. It felt cowardly. 

“He’s just super aggressive, and he won’t let me go. He doesn’t, like, touch me or grab me, but he gets in my way and makes it sound like I’m a bad person for not listening.”

Bill nodded. “He lives down the road, the one you’d use to come home from school?”

Paul nodded. 

“Mary!” Bill called her name, and she eventually returned from the kitchen. “I have to take Paul out for just a few moments. We should be back in about half an hour.”

“What’s going on?” she asked. 

“I’ll explain everything, but would you be OK if I waited until after we got back?” Bill asked.

“I’ll explain, too,” Paul chimed in. “It’s sort of a long story.”

Mary looked at Bill. “What are you going to do?” 

Paul looked at Bill. He’d be interested to hear the answer as well.

“We just have to talk to someone,” Bill said. “There’s a disagreement that needs to be resolved. It won’t take long.”

Paul’s mom shrugged and let out a deep breath. “I’ll just wait for the explanation. Just be home before dinner get’s cold.”

Bill nodded and started walking toward the front door. Paul darted after him. Bill seemed to be walking more quickly than normal. Paul had to move at a pace that was one step below a jog just to keep up. He glanced at Bill, whose lips were moving, but Paul couldn’t make out any words. Is he praying?

They moved purposefully out of the cul-de-sac in which Paul lived and came to Mr. Dorny’s house, which was right at the choke point of road. 

Mr. Dorny was outside, sitting in his chair. He saw Paul and smiled. 

“Well it’s certainly been a while,” he said. Something about his tone sounded smug. Paul already wanted to hit him.

“He’s not here to talk to you,” Bill said. “I am.”

“And who are you?” Mr. Dorny asked. He got up from his metal beach chair. The motion looked like a lion getting up after eating a fat zebra. 

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 28

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 28

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 // PT 17 // PT 18 // PT 19 // PT 20 // PT 21 // PT 22 // PT 23 // PT 24 // PT 25 // PT 26 // PT 27 //

Paul thought about it. Sure, a part of him wanted to dispute it, but he really was just curious.

Bill smiled before Paul could say anything. “If you’re conflicted about whether or not that was your intent, consider this question: What are you basing your dispute on? It’s a good scientific place to start.”

“Christianity isn’t true.” It was more an answer to Bill’s question than an assertion.

“And how do you know that?” Bill asked. 

“For starters, the world wasn’t made in seven days,” Paul said.

Bill smiled. “And how do you know that?” He put up a hand to gently pause him. “Again, this isn’t nor doesn’t need to be an argument, but the temptation is only there because you’ve declared certainty where there isn’t. It’s extremely odd in the scientific community. We’ll call anything we deem “scientific” a theory, and we won’t promote it to law until it’s proven over and over again through rigorous testing by several experts. But every theory about creation, evolution, the universe is just a theory, and must be because we can’t repeat and test the process.”

“Huh!” Paul said. “I never thought of it that way.”

“I’m not telling you what to believe,” Bill said. “I’m just asking that you not dismiss my beliefs based on your beliefs. I’ll grant you the same respect. I’m happy to tell you why I hold my beliefs, but even the most brilliant minds with the most reasoned arguments still face the exact same struggle proving what they call science as I would proving what I believe is the accuracy of the Bible. Ironically, it all comes down to what a person chooses to believe anyway. But I can believe there is a God and still seek to understand His wonder and this world He created. But there are some questions we can never really know. I just happen to believe that’s because some secrets are meant to stay that way. At least for now.”

“So you don’t think the big bang is real?” Paul asked.

“I think the big bang is a theory,” Bill replied. “While some people might line up to dispute a six-day creation cycle, the big bang theory also has some issues. Have you researched the horizon problem?”

Paul’s face scrunched up, and Bill smiled again. “Questions are beautiful. But they should lead to a desire to find truth. And you shouldn’t stop at any broad or general answer. Look for your answers. I did. That’s exactly why I’m more convicted in my beliefs. I wouldn’t let gaps in the theories stop me from seeing the only answer that could sufficiently fill those gaps. From there, a person just has to seek answers. Christians themselves disagree on the very meaning of the word ‘day.’ But we don’t let small disagreements get in the way.”

“Isn’t the meaning clear?” Paul asked. “I mean, it’s the word ‘day.’”

Bill shrugged. “I think some people are trying to merge popular theory with traditional Christianity. I will admit that is actually not possible. What is possible is to have a belief you hold fast to. I’m not opposed to contrary theories, but I won’t accept those theories as facts because the very scientific nature of the word ‘theory” is something that is testable, but not yet proven.  I think the current synonym is ‘well-substantiated,’ but that’s a far cry from proven.” 

Paul couldn’t keep himself from asking questions. He’d finally had someone right there who wouldn’t vanish in a flash of light and a strange temperature swing. The conversation shifted from creation theory to physics. Then they talked about the Law of Conservation. Paul would mention something about teleportation, and Bill responded by mentioning various mathematical problems he knew existed that were related to things like matter and energy transfer.

“I’m not sure energy could travel very far unless it had an anchor of some kind,” Bill said. “But I haven’t given it much thought.”

“I’m not sure you two realize what time it is.” Paul’s head spun to his mother. 

He looked around. His dinner plate had vanished. Crumbs of the pie his mother made for desert sat on a small plate in front of him. The other dishes were cleared away. The lights were on, and the windows outside were dark. How long had we been talking? 

Paul looked at his Wrist Bit. The device said it was 9 p.m. 

“I’m so sorry,” Bill said. “We’ve completely ignored you.”

Bill’s words caused Paul’s head to swing back to his mother. She didn’t look mad. In fact, she had one of the biggest smiles he’d ever seen. She was beautiful! Well, Paul’s mom was always regarded as pretty, but there was something different about her. 

“I’ll let it slide this once.” The sarcasm was obvious in her tone. “But maybe next time we could all play video games or talk about something that doesn’t require hours of research.”

“Can you come over tomorrow?” Paul asked. 

Bill laughed. “I was hoping to take your mother out tomorrow.” Paul’s mom blushed as Bill spoke. “But I’d love to come by again some other time.”

“I don’t remember saying you could take me out tomorrow,” Paul’s mother said. 

“I see.” Bill put on a fake frown. “I suppose I’ll have to find something else to do. Maybe I can sell these tickets to the ballet and go grab a cheeseburger.”

“I think I like the ballet,” Paul’s mother said. 

“Do you?” Bill replied. “Well I’d love to take you if you’d do me the honor.”

“I think I can allow that.”

Paul opened his mouth and pointed his finger inside as he rolled his eyes. “I’m going to go up stairs.” He rushed over and gave his mother a quick one-armed hug. 

He froze, looking at Bill. “Um … goodnight.” 

The End of Chapter 7

… to be continued …

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 27

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 27

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 // PT 17 // PT 18 // PT 19 // PT 20 // PT 21 // PT 22 // PT 23 // PT 24 // PT 25 // PT 26 //

Paul then began what was essentially an interrogation on the laws of physics. He asked question after question, and Bill patiently answered every one of them.

“Are you sure you don’t want to play that game?” Bill asked.

“They can wait,” Paul said. “I don’t understand that last part, can you explain it again?”

Bill laughed. He started to speak, but Paul’s mom called them for dinner.

“Can’t we stay up here longer?” Paul shouted.

“Your mother called us down.” The tone was gentle, but it had a sudden firmness to it. “She didn’t ask if we were ready or not.”

The smile on his face took the edge off the demanding look in his eyes. It all felt sort of like being hit with a pillow. It didn’t hurt, but Paul knew it was a reprimand. Something about it reminded Paul of Nobody and that no-nonsense demeanor he always had. 

“Sorry, Mom!” Paul shouted down the stairs. “We’re coming down.”

He turned off his TV and console and made his way to the dining room. As they walked down, Bill started to offer the explanation as they walked.

He was still explaining the effects of energy and thermodynamics when they took their seats at the table. 

“What are you guys talking about?” Paul’s mom asked.

“Physics,” they said together. 

“Oh, so you’ve learned what Bill does for a living,” his mother said.

Paul gave an embarrassed shrug. “I probably should have listened to you more when you talked about him.”

“You actually understand that stuff?” His mother didn’t seem to feel like the apology needed to be addressed. They were talking now, and that’s what mattered.

“He has absolutely been studying this stuff closely.” Bill’s compliment made Paul’s chest swell. It was genuine recognition from an actual scientist.

“Are you just saying that because you’re dating my mom?” The thought occurred to Paul even as he asked the question.

Bill cocked his head and nodded in thought. “I can see why you’d think that might be a suspicion, but I won’t offer you a false compliment. I’m not saying you should come work with me next week. I’m just saying is obvious you have a passion for this, and you seem be be learning quickly.”

There wasn’t a way to know if Bill was just deflecting or if he really felt that way, but Paul chose to believe him. Paul wanted desperately to believe him. 

They sat down together and passed food around. Paul dug in, but he froze when he saw Bill from the corner of his eye. The man folded his hands in front of himself and bowed his head in prayer. Paul wondered if Bill was waiting for everyone else, but then Bill whispered “A-men.”  He didn’t talk out loud, and it wasn’t a very long prayer, but Paul didn’t know what to do. Was he supposed to pray, too? 

Bill just smiled and went to eating. Paul stared. Bill took a few bites of food before he realized Paul was watching him. 

“Is something wrong?” Bill asked.

“We’ve never said grace,” Paul’s mother explained.

Bill smiled. “I’m not trying to make you uncomfortable. I just say grace before I eat.”

“So, you’re religious?” Paul asked.

“I’m Christian,” Bill said. 

“But you’re a scientist.” Paul couldn’t believe it.

“Did someone tell you those two things are exclusive?” Bill asked. Again, the question reminded Paul of Nobody. 

“Well, how can you believe in Christianity when you know it’s not true?” Something in Paul felt wrong at the question. A part of him felt like he was letting Nobody down, but the truth was he didn’t believe. 

Sure, the Bible had a lot of useful comments and tools. Maybe there was a God, but science and Christianity just didn’t mesh, at least not with the Bible. 

Bill tilted his head again in thought. “I’m willing to talk about it with you, but I’m curious. Are you trying to understand my thoughts and beliefs, or are you trying to argue for your own?”

Paul froze. He still hadn’t touched his dinner. “What do you mean?”

“Well,” Bill said, “some people truly just want to discuss what they believe so they better understand each other. Others don’t really want to understand people, they just want to dispute and argue with them.  I’m not interested in an argument, especially at dinner.”

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 26

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 26

T 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 // PT 17 // PT 18 // PT 19 // PT 20 // PT 21 // PT 22 // PT 23 // PT 24 // PT 25 //


March 19, 2027, 4:30 p.m. 

18 Years, 363 Days Ago

Bill wasn’t anything like Paul’s father. Paul’s father was a tall, square man. Bill was a short, slender man. Bill was quiet. After ten minutes of sitting awkwardly in their living room, Bill hadn’t said much. Paul’s father was always laughing or shouting loudly.  Paul’s father was tan with dark hair. Bill was pale with brown hair that was just a few shades away from blond. 

It seemed to Paul that his mother couldn’t have done a better job of finding the complete opposite of his father. 

The thing was, the guy wasn’t talking. They just sat around the living room snacking off a plate of cookies that was on the oval table between the sofa and the recliner. 

“Why don’t you tell Paul about what you do for a living?” his mother asked.

Bill smiled, which might be the only thing that even remotely reminded Paul of his dad. “I’m not sure if that’s something that would interest him. Paul, what are your hobbies?”

Paul shrugged. 

They all went back to silently staring at each other. 

I’m not doing a very good job of giving him a chance, Paul thought to himself. 

It wasn’t for lack of want. He just didn’t have the first clue what to say. “I like video games.” Paul guessed at least answering the man’s questions was a start.

“First-person shooters, right?” Bill asked. 

“Yeah.” Paul’s mother probably told him. But if Paul’s mother told him so much, what was there for Paul to say?

“Why don’t you show me?” Bill asked. 

Paul’s posture straightened, and his head whipped around to his mother. “Can I?”

She laughed, and for some reason, she blushed. “Whatever you like. He’s here to get to know you. But maybe you can both be ready for dinner in a hour?”

“I wouldn’t miss your cooking for anything,” Bill said.

Paul thought he might get a cavity from how much sappy affection Bill laced into his statement, but his mother only turned a darker shade of red. 

Wow! She really likes him.

Paul darted up the stairs. “Come on!” 

He didn’t wait to see if Bill followed. He had permission to play video games, so he was going to play. He practically flew into his room and turned on his console. He turned on two controllers. Bill could play if he wanted. 

Indeed, Bill showed up by the time console reached the home screen. He tucked up his tan slacks before sitting cross legged on the floor beside Paul, who’d pulled the chair from his desk to sit on. 

“Oh,” Paul said. “Did you want my chair?”

“This is your room,” Bill said. “I’m fine here.”

Paul shrugged. They started the game. Paul focused on his side of the split screen and started moving his character around. It was a World War II game. The characters were American soldiers, and each level was a different mission that was at least based on an actual WW II battle. 

“So, what do you do for a living?” Paul asked. 

“It’s not terribly exciting, but I love it,” Bill answered. “The title is called a researcher.” 

Paul immediately paused the game. “You’re a researcher!?”

Bill turned to look at him. “Mary said you showed an interest in science, but I didn’t think you’d find it that exciting.”

Paul dropped the controller and turned his chair toward him. His mom could have just told Paul what he did for a living. Then again, he hardly ever paid attention to her when she went on about Bill. But now that he knew this, he wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass.

“Are you a science researcher?”

Bill nodded and flashed that smile. Paul realized the man’s smile wasn’t like his father’s. Sure, they showed an equal number of teeth, but Bill’s smile didn’t seem so forced or smug.

“Applied or theoretical?” Paul asked.

Bill’s delicate eyebrows climbed up his forehead. “You really do like the field.”

Paul nodded. 

“Theoretical, I’m afraid.”

“Why?” Paul asked. “Lots of great scientists were theoretical.”

Bill frowned in thought and nodded. “I’m not saying I don’t love my field. I just wish we could test some of the theories we’re considering.”

“How did my mom meet you?” Paul loved science, but he didn’t think his mother understood half of his homework. 

“This may come as a surprise to you, but sometimes we scientists need coffee.” He smiled as he said it. It was like telling Paul he knew guys like Bill didn’t often run into women like  Paul’s mother. 

“I don’t honestly know how it led to a date,” Bill continued. “All I knew was that she was beautiful, and my plan was to keep her talking until she made it clear she didn’t want to talk anymore. We’ve been talking ever since.”

“About what?” Paul asked. 

“Whatever keeps her talking to me.” Bill smiled again. “As long as she’s happy and talking and spending time with me, I don’t care what the subject is.”

“Wait, you just sat there and listened?” Paul asked.

“When a woman as pretty as your mom is talking to you, yes.” Bill laughed.

The laugh wasn’t bold and loud like Paul’s father used to do. It was a soft chuckle that sounded half embarrassed. “I talk about work now and then, but mostly just about how the day went. It’s not like theoretical physics is the most interesting subject.”

“Yes it is!” Paul got up and pushed the chair back just to make room to sit down on the floor with Bill. “How would one travel through space? How much energy would be required to demolecularise a person and reform him at another location?”

Bill looked stunned. “Wow, you’ve really put a lot of thought into this. Why teleportation?”

Paul nearly just blabbered on about Nobody. He only just managed to snap his jaw shut. He gave it another moment of thought before saying, “I just really believe it’s possible.”

“Fascinating.” Bill looked up as if he noticed something on the ceiling. Paul realized it was just Bill’s thinking face. “Well, it’s not the field I’m studying. I suppose I could find some articles and other published works in the area if you wanted to read them.”

“You’re awesome! This is so cool! I’m finally going to start really figuring it out!” Paul couldn’t stop himself.

“How long have you been thinking about this?”

“Eight years.”

“Aren’t you sixteen?” 


“Wow!” Bill said that a lot. “You really did start young.”

… to be continued …

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 22

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 22

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 // PT 17 // PT 18 // PT 19 // PT 20 // PT 21 //

The car rumbled to life, and Paul put it in reverse. He set to work backing up carefully. Then he turned around. All the while his mother gave soft words of encouragement. Occasionally, Paul would stall out or cause the car to jerk around again, and his mother would offer an occasional giggle with a gentle word of correction. 

After a while, Paul realized he had a smile plastered on his face. I think this is the happiest I’ve ever been.  

“Did you want to stop?” she asked.

Paul realized he’d stopped the car, thinking about what a great day it had been. The sun was quickly approaching the horizon, but there was still a few minutes of daylight.

“I suppose we can keep going a little while,” Paul said. A part of him felt weird, but he didn’t want to reveal how much he wanted this day to last longer. Can I make every day feel like this?

She’d taken to playing video games with him from time to time, and that was fun. She’d glance at his homework, but she’d never really understood half of it. She mostly just looked at it to offer praise for doing it. Those were good times, but driving around, just the two of them, he realized it was so much better somehow.

“Oh.” She chuckled again, as if she knew he was only pretending to be frustrated. “Well I guess if you can put up with me for another few minutes, I’ll try not to be too annoying.”

Yeah, she definitely knew he was having a great time. He still refused to admit it for some reason. He was afraid that admitting he was happy would cause something terrible to happen. 

That’s the way it always went before Paul’s father was arrested. Things would seem good, and he’d explode over the dumbest thing. Even after he went to jail, Paul himself would find some way to cause drama. 

This day was different. They drove until the sun finally fell behind the horizon. Paul pulled over and switched spots with his mother. 

“I think you’re just about ready to drive on some quiet streets. You got the basics down, so now it’s just practice.” His mother smiled and ran a few nimble fingers through his hair.

“Can we play some video games when we get home?” Paul asked. 

She shook her head. “I’m actually planning to meet Bill tonight.”

Paul frowned. Bill. Paul hadn’t gotten to do much more than meet the guy, but his mother had been spending quite a few nights with Bill, and it annoyed Paul.

“How late are you going to be?” Paul asked.

She raised an eyebrow at him. “I don’t think it’s your job to ask me when I get home.”

Well, it wasn’t, but he still wanted to know. “I just want to know if you’re going to be all night.”

Her cheeks flushed, and Paul realized he’d implied a very different question than the one he meant to ask.

“Gross! No! I don’t want to know if you’re doing that,” Paul said. “I’m just wondering if you’ll be there in the morning.”

Paul realized it was, in a way, the same question. Why else would a woman stay with a man through the night.

“I won’t be out past eleven,” she said. “I trust you to have some food and get to bed on time, but I’m not leaving my sixteen-year-old son home alone overnight.”

“I can take care of myself.” Paul hardly made the comment before he realized he didn’t exactly want his mother thinking he wouldn’t care if she stayed overnight with Bill. Because…Bill. 

“You can take care of yourself, but I have no intention of staying out that late,” his mother said. 

To Paul, it sounded more like she said, “Don’t worry, I’m not sleeping with him.” 

Paul thought about it. Should he care? Didn’t he want her to be happy? Did what made her happy have to be Bill? Why was he so annoyed by his name? His name was just about the only thing Paul knew about him. 

“Does it bother you that I’m dating?” The question came from his mother as little more than a whisper, and Paul realized her concern. Would she really stop seeing Bill if he said, “Yes”? 

Paul took a breath. He opened his mouth to say he liked Bill. 

“Don’t lie to me!” She added a finger point to the shout just to give it a bit more sting. How did she know?

He let out a breath of air. “I like it how it is now,” Paul said. “We spend time together. We talk.”

She gently cupped his face with her hands. “No matter what I do, you will always be my son, and I will always love you.”

“I know.” Paul pulled away as if she made him uncomfortable. “Look, I want you to be happy, and that’s the truth. I’m not sure about Bill.”

“Why’d you say his name like that?” she asked.

“Like what?” Paul asked back.

“You just said his name like it was an insult.” Her tone wasn’t angry, but she did make it clear to Paul that he needed a good explanation.

“I don’t know him.” Avoiding the name might be best. “And that’s the problem, and no, I’m not asking to hang out with him. You’re dating, and that means you’ll have less time.”

Paul let a few moments pass before finally admitting, “I was just getting used to how much time we were spending together.”

His mother nodded. “I don’t honestly know what will happen with Bill. I won’t lie, I want to spend more time with him, and I want him to start spending time with us. But I promise to try and make sure we always have time for just us. It might not be as much as you want, but we’ll make time to hang out. Who knows. Maybe after a while you’ll start wanting to spend more time with him.”

The hope practically dripped from her tone, but Paul doubted he’d ever want to spend any time with Bill. 

… to be continued …

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 21

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 21

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 // PT 17 // PT 18 // PT 19 // PT 20 //

March 17, 2027, 6:12 p.m.
19 Years Ago

Paul’s mother laughed as the car sputtered to a stop and died in the middle of a vacant lot. 

Paul glared at the steeling wheel. “I don’t even know why you want me to learn how to drive like this.”

Electric cars first became commonly available and affordable about five years ago, and Paul’s mother just had to be the only person on the planet who still owned a manual transmission, gas-powered vehicle. It was like driving a museum. 

“Well,” she said while still trying to get over her latest round of chuckling, “the first reason is the fact that if you can drive stick, there isn’t a car out there in the world you can’t drive. But that’s not the most important reason.”

“So what is?” Paul used his left foot to press in the clutch and his right hand to put the car into neutral. Then he turned the car on.

“This is the only car we have.” She smiled at him, clearly still trying to hold in more laughter. 

Really, it wasn’t all that funny. Every time he tried to put the car into the next gear, it shook like some sort of giant’s favorite toy. Either that happened, or the car would just lurch once and die. 

“Just focus on what I taught you, Paul,” His mother put a hand on his shoulder. 

She kept encouraging him softly even as he followed the steps she’d given him. 

He put the car into first. He kept his left foot, and therefore the clutch, planted firmly into the floorboard as he slowly used his right foot to press the gas. The engine started to grumble; then it began to hum.

“That’s the sound!” His mother said, confirming what Paul already thought. “Now don’t move that right foot. Just slowly let your left foot up.”

Paul followed the directions. The car started to move. 

“Don’t let go!” She squeezed his shoulder. “Just ease in the gas as you ease up the clutch.” She emphasized the word “ease” each time she said it.

Like his mother had taught him, Paul imagined his feet were sort of connected to a lever. If one went up, the other had to go down. He slowly shifted his feet and the car came to life. He’d actually gotten this part down pretty well. It was the next part that usually made the car act like they were trying to drive through an earthquake.

The car had only moved a few dozen feet before the engine started to roar. Paul’s mother had told him the engine should growl to start, hum to move, but never roar. The trick was all about how he moved his feet. 

He forced himself to lift his foot off the gas completely. The car slowed, but it didn’t jerk. Paul used his left foot to push in the clutch. His right hand grabbed the stick and brought it down, activating second gear. 

“Release clutch, press gas.” His mother’s voice had an excitement in it. 

Paul raised his left foot. He even went so far as to plant it on the floorboard away from the clutch pedal. Then he pressed the gas. The whole process might have taken a second, and the car just kept on moving. He didn’t even feel a single jolt. 

“Keep going!” 

The lot they were in once belonged to a large department store. The empty building sat at the far end of the lot, but no one ever came here, which is what made it safe for Paul to drive around in. 

Paul listened to the engine. It really did sound like an animal in a strange sort of way. Each time the car started to roar, Paul let go of the gas, pressed in the clutch, shifted the gears, let go of the clutch, and pressed in the gas. 

Paul made it to fourth gear. 

“Clutch and break!” Paul obeyed, but the strange yelp his mother used caused him to look up. The building, which only moments ago was on the other end of a huge parking lot, had somehow appeared right in front of Paul. He went from pressing the break to slamming it. 

The car skittered, sputtered, and then died just before they hit the massive building’s red-bricked wall. 

His mother chuckled. 

“What’s so funny about that?!” Paul asked. He was so frighted he couldn’t rip his eyes off his hands, which strangled the steering wheel. “We could have died.”

His mother laughed harder. “When you live through a scare like that, I think a little joy is appropriate. Good job.”

She wrapped her arms around him, still laughing. Maybe she was just scared witless. “Nothing to do but take this chance to learn how to back up. Come on.” She let him go and sat back in her seat. 

He’d nearly killed them both, and she just laughed about it. No, she not only laughed about it, but she also wanted him to start the car again.

“This is child endangerment!” Paul said.

“You’re sixteen,” his mother replied. “And the only endangered children would be the ones on the street if I let you drive without teaching you how a car really works.”

“This is the only car that works this way.”

His mother shook her head. “Every car has a transmission. Even these new fancy electric ones still operate on the same principle. You’re taking all those additional science classes, right?”


“So think of this like a science class.” Her face scrunched up in confusion. “There has to be some sort of applied physics or engineering here.”

“None of my classrooms are likely to plow into something if I make a mistake,” Paul muttered even as he set up the car to start it again. 

His mother let the comment go with just a teasing smile. The joke would be on her if the car leapt out of its spot and hit the building. Maybe then she’d finally buy a real car. The clunker they were in had 162,927 miles on it. Then again, it still ran. The only time it died was when Paul failed to operate it correctly. 

Paul still wouldn’t be caught dead driving the car alone. He’d borrow Jordan’s car. His family had bought him one for his birthday. It was electric. It had an engine that wouldn’t try to kick someone like a bull in a rodeo. 

Of course, Paul couldn’t drive anything until he got a license, which meant he had to drive his mother’s car.

… to be continued …