The Higgs Boson Anthology: Nonfiction by Bradley Wind
[Copyright & all rights you could possibly conceive of strictly belong to Bradley Wind]
It was about 1:45am when I left the party. A summer storm hit hard earlier in the evening and the trees darkening the road plus the slowing storm forced you to concentrate. I’d had a few drinks but not enough to inhibit me or create pause in my judgment. I was heading south on route 611 and just after Curley Hill Road, I noticed an accordioned car that had spread its bumper and other parts across the yellow lines.
“Keep Going” briefly flashed into my head, but no one was around, someone might be inside the crashed vehicle and other cars could’ve collided if they meet the plastic and glass. I backed up my car to the middle of the road and put my high beams on. Plumsteadville Police was written on the trunk, black letters on white. I yelled hello, feeling as if I was in some dream or movie scene, as I walked closer. I’d been conditioned for that response I suppose. I was not for the vision I found on the passenger side lit by the interior lights nor was I ready for the alien smell of opened human head and engine oil.
Others stopped and after a cell phone call, the area swarmed with red and blue flashing hazard lights. I stood in the rain avoiding the glaring car beams for about fifteen minutes, finally gave my name and went home to nightmares.
Joseph was a few years younger. He had a wife, a loving family and a station of other officers that respected him. I wanted to attend his funeral, feeling a strange obligation since I’d found him. I’d read the internment was to be at five and since I got off of work at that time I could probably just make it to see the dirt being scattered. When I arrived, I found heaps of flowers over his grave but no people. The papers misreported the time, or possibly, I had read it wrong. I thought it fitting I never knew Joseph in life, but in death I’d met him twice alone.
There’d been several moments in the past where I found myself thinking what are the odds of this happening. Obviously, since I’ve read a good deal of Jung and wrote my first novel with coincidence as a main theme, synchronicity is of interest. I know everybody experiences synchronicity, but I don’t believe in fate, no controlling force has my life mapped out. Not everything happens for a reason. I like my free will and can’t subscribe to the religious pathology that gives people hope from ambiguous beliefs and faith. However, standing at the grave, I couldn’t help but think of a character in my book who I’d named Joseph and wonder how or if there was anything similar about the two. I knew it to be an insane stretch, trying to connect Joseph and my character in some baroque fashion, but I was looking for something to make sense of it. The thought led me right back to the other stories of coincidence that are more unusual albeit not as emotionally moving as finding Joseph.
The events that followed writing my first novel Bulb were of such questionable odds that it left me curious if I’d unearthed some sign. I’m seriously no kooky new-agey, believes-in-magic type, or some self-proclaimed mystic ready with The Answers but the following incidents, like the story of my finding Joseph, are true.
I thought I’d finished writing Bulb by the end of 2000. After a brief month and half of editing, far too early, I started licking stamps and hitting send on emails to agents. While waiting for responses, I went back to editing. Okay so this may read a bit kooky but one night I was trying to develop a sense of déjà vu by such things as renaming minor characters with variations of the main character’s name: Susan. I’d found a waitress and a hotel receptionist to rename Sue and Suzanne when I received several instant messages asking me if I was their friend Marco. I was using Napster, thieving songs from poor millionaire musicians, while editing. Napster had a messaging aspect that if one sent another user a message it would pop up on that users screen. I ignored all the message pop-ups from thirteen year olds sending me “Your music sucks” and also ignored the first couple of ones I received asking me if I was Marco. Finally, after the user wouldn’t stop asking, I responded that I was busy and sent it thinking they’d leave me alone.
“Okay fine, but are you Marco?”
Having lost my focus, and needing a break anyway, I began a basic chat session. Age-Sex-Location talk. She asked what I was doing and I told her about the trying to find develop a déjà vu feeling by renaming characters Susan. She asked if she could read it, and I said no. She asked if she could read it, if she could freak me out. I doubted someone from Melbourne could freak me out over the Net until she sent me her name: Suzan.
What were the odds? Especially as I hadn’t answered any of the other messages that popped up and couldn’t recall when I’d ever had a discussion about anything other than music on Napster messaging.
I sent her the book.
The following morning I woke early and drove to the airport, the oddity of the Susan coincidence still occupying my thought. I was visiting my sister in North Carolina and while waiting for the plane to take off, I cracked open Douglas Coupland’s latest book, Miss Wyoming. In the beginning of the book, you’re introduced to the main character whose name just happens to be: Susan. She was also on a plane, but unlike mine, her plane crashes and she’s the only survivor. Feeling ridiculous, I started to get a little nervous, but landed with no problem in Raleigh. A couple days after returning home, I was incredibly excited to receive an email with my first partial request. The request was from: The Susan Herner Agency. When I hit respond to send the chapters, I saw the return email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. As it turned out, there were two Susan’s that work at the agency.
Now, all this might not seem too strange, but if you’d read my book, and known how much of my book was about synchronicity and the fact that the only person from real life I had kept their real name intact in book was Susan, you might be with me on the spectacle of it all. It could have been that I was some powerful conductor of the Higgs Boson particle, that I had God physics on my side, or yeah yeah, Susan is just a common name. I tried to convince myself of it. How many Susan’s do you run into during a regular month and never even think about I wondered?
I’d left my ATM card in the machine a few days later. I found two messages on my answering machine when I got home saying that they’d found my card and would try again later so we could arrange for me to get it back. I checked my caller ID and there was the last name and the telephone number. When I called, I got the answering machine “Hi, you’ve reached Susan’s machine…” I almost dropped the phone. Then, I must admit to becoming a bit crazed, focusing on seeing meaning in it all. For about the next month, I was waiting for more Susans to come into my life, one that would show me the full view. I wish there was some great final amazing revelation but there wasn’t. I got over it. No more coincidences of Susan after the ATM card call. Since that time I’d say I’ve confronted an average amount of Susan but in that week~week and a half timeframe…to have come across that many…in the way that I did…well, I’m not surprised that I was standing at the grave thinking about how finding Joseph might have some secret meaning waiting for discovery.