2004-11-09-0738Z


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OK, I promised to tell you about Richard. I saw this guy, quite obviously American -- it's rather easy to pick Americans out in Tijuana -- right after exiting the taxi. About 300 pounds, once obviously very muscular but somewhat flabby now, long reddish-blond hair and carrying a duffelbag. He asked me if I spoke English and, when I answered in the affirmative, asked me if today were Veteran's day. I hadn't a clue and told him so; I said if we saw the US border guards grinning ear-to-ear we might suspect so, because they'd be getting holiday pay.

I normally try to distance myself from other people, especially Americans, but he kept up the pace easily, though he was sweating rather profusely. He talked about CP/M and DOS programming, microscopes, nanotech, all of which, of course, kept me hooked. Then he mentioned college chemistry class, where he enjoyed his (mostly babe) co-students and had a lab partner, all set to go, and then -- when he walked into class the following week -- no-one from the original class, except for himself, was there. He mistakenly said "cast" instead of "class" at first, then corrected himself, but I immediately wondered if in fact he was right the first time. As I mentioned before, my own 1974 school year at WPI had similar overtones, though it wasn't overtly quite as weird as Richard's experience. He also mentioned something wrong with his eyes.

Once we had bought our daypasses and were on the trolley, I asked him to elaborate on what was wrong with his eyes. It turns out he had gone in for routine surgery once for some scar tissue, and when he came out of anaesthesia he had a cast over his entire head; it turns out he had stitches all over his scalp (I didn't verify this), and since then he has been suffering temporary blindness. He mentioned he couldn't figure out why anyone would have done this, since he wasn't rich. I answered that being rich or poor might have nothing to do with it, if the government for some reason had decided to use him as a guinea pig for some experiments with implants for mind control.

That's all he needed to hear. He looked at me straight in the eye and said, "Well, let me tell you. They're looking at you right now -- with my eyes." He went on to discuss ideas he had: artificial control of pH level of the body, air conditioned helmets, other things, but he said he couldn't develop a lot of his ideas because he didn't want to give them to "them". I said maybe they can just read his brainwaves -- he said that was possible but he thought the technology for that wasn't very accurate yet.

So anyway, that was the conversation, more or less accurately. What do you think? Total nutcase? Drug addict? Victim of electrode implants a la Kurt Vonnegut's Sirens of Titan? Or maybe just a replicant with a buggy memory?

I was hoping that experience would draw me out of my own emotional down, and it did for a while, but not long enough. I might have to put myself back into a survival situation for a while just to keep my sanity.

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