Bipolar Man, Midlife Crisis Max, and Existential Erica

“I mean, why are you here on earth?  Why do you exist?” Erica posed.

Jameson was caught off-guard.  He was intrigued by the philosophical nature of the question.

“Me, specifically, or humans in general?”

When Jameson finished his question, he realized he’d instinctively taken a right and was heading toward the guest parking lot.  He kept driving down the two-lane road that had street lamps, on both sides, brightly illuminating the entire length.

“Either one,” Erica replied.

Jameson clicked his tongue against the back of his mouth a few times.

“I don’t know.  I think life on earth was created by some sort of higher power.”

“God?” Erica probed.

“God.  Aliens.  Some force in the universe.  Maybe we are an experiment.”

“Sounds like a failed experiment,” Erica joked.

Jameson laughed as he parked the car.

“Depends on what the greater purpose of the universe is,” he offered.

“How do you mean that?”

“If our creator wanted something that multiplies exponentially, then eventually destroys everything it touches, including itself…they nailed it.”

Jameson turned into the parking lot, and headed down a row of parked cars to search for an open spot.

“You’re headed in the direction I hoped you would.  But, just out of curiosity, why would they want that…specifically?” Erica asked.

Jameson parked and opened the door, stepped out, and flicked it shut with his fingers.  He surveyed the scene for a few seconds to get his bearings, and then began walking back toward where he had dropped Max.

“I don’t know.  Biological warfare.  Medicinal testing.  Whatever reason someone would want to destroy a planet.”

“So…Earth is a science lab?”

“Maybe.  Who knows…I’m just making shit up.”

“But you do think humans have a purpose?”

“Yeah.  Something.  For the greater good, somehow.”

“Completely agree.  Humans, innately, are born with some sort of purpose…a destiny let’s say,” Erica offered.  “Regardless of the specific universal purpose of mankind though, each person fits perfectly, in their own unique way.  For you and me, or anyone individually, our job is to find our path.  The universe will piece it all together.”

Bipolar Man strode briskly as he listened, holding the phone up to his right ear while he hid his face behind his left hand.  His right eye peeked through the opening in his fingers, continuously scanning the scene in front of him as he walked.

“So, Jameson, what’s your purpose then,” she followed up with.

“I don’t know.  I’ve never had an answer to that.”

“Maybe you’re not supposed to yet.”

“Maybe I never will.  I might just be a speck of dust, caught in the wind, hoping I don’t get sucked into an air filter too quickly.”

“Why do you call yourself Bipolar Man then?”

“I’m an aspiring super-hero,” Jameson joked.  “But seriously…ever since I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, for some reason I’ve just wanted to help others like me.  I actually think it’s a blessing, not a curse, and I’m proud to wear the stigma right on my chest.  I just took it head-on.  The best defense is a good offense, so…I started calling myself Bipolar Man.  People seemed scared of me until I just announced…this is who I am!  I want people to know, and I want to share my story to help others with mental illness.”

“Even at work?”

“No.  I’m completely spineless at work.  I fit right in…constantly pretending to be someone else.”

“You work in a corporate office?’

“Yeah.  Finance consulting.  I help turn rich, entitled, asshole owners into filthy rich, selfish, unethical retirees.  I never knew the center of the universe could revolve around so many different people at the exact same time, until I worked for corporate executives.”

“Well still, the Bipolar Man stuff and helping out…that’s a purpose,” Erica pointed out.

“My cousin once told me that he was just trying to make it to the point where he died unintentionally.  I think that’s where I’m at…just trying to find my motivation.”

“How is helping out not a purpose?”

“I don’t know.  I always imagined a destiny being much sexier…much grander in scale.  Why would the universe care about me spending my time doing something so random?  I’m not sure how I matter.”

“What are you talking about?  You’re a super-hero!” Erica exclaimed.

“Aspiring.”

“Well, you’re in luck.  My purpose is to train super-heroes.”

“Is that why you’re Existential Erica?  You help train people to fulfill their destiny?”

“I help people find it.  Their job is to fulfill it.”

Jameson smiled as he watched the cement sidewalk pass under his feet.

“Are you qualified?” he inquired.

“I’m working on that.  You’re my first client.”

“What’s your major?”

“Quantum mechanics as it relates to molecular consciousness.”

Jameson paused as his eyebrows scrunched.

“Is that seriously a major they offer?”

“No.  It’s my major.  I made it up.”

“I’m not real fluent in quantum mechanics, or molecular consciousness,” Jameson noted.

“Don’t worry about that.  It’s all theory anyway.”

Erica seemed to be taking him a little too literally, and Jameson wasn’t sure she was completely serious about the whole concept.  He figured things would get derailed pretty quickly anyway, considering his training was to consist of theory-based quantum physics.  At least he could engage in somewhat interesting conversation to get him through the night.  Talking to college kids about psychedelics and video games wasn’t going to keep the attention of his molecular consciousness…whatever that was, for very long.

“Is Max next to you?” he asked Erica.

“Not right now.  He’s standing outside smoking.”

“Meth?” Jameson joked.

“Why do you say that?” Erica laughed.

“Doesn’t this weird you out at all…this whole situation?”

“Not really, no.  I could tell a few days ago, by what my roommate was telling me, that Max sounded like too big of a dipshit to be scary.”

Jameson laughed.

“Normally he’s not.  He is simple minded, but he’s acting differently lately.  To each their own I guess.  It’s his life.”

“Exactly.  He controls his actions.  Maybe he’s doing exactly what he needs to right now.”

“I’m afraid he’s doing a bunch of shit he can’t take back though, and will regret it later.”

“You feel powerless to help right now, but remember, you can’t choose his path for him.   Just like he can’t choose yours.”

“I know I’m going to end up just bailing on him tonight.  I don’t want him to get me into trouble, and I don’t want to watch him self-implode either.”

“Is that what you wanted, looking back, when you went through a manic episode?  Don’t you wish someone would have intervened?”

“I’m not sure anyone could have helped me.  I didn’t want to listen to the people trying to talk me off the ledge.”

“They knew you were imploding I bet.”

“I was awfully charming.  Everyone started buying in.”

“That puts you in a unique position to help other people now though.  Don’t discount the power of wisdom and experience; knowing what others do not.”

“Max is pretty stubborn.  Even normal Max.  I’m just saying, I won’t let him pull me under tonight.”

“Is that what a super-hero would do, when his friend might be in peril?”

“He controls his actions thought, right?  I can’t choose his path; what am I supposed to do?

“You can be a lighthouse; illuminate the right path.  He steers the ship, but you can help navigate.”

“How?” Jameson asked, skeptically.

“That’s where I come in.  Your training begins tonight.  Super heroes always need sidekicks.”

Jameson grinned and shook his head.  He still wasn’t sold.

“Well…I hope you’re good, because Max is walking through a minefield right now,” he joked, as he reached the edge of the dorm building and rounded the corner.

“Then we’ll transform him into Metal Detector Max tonight,” Erica encouraged.

Jameson could see Max in the distance, with a cigarette dangling out of the corner of his mouth, bobbing up and down as he talked.  Max rocked side to side while he held his phone to his ear with one hand, and flailed his other hand expressively through the air.

“I’m walking toward the front door right now; I’ll be there in a minute,” Jameson noted, as he apprehensively watched his friend, who was standing up ahead.

Bipolar Man hung up his phone and slid it into his front pocket as he walked toward Max, who was standing just out front of the entrance.  Jameson saw Max flick his cigarette into the air with his middle finger; specks of ember sprayed outward, and the cigarette butt spun in circles on its way to the pavement.

“What the hell am I doing?” Jameson whispered to himself under his breath.

As Jameson drew closer, Max pulled the phone away from his ear, tapped the screen, and slid it into his back pocket.

“Oh yeah!!” Max blurted out, as a group of four girls walked out from the dorm entrance behind him, heading toward the student parking lot.

“Walk that!” Max followed-up with.

Jameson stopped dead in his tracks, watching, as Max tilted his head almost parallel to the ground, while rubbing the palms of his hands together.  He smiled as he looked at Jameson, then back at the girls walking away, then back at Jameson.

As one of the girls giggled, Jameson felt a wave of anxiety shoot through his shoulders, and he thought about making a last-second break for his car before anyone else could associate him with Max.

“JAMESON!!!!  OVER HERE!!” Max yelled, as he waved his hand excitedly.

Everyone outside turned to look directly at Bipolar Man.

Next Chapter