EMP of Truth

If I were to have a superpower, I wouldn't be the kind of guy who would turn back time by flying around the earth multiple times really fast. Neither would I be the type of guy who would round up black-and-white stripe-shirted bad guys in a big net and drop them in the exercise yard of the prison around midnight. 

I’d just be a guy with a gizmo, and I would try to use it for good.

This gizmo would be a type of EMP device. Yes, I know you know what an EMP device is, but there’s one guy there at the back who looks a little baffled and too shy to ask. So, just for you, sir, an explanation. An EMP device produces a pulse of energy that creates a powerful electromagnetic field capable of short-circuiting electronic equipment. Basically, I push my button and all the machines close to me shut down until I press it again. There isn’t really anything like this in real life (I think) but this is comic book stuff so bear with me. There’s a point.

What good would this EMP thingie do for me? I mean, what would I do with it? 

That’s easy.

I would stop the cars.

                              *                   *                   *                   *

This week, there are a lot more bits and pieces arrayed around the little memorial at the side of the road. Candles and holy pictures and flowers and such. This suggests to me that an anniversary is drawing near. A year? Two years? If I think that, it’s probably at least three.

                              *                   *                   *                   *

On Thursday, I was crossing the street outside the police station, going across to the Mall. Halfway across, a car sped in front of me, missing me by a couple of hair’s width. I stepped back to give it a little more room. As the car rushed by, I got a glimpse of the interior. There was a lady in there, early thirties perhaps, and she was on her phone, the device held tight to her ear. In that briefest of moments, I could see that she was furious, her face was livid, and she was shouting into the phone. I caught a muffled hint of her raised voice as the door of her car rushed past my belt buckle. Then she was gone. One thing is certain. She never knew I was there.

If I was that super hero guy – the guy with the gizmo – I would have taken it out then and I would have employed it. I think perhaps it’s in my watch, like Ben Murphy’s Gemini Man from the 1970’s. I would push the winder on my watch and the EMP would do its thing and every machine within a 100 metres radius would stop dead. Clocks would stop, mobile phones would shut down and, yes, all the cars would stop. The angry lady’s car would stop.

I would walk up to her and tap lightly on her window. Thinking about it a little more now, I would probably need a second power in my EMP watch. A little something that would persuade people that I meant them no harm and that it was okay to interact with me a bit. Otherwise this next bit would never work.

She looks at me through the glass. Still furious but now also uncertain of what is going on, of why her car had stopped, of who this shabby guy outside her window is and what he wants.

I push that second button on my gizmo, the one that smooths everything over, and I ask her to get out and come for a walk with me. It’s not far, I reassure her, and everything will be all right.

We leave the car, it’s not going anywhere until I press my button again, and we ignore all the people standing around and wondering what the hell has happened to their phones. We walk up the road, the one where the old tennis club used to be. Up to the end and along the short path that leads through the hedge. Out onto the ring road, right beside the pedestrian crossing. The flickering battery lights on the footpath memorial are faint in the morning light but they still create an effect.

I don’t need to say much. I never knew the man that the flickering lights memorialise. I never even saw him once, as far as I know. All I know is that he died at this pedestrian crossing – one, maybe two, maybe three years ago. And I don’t know anything about the circumstances of his passing and I’m not allocating any blame to him or to the person that hit him. I couldn't. Besides, it’s not like I’m without sin myself. We’ve all taken our eye of the road at some point or other. So I’m not looking to judge anyone. The point I’m trying to make to her is a simple enough one. That event, that moment, will have left a wide trail of loss and bereavement and guilt and regret behind it. Maybe there wasn’t any lapse on anybody’s part in that moment. Maybe there wasn’t.

But there was certainly a lapse on this lady’s part, down the road at that crossing in front of the police station. She was late, she was angry, she was having a terrible morning. None of which would have mattered a single iota to her if she had hit me with her car. Her anger, her lateness, her daily trials, all would be rendered irrelevant in that split second. And me, I would be injured or dead or maybe something worse.

I don’t say any of this to her. I just show her the thoughtful, loving, sad memorial at the side of my road and ask her to just… have a care. Think about what might happen. Just… have a care.

Then I push the little button on my watch and the world returns to what it was before. Busy, rushing, not always caring quite enough.

Just another day on the block for your friendly neighbourhood EMP Man.


Phil Cunliffe said...

If you ever get your EMP thingy, please pop over to Bolton. Sadly you would have to use it a lot.

Jim Murdoch said...

Ah, cars. I got a letter from the DVLC a few months back, which I may have mentioned before but as it woukd take me longer to check than to type what follows please bear with me. Anyway I decided not to renew my licence so that's me done with driving and, do you know what, it feels like no loss whatsoever, quite the opposite. When I had a car I used it to cram my life fuller than it really needed to be because it took no time at all to pop in the car and drive down the town to Blockbuster (ah, happy memories) or the chippie and drive back. Nothing was any distance away. I mean, obviously, there were nice things about having a car, like seeing a friend walking home, doing a u-ey (not quite sure how to spell that), picking them up and ferrying them home. I liked being able to do stuff like that but when my last wife and I split I left her with the car as her need was greater than mine at the time and I just never found the need to replace it. I used to borrow one of the work's vans every now and then but that's really been it for the last thirty years.

This doesn't mean I don't have happy memories attached to cars. We talked about going for walks a couple of posts ago. Once I got a car I used to go for drives usually with my sister, in fact she was generally the instigator. She'd turn up at the flat: "I'm bored, Jimmy, let's go for a drive." And so we'd pick a compass direction (other than east because we would've ended up in the sea pretty sharpish) and off we'd go. But I would've been just as happy going for a walk with her.