The Stranger

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A peculiar and real story about meeting a complete stranger.

Submitted: December 10, 2017

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Submitted: December 10, 2017



  The 14th of June 2017 is a day that I will probably never forget, firstly, because it was the last day of my university entrance exams - something that meant I was finally free to enjoy my life after 12 years of parental and school guidance – and, secondly, because of what me and my friend George experienced.

  It was a really tough day, but I was overwhelmed with the feeling of hope since morning. It was the day that we would be examed in Latin language – my favorite and most relaxing school subject – so I had slept only for 3 hours because I had to revise some crucial parts, otherwise , failure was on the way. I felt extremely exhausted but adrenaline helped me stay conscious and strong during that awful, shitty exam week. But, now, it was different. It had been the last day of that terrible exam experience and everyone at school – including myself – was frantically awaiting the last 3hour exam to finish so as to start relaxing and feel free again after many years. When I reached school, most of my classmates seemed calm. Few were anxious. The Latin exam ended in the best possible way as me and most of my friends were pleased with our effort. I left school with my friend George and I remember that neither could I, nor could he believe that we were finally free to do anything we wanted to. Indisputably, that day felt like escaping a prison. On the way home, he suggested going for a night walk and of course, a night walk was everything I needed that day. My mind was really fuzzy and all I needed was fresh air and good company. As soon as I got home, I told my parents everything was okay and I immediately went to my room and laid on my bed. Ridiculous as it may sound, the last thing I remember myself thinking before falling asleep was : The world is out there and I’m ready to discover it.

  I woke up at around 7.30 p.m. and realized I had slept for over 4 hours but nothing seemed clear anyway. I couldn’t even focus on my thoughts and it was still hard to believe that exams were over. I had to get ready as I had agreed with George to meet at the Tram station at 8 p.m. All I wanted that evening was to leave my house and go out as soon as possible, so I just grabbed my jeans and a T-shirt and left. Besides, the last time I remember myself going for a walk with friends, away from the suburb where I lived, was a month ago. When I met George at the station we decided to visit the center.

  We didn’t really want to go somewhere to eat or drink so we just kept walking all over the center. We couldn’t stop talking about our dreams and goals and all the things we would like to do from now on, as “university students” and “nerdy grown ups”. Yes, we are nerds. I could talk for hours about my favorite old-school music bands, books that probably a “normal” 18teen year old teenager wouldn’t even know they exist, rare and strange movies and even some story-telling podcasts I had just discovered. George is the creative one and many are the times that our conversations are about web design, 3D animation or coding, even though I’m a little irrelative on such interests.

  It was when we were crossing the Ermou street – heading to “Technopolis”(an area where various cultural events take place) – and I was telling George how badly I wanted to be the host of a radio music show sometime, when a guy I hadn’t even noticed, interrupted my impulsive speech and asked us: “ Hey, do you know what’s up there ?”. He was pointing  at something above the “Technopolis”  that looked like a train compartment in the air. Well, having strangers talking to you without a reason or asking you about completely irrelevant things is unusual so I immediately though: “What the fuck ?!”. I know that George is kind of a shy person so – being talkative for most of my life, even with strangers – I went on to answer, hesitating a little at first:

“Uhm, no, not really”.

“Well, it’s a luxurious restaurant” he mumbled

And we were like “oh, didn’t know that”

Then he just said “You seem really young. How old are you anyway ?”

And there it was again, that thought that would pop in my mind each time I heard something like that. Do I look so babyish? God, I can’t recall how many times I had family members or friends saying me things like “John, do you know you look 3 years younger ?” or “ You look like a kid, it’s kind of funny you know? Who would assume you’re a high school student?”. My mother keeps telling me I have a “baby face” and I should be proud of this because my father has a “baby face” too and that makes him cute and every time I just shrink and growl “For Christ’s sake, stop it !” But, I can understand most of these comments. I’m not tall enough, I’m not big and I don’t even have a beard like most of the 18yrs old guys do. George is also like that and, of course, our appearance is the reason why we look so vulnerable. A year ago, me and George were trying to escape from a drunk man who was chasing us because he wanted us to take a picture of him. That was fun though, we would laugh at it later. So, I guess we look geeky and childish to strangers. We are just kids.

His name was Josh. We said to him that we were just high-school graduates and to my own surprise he didn’t seem impressed. He then told us he was a year younger than us. Well, I can’t really say that he looked like a high-school student. At first, I immediately thought he must have been over 20. I assumed he was a university undergraduate or something like that but I was sure he wasn’t a school student. He wasn’t tall enough but he was a little overweight and  when I took a glance at his face he seemed rather solemn than pleasant. He had short-black hair and the color of his eyes was a combination of green and grey. It was me that looked impressed.

Half an hour had passed since we first met this guy and there we were, walking down a busy street and having a conversation with a complete stranger. The dude was unbelievably chatty, he wouldn’t stop talking and asking us about various things : “So you just finished with the university entrance exams ! Wow ! Tell me about your experience ! How did it felt anyway ? “. And we did. How could we don’t ? Even if it had been an insane person or a drunk fool it would be more than hard to escape from a conversation and just leave and abandon him. But in this case we didn’t feel like that. We had already started feeling more comfortable, probably because of his good manners and his amiable personality. It was now clear to us that he was harmless so the chat continued. Besides, we had nothing to lose by having a normal conversation with a person almost our age, but only to gain. At least, that’s what we thought…

I check my phone. It’s 9.30 p.m. My stomach starts to growl because I’m really hungry now. But, who cares? I’m in the middle of an interesting conversation with my friend and Josh about Napoleonic Wars. Of course, you will be wondering how we got there… Actually, it was when Josh started introducing himself. The first thing I remember him mentioning was that he liked and read history! I assume you can imagine both mine and my friend’s astonishment at this point! There’s no doubt that few are the teenagers of the 21th century who are really interested in history, so meeting one of them was a huge surprise. Josh told us he had finished a book on Napoleonic Wars last year and he enjoyed documentaries about ancient peoples and global history. After listening to all these, I had already formed an opinion about Josh. A teenager willing to educate himself through books and art was all I could see and I couldn’t help but appreciate him!

Everything started to change when we asked him what his goals were. “One of my dreams is to join the army after graduating high school”, he said. I was deeply shocked. Never did I expect such a response. Why would a young student who enjoys the arts and expresses his willingness to educate himself want to join the forces? I was really curious at the time so I asked him. “Well, I like authority! I guess I love that feeling of having the power and giving orders to others. I want to be a general.” The truth is that I can’t recall my immediate reaction but I know that I lost my words. I tried to make eye contact with George but at the same time I was afraid that Josh would notice me. Frankly, I didn’t have any problem with his goal. What struck me, was his opinion towards authority and control. He continued saying things about how much he relish controlling other people. He wouldn’t stop talking about that and I was about to freak out. I could feel there was an abnormality. Something had gone wrong. From then on, anxiety seriously got me and each time Josh took his eyes off us, I was staring George straight in the face in a disquieting way. It was the first time that night that I felt the need to escape.

I have no idea why we didn’t think of an excuse to escape from this weird guy. We kept walking and since we passed a sex shop, which I hadn’t even notice, he started talking about girls. I knew that this conversation wasn’t going to end in the best way. It was obvious that he was thinking dirty. He seemed to think constantly about sex, so me and my friend were trying really hard to avoid such talks. Of course, talking about sex with a guy we just met felt uncomfortable as hell. But, the problem was not exactly the sex talk, the problem was his view about women. Josh said things like: “It feels so good controlling your girlfriend, do you agree?”. It wasn’t easy at all to keep responding to such questions. I had understood that it would be pointless to take such a person seriously and George had either, so we answered to such questions in a way that would indicate that we agreed at some point with his views, even though we didn’t agree at all.

  I felt blessed when we reached a sidewalk that would get us to the nearest subway station. It was time to make our first effort to escape from Josh, so I went on to talk and for some reason my voice cracked a little. I mumbled “I guess it’s time to leave now” and George nodded and said “Yeah, it’s getting dark”. Josh now looked a bit sullen, it was like we disappointed him or something. He just asked “Isn’t it still early for you to leave?”. George was staring at me, expecting me to come up with an answer. I lied, once again, saying “Oh, excuse us! Our parents are kind of strict people… you know”. Josh nodded and mentioned that since he met us, two interesting young people (that’s what he said about us), he would like to stay in touch and meet again with us so he asked our facebook profiles. George though immediately of a fake name and I did the same. Everything ended with Josh waving his hand in joy and saying “See you soon”.

  On the way home, me and my friend were trying to process what just happened. It didn’t make much sense we thought. Who has experienced something similar anyway? We discussed about his views and opinions towards each topic we reached and we concluded that Josh was a guy with extreme beliefs. Something was not ok with him but fortunately he was harmless. Many are the facts in life that cannot be fully understood. Among them, that evening we met Josh…

© Copyright 2018 Johnny Walker. All rights reserved.

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