Mr. Soto was not a remarkable man. He was the kind of man who would not make you turn your head if you passed him on the street. You might give him a polite smile as you would with anybody else, but he would not leave a lasting impression as you continued your day.
One morning, Mr. Soto awoke with a sharp headache. The headache was so bad that he had to phone in sick to work and spend the day in bed. When his wife came home from work at five o’clock the sharp pain had disappeared but he discovered he had developed a peculiar ability. He could read every thought that passed through his wife’s head as clearly as if she were speaking to him. Her thoughts crept into his head one after another with no break between–she was going to make vegetable lasagna for dinner, she had to call her sister before nine o’clock, she had to remember to pay the cable bill by the end of the month.
Mr. Soto’s ability to read minds was not limited to his wife. The next day when he took the train to work, his mind was a jumble of internal dialogues. One man was planning on divorcing his wife but was afraid it would be too difficult on the kids. A woman in her late-thirties was trying to decide if she should go back to school, and a toddler on his mother’s lap was recreating a scene from the Magic School Bus.
At first, Mr. Soto’s new ability seemed like a superpower. He could anticipate the action’s of people before they occurred. He surprised his wife with a pair of emerald earrings she had been eying for months. He negotiated a raise a work and even found out that the secretary at his work had always thought he was cute.
After waiting for 20 minutes, I went to the shop across the street and order a plate of falafels. I bite into the first falafel and the dusty chickpea flour crumbled in my mouth.
I got through the first three of the falafels before I realized Ralph wasn’t coming. Fuck. I had to take three subways to get here and he probably never had any intention of showing up.
I tugged at my t-shirt as I thought about what to do next. I had a thousands dollars in my right pocket in twenty dollar bills. If I didn’t get it to Ralph soon, I’d have bigger problems than a shrunken t-shirt. I’d have to leave the country, change my name, and grow a moustache.
But I guess that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. It would be the fresh start I always wanted.