The time has come.
I’ve been putting it off over the weekend, attending my best friend’s wedding, going geocaching with my step-son.
But it is time. Money has changed hands, and I have an obligation to fulfill.
I pick him up from my desk, and avoid eye contact as I carry him into the dining room.
I gingerly put him down on my dining room table, and he looks like a patient about to undergo some sort of surgery. Strangely, I feel more like Doctor Giggles than Doctor Green.
He looks up at me and says, “Hey, Wheaton. What do you say you let me out of this box, and take me for a spin in your landspeeder?”
“Can’t do it, Wesley. First, you’re the wrong scale, and second, you don’t belong to me anymore.”
He doesn’t reply. He knows that I’m right.
I uncap a gold paint pen, and get ready. The familiar burn of acetone and paint hits me in the face, and a series of convention memories blurs through my mind, in hyper-real Hunter S. Thompson-o-vision: I sign a plate, a photo, a poster, field a question that I don’t know the answer to, politely decline the offer of a hug from a large woman in a “Spock Lives!” T-shirt. The memories race past, and I watch them with a certain amount of detachment, a spectator to my own life.
Although the places and people changed, there was little difference from one hotel convention hall to the next: The same questions, the same jokes, the same inescapable smell…the memories engulf me with a frightening and surprising lucidity. I think that I’ve allowed these events to drift into the distance of memory, but they come back, immediate and insisent, as if no time has passed.
He looks at me, daring me to give voice to these thoughts.
I realize that we are very interwoven, whether we like it or not, and as I open my mouth to speak, something I’d never thought of before comes into my mind: I can exist without him, but he could not, would not, does not exist without me.
Suddenly, I feel free.
I lift the pen up, and touch it to the plastic, and write what I’ve been asked to write:
“I am sick of
following rules and regulations!
I sit back, and regard him. He’s obscured by my writing, which casts a lattice-work of shadows across his face and body. The symbolism of this moment is not lost on me.
“You know, that was a cool line,” he says. “Remember how cool it was to stand up to Picard?”
“Yeah. It was fun being you back then,” I tell him. “I watched Code of Honor last night though. Jesus, you were a dork, man.”
“That wasn’t me, dude. That was Wesley Crusher, the doctor’s son. I’m Cadet Crusher, the bad ass. Wesley was a dork. Cadet Crusher was cool. Need I remind you who waxed Robin Lefler’s ass?”
“Why do you have to talk that way? People have a certain image of you, you know.”
“Hey, they can kiss my shiny plastic ass. I have never been responsible for the things I say. I can only say what someone tells me to say. As a matter of fact, I’m not even talking now. You’re putting all these words in my mouth.”
“So my Tyler Durden is a 5 inch action figure? That’s just perfect. At least you can’t force me into some sort of Project Mayhem.”
“Oh, I can’t?”
I can’t tell through the gold paint pen, but I think he’s sizing me up.
“You’re such a pussy, Wheaton. We were cool when we wore this spacesuit, and you know it. Fucking own that, boyo. If anyone has a problem with that, they can fuck all the way off. ”
I’m a bit shocked to hear this come out of us.
“Uh, Wesley, you really can’t talk like that.”
“I just told you, it’s not me. It’s you, cock-knocker. Now put me in the box, and find some other cool thing to auction. I think I saw a plate in the closet.”
“Why didn’t we ever talk like this before? I never realized that you were cool. Really. I mean, I hated you, man.”
“Yeah, you and every other insecure teenage boy. Listen, and listen good, because I’m not saying this again.
“You have always cared too fucking much what other people thought of us. Go read your stupid website, and listen to your own advice. You’ll be much happier. Now put me in the box and let’s get this over with.”
I look at him, and a touch of sadness passes over me.
“Wesley, I have always been, and I always will be –”
“Oh Jesus H. Christ! I can’t believe you were going to quote Star Trek. I am so embarrassed for you right now. Just close the fucking box and send me on my way.”
I do it. I put him in the box, drop in some packing stuff and a few stickers.
We drive to the post office in silence.
I walk to the mailbox, and open it.
I think to say goodbye, but I know that Wesley won’t be talking to me anymore.
I place the box on the edge, and lift it up. The box falls into darkness.
I am Wil’s freedom.
The time has come.