“Get lost, you nutcase!” the passer-by shouted.
At last. Confirmation that it had not all been in vain. Fred could have wept if he had not been so overjoyed to have his cosmic truths appreciated. He shed a few tears anyway. After all, he was still a man.
Am I a nutcase? How’d I know if I was, without having met one? I suppose if I was, I would have met myself. There’s a puzzle. Can a man meet himself?
“Have you met yourself?” Fred demanded, shouting after his heckler’s retreating back.
No, not a heckler. This was Fred’s crowning achievement and he would not let his own limited vocabulary tarnish it. The passer-by was his pharisee, like those who had denied the teachings of Christ at the outset.
“I’m not Christ,” he said, thinking it best to make the point clear.
“We know you’re not,” the library attendant said, waiting patiently at his shoulder. His first disciple. “Now, could you please move from the doorway, sir? People need to be able to come in?”
Smart thinking. She was clearly switched-on, but would she meet his strict requirements? Fred leaned in towards her and whispered in her ear.
“Can I meet myself?”
It was cruel, he knew. The poor woman stood no chance of unpicking his riddle. He could see her nose wrinkling in confusion. Covering her mouth and holding her breath in awe at the profundity of his thoughts.
“I don’t know, sir,” she said, gagging in wonder and pinching her nostrils in… well, he was not sure why she did that. “But I’ve met you and I think you’re a nice enough guy. Now, please move or I’ll call the police.”
“That’s it,” he said, too stunned for words. What was that smell? The pungent odour of enlightenment, surely. “You’ve done it! I can’t meet myself, but a woman can. How does a man find the library doors, portal to knowledge, without a woman to guide him through? You’re a genius. No, a prophet.”
Fred stepped out from the library’s doorway and marched down the street, swept up in a wave of confidence. He was doing the right thing. There was no denying it now. What was more, he had his first disciple. She would follow him wherever he went. He knew she would.
Of course, she was not following him at that moment. The library attendant had scurried back inside, most likely to finish her shift, but she would find him again. His pure intentions were a shining beacon which would spread light around him wherever he went.
“Follow the light,” he said, forgetting she was not with him.
He kicked off his ripped canvas shoes, to make it easier for others to follow in his footsteps.