Nothing was ever quite the same after I met Joshua. He had a knack for upending life, bringing in the unexpected.
I was in the middle of teaching a class when he first came in. We were talking about rhetoric and the ethics of persuasion and finding common ground, when all of a sudden the door opens, which wasn’t that unusual, and this guy looks in. He’s a little wild looking, but overall, he’s fairly nondescript. I couldn’t give you a clear physical description of him.
I stop and turn, leaving space for him to jump in with his question if he had one and there’s nothing. I wait expectantly.
I turn back to my students, “So, how can you use appeals to pathos ethically?”
“Come,” the stranger at the door beckons, “follow me.”
He then bounds off, the last thing I saw of him before he was out of the classroom, was a knowing smile, with a twinkle in his eye.
I was out with some friends on the lake. We were sorta fishing, but mostly just wanted to hang and laze about in our boat. I kinda hated fishing, to be totally honest. I’d fished a handful of times with scouting as a kid, but it was so boring (and then you had to kill and gut the fish, which was gross and smelled awful). Anyway. We were fishing.
We’d been out all day and were about to come in. Nothing to show for our efforts. Which is the absolute worst. Usually, we at least had some fresh fish to fry, but nothing. Just vaguely smelling like worms and lakewater.
Then, suddenly, there’s a guy on the shore. He looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t totally recognize him at the distance (not to mention the angle the sun was at).
He calls out to us, “How’s the fishing?”
“Rubbish!” I yell back, as my friends mock my persistent and haphazard use of British slang.
“Try it once more! Cast all your rods on the left side.”
We all look at each other, rolling our eyes, but something about this exuberant guy made me want to humor him.
So we did. Expecting nothing.
I held my rod lacklusterly, not paying attention, until it suddenly jerked and pulled me forward before I caught myself.
As I braced myself against the deck, I looked around and realized that everyone else was experiencing the same thing. We started to reel in our respective catches. As we’re all reeling and reeling, straining against what felt like a blue whale, I look back at the shore and the man has his hand to his mouth, trying (and failing) to stifle laughter.
I land what I think is going to be some monster fish, as do all of my friends. The deck is groaning under the collective weight of these massive fish, when an entire school of fish leaps out of the lake and onto the deck, flopping everywhere. Where suddenly swimming in fish. Slipping and sliding as I try to get out of the ankle-deep pile of fish. The boat is now taking on water, and we’re desperately trying to navigate back to shore, fighting off untold numbers of fish, and the man is now doubled over in laughter.
We land the boat and all manage to get off, pulling fish out of our pockets and sleeves.
As we struggle to figure out what is going on, I finally got a look at this stranger, wearing bermuda shorts, sandals, and a floral shirt, unbuttoned showing his dark brown chest. He had some sunglasses that he pushed up to rest on his black, flowing, shoulder-length hair, revealing the same face that peeked into my classroom. He reached out his hand, saying through an ear to ear grin and barely recovered from his laughter, “Hey, I’m Joshua.”
“Get the hell away from me, man. I cannot handle whatever it is you’ve got going on,” I retort, pushing his hand away.
“Oh, come on, I’ll make you fishers,” he paused, that twinkle in his eye back, suggesting he was very pleased with what he was about to say, “of men.”
This was a mistake.
The storm raged all around us. Shit. We’re going to die.
We were stranded in the midst of a wild snowstorm, off road, wind and snow blowing in all directions. I couldn’t see anything. Anywhere. We’d tried to walk through it earlier, but fell through the snow banks that were everywhere, not to mention, just being utterly unable to keep our feet steady with the wind and snow.
The snow was starting to bury our truck. Soon we would be unable to open the doors.
A figure was up ahead. Somehow walking eerily through the storm.
“Uh, guys, you see that?” I ask, nudging Andrew next to me, pointing out at this vague person-like figure moving in our direction.
I don’t believe in the abominable snowman or yetis, but damn, what else could be here?
As the figure got closer, the colors were bright, florals maybe?
Everyone looks at me slightly shocked, but awaiting my explanation of what could possibly cause such an exclamation given the near-rock-bottom place we already were.
“It’s that Joshua dude.”
“No way, it can’t be. No human could possibly survive this storm, especially be walking like that. Ask him.”
I look incredulous, but after some more cajoling, figure, what do I have to lose?
I roll down the window and stick my head out and yell, “Who are you?”
“C’mon, man, I’m Joshua! Just look at me!”
He had a point.
But for some reason, felt possessed to say what came out of my mouth next.
“If it’s really you, Joshua, ask me to come to you.”
“Alright, Conor. Come.”