A.J. Prassas is an entering freshman from McKinney High School in McKinney, Texas.
Aliens abducted him. Thrice he ascended heavenward, beckoned forth from earth to meet Jesus Christ. Or so he said; his mind was a jumble of muddled thought and hallucinatory memories, his stories were farfetched, or even outright lies.
On a southern California afternoon I sat on a bench alone, thinking things of little consequence, expecting nothing. I merely reclined and enjoyed solitude. Seagulls circled through the sky as a salty sea breeze dissolved into my breath. This was all - senses dancing with surroundings, my mind a passive player.
Something stirred behind me, breaking my quietude. Walter's voice proclaimed, "Hey, nice day, isn't it!"
I walked over to the outgoing stranger. In the corner of my eye I caught the metallic glint of an object in his hand. He dipped the metallic object, a spoon, into a peanut butter jar. From his cart he pulled another item, bread. "Want a sandwich?"
"Sorry, I just ate." My fears dissipated. All he owned he offered to me as a covenant meal, in the form of a sandwich.
He said I was of peace and the Spirit of God was in me. He even grabbed my wrist and felt "the God electricity" vibrating inside my arms. He again attempted enacting the Sandwich Covenant with me; I was Melchizedek, and he was Abraham. Or something like that. He was awfully generous.
I ate up his stories. Alien conspiracies, angels of mercy, devastating motorcycle crashes, illnesses and injuries, natural disasters, the transforming power of faith - he cooked up an incoherent narrative gumbo for me, leaving me full.
Walter unearthed treasure; from an immaculate folder came technical drawings of various innovative mechanical designs and images of alien spacecraft. Pages of notes accompanied his pictures - it was evident Walter's mind tried to make sense of his own senses and imagination.
I don't remember how we parted. Maybe aliens abducted Walter again, or Heaven hosted him a fourth time. Though Walter remains an enigma, with familiarity I return to my exchange with him.
Destitution and joy, heartbreak and hope, poverty and generosity - can such incongruities exist in one person? I reflect upon his attributes. I know Walter reflected upon mine. Walter asked questions, made theories, tested ideas; I seek to internalize his system of perception. Searching for truth, living by joy, seeing beauty, passing these on to others - these were the actions reinforced by Walter. Awakened by his witness, I now seek to attain truth, joy, and beauty in every moment.