Author : Jedd Cole
Brontë was a sad and curious alien android. That’s how I came to know him at least. Most merely saw him as a strange man. But, first and foremost, Brontë was a didact. He did not talk except to teach, and in teaching, I think he believed he was learning. Yeah, I didn’t think it made sense at the time, either.
I first met him on the side of the road by Amelia Park where my car had stalled. He’d been walking by and I asked if he could help. We popped the hood and Brontë began explaining how the car worked to me, examining the tubes and wires and cylinders. His manner perplexed and intrigued me. I still don’t think he knew anything about car engines.
We had to get the car towed. In the meantime, Brontë took me out to dinner. He was teaching me how our table was constructed and veneered, at which point I decided to correct him. The surface was clearly made of one piece of wood, I said; not twenty-three. He seemed taken aback, but only for a few seconds. He nodded and began again, including the revision. I sat with my elbows on the table, staring at this man and his glasses that seemed to go in and out of focus as he talked.
Brontë told me about seven previous girlfriends, of which I soon became the eighth. He’d proposed to each of them, he explained, teaching them about what matrimony meant in various cultures. They’d all turned him down immediately.
I pretty much kept quiet in the beginning. Our relationship was unilateral. Brontë showed no affection, and neither did I. Call me crazy, but was intent on observing him as we meandered around town, how he stopped people on the street to teach them about the effects of littering on the habits of gray housecats, the reason for life according to the Hopi, why the capital of some European country changed three times in the fourteenth century, et cetera ad nauseum.
I tabulated our conversations over the four weeks that I was with him, and concluded that 94.3 percent of his claims were absolutely false. The only times he was right were after others interrupted and corrected him.
We broke up when he proposed to me.
But I didn’t stop observing Brontë. He eventually became a fixture of the city; everyone knew who he was and avoided him if at all possible. No one listened and no one looked into his strange glasses and no one became his ninth girlfriend.
With binoculars, I watched him sit in the window of his apartment, which had always been empty, looking out at the world that shunned him. He started walking the streets without speaking, looking straight ahead, running into street signs and garbage cans and slow-moving cars. He never ate. He never slept.
One day, he walked to the edge of town and just kept going. He wandered into the Sonora desert all alone, following no road. I soon lost him among the mountains and arroyos, saguaros and pines.
I heard recently that his body was found by an Air Force drone, his ten thousand pieces scattered at the bottom of a dry river bed a hundred miles north of here, my suspicions confirmed. Before they could recover the rusty corpse, the local paper reported the second UFO sighting in about a year, and then Brontë was gone. According to my reckoning, the last UFO sighting had been roughly eight girlfriends ago.