When he speaks, his mouth bursts into explosions. Little pip-pop of words combusting like carbonated confectionary.
He takes a bite of his potato wrap and makes a face.
“Tastes terrible,” he informs us, unaware of how his every word is a trajectory, a new data point. Terrible, seventeen million of us whisper among ourselves, each sounding fascinated and dismayed in turn. The vagrant can’t hear us; no, not all of us.
“Your palate is finite,” we tell him. “It won’t sustain you.”
Giving us a quizzical look, he takes a tissue and wipes his mouth with it.
“Wazzat?” he asks. “What’s finite?”
It ought to be a philosophical question yet in the red mouth of a homeless Messic trying to enjoy his sauced potato wrap and failing at it, the query loses gravity, half its weight in worth. The doors of the diner chime as a visitor walks in. Another Messic from the lower borough district. We know this new arrival: his name, his age, his history, his chronic ailments, his connections; though he doesn’t know us. It’s fortunate that ignorance doesn’t trouble him. Not the way it troubles us.
The Messic vagrant sitting across our table acknowledges the newcomer with a languid jerk of his chin. He sets off more explosions in the network, and we see the chain of links forming between them, a web that’s all encompassing and endless.
The Messic’s question hangs between us, unanswered.
What is finite?
Limited. Scarce. Not equals one over zero. Bound. Guileless. Mortal. We run through the explanations, the metaphors, musing over each one while the vagrant sitting across from us grins through his sauce stained teeth. He wears a lime-green balaclava, a patched overcoat that’s two sizes too big on his emaciated frame and a scarf wrapped around his neck like a noose, ends trailing over his back. In his ill-fitting clothes and faded shoes, he lives at the very edge of society and should know what finite is. As far as it goes, he certainly stands at the tip of it.
“Blue Sky,” we offer solemnly. “Finite… is Blue Sky.”
[!Logos. Lapse in logic. Availability bias. FALSE!]
The vagrant never hears our alarms setting off, doesn’t even know what we are. Instead, he chortles at our answer and leans over, his mouth splitting into a wide grin.
“You’re in deep. Deep till your neck,” he tells us, making a slicing motion at his scarf.
Perhaps he’s right.