Achilles (Part 1 of 2).
It was hailing. I found refuge from under a structure in Firefighters Park and found Achilles reading a western novel. We made small talk and watched people run by, trying to escape the downpour. “Do you read a lot of westerns?”
“Oh, not necessarily. I’ll read anything.”
“What character do you relate to most out of any book you’ve ever read?”
“Probably Achilles from The Iliad.”
“By the same name? Is that a self-given name then?”
“No. My parents let my grandma name me. All my siblings have normal names and then my parents let my half-senile grandma name me Achilles. Kids gave me a hard time about it when I was in school, but then once I read the book, I was like, ‘Wow, he’s a pretty strong guy,’ and I brought a copy of the book to school and convinced the other kids that it was cool until they left me alone.” He went on to tell me volumes about Achilles, the Spartans, Julius and Augustus Caesar, Cleopatra and the discrepancies between the real histories of Greek, Rome and Egypt and the way blockbuster movies portray them. The man was a living history book.
“You have so much knowledge!”
“I read a lot. When I was a kid I was diagnosed with ADHD and I told my dad I didn’t like the way the medication made me feel, so he told me I didn’t have to take it. I remember my dad pointing out a bird with a broken foot, and he told me, ‘See that bird? You don’t see him begging. Even though he has a disability, he doesn’t ask for help from anyone. He just finds a way.’ So I decided that I was going to train myself to read for an hour every day to help myself focus. My dad got me an egg timer, and it was really hard, but I made it happen. I read everything now.”