It was late evening when Professor Oak arrived. I spend so much time in my room these days that I wouldn’t have even noticed his presence, had he not come upstairs to see me.
“Hello? Gold?” he said from outside my bedroom door.
“Who is it?” I called.
“My name is Professor Oak. Might I have a word?”
I thought about it. Right about then, I didn’t have much energy left for people. Can you blame me? The way Mom’s boyfriend treats her? Treats us? And then he just up and leaves, only to return at some random point in the future and start the cycle of abuse all over again?
But then again, not many douchebags introduced themselves as “Professor” in my experience, so I let him in.
“Thank you,” he said, extending a hand. “Oak, officially.”
“Well, if you get really high during the delivery of your baby, you can give them all the colors of the rainbow for their name.”
I was not fond of being named a color, or lustrous heavy metal–if you prefer.
“What can I do for you?” I asked, eager to be less combative with my guest.
“Not much. I actually came to see your mom. I’m looking for someone, but it’s not your concern. During the course of our conversation, your mom said you were…” He trailed off, looking for the answer.
“Depressed as hell?” I offered.
“Something like that.”
He smiled, and I studied him closer. He was probably in his sixties, but with some light brown left in his otherwise graying hair. He had a business suit jacket over a white collared shirt, but it was untucked and casual. His blue jeans were faded and worn.
“Times aren’t so great,” I said.
“Believe me, I’ve been there. And that’s why I thought I should say something. I mean no offense, of course, and if I’m out of line, feel free to banish me from your room.”
He smiled some more, a sort of sterile, “I’m the doctor and this is what I prescribe to make your problems go away,” kind of smile. I twirled my fingers as if to say, “Get on with it, old man.”
Oak cleared his throat.
“We live in a world of Pokemon.”
“Some people play with their Pokemon. Some people work side by side with their Pokemon. Other people battle their Pokemon in order to strengthen their bonds and grow closer together.”
I had heard the general spiel more than once in my 17 years. At this point, I replaced “Pokemon” with “Penis” whenever I heard it. Made the speech bearable.
Professor Oak must have caught on to my displeasure. He continued.
“When I was a boy, I didn’t know what to do with my life. I didn’t know if I should go to school, go to work, or just train Pokemon, but I was out exploring one day with my trusty Clefairy and I happened upon a Pokemon I had never seen before. Ever since then, I thought, wow! There is a lot of exciting stuff about Pokemon that no one knows. Maybe I can be a part of that! So that’s what I did.”
I don’t know why I decided to keep listening, but I did. Maybe I was simply out of power. Maybe it was beyond my strength to just tell him to shut up and get out–but I didn’t do anything. I stood there beside my bed and listened while he went on.
“I don’t mean to bore you,” he said. “I just want you to know that it might be worth it to give Pokemon a chance. Even if you’ve had a few bad experiences.”
“A few bad experiences?” I choked out. “That asshole that lives off of us used to shock me with his Pikachu! For fun!”
Oak’s face darkened. He knew. He already knew what I had been through. Maybe it was him that Oak searched for.
“I’m going to go,” he said at last. “But hear my words: We live in a world of Pokemon. Think about it and what that can mean for you.”
He turned, suddenly older than he seemed when I met him not five minutes before.
I struggled to sleep that night–too many nightmares, too much tossing and turning.