The Change

by Robert Paul Moreira

The Professor leafed through his copy of Ficciones while the dirty-faced boy stared at him like always and handed a wrench to his father beneath the car.

The Professor sighed.  He turned the next few pages with what he termed �the strength of royalty��not much effort at all, really�a phrase he�d coined in his most recent publication detailing the reading habits of Eva Per�n in Argentina.  The boy kept staring.  Sitting on a grimy chair in a cool niche by the toolbox the Professor thumbed through more pages while the boy�s father dug his heels into the gravel and continued with the oil change.

Then the Professor had a notion; a vision almost.  He imagined the boy transformed.  I am brilliant, the Professor thought to himself.  My research, my genius is world-renowned.  So I will help this boy.  Why not?  This Castrol-carrying, oil-smudged, ignorant, staring boy destined for nothing more than the stained life his stained father will inevitably pass on to him.  This thought�this instantaneous rattle of neurons through inspired synapses in his brain�amused the Professor.  Why didn�t I think of this before, he questioned himself.  Right now I will do this.  And I will begin with Borges.  Yes, Borges.  Borges the boy will know.  I will teach him.  The elusive eleventh volume and the mysteries of Tl�n, of Uqbar, of Orbis Tertius.  Then The Lottery, deciphered to its very core, just to make sure the boy is paying attention.  Next, my own unique interpretations of The Library; of Funes, the Memorius; of the �true� miracle in The Secret Miracle.  I will mark the boy with my own Aleph.  I will brand him and imprint his mind and the boy will become my prot�g�.  The Professor relished in all of these ideas.  He would lift the boy from his sad existential stupor, so prevalent among the rest of humanity, and guide him; elevate him to the level of his own unique mind.  And finally, on that fateful day of promise, the Professor thought, when the boy has grasped the genius of Borges, of mine, I will share with him my favorite of all the author�s tales: The Circular Ruins.  Together we will discuss the true meaning of existence; existence with a purpose.  And the boy will thank me.  With my knowledge deep in him the boy will become the envy of his classmates.  The quandary of all his teachers: �What happened to Enrique?���He�s a prodigy!���What a miracle!�  And his father will be grateful as well.  Rushing up to me he will shake my hand with calloused, Castrol-stained fingers and thank me for showing his son that success is not found lying on the oil-soaked gravel looking up into engines and oil pans and intricate muffler lines.  Success looks down.  At everything.  The boy will become a mystery in his own right; an enigma.  My Transformation and Creation.  An absolute, erudite Being.  I will have done this.  I.  The Professor.  The Benevolent One.  I will snatch this boy from bleak destiny and save him.

The loud car came roaring up the driveway, crunching gravel beneath its wheels.  The azure body was wide so that it seemed as though an ocean wave had been propped on rubber wheels and typhooned the Professor�s way.  The gleaming low-rider rolled to a stop in front of the Professor while the driver inside remained a shadow behind immaculate tinted windows.

�Professor,� the boy shouted over the grumbling motor.  �Awesome ride, no?�

�I, uh, well��

The boy spoke like someone reborn: �61 Chevy Impala, Professor.  283 V8, two-barrel carb, and a Power Glide automatic tranny.  With Hydraulics on twenties.  Amazing ride, no?�

The Professor closed his book.  He thought about the things he knew.

BIO: IRobert Paul Moreira is an MFA candidate at the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, Texas.  His works have appeared or are forthcoming in Storyglossia, Aethlon: the Journal of Sports Literature, Interstice Literary Journal, The Quay, and The Acentos Review.  His short story, "Cobb and Me," forthcoming in Aethlon, won the 2009 Best Graduate Fiction Award from the Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers (TACWT).