"What's your name?" I asked him.
"He was slouched over on the side of the dusty road, a rare one these days considering how most roads were paved over to make it easy for cars to drive through.
He waved me over though. I didn't budge.
"What are you doing here? You don't look the type to be slouching here. Do you need help?"
"He waved me over once more. I persisted once more.
"What's your name? Are you hurt? Do you need help?"
"He grunted. It was the first sound he made. The grunt sounded grainy and rough. Then he cleared his throat.
"Why do you care? Why do you question?"
"Because I'm curious. Also, if you need help, I need to call for help.
"I don't need help. Leave me alone."
"I replied back to him once more in a questioning tone,
"But you clearly need some sort of help."
He waved me away once more,
"I reject all help. I don't need help. I also don't need you to tell me what I need or don't need.
"But," I continued, "Aren't you hungry? Doesn't the dust make it painful?"
He was thoroughly annoyed, but he continued to answer.
"Hunger is nothing. Bodily annoyances are nothing. Dust is nothing, and my eyes watering is nothing."
"But… nonetheless, these things are still bothering you, are they not?" I asked him once more.
"They… do not bother me." He replied. But there was a brief hesitation, ever so brief.
"So then they exist after all?" I continued to inquire.
"What exists?" He asked back.
"Those things. You say they're nothing, but nothing can't bother you. Nothing is WHAT bothers you." I continued.
"Just as nothing travels faster than light, so can nothing also bother you. The very concept of 'Nothing' in itself is bothering you."
"I never asked for your opinion." He replied back. He sounded different from earlier though. There was ever a slight emotion beneath those words.
"Do I exist?" I asked him.
"Maybe you do, maybe you don't. It doesn't matter." He replied.
"So then you've been talking to yourself this entire time?" I asked.
"Maybe." He replied, "or maybe I don't even exist."
"Okay, let's work with that," I replied back to him. He seemed annoyed yet again, but only briefly.
"Work with what?" He asked, nonchalant.
"Why does it matter to you what I do with whatever you said?" I asked. "Nothing matters to you, right?"
He slumped once more.
"Doesn't mean I can't get annoyed." He replied.
"But it does mean you can't get annoyed. Because nothing should annoy you. Because it's all meaningless. But you know inside, that kills you, and that's why you act like nothing matters."
"You want something to matter. You want something to mean something."
"What I want doesn't matter." He shrugged once more, before crossing his arms and turning himself away from me.
"No matter what I tried, he refused to further respond.
In that brief moment, I understood the paradox that is the mind of the individual. We fell into silence once more, and it was then, that I saw the worn out and dirty embroidery on the side of his sleeve.
It said, "Joe," in a faded yellow cursive.