Carl Squigley always had his nose buried in a book, which was buried in a still-flushing toilet. He was a nerd for sure, but I figured that one day he’d either be a famous scientist or snap and shank everyone with a tool of his own design. Either way, I wanted him around.
One day at school, Carl showed me a vial of what he called “cool juice.” “Made it myself,” he said. Before I could tell him that’s a dumb thing to call alcohol, he drank the vial and started convulsing on the ground. ”Carl, you okay?” He dusted himself off and put on shades I didn’t know he had on him. “Carl’s a nobody. I’m Cárl now.” I was confused because the change makes more sense written out, but he was a brand new person.
Improbable as it was, Cárl was cool. Women wanted him, men wanted to be him, and he had thoughtfully considered how someone would react to him if they were outside the gender binary. Where he went, the party followed, maintaining a respectful distance. I talked to Cárl at his fourth house party of the day, wedging past the crowds of people who were trying to get Cárl to kiss their babies for good luck and better vibes.
“I gotta hand it to you, that serum of yours really worked a miracle.”
“Yeah,” he said. “And all it took was one human life.”
“One human life. That’s what gives the serum its power.”
“Don’t worry, it’s randomly chosen.”
I opened my mouth to say something, but Cárl announced that he just made up the “Squigley.” It was the hottest dance of the summer.