“It´s called The Magic Bullet Theory of Communication”, he tells me.

“It´s called The Magic Bullet Theory of Communication”, he tells me.

We´re hanging out at the river; the Rappahanock flows through Fredericksburg. It´s an average night on an average day in a rather average town. We´re average teenagers. He´s taking a class in college on communication; he shows me his book. There´s bubbled text on page 76 a third of the way down the page.

The Magic Bullet Theory of Communication

A specific action results in several outcomes.

I look at it; it makes sense. We do not exist independent of others; there are ramifications from every action beyond the simple resultant.

2 apples plus 2 oranges equal a snack for a family of three on a hike; which means they can keep going; which means that they will stumble upon the lost backpacker who is low on water.

Get the point?”

The stranger stops talking.

“How did you get back in the house?”, I ask him.

“Your wife gave me the key”, he replies as he puts his hand out to show the small piece of metal.

“Hmm”, I reply as I look away and then back at him.

I pause; so what´s going on?

“Why?”, I ask him directly.

“Don´t ask why questions”, the stranger replies, “it brings people back to their parents–it´s a good way to get a defensive answer.

“Ok”, I reply as I turn my head to the fridge in the kitchen.

“Would you like a cup of coffee?”, I ask him as I turn my head away and then back to the stranger.

“You´re making progress”, my wife says as she peaks her head around the corner from the hallway.

“Ok”, I reply to my wife as I turn my head back to the stranger, “let´s continue role playing.

The stranger turns his head to the coffee maker then back to me.

“No, thank you”, he replies.

I pause; what am I supposed to say?

“Would you like to have a seat at the table and talk about what is going on?”, I ask the stranger.

“No”, he replies.

I turn my head towards the hallway; I hear footsteps going up the stairs.

I pause.

“Can you give me back the key?”

“Yes”, the stranger replies as he sets the key on the table.

“Ok”, I think; now, I´m getting somewhere.

I pause.

“Did you make copies?”, I ask as I turn my head from the table to the stranger.

The stranger opens his mouth as if to say something, then stops.


I pause; can I trust him?


I pause; what do I say now?

“Do you have anything else that you would like to say?”, I ask as I reach down and grab the key off the table.

“No”, he replies.

“Ok”, I reply.

The stranger turns and takes a step towards the hallway.

He turns back to me.

“Thank you”, he replies.

He takes a step; moments later, I hear the front door close. Moments later, my wife enters the kitchen; she sits down at the table.

“Do you believe him?”, she asks as she turns her head to me.

“Yeah”, I reply as I pull a chair out from the table and sit down.

I lean back in the chair.

She turns her head to me.

“We´re going to have to change the lock, right?”

I turn my head to her.

“Yeah”, I reply, “of course.”

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