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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Bobby’s breakup: A fresh start for an old beacon


Bobby Beacon sulks on the rooftop, looking down into the void of the city. Illustration by Bianca Oppedisano (She/Her) / Mass Media Staff.

It began with an ominous text: “Meet me on the roof of Wheatley ASAP.” I wasn’t even sure who it was from, just some random number. Against my better judgment—it’s been well documented that my judgment isn’t the best—I went up to the roof to check it out. I wish I could say what I discovered up there surprised me, but by now, I’ve pretty much seen it all.

“Hey, thanks for coming.” Bobby Beacon seemed detached and distant as he spoke to me. He didn’t make eye contact. He seemed to be staring straight through me into some unseeable void. He stood on the edge of the building, wielding his signature “For The Crimes” skateboard in his hands. He wasn’t wearing any protection. No helmet. No elbow pads. No knee pads. Nothing. Now, throughout my time at this university, I’ve been exposed to the many varying shades of Bobby’s eccentric personality, but this was different. Something was wrong. Seriously wrong.

“So, can you do me a favor and film this.” Bobby’s plea came off more as a statement than it did a question. Needless to say, I was baffled. Was he seriously planning on jumping the skateboard off the roof? I approached the edge cautiously and peered over, hoping to see some sort of foam pit or mattress pile or anything at all that could lessen the impact of the fall—but there was nothing, just a straight drop to the ground. There wasn’t a chance in hell that he would survive such a fall. He was literally going to jump to his death.

Realizing that he was in desperate need of a reality check, I spoke my mind. “No! I’m not gonna film it Bobby. I promise you, from the bottom of my heart, that if you jump this skateboard off of this roof, you will die.”

Bobby stared at me blankly for a good minute before responding, “So that’s a maybe then?”

This was not something I wanted a part in, so I turned around and began to walk away. As I made it to the stairs, Bobby called out, “I thought that you, of all people, would understand.”

I spun back and shouted across the rooftop, “What do you mean by that? Understand what?” Bobby’s gaze finally met mine, and as he started to speak, there was a newfound weight to his words—almost as if they were physically carrying the burden of his emotional baggage.

“When I’m in the bathroom trying to wash my hands, the faucets won’t turn on. I wave my hand in front of the sensor, again and again, but it’s no use. Then I look up at the mirror to see my reflection, but there’s nothing there. It’s like in ‘Ghostbusters 2’ when they’re in the subway tunnel yelling into the dark abyss to hear their echoes call back to them. But when Winston yells, there’s no voice to greet him. There’s no reply. Absolutely nothing. Not even the laws that keep the universe from drifting into chaos were willing to acknowledge his existence. That’s how I feel…like Winston.”

He dropped the skateboard and turned to face the ledge. He looked down, appearing to be deep in thought. He then took a seat, dangling his legs over the side of the building. Bobby was in a lot of pain and I knew that I had to do something to alleviate it, so I walked back over and sat next to him.

“Bobby, you’re not invisible. There’s not a single student at this school who doesn’t know your name. We’ve established this. If it weren’t for you, the humor section wouldn’t be nearly as good. You know this. People love you.”

Bobby looked at me, laughing sarcastically as if what I said was a joke. “People love me?” he said. “Why does that matter? Students come, and four years later—or five years, if they’re like you—they’re gone. Not me though, I remain. I always remain. There’s no point in making connections. No point in growing attached to people when in the end, you know they’re gonna leave you. I’m forced to stand by and watch the cycle repeat, growing more bland and predictable with every passing moment. One day you’re gonna wake up and wonder what the point is. There must be a reason, right? Wrong. There ain’t no rhyme or reason for nothing.”

With the mention of him lacking a reflection as well as seemingly being an immortal being, cursed to walk the Earth for all of time, I was seriously beginning to consider the fact that Bobby was a vampire. It was either this, or he was just in desperate need of a change in his life.

I put my hand on his shoulder and spoke to him gently, “You know, sometimes life can feel monotonous. We have a tendency to lock ourselves into these cycles that can be really hard, and really scary, to break out of. You lose track of time, everything sort of morphs together, and you lose sight of your place in it all. The truth is, in order to reclaim your sense of agency, you have to break out of the cycle. You can’t hesitate. You can’t think about it. You just have to do it, and when you do, you can’t look back. Why don’t you get out—see the world? You’ve been at UMass Boston for so long, maybe you’ve done your time here.”

Bobby smirked, “You don’t think I’ve considered traveling around? I can’t contractually leave this place. They’ve got some sort of shock collar in me and if I step one foot out of the perimeter of campus, I’m burnt toast. Completely inhumane if you ask me.”

The Beacon began to laugh, a glimmer of his old self finally resurfacing. He rose from the ledge, reaching out a hand to help me up.

“I’ve gotta be honest,” said Bobby. “I had no intention of jumping the skateboard off the roof. I just wanted to make it look bad so you’d worry about me. I know that it’s f—ed, but I guess I just really needed a shoulder to cry on. Look, you’re a good friend and I value your advice. Maybe I can’t leave campus, maybe I’ll be here for all eternity, but that doesn’t mean I can’t change it up a little, huh? It’s official, I’m breaking up with the old me. From now on, every day’s an adventure! It’s a fresh start! A new beginning! Nothing can stand in my way!”

I wasn’t sure what exactly had broken through to him, but he seemed to have genuine hope for the future. Above all, I was happy he hadn’t jumped off the roof. Sadly, Bobby’s moment of euphoria had apparently caused him to forget about his skateboard. The beacon took a step backward, tripping on the board, losing his balance and tumbling off the side of the building. A few moments later, I heard—and felt—his collision with some sort of metallic object. Panicked screams rang out from below as a car alarm blared loudly. I looked down, to see that Bobby had landed on a Chevy Impala, completely crushing it. He looked up at me with a mischievous grin and shouted, “Don’t worry, I’m good!”

According to the doctors that saved his life, the driver of the car faces a long and winding road to recovery. However, the driver remains optimistic that with hard work and intensive physical therapy, he’ll be able to hold his infant son in his arms once again and continue his work as a volunteer firefighter.

About the Contributor
Joe DiPersio, Humor Editor