A Chance Meeting & The Three Together

What happens when two strangers meet, look into each other’s eyes, shake hands, nod? Two strangers who, as far as they and anyone else involved could possibly see, were, right up to the point of their chance meeting, certain unto themselves, complete, fine.

What happens then?

Stephen Mejias meets Brother Todd under fluorescent light in the pink and beige cafeteria of Fairleigh Dickinson University. They are standing near several plastic cups – some clear, some a strange sepia tone – each containing an unnaturally colored fruit drink. Stephen and Todd look into each other’s eyes, shake hands, nod.


What happens next? There is a mistake, a silent miscommunication. Stephen doesn’t immediately trust Todd. Todd’s bearded face, his knotted hair, his baggy pants give Stephen reason to believe that he is involved with drugs; if not a user, Todd, at the very least, must be a dealer.

And what does Todd think of Stephen? It is difficult to say. What can he think? Stephen’s bright red hair tosses and leaps like an ocean on fire. His large hazel eyes jut out from their deep sockets and explode like fireworks. He’s got the face of a catfish and the neck of a giraffe. His shoulders are maracas, his elbows are exclamation marks, his hands are isosceles triangles. Todd would like to capture him in watercolors and oil pastels. Stephen, however, would never grant a druggie such pleasure.

Truth is: Todd has never, in all his life, used – or dealt – drugs. Once, when he was very young, and only to spite his father, Todd took a sip from a can of beer. He didn’t like it at all. Instead of continuing along that path, Todd spends many long nights alone, in his bedroom, with a boombox, searching for sounds.

Childhood for Stephen was similar, in a way. His is a childhood of blank tapes and closed doors. It’s quite possible that, on some late night, separated by all sorts of happinesses, pains, doubts, victories, and fears, Stephen and Todd, for brief moments, met, looked into each other’s eyes, shook hands, and nodded – all along the FM dial. But who knows? Was it Jesus Jones, was it Neneh Cherry, was it Big Audio Dynamite that brought the two together?


In fact, it was a girl, as so often it is a girl who brings together two young men. A girl named Maya. In this case, it was a girl named Maya.

At FDU, Stephen studies English, Todd studies Art, and Maya studies everything. One night, while Maya is out examining germs beneath a super-powered microscope (or is she organizing a field-trip to the Statue of Liberty?), Stephen picks up the telephone and dials Todd’s number. Todd is counting BPMs, twisting knobs, pounding keys, and torturing his roommate. “Listen to this,” he tells Stephen.

In turn, Stephen plugs his guitar (an old Ibanez lawsuit model) into an amplifier whose grille has been completely destroyed. He turns up the volume. “Listen to this,” he tells Todd.


It’s only a short time before Maya, Stephen, and Todd come to be known around campus as “The Three Together.” Maya is a biologist, performance artist, percussionist, and double-agent spy. Stephen shares a bed with her, where he writes poetry and creates new guitar tunings. When Todd is not sleeping in his Grand Marquis or squatting in haunted mansions, he lives in Maya’s closet. Because the three are so often together, they cannot help but make music and dance. They break things, they salvage trash, they eat at Veggie Heaven.

They call themselves Genie Boom. Later, they call themselves CHAWISO. It came to Todd in a dream.

But where are we? And what has this got to do with FLOODS?


I think we’ll leave it at that. Though there is still so much to tell, we think we’ll leave it at that.

THIS is not the end of the Prelude to FLOODS.