The Name

Nano sat at The River’s Edge Cafe, eating his Black Bean Burger. With him was Jim ‘Father’ Pope, an older man whom Nano had met soon after checking into the shelter. Father was a very good guitar player, at least, to Nano he seemed good. Nano had never seen a guitar before and Father owned several which were different from each other. Father had tried to explain to Nano why he owned more than one guitar and what the difference was, but Nano’s ear was not used to such subtleties. When they had been joined on that day by a couple of other homeless men Father had introduced them to Nano, a kind gesture. Hospitality is a bit rare in truth at a shelter, but some still appreciated it from days when they were ‘normal’, so after a bit, the others had respectfully shown an interest in Nano’s background and ask him about it. As he sat eating his burger, he remembered back to that recent day.

“What’s your name?” ask one of the two other men who had joined Father Pope and Nano two days back.

“I don’t have a name, that is, one you can pronounce”, said Nano to the group. Pope looked at him curiously, having not ask Nano on the first occasion what his name was.

“What do you mean by that?”, said the same man who’d ask the question.

“Tell me what your name is please”, Nano replied.

“My name is Henry, but people call me NASA, cause I used to be an engineer for NASA”, said the man first man again. Nano smiled at him and nodded, then turned to look at the other man that had come in with Henry.

“My name is Dave, but I’m called Christian Dave, sometimes I talk about God. Kinda depends on who’s with me. Not everyone at the shelter likes talking about god.”

Nano spoke, “Nice to met you Dave and Henry. See, I can pronounce your names, but my name would make no sense to you and I don’t think you could pronounce it.”

“Are you from some strange country?” ask Dave. “Is that why we can’t pronounce your name, like you’re from Poland or something?”

“No, I’m not from Poland. Perhaps the three of you can help me have a good name like you have?” He looked at the Jim, Henry and Dave expectantly. They looked at him, a bit startled, but recovering.

NASA Henry started, “Okay, well, we can give you a nickname. What do you like to do? What kind of things have you done or know. Like I was an engineer at NASA, so I got the NASA thing for a nickname. What do you know about?” They all were into this now, like something unusual to do and helpful for a newcomer.

“I like nanotechnology and I’m an Admiral”, Nano answered.

There was a pause, then they all grinned and started laughing, sure that it was a joke. Christian Dave recovered first.

“Okay, then we call you Admiral Nano. I don’t think you’re an Admiral though. You sound crazy to me. But there are a lot of crazy people at the shelter and that don’t make you bad to hang with.” That was Dave’s opinion and the others nodded, not willing to add anything for reasons of politeness, after all, maybe Nano was crazy and maybe he was just inventive and imaginative.

Nano contemplated the name. “I like that name, Admiral Nano. It fits. Call me that, or just Nano perhaps.”

Father Pope nodded and the rest considered it settled, though of course, their curiosities were really going. However, Dave wasn’t quite ready to let it all rest, so he ask, “What are you an Admiral of?”

There was no easy way out of explaining it so Nano replied, “I’m Admiral of a fleet of interstellar space ships.”

“What?” Christian Dave managed. “Never mind, I heard you.”

Father Pope looked a bit red in the face and NASA Henry was at a loss. “It doesn’t matter”, said Father. “Your welcome to hang with us. Many of us have alter egos or stories we believe.” He looked from Dave to Henry pointedly. “So, from now on, your Admiral Nano, or just Nano. Works for me.” The other two glanced at each other, then at Nano and smiled. It was unlikely to really be over.

 So, that was how Nano had come by his name that day at The River’s Edge Cafe.


About Admiral Nano

A man exploring homelessness in Aurora.
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