It takes a certain level of awareness to know that one is not normal, or rather; that one exists on a planet separate from others.
Marcus realizes this through his own words, which come out complex and hard to decipher. Like speaking another language, only Marcus himself ever understands the whole of his own riddles.
He speaks in poems; not the pretty type that bloom out of Zeke’s mouth like flowers of a new spring, but the type that one becomes frustrated with and abandons. His poems make family and friends and strangers dizzy in a flurry of complexities and philosophies.
So that’s what they call him. Marcus, the boy with confusing words about confusing things, becomes Dizzee, the boy who speaks in languages that only the stars know.
And Dizzee, who has crash landed on this earth with no hope of returning home, will hold Marcus’s hand and protect him from the disappointment of misunderstanding.
Dizzee learns about Rumi under the hazy lighting of his school library. Rumi is an Arabic poet, whose words mingle with his own and find compatibility. Dizzee absorbs all that he can, lets poems wash over him and lets new words perch themselves on his tongue. Rumi sticks in his mind, and he thinks that he and him might be the same.
This otherworldly part of himself, the side that he hasn’t quite come to understand yet, becomes his own perception of poems and love. Rumi is his name, and with the encouragement of colorful tags and images that decorate the Bronx, Dizzee splatters him across buildings and trains alike.
Dizzee and Rumi exist as one but also two. Dizzee, the boy stranded on earth who speaks a language that nobody understands, and Rumi, the alien who yearns for operas and exists freely amongst the stars and others like him.
Rumi teaches the boy named Dizzee about things beyond Earth, about fear and rebellion and the type of love that only certain beings can understand. Marcus will listen, and he will wonder ‘am I one of those beings?’
(Marcus’s first crush is on a girl with comets in her eyes and a light spray of freckles over her face. His second is on a boy hidden by a name. Shao 007 is a secret agent with a striking passion for the intensity that is the color red.)
And Marcus will smile uncertainly and conclude that he is one of those beings. And Dizzee will look at him and Rumi and finally know the name of the language that he speaks. Even if it is a language he can never share.
Shao 007 becomes a face, dressed in red and eyes teeming with dying stars that only seem to brighten when the flow of music rattles their light. Shaolin Fantastic will proclaim himself an alien in a broken version of Dizzee’s language, and Rumi will understand how Shao 007’s light died so young.
(Rumi understands best the way Shao 007’s dying stars yearn for the brightness that is the Chosen One’s Sirius A, how they hang on and blink ever so slightly when the wordsmith spares some of that brightness for them).
Dizzee meets Thor amidst the loud beauty of an underground ball, where others like them dance and kiss and writhe. Thor, who is an alien in his own right, speaks his language without the shame of having hidden it for so long.
Rumi, who has always been the teacher of the three, becomes the student. For once he is in awe; of both Thor and the women, men, and inbetweens that dance in a cluster of color and costumes. Rumi learns, and Rumi falls in love. And Thor, whose smile sends tendrils of electricity through his bones like his namesake, will look into his eyes with understanding.
Marcus, the boy who has always been a little too confusing, will search and search and latch onto that same strangeness that he thought he would find nowhere else. Dizzee, the boy who speaks a language that is his own, will hold on as it is spoken back to him on a fluent tongue. And Rumi, who knows beyond the stars and dresses how he wants, will slip and fall for a freeness he has never seen elsewhere.
When Thor is sent to prison for the sake of his art, Dizzee sends him pages upon pages of comics that chronicle the feats and failures of The Get Down Brothers, who perform and find meaning in music and words. Not his own words of course, but those of the Chosen One’s.
And when Thor gets out, Rumi will continue to paint despite his protests, ignoring danger as he always has or all out embracing it under the cover of dark tunnels and alleyways. Dizzee, who has tasted freedom and will never turn back, will fly and tag while Marcus runs and hides.
And in the end, when Thor is whisked away once again by the cruel hands of suppression, it will be Marcus that will run and run until even he has to stop.
Rumi will be scrubbed away, having never made it to the opera.
A train persists, and Dizzee will think of made up names and dead languages.