Broad Jim was there, reflecting light, as always. We’d make fun of what he did. He had this huge solar panel on his back that was four feet by four feet, he was born with it on there. Then he was always going down this manhole when the sun went down. Though from certain angles, the manhole looked like a womb. We couldn’t always see it at all, either.
There was a woman with a pencil who liked Broad Jim. They’d show her on the news sometimes, she’d sit there fondling her pencil, reading Broad Jim’s spreadsheet of energy. 665 kilowatts today, Jim, lil’ low. What were you, playin’ hooky. Was it opening day of the baseball season? No, but that might not be a bad idea, the elevated seating.
Broad Jim would hear the frantic rustling of papers by the lady in the natural basement. Agh, she’d say. So many papers. Don’t ever enter a job that involves sifting through papers, Jim.
And Jim would climb back up, and life was just curling up under all his blankets under the bridge, and waiting for the sun to come up again. Waiting for that transcendence, again.
Sometimes old homeless guys would come up to Broad Jim, for an endless amount of time. Some of them were schizophrenic, and would say, Yeah, after what they said, as if Broad Jim had said, Really, when he hadn’t. Some of them smelled bad, and they almost invariably had awful teeth, or no teeth. Broad Jim would sit and look at the cars passing by, using energy. He would not be mesmerized by the cars, nor entertained by them. The reason he looked at them was that they were there, in front of his vista. Consumption of energy was a villain against which he fought by waking up in the morning, living and breathing.