Wednesday, September 26, 2012
City of Tomorrow, Part 8
As you might assume by now, Jasper Finds was my informant. Why did he the need to confide in me? Mostly because I kept what he told me to myself.
Jasper got the information everyone needed. He was not indiscriminant about it, and he was always careful. If there was something he felt should remain hidden, he kept it that way. Over the years, he built a rather large store of such knowledge.
It was exactly that material that he confided in me.
I used to be one of those old men who sit in the park playing chess. I was never any good at it, and after a while, even the novelty of getting a free win off me wore off, and I stopped finding matches. I started to sit there, staring at the pieces, wondering all manner of weird things about them, what it might be like to live in a world where kings and queens and pawns were still the agents of change, the old world in the new, as if that’s not what still dominates our lives. Well, maybe not in Metropolis. We have certain checks and balances here. We’re the City of Tomorrow, after all. We’re what the whole world’s going to be like, in the future.
Sometimes I wonder what the means, too.
When Jasper Finds unceremoniously sat down in front of me, waving his hand in front of a face staring blankly ahead, it took a moment to realize what was happening. Even for me, it’s not every day a living legend crosses my path. It’s a common misconception to believe that anyone in the relative proximity of greatness will run across it in their lifetime.
He started to laugh, and I asked what was so funny. He said, “To find such a man in such a cliché.” I wasn’t amused. Like people anywhere, I could sometimes take my good fortune for granted. I was living in Metropolis!
He started to explain himself more lucidly. For some reason, I stood out for him in the vast sea of humanity, something about inherent humility that he found hard to overlook, something he used to see in himself and still wanted desperately to believe in.
I stopped him and asked who he was, because at that time I was as ignorant as the next guy, no clue to the vast wonder all around me, the hidden history of the City of Tomorrow still waiting to play itself out, with just a few pushes left.
It was only then that I looked into Jasper’s face, and noted how ashen it appeared. I started to piece his motives together for myself.
Without very much fanfare and shelling peanuts the whole time, he told me everything he knew, everything he’d never told anyone else before. “Keep it alive for as long as it takes.”
For as long as it takes? Wasn’t I going to be the end of it? Everyone would love to see the fulfillment of what they experienced in their lifetime. The truth is, that’s very near impossible. History doesn’t work like that.
After finishing, he simply got up, scooped the shells into a pocket, and shambled away. I think the obituary was printed within the week, and I almost missed it, still frantically trying to figure out what I was supposed to do with all the information I now possessed. I barely knew the man, but I started crying on the spot, whether for the man or the terrible responsibility he’d given me, I don’t know.
Why had I been chosen? Had he really known me so well? I sat back down in the park and there waiting for me was a young woman holding a baby, didn’t even know I was there. She quickly got up.