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Another Man’s Treasure
by Robert Zimmermann
It’s funny the things you find walking down a city street.
Once I found a fifty dollar bill. I saved that one from going down a storm drain, then treated myself to a nice lunch, and then dinner. Another time, there was a forgotten book left on a bench. After I took it home that night and started reading it, I realized why it was left behind. I think they made it into a movie soon after that. One of those that the teenagers go crazy over.
There’s one treasure of the street that stands out from the rest. In all my years of wandering the city, among so many of its busy bees, flowing along in the sidewalks current, there’s one I’ll never forget.
It was a day like any other. A little overcast. Maybe a little rain in the afternoon. That’s why I was walking with my umbrella. I don’t care much for getting wet. It was just another day that I found another forgotten artifact of the city, or so I thought.
Anyway, after walking a few blocks from the place I was staying at, I sat down on a bench to take in the morning commuters. This was when I realized that a napkin was stuck on the end of my umbrella. Using it as a cane seems to attract this sort of thing. It was probably the third time I had to remove trash from the thing that morning. Trash cabs at every corner don’t seem convenient enough for most people.
As I was about to drop the napkin in one of those nearby trash cans, I noticed writing on it. It said Fountain of Youth… The rest was a little smudged with dirt, but at the time, I thought it said Hudson something or other. It had to be Hudson River. It only made sense with the city’s proximity to that famous river.
So what did I do next? What else was I supposed to do? It’s not like I had anything better to do with my time that day.
A few minutes later I was at the end of a pier, staring into the clear blue waters of the Hudson. Okay, okay. They weren’t clear and they sure as hell weren’t blue. It didn’t matter though. I’d bathed in worse, and after I dove in, I’d be eternally young. A little dirty water was of no consequence. not sure why no one else had done this yet. Seemed legit. Oh, I guess that whole pollution thing could be a deterrent. But as I said, I’ve bathed in worse…I think.
At least I thought…that is until I was climbing back onto the pier soaking wet. I wasn’t that happy being wet, but at least I would be young forever from then on. Again…or so I thought.
Well, it was on that day that I stopped being so quick to assume that I knew what was what. It was also that day that I stopped believing what was written on discarded napkins.
One good thing came from that plunge into the river. You know that strange phenomenon the news is always going on and on about the last few years? Ghosts stopping purse snatchers? Bank robbers thwarted by invisible lasso-wielding hands? Yea, that’s me.
The river didn’t give me eternal youth after all. Whatever crap was in the water did change me though. It turned me invisible. It also messed with my vocal cords for some reason. That’s where my trademark whisper in the ear comes from. I can’t be heard any other way.
I feel my hero days are coming to an end now. I’m too old for this job. Running around saving people (without them eve knowing it sometimes) isn’t good for the body. Don’t let the superhero movies fool you. We don’t always bounce back from the occasional fall or wild swing of a bat.
I spend most of my days sitting on my favorite bench now. Observing the passersby, silently, invisibly.
Just today, as I was enjoying a cool summer breeze, I was smacked in the face by a piece of paper. It seems that people still dislike trash cans.
As I pulled it off my face I saw Fountain of Youth. Hudson Bay. (Bay underlined three times) written on one side. I wasn’t going to fall for that one again, so I dropped it in the trash can.
Wait a minute. The Hudson Bay is in Canada, and that guy with the claws is from Canada…I’ve never seen him age before. Do I even have a passport?