The Other Jim

The sun is setting. I just got my hair cut. It had become a bit of a necessity to do so. I now look like the love child of Audrey Hepburn and David Bowie. That’s alright. I walk down the road when it happens. She gets off the cab and crosses the road. A motorbike speeds towards her. He is about to drive right into her. At the moment of impact, something absurd happens. Instead of freezing, like in the movies, she jumps two steps back. The motorbike wobbles in the other direction. For a brief moment, it almost looked like somehow a few extra feet of space appeared between them. The rider looks back to make sure she is alive and doesn’t take a moment longer to take off. “LADY!” I call out. I jog up to her. She is slender, like a snake, and almost pretty. Her pink t-shirt features a group of Asian girls in brightly coloured wigs. “Are you alright?” I ask her. She’s still in shock, and there’s a stranger asking her about her condition. It takes her a few moments to process what just happened. She looks in the direction in which the rider left with just a hint of mild disgust on her face. “I’m fine,” she says, “but he won’t be if he keeps on driving like that.” “Are you not even slightly injured?” I ask insistently. Too many questions might raise suspicion, but that’s alright. Whenever there is an accident, there are concerned onlookers. “No, I got lucky.” Yes, you did. I made you lucky. It’s only happened once before in my presence that someone has escaped almost certain death with absolutely nothing to remind them of it. At the very least they get a nasty scar. “That’s interesting.” I remark absentmindedly. Foolish. It’s not something she expected to hear, and with no appropriate response, she says “Aren’t you the thoughtful type?” with a smirk on her face. That’s it. Nothing more to learn here. I leave her there with her smirk and cross over to the other side of the road from where I enter a nearby alleyway. The ones left with no marks from our interference usually never see us a second time. I light my last fag. That’s a cigarette, to avoid transcontinental confusion. I’ve had nothing but tea all day and my body is running dangerously low on electrolytes. Performing miracles does tend to drain you. With my knees shaking, I somehow make it to the nearest convenience store. The girl behind the counter greets me but her voice is just static at this point. I get what I need and she prepares the bill.The haircut from earlier has left me just a little short. I have no choice. I put my arms on the counter and all my body weight on my arms. Focus. I feel like I just sprinted for a few seconds. Something shiny on the ground catches my eye. It’s a coin. I pay and leave. Two bags of salted potato chips and a bottle of mango juice. Sustenance is a blessed thing. I always seem to have just as much money as I need. Not a penny more, not a penny less. Or maybe I am just poor and not fussy. Or maybe I am just a spendthrift. I walk into sunset. Except the sun sets in the West, behind me. It’s not the sun in front of me. Some fucker has his headlights set on high beam. I am momentarily blinded and drop one bag of chips. I look up with spots in my vision. Was that me? No, he stopped on his own. “…second time today…shit…” It’s the same motorbike from earlier today. “I am so sorry. I don’t know what’s happening today. I almost hit someone else. That’s how this happened.” He holds his arm up. There’s a bruise just under his wrist. So he was the one who got marked today. “Interesting.” I say impulsively. Second time today. It makes me chuckle. As I walk away, I look at my scarred palms. There’s fresh blood on them. I pull out my handkerchief and wipe them clean. The handkerchief has my name embroidered in neat cursive in one corner.

Jim Cain


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