And Now, Another Voice
The following was written by my fellow scrivner, John Brannon, who's been writing his wonderful columns for the Cambrian for years. This piece ran in the Cambrian on April 30, 2009, and is posted here with John's permission. From time to time, as John allows, I'll happily share some of his other columns.
Things are tough all over
With time slipping away at an ever-increasing pace, I recently decided to visit New York City one more time.
Wandering down Broadway on a lovely spring day, I was startled by the sound of gunfire ahead of me. The air was soon filled with screaming sirens as police cars arrived from every direction and formed a half-circle in front of a large bank. I was nearly a block away, but I could hear a policeman shouting from a bullhorn. My immediate impression was that there had been a bungled bank robbery and the bad guys were still in the building.
At the same time, I noticed an older gentleman running from store to store across the street. Actually, he wasn’t running, it more like a rapid shuffle. Why he went from store to store was beyond me.
The police rushed the bank and captured the bungling robbers in short order. The crowd broke up and life resumed its normal hectic pace in this famous metropolis.
I observed the elderly man, sitting on a bus stop bench. He was dressed in a suit that was a little worn; the cuffs showed wear and the sleeves were a bit too long. He wore glasses with thick lenses that used to be called Coke-bottle lenses. He seemed a little confused. I instinctively felt there might be a column here, so approaching the old guy and introducing myself, I explained that I wrote a weekly column for my local newspaper.
He smiled, “I used to work for a newspaper. But it folded and I’ve felt quite lost ever since.”
“May I sit with you and chat for a while?” I asked. He scooted over and made room for me. “What’s your name?”
“My name is Kent.”
“Well, that’s a coincidence,” I responded, “that was my brother’s name as well.”
I could see that things had been difficult for him. His tie was too short, sort of an old-fashioned style. His shirt front had multiple stains from years of spills. His heavy glasses had broken at one time and were being held together by Scotch tape.
“Oh, Kent is not my first name, it’s my last name. My name is Clark Kent … I used to be Superman.”
“Are you serious?” I asked.
“Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but time and change have taken a toll on me. When I saw that the bank was being held up, I kept trying to find a phone booth so I could change into my Superman outfit … but there aren’t any phone booths anymore ― everybody has these dadgum cell phones. I got so winded from running around, I had to rest on this bench for a few moments. Oh, I’m tellin’ you … things have really changed.”
“Tell me about Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. What happened to them?”
“Lois retired from the Daily Planet and moved to a retirement home up around Schenectady; she began writing a cooking column for a newspaper in that area. She passed away several years ago ― I miss her terribly. But she has a granddaughter out in a small town in California who has carried on the tradition of writing a cooking column. Her name is Consuelo … she and her husband live in a delightful village called Cambria.”
“My gosh, Mr. Kent, that’s where I live!” I said excitedly. “Consuelo is a dear friend.”
“It is indeed a small world, young man.”
“And there was Jimmy. Did you know his real name was James Bartholomew Olsen? He moved to a Lutheran home in Minnesota and was sort of a master of ceremonies at their annual talent show, a delightful person … his red hair turned white, however. He’s gone too.”
Clark paused and then said, “With all the daily newspapers failing and the Internet taking over, I don’t know what the future holds for me. We don’t have real heroes anymore, just over-weight, over-paid egotists screaming into a microphone. Things have certainly changed.”
He rose from the bench, smiled and said, “Well, time for me to go. I don’t like to be out after dark … my eyesight isn’t what it used to be.”