Thursday, November 26, 2009

Dear Tepid Talent-Hack

Your life is a dance of failure.

Why not use it to create something better?

The Dusty Emperor of Nothing

Open and Shut

The case was open and shut; he had exploded. Well, combusted, really. On December 22nd at approximately 10:30 PM, under the overpass formed by the junction of Interstates 46 and 445, Jonathan Reed sat down in a dusty and discarded faux leather chair and, according to eyewitnesses, spontaneously ceased to be.
James Edgar had been one in a group standing over a makeshift fire when he noticed Mr. Reed walk over to the chair and sit down. “It was like he knew somethin bad was gonna happen. Don’t nobody walk off by themselves in that kind of cold. We was all pokin our hands into the fire barrel and I seen John kickin around that chair and before I knew it he was just gone; nothin left but them new shoes of his.”
Jonathon was well-known among the beggars and panhandlers of downtown Philadelphia; just the mention of his name bringing a smile to many of the faces of homeless and hopeless people. And everyone had a story about him. “It’s a real shame what happened to Jon,” they’d all. “I remember one time he and I were havin soup in the church basement and he snuck some extra rolls,” said Molly Carter, a resident of the Philadelphia YMCA for the past three years. “He stuck em in the folds of his jacket while that big ol bitch – the one with the pin-curled red hair and a big, hairy mole on her chin – wasn’t lookin at the basket. She waddled around askin everybody who took extra, but Jon was already gone. We ate on those rolls all week long.”
According to those who could be interviewed Jonathan Reed lived his entire on the streets and though none claimed to know him well, all acquaintances would vouch that he was the bravest, smartest, and nicest man they’d ever met. “Not without a temper, though,” said Carl Davers, an out-of-work mechanic living outside the area soup kitchen. “We was down by the bus stop once when some kids started throwin half-drunk cans of coke at us. They was yellin at me and him to git out, so I picked up my bag and took off up the street, but Jon had had enough. He pushed one of the kids to the ground and kicked him in the head til he blacked out. The cops asked all over for Jon, but not a soul would turn him in; he was one of us, and the best of us at that.”
On December 21st, the day before Jonathan Reed vanished into thin air, he had been spotted in the park by Jeff Calbert, a recently homeless man who, in an unfortunate string of events, was fired from a local convenience store on the same day he lost everything in an apartment fire. “I was real cold, so I was sitting out of the wind underneath one of the bridges in the park. Jon was walking through on his way across town and he stopped and talked with me for awhile. He was as cold as I was and he told me so. He said he was sick and tired of it and that he was going to go make things right. He went running into the park and came back a half-hour later with a coat, scarf, and shoes for me. He said he got them from a friend. The coat and scarf fit fine, but the shoes were too small to fit my feet into, so Jon took them. ‘What about you?’ I asked, but he just shook his head and smiled. He told me that the shoes ‘would have to do for now.’” Curiously, the items of clothing allegedly 'donated by a friend' and given to Mr. Calbert had actually been stolen in a mugging in the park that afternoon. Upon hearing the news Mr. Calbert was shocked. “I don’t know anything about that. Jonathan Reed was a good man and it’s a real shame what happened to him.”
Upon further investigation, every story or anecdote concerning Jonathan Reed was often found to be connected to a story of suspicious or illicit activity, from petty theft to, in some cases, triple homicide. His name was written in the margins of hundreds of case files in Philadelphia’s police departments, referenced so often that the detectives had begun to use his name in place of the ubiquitous John Doe, and any warrants for his arrest had long since been abandoned by judges too familiar with the phantom-like quality of the mysterious Mr. Reed.
When asked for a physical description of Jonathan Reed most of those who claimed to be witnesses of his daring deeds suffered from a spotty memory. From the testimonies given he was a tall man, though shorter than most, and bald with thick, reddish, brownish, black hair. In addition, his sudden combustion on December 22nd was not the first. In fact, Jonathan Reed had spontaneously combusted eight times, fallen into the Delaware River nine times, and left town on twenty-four separate occasions. In the greater Philadelphia area no department of any kind, apart from the authorities, has ever had a record fitting the descriptions given for Jonathan Reed. However, if asked, the destitute of Philadelphia will not only confirm his existence, but will also tell you about his recent, questionable activities; so great is the influence of Mr. Jonathan Reed.