Janius Jim – A Short Story

Janius Jim is a big man. Rocky Mountain big with sandy beach hair and a crooked tooth smile that warms your heart. An ex-fighter, a wrestler of no renown, turned insurance broker who had to have cataract surgery at fifty. The surgery didn’t seem to work as five years after he was still having trouble seeing. Jim and I were sitting outside the office building we both work at, different companies though, drinking coffee in the morning where a few birds chirped and searched for food underneath nearby empty tables. In front of us a few ducks swam in a pond with a fountain shooting water up about ten feet to fall in a engineered calm and reassuring splashing sound. Tall bushes and lean trees were sparingly planted around the pond. There was a wound up umbrella at our table of a deep red color that reminded me of apples in winter.

“Whoo ah!” Jim breathed just after taking a sip. He had the habit of smelling the cup each time he takes one, sniffing and wincing his eyes. I though it had something to do with his bad eyesight. Maybe to get a better look at what was coming up to his face. But I was not sure. I never asked him. “Feels like a warm one today.”

“Better than the cold.”

“True. Warm is where it’s at. Know the coldest I ever been?”

“No. What’s that?”

“When I tried to swim The Channel.”

“You tried to swim The Channel?”

“Yeah. In August years ago. You wouldn’t think it would be cold, would you? Being August and summer and all. But those damn European waters are crazy like that. Froze my ass off.”

“You didn’t make it?”

“No. About half way and tuckered out. Bitch of a swim.”

“I can imagine.”

“How long you going to be working over at Dempsys?”

“Probably all of my life Jim.”

“Hell of a way to go, don’t you think?”

“Yeah.”

“Me? I got a plan. Saving for a move down to Costa Rica.”

“Costa Rica?”

“Costa Rica,” he confirmed with a slight Spanish flair.

“Why there?”

“Beautiful baby. Just beautiful. And cheap. You been there?”

“Nope.”

“Beautiful,” he said reflectively. “And the women!? Hot Damn! Costa Rican women, baby. Costa. Rican. Women! Whoo!”

“I can imagine.”

“Do more than imagine. Take a trip down there. Come with me, next time I go. Absolutely beautiful.”

“I’ll consider it. Though I don’t think my wife will let me.”

“Yeah. That’s true. Man, too bad there are no more pirates. We could have been pirates. We need to be pirates. Sailing and drink and food and booty and women. Baby, pirates.”

“I think there are pirates still around.”

“I guess. But not the same kind. Not Caribbean Pirates.”

“No. I suppose not.”

Jim finished his coffee and threw his cup to the can nearby and missed it badly. He got up stretched and moaned and sighed. “Well, gotta get back to paying for the dream. I am not living the dream. Just paying for it. But soon baby. Soon.”

“Take care Jim.”

“You too, Nick. See ya around.”

After Jim left, I noticed I was alone outside. A plane from the nearby airport roared in take off. I got up and threw away the cup that Jim had thrown and thought about the pirates, and Costa Rica, and women. I thought about dreams. How dreams are somehow connected to hope. To ideals. Ideal places, or people, or situations, or love, or money, or other lives we all want but are not living. Or maybe to all of them. All connected, one to the other, by ethereal roads and rails and flight paths and sea lanes and rocket ship courses. We place value in dreams. Have faith and build monuments and statues to them. We are cities and nations of dreams. A world of dreams. And they are all illusions. And we are just a sleeping people. But then perhaps it’s because reality is too much to wake up to.

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