It is noon. Very hot. The Denver sun’s pitiless spotlight pushes down upon pedestrians carrying briefcases or carryout lunches. Like ants under a child’s magnifying glass, they skitter along the baking sidewalks, retreat under awnings, scurry back into the comfort of their air conditioned holes. I take my place on the bench. As always, I watch.
Today is the day. I am sure of it. Today is the reason I am here. The answer. Today is why I found myself driving West last month with no more plan or control than a monarch flapping toward Mexico.
The crowd moves along, north and south and east and west. They think today is like any other day but I can tell it is different. There is something about the sun today. Something about Him today.
He stops on the crowded sidewalk. Do it, I think. Whatever it is. Do it.
He is young. Mid-twenties. Casually handsome. Dressed like he’s going a nightclub. Too dressed for this heat. He stops, looks to the sky.
I stand, take a few hesitant steps toward Him. I am not the only one to notice. Nearby, pedestrians give way, pause, watch as he wipes his brow, shakes his head, reaches a tentative hand to the sky.
Of course, I think. Of course! I laugh and the woman standing next to me shoots me a glance. Don’t you see? I want to ask her. Of course it was there all along.
He continues reaching. How is it possible? That can’t be, I think, even as the arm elongates and advances, reaching and reaching…for what? The crowd gasps. It can’t be, but then it is: he palms the sun. The sky goes dark.
Half of the bystanders run. “Nine-eleven!” somebody shouts, and more people scurry.
This can’t be happening but the sky has gone dark and he is holding the sun and it is happening and now I’m laughing full out because of course this is happening. Of course this is why I am here. This is why I awoke that day in Philadelphia and drove without stopping for so much as a microwave burrito until I reached this intersection. This can’t be happening but I knew the first time I saw Him that He was the one for whom I had been delivered. My car was towed long ago and I haven’t slept in weeks but now it is happening and I thank whatever god has allowed me to be here. I thank Him.
Cars stop. Traffic lights go dark. There is a rumble and a crash and what feels like a tremor in the earth. “The subway!” somebody shouts. More people scurry but even more move even closer toward Him.
I am confident now and I pick my way through the bystanders, past muttering businessmen and teenagers saying the rosary, past a group of cub scouts who are gathered together in prayer, a man and woman kissing passionately. They don’t understand that this is only the beginning. Somehow, I do.
He looks about the darkened cityscape. He turns to the left, where a line of immobilized traffic trickles out of a tunnel. I have been living in this intersection for weeks and have come to regard this tunnel as a hazard, a place to be avoided, a source of constant noise and certain danger. I know the police walk this tunnel, two of them and a dog, at dawn and again at dusk.
He regards the orb glowing in his hand, the only source of light in the suddenly quiet city. Do it, I think. Or do I say it out loud? It is impossible to tell now. He takes a step and hurls the sun into the darkest black of the tunnel. Suddenly, light. Sound. Music?
I notice that I am no longer hot. It is as if the earth’s air conditioner has been turned on, like the cool edge of a hurricane.
In the distance, a low rumble. A train?
We turn to look en masse and a gleaming silver locomotive explodes out of the tunnel.
I want to drop to my knees, to praise him, ask for forgiveness, but I’m buoyed by the music: People all over the world...
I want to go to Him, to pledge my devotion, to ask what does it mean, what is next, but there is already a long line of women writing phone numbers of little scraps of paper.
The train thunders past and I’m surprised but then – of course! -- not surprised at all to find something cool and wet in my hand. I bring the glistening container to my mouth and drink deeply – water, a faint taste of hops and tin. It is delicious. It tastes…is it possible to taste cold? Of course anything is possible and this is the coldest tasting drink I’ve ever had and look at him dancing and taking phone numbers and I know that this is so much better than the first time, the water into wine and no mention of trains or dancing or miniskirts or the sweet nickel spark of cold on your taste buds, and then I take another drink and join the crowd and we dance and the locomotive thunders and we sing into the noisy chasm: like a Love Train, Love Train.