5:05 p.m. At the top of the hill, two girls wait to cross Jasper. Both pacing, both with the swagger of the chemically altered. Sensible enough to wear jackets, but not jackets meant for the season. Those impossibly tight faded jeans can’t be helping them keep warm, either. A pickup truck, Ford, mid-80’s, rusty, pulls up, to wait for the same light. The girls stare down the middle-aged man inside, taking in the grey hair resting on his shoulders, the mustache-beard combo. Does he have money? Will he party? One girl yells. Not at him, necessarily. Just yells. The other thrusts her pelvis, grabs her crotch, by way of advertisement. His jaw tightens, he stares ahead with self-imposed blinders. The girls laugh, the pitch too high. They missed their light, but they cross, anyway.
5:09 p.m. Columns of glass and steel rise, meeting the sky, choking out what little sunlight lingers. Three men, two in trench coats step quickly onto the curb. Then, turn to cross again, doing their best to ignore the gentleman with the matted hair, who is engaged with a tree planted in the middle of the sidewalk. As the man, whose jacket and fingernails match his hair in filth, approaches the trio, they tense, but only slightly. Even a homeless man should know that these are men of purpose. Men who do not hand out nickels to other men. Knowing he’ll be rebuffed, he perseveres, asks the Important Men for help, hand held out in the universal gesture of supplication. And in return they give him the universal shake of the head, the refusal to acknowledge that both types of people exist, are necessary. But men who talk to trees are not always easily rebuffed. He advances. They close ranks, Armani shoulder to Armani shoulder, and turn their collective back. A small woman, black hair tied at the nape of her neck, business-suited, silently presses a bill into his hand. And they stand together, staring at the wall of Armani.
5:12 p.m. A man and a woman come up out of the underground tunnels. The man leads, pace brisk, focused. The woman runs to catch up. Briefcases in both their hands confuse, initially. Co-workers, rushing to catch the same bus? Or a couple, meeting up at the end of the workday? The confusion clears as the woman talks, talks ahead, saying twice as many words as she needs to, in the vain hope that some of them will stick to him. He hears the words, the irritation and resignation on his face showing that he does. But he’s not listening.
5:17 p.m. A pink snowsuited girl, curly brown hair sneaking out from under a toque, extends her hand above her head, in order to hold the hand her mother offers. A flashing Do Not Walk hand is failing to enthrall her. She jumps, as high as a small child in winter boots can. And then higher. And higher. Her mother, same curly brown hair, is loaded down with shopping bags, purse, messenger bag, and a My Little Pony backpack. Any trace of sunlight is now completely absent. A fiery ball of pure energy is attempting to tear her already overloaded arm out of its socket. And the mother looks down at the ball. And she grins.