Among the bustling streets, there are many different kinds of people. A struggling single mother rushing to pick up her son from school. A business man in a suit and tie, smug about his most recent wall street bets. A homeless man begging for change while strumming a tune on his banjo. Every person has a clear objective and purpose drawn on their face.
However, even in the crowd of hundreds of rational, thinking individuals, there was one man who stood out. Someone who seemed to be completely out of touch with reality, constantly stumbling and bumbling into others while speaking to people that didn't exist and ignoring those who did. He existed as one of the great wonders of the city, and almost every person had a strange interaction with the man. No one knew his real name, so everyone called him "Jim."
There were rumors of Jim resisting arrest by ignoring the police entirely. There were rumors of Jim being so completely absorbed in conversation that he ignored muggings happening only feet away. The only problem was that the conversations were with a brick walls. There were rumors of Jim losing his wallet, only for it to be returned to him by pick-pocketers because there was nothing of any value inside of it. No one knew where he lived. No one had ever seen him eat. No one really understood how he had survived for so long.
He was a force of nature.
He was just "Jim."
Now, I wasn't one to believe any old rumor. I was sure 90% of them must be untrue -- a way to poke fun at an old-timer with an eyepatch. So one day, I decided to see for myself.
As I was walking around town, I stopped a random person, a young lady with a pink blouse, and asked, "Hey. Have you seen Jim around today?"
"Ah yeah. He's on Elm Street talking to the trees again. The guy's insane!"
I laughed and agreed before making a beeline towards where he should have been, and sure enough, there he was next to a house and somewhat busy street, waving his arms emphatically and laughing while staring at a tree. No one around him would make eye contact. Some of them chuckled a bit as they walked by.
As I approached, I could hear snippets of his conversation. "That's exactly what I am saying!" He said, "How could Mrs. Jenkins have thought it was OK to just waltz into his house unannounced!" He then began laughing so hard that he had to wipe tears from his eyes before saying, "I tell you what! She's one of the best dancers I know!"
I was now close enough to touch him. Outside of the bizarre conversation he was having with himself, he looked like an ordinary old man He was well-dressed with a scraggly white beard and thinning hair. His voice was somewhat gruff, but affectionate. As I looked closer, I noticed that the eye without the patch seemed to have a weird purple ring around the iris, but nothing outrageous or flashy. Even at this distance, he did not seem to look at me.
"Hello?" I asked, while waving a bit. "I'm Jeff, could we..." I trailed off when I realized he still did not register my existence.
Instead, he continued his conversation, "... And then I said, 'if you are that upset about it, why not just jump of a cliff with the rest of 'em!'" before chuckling to himself. He then got really stern and began nodding before saying, "Ah. I'm sorry. I didn't know... Yeah. I'll be more careful next time."
Jim was clearly talking to someone, but who? I waved my hand directly in front of his face before circling around him. This man was definitely a mystery, but whatever. I couldn't spend all day musing about the musings of a madman.
I then tried to turn around, but tripped and fell into the street. I looked to my right, only to see a car screeching to a halt. I screamed. There was no time to move.
Was this it? Were these my final moments?
I suddenly felt a shock, as if jumping into a pool of cold water before the adrenaline kicked in and I leapt up, just before the car hit me. I frantically began cursing and apologizing to anyone who would listen while burying my hands in my hair. As I looked up, I noticed the world was eerily quiet. There were no people on the sidewalk, and the car seemed to have driven away.
The only person was Jim, who looked at me with a concerned face. "You OK, boy?"
"Yeah. Yeah." I said while trying to take deep breaths. "I'll be OK. I just barely missed that car."
Jim laughed a bit. "Car? What car?" He lifted his eye patch and looked to the empty street. He stared for a minute before continuing, "I see you made quite the scene."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Don't worry about it." He extended his hand to me. "I'm Jim. I'll show you around town."
I laughed a bit before shaking his hand. "I'm actually somewhat surprised Jim is your real name. Don't worry about showing me around. I've lived here all my life, but I'd be happy to talk to you more."
Jim chuckled to himself before saying, "Trust me. This isn't the town you once knew."
I shook my head at what I thought were the ramblings of a madman before looking around. The street was suddenly populated by people of all different shapes and sizes, wearing clothes from different eras of history. As they passed by, they nodded slightly to Jim, but stared warily at me. But there was something off about every one of them. They were ever-so-slightly translucent.
Next to Jim, I saw a man in his early thirties wearing a costume from the civil war. He stared at me with a rather stern expression before also extending his hand and saying, "I guess you are new here as well. I'm Greg. Jim and I were just talking about the weird ways people find themselves here. What happened to you?"
"What do you mean, what happened?" I asked.
"I mean... How did you, you know..." He scratched the back of his head, "Sorry, I know this is a sensitive topic to newcomers."
Jim took a deep breath, "He got run over."
It took me a second to piece everything together. The car that I thought I avoided actually hit me dead on, and I was now a spirit, haunting the world I once knew. Jim wasn't crazy, he just lived with the spirits.
"Hey Jim." I said, "I might need a guide after all."
Prompt: Everyone thinks old man Jim is crazy. He wears an eyepatch and talks to people who aren't there. You discover that each of his eyes sees a different world, one of them ours and one of them the spirit world. He's simply chosen to cover his view of the real world, and live among the apparitions.