From the beginning of time, bridges were created for a pu8rpose. They were usually made to traverse a river and communicate one town with another.
In modern times, bridges were forged to facilitate underpasses, with overpasses on colossal constructions of cement and steel. This enabled the masses of metal, in the form of vehicles, to go and return from their places of work. That was the idea, but when it became necessary to oust inhabitants from their safe homes, due to the fact that they lost their jobs, family et al, it evolved that they became a sort of refuge, for the displaced people. Most of them were degenerates, but as time went by and taxes rose, there was a spattering of college graduates and former professors were forced to camp out there.
"Who the hell stole my cardboard bed? If I catch the bastard, I´ll kill him!" exclaimed a former assistant professor at UCLA
He had a degree in anthropology, enrolled in a PhD program and an assistant professor when the department was closed and he was without a job. His wife left him and took the children. He lived in his Toyota for a time, until he had to sell it and since there was no other alternative remaining, he went under the bridge.
"Now you know that Xerxes, the son of Darias, built a bridge of an enormous undertaking, linking the land of the barbarians to that which would lead them to the land of Athens…" the bridge occupant explained too the reporter of the L.A. Times, who was doing his own anthropological study of modern urbanity…"and even though it did not succeed, for various reasons, it was still a bridge, which was useful for its purpose."
"And these bridges on the super freeways. Do you think they serve the same purpose?"
"Well, at that time, it was for an act of war. Nevertheless, from what I have experienced, it seems that every day we commit ourselves to the war of infinite highways and pray for luck to get us through it. But, just like the trials that Xerxes went through, we could also suffer the same fate: due to a flat tire or a breakdown of a Japanese car. Do I explain myself?"
"Definitely," the reporter replied, keeping his recorder going.
"Thus, the definition of anthropology, of which I have my degree, states that it is the study of man in all his aspects. I assume you understand that."
"Yes, of course." was the other´s reply.
It was already late afternoon and he wante4d to get back to his office to finish the story, which might or might not appear in the Sunday supplement. He was worried about his new Nissan, which was parked a mile away7, for he suspected that they might steal the tires to make Mexican sandals or just break the windows for the fun ot it.
"So then bridges were made and laid asunder, either by natural causes or that of man." The anthropologist continued before he shouted out his former threats: "If I find that bastard who stole my cardboard bed, I swear I´ll kill him with my own hands!"
"And now? We´re not living during the time of the Peloponnesian wars. So why do y ouo live under this bridge here?"
"For no other reason than I have no alternative. I did everything that was expected of me. I got my degree, marr5ied and raised a family. That was all well and good. I had a position of assistant professor and was told that I would be kicked upstairs after I got my PhD…"
"Then the bottom fell out and the wholes department was discontinued. They said it was going to be replaced with something practical, so they intr5oduced computer programming. It was agreed that if anyone wanted to study anthropology, the could go to Berkley and be damned!"
"I guess you lost your job after that."
"You don´t have to guess or even speculate. I predict that the whole department of humanities goes next and I´ll be sharing my cardboard mattress with other former professors."
Daytime straggles appeared, as the reporter sat on the cement and watched them pass by. They were not all young although youth seemed to be the majority and as they ambled to their prearranged spots, they did so with the stare of zombies who had just returned form the asphalt jungle.
"Hey! Anybody see what happened to my cardboard bed?" the ex professor cried out and a young man, with long hair and smoking a joint, appeared with the evidence in hand.
"Look man, it wasn´t that I was stealing anything. I mean I wanted to ball this girl and she said she had to have something to lay on, so I borrowed your cardboard, Sorry, but here it is," he explained, then took another puff and disappeared.
It was now getting dark and the reporter figured he had about a half hour to get out of there and back to his car, if it was still there. If he took AK-9 it would be a more direct route, but that was always crowded during the rush hour. Therefore he could chose AK-11, which was more circumcuous albeit less traveled At any rate, there would be the same amount of overpasses and underpasses, not to mention the bridges.
"I´m sorry, but it´s getting late and I really have to get going if Ii want to get this story out. I´ll try to send you a copy and I hope your plight, as well as everyone else who lives here. When the citizens of this country find out about this, there will be an uproar and I predict it will be heard all the way to Washington!"
The reporter, who was really far ahead in his thoughts of getting where he would be safe and sound, didn´t notice the expression of the defunct anthopo9logist He spoke of Xerxes, the son of Dari as and the Peloponnesian wars. It was bizarre. Perhaps he was an untapped genius. All of that didn´t matter, he knew, for modern communication, left everything like a billboard in the universe. You saw it, but paid no attention. It was a blip on the screen. Yet, it was his job to provide new blips, so he stood up and turned off the recorder. He shook the professor´s hand and asked:
"Do you have any idea for the title of this article?"
"What if it?"