Each space port throughout the solar system bore it’s fair share of cranks and characters. Those people who seemed to arrive one day as if appearing from nowhere, and then remain to become notorious in the local area for their eccentricity and random behaviour.
Luna was no exception to this, although they liked to try and preserve order within their major space ports as such venues were the first port of call their prospective clients saw as they arrived. Miscreants and ne’er do wells were hastily rounded up and shepherded away by security teams, usually to be deported as quickly as possible to avoid any re-occurrence of their transgression.
In a way one could almost suggest that Lunarian society was too pristine and prim for their own good, dedicated to the industry of finance and investments. It was through the Lunarian banking houses that most of the financial transactions were conducted, having established themselves as the financial empire of the colonies very early on in the exodus to inhabitable areas of the Solar System, and now firmly ensconced in the role they had refined both their way of life and their environment to promote a clean and almost clinical professionalism to anyone who visited on business.
There was one character however, who did not fit their perfectly moulded colonial society and yet – for some reason that could not be explained by anyone in authority – he was left alone for the most part, only to be temporarily moved on when important clients came through the port.
However, after a number of clients remarked on the absence of the oddity they had heard about who entertained visitors by his strange antics, the strange man known to all only as Jim was eventually allowed to remain. It was if he had been unofficially adopted as their quirky mascot, the aberration in their ordered society or even an attempt by the Luna ruling council to prove they had some humour left.
To those who frequented the port he was simply known as Luna Jim.
He was the one who greeted people with a song and dance, often fuelled by alcoholic drinks which gave him that touch more comedic value than if he were sober. Bars at the port were subsidised by the council to provide the liquor, in an effort to keep their pet lunatic off balance in a literal sense. It was to visitors’ amusement that Jim would repeatedly try and fail to juggle a couple of balls, stagger whilst dancing a little jig to a tune he hummed as he wiggled about, and occasionally regaled them all with his amazing guitar solo on the cardboard guitar he had fashioned with the strings drawn on in black pen.
Nearby there was a little cardboard box on the floor into which people tossed a few credits now and then, a simple gratuity for the modest amusement they felt watching his antics.
In truth, the Lunarians used Jim more than they cared to admit.
He was not a Lunarian himself, being one of the humans who had fled from the subjugated and devastated Earth at the end of the Martian/Terran war. He was a remnant of humanity, of the once glorious and proud world who had sent out missions into the stars in a quest to establish colonies, to develop inter-solar communications and reap the rewards both financially and in resources from their developing efforts on other worlds.
He was the epitome of an over confident and unlearned approach to business. The most perfect example to their young offspring to how they may end up if they did not take good and proper care of the business in hand as opposed to squandering their resources and living high off the hog for far too long to the detriment of others.
The children of Luna grew up dancing around Jim, taunting him or playing along with him on imaginary guitars. He was their pet fool, a harmless relic from an over bloated regime long since past.
Some argued against his continued presence, but those who supported allowing him to remain were greater in number and he was kept on unofficially.
From the start of the business day through to the closing of the markets, Jim mumbled about and danced when he wanted, graciously taking the leftovers and scraps of food when they were offered to him and amusing everyone by pretending to share it with his pet Rat, whom he simply called Mr Rattie.
Authorities had swept the area in search of any signs of Rodent activity after concerns were raised over the possibility of there being vermin lurking around their pristine station, but no traces were found and it was just chalked up to another illusion in the head of the broken man.
One day, which has become part of Lunarian history now, Jim failed to show up as he normally did every morning. There were times he was late, sometimes dreadfully, but on this occasion he simply did not show.
Comments were passed as to where he had gone to, what had happened and when the second day arose but Jim still failed to show, concerns were heightened which lead to the authorities putting in a colony wide search for their resident madman.
It was if part of their system were missing. People actually felt a sense of loss, there was something missing in their day, something important. Unbeknownst to them, Jim had just become part of all their lives, and accepted part of the system and when he failed to appear, the system was disrupted.
The truth was that the authorities did not know where Jim used to go each evening. He would just stagger off with his guitar tucked under his arm and his cardboard box clutched to his chest, bearing the takings for the day.
With such apparent discord being felt at their routine being disrupted, the council decreed that the appropriate resources be allocated to the location and provision for the well being of their adopted mascot but, in a strange turn of events, the investigators managed to discover the small tenement room which Jim had used to sleep in each night, complete with his outfit and cardboard guitar – but no Jim.
The worst was then feared, as rumours began to spread amongst the Lunarian population about the fate of Luna Jim. One tale telling how he was the head of a resistance cell working undercover against the Martians, another that he returned to Earth simply to die amongst his own people.
In an effort to bring a resolution, the Lunarian council then broadcast over the newly developing SOLnet, a plea for anyone with any information about their friend and adopted son to come forward and help them determine that he was alive and well. Their hopes were indeed to find that he had simply wandered onto a departing freighter and found himself transported away with no means of return.
The twist came in the form of a video message, delivered to the Lunarian council but meant to be for all the peoples of Luna Colony. It was a message from Luna Jim.
Sitting resplendent on a plush couch dressed in fine flowing robes which one would think reminiscent of Roman Emperors in the ancient times on Earth, he began his address humbly in thanking them for their hospitality over the years but then as he proceeded into the explanation into his disappearance it became quite obvious he was very much tongue in cheek about the whole matter.
For the years following his arrival on Luna after the fall of Earth, enduring the taunts and ridicule of those who found him so amusing and yet a pathetic relic of a bygone power, he had simply bided his time and collected whatever donations came his way, amassing quite a substantial amount after five years just imbibing free food and drink and staggering around drunk at their expense.
Then he had overheard a number of discussions at the various space port bars and restaurants he would linger beside, talks between various representatives of companies on their strategies and back room deals to swing markets in their favour to earn more credit value for their shares.
His plan had formed almost immediately and he secured an old terminal for his domicile, with which he utilised his real credentials to establish a trading account and utilised this insider information he gained overhearing these clandestine plans of corporate wrangling to invest and develop a burgeoning portfolio in various markets, which he then sold on for immense profits to make himself a very wealthy man indeed.
His laughter hurt the ears and sensibilities of those on the council who bore witness to the message. He did not mean to insult them, but the irony of the situation could not be ignored.
He had bought one of the old way stations, Deep Space Two and had it delivered into orbit over Venus where he now enjoyed the service of fine Venusian ladies to attend to his whims as his money amassed in volume within the Lunarian banks, he only had to touch the interest to live like a king.
He had cast off his costume and make believe instrument to wear normal clothes, in which he had walked amongst them completely unrecognised for a time, eating beside them in restaurants listening to the rumours of his demise, before booking his passage to take up residence within his own luxury satellite.
It amused him that while they poured scorn on him for his daily drudgery of a life, he had endured their pity and condescension. Now, as he enjoyed the trappings of his wealth, he now looked upon those who had cast aspersion on him as they followed the same routine of work, hardship and toil. He had listened intently and studied their markets, now he had used their own systems to elevate him above them in financial status.
The council were dumbfounded by this revelation, but not more so than the next item in the message’s agenda.
Jim had set up a number of trust funds, into which there was a sizeable deposit transferred every financial cycle. These were for veterans of the war and their rehabilitation, orphans who were without shelter and food and for the establishment of havens within areas less affected by bombardment where these people could live out their lives with food to eat, work to maintain their micro-colonies and medical care provided in conjunction with facilities on Luna which were awarded research grants from his estate.
For this effort to succeed he employed an army of Lunarian business people to both facilitate the running of the services on a daily basis, to oversee the correct distribution of resources and an appointed board of trustees to whom he would speak regularly and maintain a watchful eye on their usage of the trust he had established.
The story of Luna Jim spread like wildfire from the council chambers on Luna to the deepest mines of Mercury. The Lunarians even erected a statue in the space port to their once adopted son, the man who arrived with nothing and left as a king.
Their lesson learned, to not pour scorn or ridicule on those who they perceived to be below them. One day they may end up working for them.