Last fall. Was it last fall? Yes, it was, the Complete and Total Loser is sure of it. That's when the city put more streetlights on his safe city street. Three.
The lights emit yellow light, the color of a sick man's urine. They change other colors in the dark, muting reds, flattening blues. Powerful. The Loser's roman shades glowed bright yellow when closed. Why, he wondered, do lights intended to illuminate the street—streetlights—shine so strongly into his third-floor apartment's two windows? It's one of those questions he can't get an answer to, like why do so many parents these days put perfectly able bodied four-year-olds in baby carriages, even as children get fatter and fatter?
"I can read by the light, that's how bright it is," the Loser told his coworkers. They'd shrug or say "Huh," and continue doing whatever they were doing.
Bent on a solution, the Loser found that his shades, segmented pieces controlled by string, could sandwich something opaque, thus blocking the light. He bought yards of thin vinyl at a store selling textiles, thinking that with a few stitches he could do this, or maybe with a glue gun.
The rolled vinyl sat on his floor for weeks. Months. It's in the Loser's closet now, he thinks. Or under something.
Meanwhile, he came up with a simpler solution. Cardboard. He got cardboard at work from the boxes he empties as part of his stupid, loser, low-level job. It worked. He did all but three bottom sections of one window, the one where his window fan would go in summer.
The drawback is that he can't raise and lower the shades now, and his cluttered, dingy apartment is dark even on bright summer days. This depressed the Loser at first. Later, he found it fit his way of life, alone and in perpetual dimness. Now he wonders why he didn't think of it years ago, streetlights or not.