It's not Halloween
. It's January, for fuck's sake.
I was walking to work. The cold was penetrating, like sand and hate. Ten minutes from my house to the train. There's an intersection on the way, at Crescent St. and Hoyt Ave., that must be Collision Central. Every few weeks, fresh taillight shards and bumpers sitting on the road. The bricks under the fence of the house on the corner have been knocked through in one place. Once I saw an entire car door, complete with adjustable mirror, wrapped around the utility pole.
So I was past it, hunched, hands in pockets, when I heard it, no screech just a metal slam, and I looked back without thinking. The man getting out of the car nearest me, there was a pool of blood just staying on his head, comically bright red, like crayons, like you see in old Westerns and it looks incredibly fake, (and I feel like a damn tool wannabe poet saying this but it really was) gleaming in the morning sun. He kept yelling. Maybe he didn't know.
But there was someone else, in the passenger's side, impact side, that wasn't moving.
I turned back around and kept walking. I had to get to work.
Not until twenty minutes later, sitting on the subway, did it occur to me that I could have at least used my cell to dial 911.
I had to transfer trains. I got off underground, which is marginally warmer than outside. Waiting, longer than normal. What the Christ.
Across the platform, going uptown, people were clustered by a beam. I could hear their train rumbling near. A kid in a huge puffy jacket came flying down the stairs and knocked into them. This woman in front stumbled -- high heels -- and she fell down onto the tracks. So fast no one made a grab for her.
I could still see her, she got up, then the train roared in and I couldn't see her anymore.
Then while I was still staring at the chrome my train pulled up and I got on. I had to go to work. Why else was I standing there?
I get to work early, before my boss. I take the stairs all the way up to nine because there's a bunch of rooms I have to unlock on four and seven. That's a big part of my job, all the keys. Then I typically take the freight elevator back down and grab some breakfast.
But the freight's been really screwed up lately. It'll get there, and you can hear it grinding right in front of you but the door will not open. Or you get on and push 6 and it lets you off at 5. It can't even do simple math. Everybody on the floor is pissed about it because it's the smoke break elevator. Especially that crew of surly guys hired to replace the roof tiles.
So I was stabbing the button repeatedly with my finger when I heard a WHACK CLANG CHUNG, it was very musical, and just below me they started screaming. I don't know how many. One said shitshitshit over and over. It was so, so long to the bottom. I think they felt all of every second.
When my boss got in she saw my face and asked if I was okay, which, obviously, duh, yes, as opposed to some people, so I told her about it, of course, and about the other stuff.
She sent me home. I didn't even really need to be there. I guess I knew that.
This city is eight million mausoleums. I fell in love with a shiny coffin. I'd never tire of the skyline at sunset, but beneath it, there's something seriously wrong with the people, and now with me too. If I wanted out, that'd be easy. But I want to stay and fix it.
And there's nothing I can do.
And folding up fetal and crying and putting my fist into the wall and shouting: none of it matters. Time has helped me out in the past. Made me forget what despair feels like. But time isn't my friend today. I really like people. Hell, I love a lot of them. But they just die. And they always will.
And there's nothing you can do.