Big City, Rot
A True Story
A note from the author:
While I can barely resist the urge to tear apart the cultural and political failures that fuel this tragedy, I did my best to remain objective and detached. My goal in depicting what happened today is to provide you, dear reader, a glimpse into reality.
The media has covered this story a thousand times, but the facts are always shrouded in bias and rhetoric. Though I cannot completely remove my perspective as the observer of this story, I hope to shed light on a truth that few people will ever experience.
A car alarm goes off nearby, and I’m awoken by blood-curdling shrieks. “HELP MEEE, HELPP!”
Normally, I’m pretty good at tuning these things out. The fact that I’m awake makes me think the shrieks have been going on for a while. “HELP ME, AAHH… aah… aah…”
I try to fall back asleep, but the random outbursts persist. Exhausted and aggravated, my curiosity gets the better of me. I peer out my kitchen window in the direction of the noise.
The Man kneels on the sidewalk outside a corner-store, surrounded by clothing and cardboard. He holds His head in His hands, shrieking and moaning. The neighbors in the building across the street — the ones directly above Him — throw a plastic water bottle. It misses Him by a few feet.
I wonder how much of this I’d slept through. I don’t think to call the police — they rarely respond to petty complaints like this — but a police car appears regardless. The Man stands up and shuffles away from the car. “SHUT THE F*CK UUUUP! POLIIIICE!”
The Man turns to the corner store window and punches it. The reinforced glass trembles but does not break, and He squeals before running into the nearby intersection. Another cop car pulls up and both officers step out together. The Man continues to scream.
“I NEED HELPPP! STAT MEANS STAAATT!”
The Man twirls around the intersection, screaming, before eventually waddling back to his pile. He rummages through His belongings, unfurls a lawn chair, sits down. One police officer walks into the corner store. The other speaks to The Man.
“Can I ask you something?”
“NO! I TRY TO FIGHT. I TRY TO COVER EVERYTHING. YOU SHUT UP!”
The rest is unintelligible. I look above the city rooftops at a scintillating full moon.
The second officer returns from the corner-store with a carton of milk. He offers it to The Man, who takes it into His shaking hands. A guttural wail pierces the morning.
The Man stands up from his lawn chair, props the milk against the side of the building and chugs greedily. The sidewalk runs with creamy white fluid, and I grimace because I know it will spoil in the sunlight.
The Man then returns to his chair as the police observe him from a distance. He snorts and spits and heaves over the sidewalk, all the while muttering. Occasionally He stands to prop cardboard against the corner-store window, though it inevitably falls over. He stands to prop it up again.
A garbage truck squeezes past the police car on the street, and I realize it’s Friday.
Eventually an ambulance finally pulls up besides the trio. Paramedics take over the situation, gently coaxing The Man to receive medical attention, and finally there is peace. The police drive away and I shuffle back to bed.
“AAAHHHHHH, HELP MEEE!”
I want to cry. I peer outside my kitchen window again.
No police. No paramedics. Just Him, clutching a streetlamp and screaming.