It's cold outside. And in certain corners of the house, it's cold inside, too. There is sandalwood incense burning, a cat at my feet, one at the heat vent, and a cup of coffee in front of me. The incense and the light from a candle give the illusion of warmth even though I'm cold from somewhere down deep in my bones.
(note to reader: this didn't happen in the last hour, but it is what happened in the hour before I read this week's prompt.)
The day before yesterday, I walked to my bus stop to find a man sprawled out on the downtown concrete. He had a gash on his head from falling and the only sign of life was the slight but occasional movement of his ribcage. The guy was in a bad state. The temperatures were in the single digits. For a minute I just stand there looking from him to the glint of skyscrapers until a cop drives by and I wave him over.
We talk about the weather and cold concrete and how they find that guy drunk with blood on his head every week and how he should have been dead a long time ago. I am, shortly after, joined by 2 more cops who agree.
Eventually, they get him into a sitting position. One of his arms doesn't work. Maybe it's fallen asleep. He's crying and drooling. Something between a whimper and a wail escapes from his open mouth--it comes from his core--no words, just the sound of truly a lost thing.
After declining an offer to wait for my bus in the squad car (no way, thank you very much), the youngest officer tells me I should stand inside the bus shelter, out of the wind where it's warmer (where the drunk guy is). I do, but immediately regret my decision. I wait off to the side, in wafts of the man's alcohol stench and hollow howls. The cops spend the time chumming with me and, when my bus finally comes, one of them pulls out a hand full of paper from the pocket of his crisp, blue shirt and hands me some free metro tickets. Oh, good idea, they all clamor. Gentlemen to the nth degree. They are flirting with me. Competing for my attention? It's been a long day and all I want is to get home. 2 days later, I keep thinking about all those jokes and laughter and slow dying.
And, I'm sorry; I have nothing profound to offer with these words..words that are nothing except an observation of the ways that we end up in places we don't belong. The sort of places where living and dying collide--places where we tell jokes or withdraw or drink ourselves senseless. The ways in which we do little more than just try to get by.