Hitotoki-Hankou and Jiangxi Rds, today

by hellowatch

I saw a dead guy today. He was in his early forties, dressed in the collared blues of a workman’s uniform. He was lying on the pavement at the base of an office building. I stopped to watch him from behind the fence. His legs and arms were bent and contorted in such an odd position that to see them, one just had to stop. If you can imagine: his left elbow and right knee were pointed directly upward, as was the limp hand of his right arm, on which his head had fallen, and his left knee was bent and flat on the ground. It looked like he might be a swimsuit model adjusting her pose for a steamy photo shoot. That is, if you block what you’re really seeing and feeling out and keep your shallow wits about you.

Only a small crowd had gathered, and I had already been there for a minute when the building security guard ran out from the lobby and onto the scene. The body on the pavement was very fresh. I could hear other onlookers whispering to each other, wondering whether he was dead or just sleeping. I mean really? Sleeping? I kept looking at the mangled man – and looking away again. My mind was suddenly bombarded of images of his sweet smiling wife, and their bright young kid. I made up their faces, smiling – and then screaming.  What they would suffer in the next few days. How beautiful they were, and how they would suffer. Suffer and spend the better part of their lives trying to forget. How would I suffer? My wife? My own child?

“Shake it off, man.” I said.  I tried to shake it off.  I kept on walking. But as I moved along the angle of my view changed and I was compelled to stop again. I saw his eye. That glazed shining eye, looking out and through the very soul of anyone with the ability to think. That cold, piercing eye contained the entire universe. I confronted in that eye the only real truth that anyone will ever know. It was truth and it was wise. I stood there staring, waiting for it to blink. But I knew there could be no blink. Ironic isn’t it? that a shutter closing off the light and casting the world into darkness would be a miraculous sign of life. “Blink man, blink! They’re doing wonders with prosthetics these days. You could sue and buy that apartment for your parents” I told him.

The crowd had now doubled and one guard was sounding off boorishly at another guard, gesticulating wildly, arms flapping and pointing, screaming, jumping, above the man on the pavement. But there was no blink. I left.

Walking away I thought again of the man’s wife. His eye. His child. My wife. His eye. My child. His eye. My god, his eye. My life.

I flicked away my cigarette and decided to take the man on the pavement as a sign of good luck. What else are you going to do?