This part of the river is popular for suicide attempts. But if you go early, it’s not usually this busy. A twenty-something woman writhes on the pavement, her right leg splayed at a gruesome angle, her face contorted with pain. Huddled over her are three friends whose idea of help after a night of drinking is to yell, “C’mon! Stand up!” That’s the problem with people who are used to putting Velveeta on enchiladas. They can’t tell anymore what’s culturally appropriate. I just want my heart to stop shredding like a flock of gulls being sucked into a plane engine.
I’m going there to see if something comes next . . . if Opening Day is really just 100 days away . . . if the Russians infiltrated spies and saboteurs into our thought processes . . . if the semicolon is universally detested for being cantankerous and has been abandoned by everyone . . . if Jesus is hanging on the cross because we want him to be . . . if the sun has spilled red ash and traces of the killer’s DNA . . . if the highways are crumbling, and if when I ask at the tollbooth which route is the best route to take, they’ll say they don’t have to tell me.
As someone who grew up around here, I have a magnifying glass for examining things that people bring in or that I find on the street. One day it might be the bloated carcass of a dog; another, a teddy bear like the one my sister had when she was little. Today an older couple came in with the alphabet prowling around them. The noise in the room was overwhelming, but I thought I heard him say modern homes burn 8x faster. Then I glanced out the window, and there were so many fires I couldn’t even see the sky.