Sunday, March 14, 2010

Blackbirds Screaming

Mood: nauseous, shocked.
Lip-syncing: Ludo -- The Horror of Our Love


As lovely as it would be to survive on my art alone, I am forced to work other jobs until...well, whenever I can. My part-time clothing retail position is one of them. Located in the mall, it's one of those typical, minimum wage employment places.

Except today wasn't a typical day.

Walking into work today, I expected it to be a regular, somewhat slow Sunday, especially with the gloomy, rainy weather. Even located at the bottom of a staircase, pedestrian traffic tends to be moderate at the most. And my short four hour shift lived up to those expectations. It wasn't until five minutes after closing time something happened to shake my world.

Having just served the last few customers, I was kneeling on the ground, locking the entrance to the store to let us remaining employees clean in peace. To lighten our mundane work, we often attempt to keep light, joking banter between everyone. However, just as I was pulling out the door keys, I saw a dark object in my peripherals just as a low thud resounded. Confused, I turned to see a body lying a few feet from our door. I watched as an employee from the store next to us dashed out to the unconscious man on the ground.

It was only a few seconds, but it felt like hours as a puddle of blood pooled beneath his head. As the other employee quickly lifted his head out of the fluid, he turned to me and yelled something about falling from the top floor. I blinked. Then my instincts kicked in, screaming out to my manager to call an ambulance.

My hands were shaking as I rushed to unlock the door, sliding out through the minuscule crack as the it slid open. Skidding through the crimson liquid, I collapsed to my knees next to the man on the ground as he began to regain consciousness. As the other employee and I struggled to hold him still in his waking movements, the man raised his head.

There is no way I could tell you what he looked like. His face was smashed in, features next to indistinguishable from the blood streaming and caking the entire surface. He shifted one hand enough to hold his unhinged, and though I have no official medical training, what I presume to be broken jaw in place. We held him still, despite his sobs of pain, for fear of spinal damage until the paramedics arrived.

I still cannot fathom everything myself. Bits and pieces of the situation keep appearing, flitting through my mind as the night wears on. I would not believe it myself had I not just stripped off and tossed out my blood-soaked jeans.

I feel sick.

I'm not quite sure how else to feel. Or respond. I've no idea how this man came to be on the top story, how he slipped...or perhaps why he jumped.

I'm not sure what to think.

It's always startling to come face to face with mortality. Do not think I delude myself with immortality or illusions of grandeur and strength. I know I'm human. I know how vulnerable I am, to others, to the world...and to myself. We all are. But to think of it every waking moment would be ineffective.

To wonder and ponder our weaknesses and mortality is a waste of time and effort. This is not to say one should ignore personal drawbacks and flaws, only to see others as inferior. No, the conclusion I've come to is bit of a cliche. Always easier said than done, but to live life to the fullest is an honorable pursuit. To enjoy every moment you have, to ignore the threats of life -- within reason, of course; don't go skydiving without a parachute -- is, I find, honorable. An amazing way to share your passions, to be enthusiastic, to live your life.

To pursue your dreams, to love, to have no regrets is true happiness. And perhaps that is the way to have have the blackbirds of death sing, instead of scream.

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