Bells sang and lights danced in colour, emotion radiated from the electric glow. I stared at the wall, shadows bounced in each direction, fighting to escape the chains of the cold concrete. Christmas. Didn’t feel much like it. With my parents at work all the tradition and delicate planning fell through the cracks, leaving me playing babysitter for the night. As I looked out the window, snow drifting downwards merrily, there came a panicked knock at the door. With each blow the door groaned with a sense of desperate urgency.
I jolted upright and felt for the knob. As the door crept open I was met with the face of a neighbour: hands shaking, body quivering and eyes glassy with fear. “Please come,” he stammered out in a thick accent, “my fr-fr-friend, he is sick… help!” The words rang out into the air like wisps of smoke and struck me, before he could finish I found myself racing down the poorly lit hallway. The words “here, quick please” echoed out as he directed me through the door into a room filled with thick cigarette smoke. With a grimace of pain my eyes adjusted, I caught the sight of a man sprawled on the couch shaking uncontrollably and muttering unintelligible things.
Time stopped. In half a second a hundred questions were asked and answered. I knelt against the battered couch, placing my hand on the man’s neck. His heart thumped a groaning monotonous beat, a sluggish jackhammer against my fingers. The man had been drinking, finding happiness by the bottle, the smell lingered in his clothes. I picked up the phone and punched in three numbers, the dial tone was muffled by the sound of anguished gasping in the distance.
... war. They call their troops (friends from next door), collect supplies (three six packs and a package ... course plans follow a different list of priorities. Men believe it is important to know the Stance.That ... is really a She.There are great differences between men and women, some of which are cleanliness habits ... . One is the helpless, quivering mass that men like to call vulnerable and female and the ...
Soon a voice crackled through, “911, what is your emergency?”
“His breathing is laboured, but constant.” I shot out the information in a tone of unversed routine, “I put him in the recovery posi – wait, he’s waking up.”
“Alright,” the voice answered calmly, “he won’t remember where he is, I’m sending a bus to your location. Just remain calm, everything will be alright.”
The man tried to sit up, but I pressed down and he rose only a few inches before falling backwards. I looked back up at my shaken neighbour, he was sobbing uncontrollably, hands jumping back and forth to an invisible melody. Seconds ticked away. Soon sirens pierced the tense air, softening all other sound. I was afraid. Not of the man and seizure, but of the ethereal calm that seemed to resonate within me.
The wheels of a stretcher creaked as they rolled over tile, an orange blanket swept over the side of the metal frame, two paramedics walked into the smoke filled room. The first of the two, a stocky man, let out a resigned “I know you,” as he eyed the man on the couch. As he methodically assessed the oblivious patient he recalled, “I’ve picked ‘im up a couple ‘o times before, he’s a regular for me. ‘Is family was killed in a car accident a few years ago,” the medic explained, “only ’e lived.” I watched as they placed him on the stretcher, eyes glazed with fatigue and resignation. “The man lost everything ‘e knew before losing ‘imself,” he uttered half-heartedly. The light in the hallway flickered as they wheeled him away, tossing dancing shadows menacingly along the walls.
As I looked back out the window, red and blue streaks glittering in the blackness, bells playfully wailing, the cold air biting at my nose… it struck me. Life is so very fragile. We are all built on a foundation of chaos, and when we fall, we are left with only chaos. We will all fall. What makes a man walk away from his mind?