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Street Conversations: Wires.


wires



Wires.



You okay?


Not really.


Yeah… Smoke?


Thanks.


Mind if I sit?

Thanks.

Lighter?


Thanks.


That was one fucked up thing, man. I’m going to have to go back to therapeutic painting and hide the reds after this. Maybe get drunk or something. You want a drink, let me know, I’ll buy you one. It was a good thing you did. Would’ve been hard staying with her until we got here through that morning traffic. Reckon it saved her, though.


You cut off her legs.


They were mashed into the frame of the car. Shafts of metal had pierced and shattered the bones. They were all tangled up in the mess. She was bleed—


Jesus.


Sorry. It’s just all in my head, you know? Still, you did the right thing.


I’m sure she’ll send me a card when she wakes up without her legs!

Fuck.

Sorry. Just. Fuck. I’m sure sending me a card will be the first thing she thinks about doing once she finds out what happened to those kids. To her kids. I’m sure she’ll think, I should send that guy who stayed and talked to me a card. Good thing I still have my hands.

A fucking card.



Maybe not a card.


You should’ve just let her die.


That’s no easy call to make.


Sure it is.


You don’t know what you’re talking about.


You ever make it?


Couple of times. Sometimes it’s easy. When half their head is missing and everything exposed is blood and bone and the eyeball is somewhere near the spinal column. It’s just cruelty to stop nature then. Just let them slip away.

When it’s like this, it’s different.

Couple of years back, I came to a wreckage a lot like this. Semi trailer, station wagon, woman, kid. All kinds of fucked up. Kid had lost her head. Pipe went right through the neck. We came upon it first on the street like it was a bad movie prop. In the car, the Mother had caught the same pipe. It turned her shoulder to dust, severed her spine up at the neck. Some other debris had speared into her right eye and left it a pulpy mash. Was ugly.


Fuck.


Yeah.

She could’ve been saved. Her quality of life though—her quality of life would’ve just been shit. So my partner and I helped her along. But the whole thing got stuck in my head, you know? I could’ve saved her, but I—but we—decided that her life wouldn’t be worth anything.

She’d thank us if she could, we said.

Spine breaks like those don’t have long and happy lives, we said.

The two of us had all sorts of reasoning after we had done it. Eventually, I just decided I needed to go to the funeral, so I did. After it, I introduced myself to the family, told them lies about how I wished I could have done more, about how sorry I was.


That go well?


No. That did not go well.


The family wanted her back, didn’t matter how hurt or broken. The loss of two generations was just too much. It was too big. Too intimate. Like someone had just ripped through all their flesh and removed a vital organ from each of them. Every person in that family was bleeding from an identical wound that would never heal. All they wanted was her. They needed her. Didn’t matter what kind of state she was in.

Can you imagine that? Here I am, standing in this tiny reception hall with cordial in a plastic cup, wearing my best suit and trying to have my conscience soothed for easing this woman’s pain. But that isn’t happening because they’re all lost in their pain—which I didn’t even think of as I sat on the curb and loaded the syringe.

I didn’t think of any of that.


I wouldn’t have wanted to live.


Me neither.


But it’s not the point, is it? Making that choice fucked people up. Maybe if they’d made the choice, it would have been different. They would’ve seen her, seen how horrible it was… But they didn’t. My partner and I did. Just a couple of strangers, really. No matter how you look at it, a stranger deciding what’s quality for someone hurt and if they should live or die, that’s fucked up.


Yeah. Maybe.


No maybe, man. That’s for family.


I keep seeing those kids.

She was taking kids Bibles some place. There were three boxes in the back of the car of these tiny, colourful books. Each was full of reds and oranges and purples and greens. God had this amazing white beard.

When I got there, the books were everywhere. Mixed in with the blood and flesh and metal of those three kids in the back of her car. Oldest couldn’t have been more than ten. I just stood there looking at these really simple sentiments about a white bearded God loving us and—and just three kids, you know?


I saw some scraps of paper. Didn’t know they were Bibles.


I couldn’t stand looking at them. Chucked what I could.


You religious?


No.


Me neither.


Don’t suppose I ever will be.


Yeah. Even if I did, I don’t reckon I could work up into believing in an interventionist God.


You quoting Nick Cave at me?


Yeah, in a way.


I never did like Nick Cave.


Me neither.





(Street Conversations is an eight part series, updating every Wednesday (or so I say). Photos and text. This has been Part One.)

Comments

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deborahb
Feb. 9th, 2005 12:20 am (UTC)
Thanks, Ben. Absolutely chilling.

Also, can I have my shoes back now?
benpeek
Feb. 9th, 2005 12:43 am (UTC)
i told you what would happen if you left them here.

anyhow, around my streets, shoes are getting tossed onto lines. it's kind of odd. you drive through the streets early in the morning and the only things out there are shoes.
mariness
Feb. 9th, 2005 12:29 am (UTC)
Wow.

Chilling and raw.

Where are the next seven?

benpeek
Feb. 9th, 2005 12:45 am (UTC)
who knows?

but thanks, anyhow. hopefully i'll be able to get the next seven to work.
bodhichitta0
Feb. 9th, 2005 02:49 am (UTC)
I like. Muchas.
benpeek
Feb. 9th, 2005 05:00 am (UTC)
ta.
buymeaclue
Feb. 9th, 2005 04:16 am (UTC)
Phooey. No one I quote Nick Cave at _ever_ catches on.
benpeek
Feb. 9th, 2005 05:00 am (UTC)
have you traumatised them beforehand? maybe that's the trick ;)
future_conduit
Feb. 9th, 2005 07:08 am (UTC)
kapow.

i see shoes on power lines everywhere.

and have i told you lately that you have one of the most disturbed imaginations i've ever met?

keep it up.
benpeek
Feb. 9th, 2005 09:54 am (UTC)
thanks.

me, i don't reckon it's disturbed. it's all normal far as i'm concerned. possibly why everything seems kinda bland.
(no subject) - future_conduit - Feb. 10th, 2005 08:07 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - Feb. 10th, 2005 12:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - benpeek - Feb. 11th, 2005 12:48 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - future_conduit - Feb. 11th, 2005 07:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - Feb. 11th, 2005 09:50 am (UTC) - Expand
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joey_j0jo
Feb. 9th, 2005 08:32 am (UTC)
Very cool.

How does the shoe actually end up on the telephone line? I mean, everyone I ask, they have no idea. So, any ideas?
benpeek
Feb. 9th, 2005 09:55 am (UTC)
it's actually two shoes. you tie the laces together on each shoe and toss it up, and it catches and hangs there.
(no subject) - joey_j0jo - Feb. 9th, 2005 11:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - Feb. 9th, 2005 11:37 am (UTC) - Expand
speshal_k
Feb. 9th, 2005 10:06 am (UTC)
This makes the published dross I was reading this morning seem all the more inferior.

Great picture too.
benpeek
Feb. 9th, 2005 10:17 am (UTC)
heh. published just means someone paid for it. doesn't mean it's good. but thanks for the niceness.
chrisbarnes
Feb. 9th, 2005 10:22 am (UTC)
That's a scary and intriguing pair of conversationalists there, Ben. Good stuff.

In fact it made me look at the shoes on the wire and instead of thinking, "oh look, more shoes, why do people do that", I thought "shoes hanging from a wire. They're like a metaphor for relationships. You hitch yourself together, you soar up into the bright blue sky with all the world at your feet, then one day you realise you're just hanging on day by day over a vast abyss of hard, cold concrete. Eventually, you let go and fall."

So again, well done. :-)
benpeek
Feb. 9th, 2005 10:27 am (UTC)
okay :)

that's not what i was thinking when i took the photo, but i like it when people can put their owning meaning and context to something.

glad you liked it. seven more to go.
studebakerhawk
Feb. 9th, 2005 11:53 pm (UTC)
I like very much. For some reason Francis Bacon kept popping into my head, which is odd, as i don't like Francis Bacon but i always dig your writing.
benpeek
Feb. 10th, 2005 12:19 am (UTC)
well, i guess there are worse things than francis bacon references. not, i must say, that i've read any francis bacon.

anyhow, glad you digged it. seven more to go. hopefully i can get the level of them to improve.
(no subject) - studebakerhawk - Feb. 10th, 2005 12:33 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - benpeek - Feb. 10th, 2005 05:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mariness - Feb. 11th, 2005 11:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - Feb. 12th, 2005 05:28 am (UTC) - Expand
ceret
Feb. 11th, 2005 02:54 am (UTC)
Ben, I meant to comment on this the other day when I read it, but ran out of time.

Good thing I did, because now I've had the pleasure of reading this a second time.

Nice work. Thanks for giving it to us :) I'm hanging out for the rest now.
benpeek
Feb. 11th, 2005 04:42 am (UTC)
thanks. it's always nice to hear nice things.

i'm actually feeling kind of good on the other seven, in the raw form i have them. it's going to be interesting to look back at them in eight weeks and see if they hold together. even if they don't, i got to do something different. something someone wouldn't pay me to do.
(Deleted comment)
benpeek
May. 7th, 2005 03:30 am (UTC)
hey, thanks.

feel free to look round. it's a public blog--meaning i kind of write it to be consumed by anyone who passes by. so look round, do whatever. it's that kind of place.
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