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