Thursday, December 4, 2008

a benevolent stare

As a bike messenger you can’t help but remain confronted with these obscure incidences in and between the lives of the explicit and that of the norm. It’s the sort of job that feels like you’re filling in the gap aligned with the ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ of such enterprises sparring no expense, as it were. So for the time being, all is good. All is downstream rolling straightforward until your day changes inexcusably. Something explodes in your face blinding your vision, your habitual nature with the thickness of a warm fluid. Blood was my barrier that day. And blood was what I saw.

This was one such an impartial day until I saw her lying there on the concrete sidewalk face down in a pool of her own rich and sinister blood, conscious and watchful, but shocked…


I remember the contrast of her pale white and wrinkled skin and the menacing colour of her blood streaming, pacing around the shoes of the huddled onlookers aiding her. Their questions were simple. But something anomalous occurred next. She then peered up at me with her lone visible eye. As if out of recognition. And for those few seconds of solitaire, I felt nothing. I mean, it was a horrifying unfeigned image, but I felt nothing. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not an agent of the bizarre nor do I believe that this image deserves any humanitarian response at all. It’s just that for those few seconds, for that tiny minority of existence, all reality felt clear. The surrounding air smelt crisp. All reflective senses…heightened.

I felt alive and vigilant like a lion would somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa hunting wild boars. Or like the jaguars in the rainforests of Brazil perched atop a plant infested rock precipice studying the forest floor layer attuned to their environment like sonar.

Relief washing over me wave after wave. The image burned, etched in my mind for good. Pure. Intense. Fair.

"The man who busies himself overmuch with the workings of his own soul cannot help being confronted by a common, melancholy, but rather curious phenomenon: namely, he witness the sudden death of an insignificant memory that a chance occasion causes to be brought back from the humble and remote almshouse where it had been completing quietly its obscure existence. It blinks, it is still pulsating and reflecting light—but the next moment, under your very eyes, it breathes one last time and turns up its poor toes, having not withstood the too abrupt transit into the harsh glare of the present." Vladimir Nabokov