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  • Jimmy Broccoli

Accident

I’m already over an hour late to work –

The asshole in the BMW behind me is honking and I can’t imagine why –

It’s bumper-to-bumper traffic –

and my car is inching, inching… inching towards my far-off destination -

So I decide to casually eat a breakfast bagel from the bag without cream cheese as we inch along…

 

20 minutes later, the three lanes to my left are merging with mine –

it’s slow – but, I’m patient –

I’m so late to work I’ve stopped stressing about it –

I look out my car window and see the firetruck blocking the other lanes –

then my car inches forward… slowly – and I see three police cars –

and 2 vehicles disturbingly twisted and mangled

- with bodies inside (I cannot see them, but know they are there – or were there recently) …

and the ambulances are not in a hurry to leave –

no one is rushing -

no lights on top of the emergency vehicles are flashing –

 

… a few years ago I learned this is a bad sign

____

 

… on that day my best friend lay, motionless, on a stretcher, his skin grey –

the EMTs put him into the back of the ambulance –

lights and sirens on full alert…

 

The ambulance remains in the parking lot for another 35 minutes

[35 minutes is an excruciating amount of time to wait]

I asked my best friend’s husband

(who was standing beside me in our apartment complex parking lot chain smoking) –

“why isn’t the ambulance moving (?) –

why isn’t it fucking moving (?) –

“Why the fuck aren’t they taking him to the hospital (?)”

“He’s fucking dying –

don’t they realize that (?) – “don’t they understand” (?) –

“he’s fucking dying”…

 

The ambulance, then, turns off its siren and lights

and sits, unmoving, in our parking lot with my friend’s dead body in the back - as we wait…

 

I, then, light a cigarette and sit hard upon the asphalt as though my legs can no longer support me.

My best friend’s husband starts to scream… and he screams like he doesn’t give a fuck who hears him (I suspect he is dying inside…slowly) –

and I don’t know what to do about that –

so I smoke my cigarette and stare at the ambulance (it’s still not moving).

It's then the hard (and previously unimaginable) truth and reality begin to settle in –

and that doesn’t make things better.

 

… As his husband continues to scream…

and he’s screaming like he doesn’t give a fuck who hears him…

 

I (internally) died that day – I died –

and, since, I am a wispy ghost (a memory) of the man I once was.

You see me move and you see my mouth move as I talk –

and you hear the words I speak

because I am moving and am talking out of habit.

 

Since that day, I am habit.

 

And nothing else and nothing more.

____

 

The man in the BMW behind my car honks again –

and I wonder why people are such assholes,

as we continue to inch towards our various destinations

I look slightly behind me at the non-urgent scene –

I look at the twisted and mangled cars –

and the bodies within them (or within the ambulances)

no longer breathing, no longer feeling,

stationary – not moving – still…

as if Life pressed “pause” and they are just waiting for Life to press “play”,

so they can move again

 

The dented misshapen metal and the deformed and broken plastic –

The broken glass all over the interstate -

they are no longer breathing –

they are no longer thinking or feeling

- and these thoughts haunt me for hours…

____

 

I arrive to work 40 minutes later

I am calm – breathing normally, walking normally –

my boss glares at me as I pass his office on the way to my cubicle

 

Everyone in the office sees me –

they will soon ask me questions and hear me talk –

they will see me typing words upon my computer screen using my keyboard –

my mouse clicking from page to page to page – as I do my work –

They will see me drink coffee and will see me walk the reports to our manager’s office

and they will see me (through his office window) handing the reports to him.

 

What they don’t know is that I (internally) died on January 31st, 2021 –

(the anniversary is fast approaching)

the day the ambulance was in no hurry to leave –

the day my world fell completely apart –

the day I became an echo of the man I was prior to that day…

 

They do not see – they do not realize that I am dead –

as I move about – (not wanting to, but still) pretending to be alive

An echo of the man I used to be

 

They do not seem to realize – inside – I am already dead

 

How can they not see this?

 

How can they not see that I am nothing more than habit?


Photo: Jimmy Broccoli. Photographer: Solomon Doors.



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