it’s not unusual

Occasionally I don’t really know what to think about things.

On Tuesday night I was on my way home from watching the new Dukes of Hazzard movie with Glen and Robert, it was closing towards midnight, the weather quiet after scattered storms throughout the day. I look around the empty T-junction and turn onto my street, still smirking at the laughs I had from the film, when I see an old Magna parked in the road straight ahead of me in the No Standing area outside the block of shoebox flats on the left. Folks would normally pull into the carpark out front or at least not park in front of the bus post. As I’m coming closer the driver turns on their hazard lights, so I indicate to go around, I give a wide berth and as I slip past I hear the horn begin to blast. I’m rolling down the hill while they bang the horn and I start to wonder what the deal is. I can see my driveway.

Possibilities start to rush through my head, it’s dark and cloudy, maybe they need some help. I pull a U-turn through the roundabout and cruise slowly back up the hill. As I rise over the crest my eyes look to the car, now facing me and lighting up the road, but I catch a glimpse of something in the road ahead of me near the kerb. My focus changes, I swerve around it and look down as I pass. It’s a body.

I pull on the brakes and stop the bike after the next driveway, and take off my lid. My leg swings over the bike and I turn around. It’s not a very big body. There’s a nervous quickness to my step as I move towards the body shouting. No response. I stop, standing over him. Long pants and coat, short back and sides, a man no more than twenty with an Eastern appearance. He isn’t moving. Half of his face is planted on the bitumen and I kneel down to get closer, looking for where his jaw joins the skull, and I put two fingers to his neck. I hear the door of the car across the road crack open and I look up to see a woman, early forties, starting to move towards us.

“I’ve called an ambulance.”

“He’s got a pulse.” I call back. He’s still quite warm.

The lady approaches, and explains how things occurred.

“He just stepped out onto the street,” she says, “he took six or seven steps, then he just collapsed. I was too afraid to get out of the car.”

I try and rouse him again, but he doesn’t respond. I don’t believe he’s just drunk. I move closer, putting my hand towards his face, then my ear, trying to see if he is still breathing, when he moves his left hand a little and lets out a whisper of a moan.

Relief washes over me.

I shuffle his legs around to finish off the coma position he had mostly fallen into and huskily, he groans a few words.

“I don’t want to live.”

Another car pulls up, behind me this time, and another older woman steps out. She gets the summary of events and then goes back to her car, saying she has a blanket in the back. I notice how cold it is outside. I ask if she knows any first aid. “A little.” she says. No more than me.

She covers him mostly up, still whispering his preference to be left to die. The two ladies try to reassure him, telling him not to say things like that and that people care about him. I just stand silently, I can’t think of a thing to say. He coughs once or twice. A foamy spittle starts to dribble from his lips as his legs begin to shiver, and then shake. A moment later his whole body is fluttering uncontrollably. Fitting maybe, going into shock, I’ve not done a lot of this kind of thing before.

I start trying to remember first aid training. My certificate lapsed last year when an accident interrupted my plans to renew.

A moment later, the headlights of a Mercedes van turn around the bend up ahead. The ambulance has arrived. With the calmness I would expect from an answering machine and just as routine, one of the officers leans down and begins talking to the young man, now only twitching with an occasional shiver. The lady in the Magna goes back to her car and leaves, while the other Ambo starts to ask me what happened. I recount the turn of events, and the other things I was told. Finally she asks “Do you know him?”.

No. No idea.

She says they’ve got it from here, and I move back to my bike. When I’ve turned the bike around to head back towards home, the two of them have lifted the boy between their shoulder and are carrying him into the back of the van.

At the bottom of the hill, I roll into the driveway, parking behind the house. I step inside and put my bike clothes on the floor. I move into the kitchen and begin to boil the kettle. I start staring at the curtains. I don’t know what else to do.

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