I flip open the lid and look inside. The smell of wet paper and decaying meat hits me in the face and I purse my lips together tight trying not to breathe. With caution, like I am expecting something to jump out at me I gingerly begin to move things around. Lifting away wet letters on the verge of crumbling under the weight of themselves or tearing soft and silently as they slowly reveal what is hidden underneath.
Not really too sure as to what I am searching for. Not really too sure as to why this large black bin has called my attention. For a few seconds I hesitate and look up turning my head left and right to see if anyone is looking at me. No one. I do this hoping to have some kind of interaction. I yearn for the contact and I want someone, anyone to pick a fight with me or at least act like they know I am here. People walk by with their heads down.
I am large and noticeable. I wear a flurry of white plastic grocery bags intricately tied and woven together. Their ends are frayed and torn like shredded tatters of lace and chiffon. You could say that I resemble a form of urban neanderthal or cave man that finds his way among the wreckage long after the impending apocalypse. The plastic protects me from a number of things and it whisks away my urine easily. It rarely needs to be washed beyond me submerging myself in a fountain or other water feature the city has to offer. My hair is short and matted, I trim it frequently to avoid the lice and itching. My skin is like iodine and glimmers with a sleek layer of sweat and oil.
I keep squirreling through the top half of the bin and pick out a few things that catch my attention. A half-full bottle of pills with a woman’s name on them “Virginia Williams” I say it out loud as I read it contemplative and in the moment. To me it sounds like the name of a movie star or news anchor. I take a few pills out of the gold plastic bottle and swallow them to see what happens later. I bury the rest in a canvas book bag slung over my shoulder. If they kill me so be it, but to be honest lately I have been feeling virtually indestructible.
I step off the curb and leave the lid open on the bin. There is a long row of many more but they don’t interest me. Just this one. The street is empty and for a few seconds I really don’t know which direction to head. I have no place to be or any kind of routine or agenda. Most of the time my schedule is unfilled and impulses dominate my behavior patterns and destinations.
I walk down the middle of the road and stretch my spine by raising up my shoulder blades as high as I can. It feels good except for the strap of the canvas bag digging into my neck from the weight of its contents.
I pick up a dime and a few half-smoked cigarettes. It will be busy here in a few hours. Busy with zombies that are completely unaware of my reality, the real reality. The one that the planet’s inhabitants are so shamefully ignoring. To me life is easy to define. It’s like the Matrix movie without the scary creepy monsters – everyone is blind to what is really going on. They are all missing it, except for a chosen few. For the next few hours I will have most of the city to myself, without the flurry and rush of scrambling monkeys chasing the dollar and living in the dream of a Pepsi commercial.
More wandering, hunting, and thinking. Always thinking.
Something catches my attention in the distance. A soft whimper. A muffled random cry or expression of distress. I can’t get a bead on it and for a few seconds I strain to hear better. I turn my head and freeze up in hopes to clarify the signal.
“Jesus Christ will you all just shut the fuck up!”
I turn my head again and strain to hear harder. The birds have stopped chirping and the world has silenced just enough for me to filter out what I am trying to target. Yelling at the world seems to work for me. There it is again a far away distant plea for rescue or expression of desperation and dire need. I take a few steps forward and backward. I press my hands to my sides and bury them in the large volume of plastic bags that protect my middle. I transform myself into an antenna, a tuning fork of sorts and plead with all of my intent to decipher the origin of this anomaly.
A random cyclist winds by me and rings it’s bell in response to my standing in the middle of the road.
“Jesus Fuck, you fucking bastards!”
The cyclist is female, I can smell her sweet honeysuckle musk in the wind of her momentum. The corner of her animated skirt brushes against the back of my hand as she passes. It distracts me and I wish I could fall into her like a soft clean bed.
I hear it again and I turn quickly like someone just tapped me on the shoulder from behind. Taking a few steps down a narrow alley I stagger like a toddler, my ears leading me in a desperate intent.
The alley narrows and without any further clue or sound I blindly walk deeper between the buildings. The way is littered with abandoned kitchen appliances like toasters and coffee makers without carafes. There are rain water swollen MDF night tables and dead chairs with their guts hanging out. A refrigerator with the doors off. A small meat freezer with plywood where the lid used to be.
Impulsively I walk up to the freezer and push away the plywood. Two desperate eyes look up at me. A small dog, not sure what breed. Larger than a cat. Small enough to carry. It lunges at me and I jump back startled, then I reach in and pick it up. It smells worse that me and it pees all over my arms. I press it close and look around. No one. Nothing. I walk out of the alleyway holding the dog close to me, buried in the soft volume of plastic bags.
We walk to the park and I set the dog down near the water fountain. It drinks desperately and looks up at me. We spend a few seconds making eye contact and it makes me think that this dog is trying to tell me something. I dig through a few park garbage cans and find a half eaten hamburger, a chunk of what looks like a roti, and a sandwich in a ziplock bag. The dog eats it all mechanically without any hesitation. It has no collar or harness and seems to be uninjured.
I sit on a park bench and set it down beside me, continuing to lock eyes with it. The sun is breaking and the city is starting to move faster. The dog just sits there looking back at me and I am entranced by its attentiveness and what seems like a desperate need to communicate with me.
“What? What is it?”
There is no answer. Just the intent look back and a few shifts in its posture, trading it’s weight from one side to the other. The dog looks like some sort of pug terrier mix. It is stocky and muscular with a semi-flat face. It has a few scars and cuts on its one side, but overall seems somewhat intact beyond a few missed meals. It’s tongue lops out one side and it has a bit of a rasp when it breathes.
I just sit there for an hour or so looking at it. The dog moves closer to me and leans its weight on me. It pushes itself close enough so that we are touching each other. It falls asleep and I just sit there for a few hours waiting for it to wake up.