Friday, October 28, 2005

The dead man in the road

One time, when I was a teenager, I saw the body of a guy
who had just been killed by a bus. This was in St. Paul, out-
side the store where I worked all through my high school
years. I was straightening up some racks near the door
when a tall, black man rushed through the door hollering
about how we had to call an ambulance because the bus
just ran over somebody. The owner of the place was
working the cash register at the time and he was skep-
tical. He was a nice enough boss, but kind of paranoid:
whenever anything out of the ordinary happened, his first
instinct was always to consider it part of an elaborate plan
to screw him over. He was especially distrustful of the
people who waited for the bus outside the store. To him, it
only made sense that those who rode public transportation
would, as a rule, also enjoy conning and thieving from the
independent businessman. So, with the tall man standing
there shouting and panicking, he told me to go outside and
see what the hell was going on out there. Being a loyal em-
ployee, I stepped out and peered down the block to the bus
stop. There, in the gutter in front of the bench, was a crum-
pled up body. I couldn’t see his face and I couldn’t see any
blood, but it was obvious just from how he was laying that
he was dead. He was all twisted around and his back was
snapped and sharply bent. Further down the road, the bus
sat idling and a crowd had gathered around, pointing and
praying. I later learned that the dead man was an old
drunk who had been sleeping on the bench when the bus
pulled up to collect passengers. While they were getting
on, he rolled over and fell into the street. The bus drove on
then, crushing him beneath its back tires. I didn’t look at
him for very long. I rushed back inside and told my boss
to call someone, someone was dead outside, we needed to
do something. As he did, the tall man was shouting at him,
saying "You see? You see? You see?"