“You know what mom? This place doesn’t seem so bad.”
Was the last thing I said to her before I looked down my 42nd window floor to see a dead man in an alleyway. I saw a person walk over and stare at him, and as soon as I noticed him, he noticed me. I don’t know if I can say they yelled, but the figure definitely said the statement loud enough for me to hear:
“Don’t call the cops.”
I quickly removed my face from the window, just before I asked, he already answered.
“He’s not dead.”
And that was supposed to be it, there was no reason for me to go playing around with dead bodies or the strange people who stare at them. But I don’t know if it was the sense of guilt, a need to be heroic, or my feeling of slight boredom that day, that brought me down my four flights of stairs in my battered brown coat, and standing on the opposite side of the alleyway – the opposite end of the dead body.
It was only 4 but it looked like 6. If the strong breeze was any colder it would’ve pierced through my skin. The city’s cracked bricked buildings were pressed so closely, the alleyway could barely be given that title. There was just enough room to fit a few trash cans, some stray cats, and apparently its newest tenant, a dead man. He laid there in a disheveled Nike hoodie that he matched with some beaten up gray Adidas sneakers. His shoes matched his rumpled hair – well at least most of it, the ends of his strands were a mixture of blacks and blues.
I started walking towards the staring stranger but stopped myself when I remembered what the situation was.
“How do you know he’s not dead?!”
I decided yelling from a distance was the safest option in this unsafe position.
“Cuz he does this every week.”
As they turned to look at me, I noticed the stranger looked a lot younger up close, probably only a little older than me. On his feet were brown house slippers, and on his face small rectangular glasses. His big furry hood covered his forehead and he dorned this look of apathy – or maybe it was a slight annoyance.
“How do I know you’re not lying?” I squeaked.
“Well what, you wanna touch him or something?”
“Okay then.” He shifted back his focus to the man on the black concrete and tapped his foot impatiently.
“Actually you know what I will touch him.” I stated stupidly.
He gestured his head to the body, almost as if he were saying, ‘Be my guest.’ I slowly started closing the gap between me and them. The streetlights beckoned me to go home with each step but I was too distracted to listen. As I finally got to the body, and reached down to see if the body was breathing, I suddenly heard a jerky grunt that made me trip backwards into the wall. I pulled back quickly but then realized the sound wasn’t coming from the man, but rather the boy, who was now laughing loudly. I started to brush myself off.
“It’s funny how you find death so humorous.”
“I’m telling you, the mans not dead.” He said, still amused at what he would call a joke.
“Well then what else is a grown man doing on the ground face down in the middle of winter?”
I almost laughed at that response but seeing the boy’s face turn back to annoyance, I decided against it.
“That sounds like a pretty extreme tactic.”
“Well my grandpa is a pretty extreme guy.”