I saw a dead body last week. Not in a controlled situation like a funeral or an anatomy class. On the street. In the middle of the street, in fact, having previously been hit by a car driven by a man that didn’t see him. It was at an intersection of sorts. “Of sorts” because though it was indeed the intersection of two streets, it was somewhat less of one in my mind due to its absence of lights or stop signs. There was a crosswalk, though; and, in retrospect, the painted lines really do little to protect those within them. One of the man’s shoes was in the crosswalk, another halfway across the intersection, and the man himself was laying on the other side as if he’d actually been trying to cross from that side. He wasn’t crumpled, or broken oddly that I could see. He was simply laying in the street, very very still, and covered mostly with a sheet.
The driver of the car, not drunk or anything from what rumors had circulated, was leaning casually against his wrecked car staring at the dead body that he had just created, lying some fifteen feet away. He would lean casually, legs crossed for a bit, looking awkward, then straighten up and look severe, then try to seem calm again shifting his position…but nary did his eyes leave his creation. I wondered what was going through his head at that moment, and my best guess is…absolutely nothing. White noise. Static. Complete mental overload. His girlfriend (presumably) brought him a bottle of water from a nearby liquor store, and stroked his hair and back as she handed it to him. They tried to have a normal conversation. They had been going somewhere before this incident. The person lying in the street had been, too. Now, white noise.
Later, realization. How was your night last night? Fine. Get up to anything? Saw a movie, killed a man.
For the rest of his life, he saw a movie and killed a man. Does that not seem odd to you, too?
I’d like to think that witnessing death gives you perspective. It does…temporarily. Very temporarily. Within 10 minutes, I’d already told an inappropriate joke and followed it by an even jokier, “Too soon??”. I am a bad person, and my own life keeps tick tick ticking away.