A speculation of a sad day
His heart was racing in his chest, but he was trying his damndest not to show it. He played it off as if he was always drenched in sweat. I have a condition, he had rehearsed in his bathroom mirror. Just in case, he told himself. Pit stains were already a common occurrence in his day-to-day activities; today was different, however.
To be completely honest, he wasn’t entirely sure what he was doing in this line. He was outside a brick building, roughly 20 people late. It seemed as if there were three doors from which to choose. He couldn’t remember which was the right door for him, but he had a feeling he had known before.
As the line edged forward, he discovered two men directing the line. Center. Center. Right. Center. Left.
I guess I have no choice. Of course this only increased his anxiety. He couldn’t take the blame if they jacked it up for him. Something told him he wouldn’t have another chance.
Vincent held his wrist out when he arrive at the front of the line, as he had witnessed the previous victims do. The first man - tall, dark, and bulky - counted Vincent’s pulse. The second man had what appeared to be a portable metal detector, held the foreign object up to Vincent’s chest.
After a moment of stillness, they nodded at each other. Two different answers came at Vincent at the same time. One said left, the other right.
Just go through the center.
With less and less confidence by the second, Vincent stepped forward as the two men parted for him. He reached for a doorknob on the center, but there was none. He looked back, the two guards with squinted eyes and tense movements. Before anyone could get a word out, he heard the hinges squeak. Hesitantly, he stepped forward.
Vincent now has a garden for roses and lilacs. He no longer lives in his single bedroom apartment. He doesn’t miss it too much. Every now and then, his chest will tighten and his stomach will maneuver into knots as he recollects his mutt who got loose a while back. That dog was his whole life. If only that SUV had been driving a little slower…
After he felt like he had been there long enough to ask questions, he began doing just that. He started with the elderly lady who had gotten him started with his rose bushes. Her name was Terry; she had been there longer than anyone else, according to her.
He invited her over for tea, after learning her favorite type was chamomile. He made biscuits and little doughy cookies, too. As they munched on their pastries, he felt himself sweating for the first time since his experience with the door.
Before he had even formulated the question in his head, she interrupted his thoughts. Your dog… He wasn’t the only one to pass that day.
Vincent sat in silence, reluctantly letting tears rise in his eyes. He remembered running into the street, holding his dog’s bloody and bruised body in his arms. He remembered screaming and calling for help. He remembered the honking, the yelling - so much yelling. He was paralyzed in the road.
Eventually, he rose from his knees. Still holding his deceased companion, his knees shuddered as he made his way back to the sidewalk.
He can’t remember anymore than that.
Do you want to know how you did it?
No… Do you do this for everyone?
How can you stand it? Watching people come to the realization--
I ask myself that every day.