Blood on the Sidewalk

I was having a rough night—faced with an early deadline, I kept waking up constantly in the middle of the night, convinced that I had somehow missed my alarm.

At about 2:50am, a loud noise woke me up again. Or maybe I’d woken up seconds before it erupted. In any case, something broke the silence on the street and suddenly there was a man calling out for help. What struck me as odd was the fact that his cry was not the first sound that came from him—instead, it was his description of what was happening to him. He declared, in dispirited surprise, that he had slashed his hand and was bleeding profusely, and now there was blood all over him—or all around him—a disturbing sight, anyway. Then came the screams: Help! Help! And then an exclamation of disgusted disappointment over the fact that the street remained dark and quiet in spite of his distress.

Then, a car stopped. I know this because a blinking light filtered through the blinds, projected onto my bedroom wall. A female voice tried to check on the man, and he described his situation, but then he pushed her away. Maybe she had come too close to him. Then her voice came fainter from a different spot. Suddenly, the street started to glow in different colors. It was then that I decided to get up and try to catch a glimpse of this strange scene. A car parked by the curb, facing the wrong way. A colossal fire truck in the middle of the street. A policeman pointing his flashlight at the floor. Trees, like huge “[redacted]” signs, blocking out the rest. I moved out to the home office, partly because I wanted to try for a better view (no luck), partly because it was time to get to work.

I don’t know how it all ended. All I know is, at some point I realized I had been working in complete silence for a while already. Outside, the all-too-familiar darkness.

Now, see—there was a problem with this story. Throughout the ordeal, I had this strange feeling that the voice I was hearing might not be describing reality accurately. I can’t quite explain—something was off. I never got to see the whole thing, but the scale of the response didn’t seem to match the emergency that I heard unfolding. But who was I to tell—I was just a fragmentary witness.

The sun drenched the street in light when I went for a walk after completing the day’s work. There was no trace of blood on the sidewalk.


What Is Old

In my mid-20s, I met a man who was seven years older than me. He was sad and tired. He felt old. Well—he was old, I thought, convinced that in seven years I’d be old as well, and then I, too, would be sad and tired.

Seven years went by, and then a couple more. I am no longer in touch with the man, but every now and then I notice I’m neither sad nor tired. I don’t feel old. I don’t think I’m old. I’m so glad I was wrong.