Thursday, December 29, 2011

I can still see him as I found him on the morning when he died. He had not been dead long. In fact, I think he was still alive at 0530 when I radioed in to start my shift. I think he was still alive at 0545 when I ordered coffee and a bagel at Dunkin Donuts, but he may have already died by 0600 as I was driving southbound on North Main Street.

By 0630, when I was dispatched to his house on Nason, he was definitely dead. They would later determine it was a heart attack.

The dispatcher's voice seemed oddly dispassionate and matter-of-fact at such times. It always struck me so. Such news was meant to be screamed or delivered between sobs.

I clomped up the stairs, and across the porch. The screen door squeaked a mindless welcome. Didn't it know? As I tracked snow across the carpet the dog barked and snapped at my boots before a concerned neighbor, who materialized from somewhere, intervened and put it out. The dog would not let me go near the body. The widow cried and cried, as you can imagine she would. She kept asking, "What should I do?" There was nothing to do, and I told her so.

I can still see him as I found him on the morning when he died. Naked on the toilet, and slumped to the side against the wall. His penis small. His eyes blank. His mouth slightly open. One foot flat on the floor, the other turned on edge. His face drawn and pinched. His frame abandoned, emptied and left behind. He looked used up. Done.

I found a deposit of semen gathered in the bottom of the toilet bowl, which I flushed without mention. It has always been our secret. No one would have benefited from the knowledge.

1 comment:

Annie said...

So shines a good deed in a weary world.
This was a very powerful retell. And I know it wasn't your point, but the secret you kept was a true gift of grace.