Cracked grey sunshine filtered down through broken windows, show-casing dust particles that floated lazily through the spot-lighted air, onto my face.
The others shifted, shapes twisting this way and that, attempting to warm themselves as numb air floated through holed ceilings. They rose one by one glancing over each other, stretching, and sniffing themselves then recoiling at the stench. One ripped sleeping bag lay empty, stares were exchanged.
Jess was the first one to question it, he always was. All looks passed to me, as if they expected a definitive answer.
Not sure. Didn’t notice absence, till mentioned. Jess looked at everyone else.
Do you think he went to go find food?
Nothing to eat here. Not out there either. He huffed
You’re no help. We need to find him.
No one answered him, they just began to pack. One of the multiply whores Jess had “rescued” from the street, shoved her bag under her arm and hopping this way and that, looped arms with Jess, her eyes studying his face, exactly like a street rat was taught to do.
We probably should just keep moving I bet he’ll catch up later, he does know where we’re going. He looked at her
Leaving the ware-house was simple, like leaving every other complex that was planned for demolishing, that was only seen by the underworld, that was rat, and disease infested. They were easy to enter as well. Ignored crime scenes of vandalism swirled against doors that were cracked and broken, slipped easily through one of the many holed walls, to enter the crooked lighted side-walks be yond. The silver sun gleamed behind over casted clouds. Rain should be falling, but it held back, and built up more and more in the grey clouds.
The empty concrete ravines made for the trails, of an un-walked path. Bags bumped against ribbed spins that stuck out too far, reddened dehydrated eyes swilled back this way and that, as paranoia crept its way through them. Passed the shadows already, shouldn’t have been nervous, but still they were. Waiting. For something already passed. An hour in, no Floyd. Jess stopped completely.
I want to find him, something doesn’t feel right. His strained voice mixed with the sound of cars, echoing off the ravine.
No, we should keep moving, it was his choice to break off, not ours, his mistake not ours. China-face said sternly, voice gravelly from not talking since warehouse.
China-face was newer; he didn’t stink as much as the rest didn’t understand as much as the rest. He was another “rescue” founded on the dead streets of D.C thieving from corner girls distracted by politicians, who perched on God’s words then turned their backs from grace as the world covered its eyes. Jess shook his head, and rubbed his eyes in frustration.
He’s our friend we should find him.
Need to keep moving. Walking past them I continued on the shiny grey sidewalk, China-Face was not far behind, while the other two stood, shoulders together watching us walk away.
Wait, shouldn’t we discuss this first? China-Face, walked next to me, he eyes looking for some response emotionally, or physically.
Nothing to discuss, keep moving, always keep moving. We were getting closer to the over pass, its shadow stretched farther than the eye could see ahead of us.
Come one you guys! Jess and his whore were jogging to catch back up with us. He was panting as he joined us and bent down a little to catch his breath.
All I want to do is find Floyd.
Suddenly a black shape above the shadow of the over pass, caught my attention. It was too small to make out. Turn, take just a few steps closer. Narrow eyes again. Bright orange backpack, seen that before.
I found Floyd. They all turned and became silent, as the dark shape of Floyd, dropped neatly from the balcony of the over pass. The whole world seemed to get quiet, as his body, arms stretched out like wings, descended onto the concrete below, a stick-like cracking, that came as he hit the ground, echoed against the walls, of the concrete ravine.
Eight hundred meters. They run. All three run, toward the slumped shape of their friend below the shadow of the overpass. Their bags banging against their backs, arms moving in a motion that should carry them faster than they’re actually going. Follow them not too far behind.
Jess drops, bag and slides down next to Floyd. He’s gasping as he turns him.
Christ…Look at his face. Mutters whore.
Close enough now to get better look of their broken friend. Smashed nose, one eyes sunken in, other eye wide open as he stares blankly into the silver sun that is already beginning to turn the bright red blood that smears his neck, brown. Jess doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t even look at Floyd, just up into the empty sky. The silence seems to be enough.
The rumble of cars is the only thing again heard in the shadow of the overpass. All stand quiet; eyes adverted from their dead comrade. But something is wrong. China-face sees it first.
His chest. It’s still moving. All glance down. Jess lays him back on the concrete and presses his ear to Floyd’s chest. He sits back up his eyes grow bigger
He’s-he’s right. We have to find some medicine somewhere.
The abandoned hospital across the bridge, it was evacuated so they left a lot of stuff there. Bet we could get there in time. It’s only about an hour away by foot. Mutters of agreement rippled back and forth through the group.
No. My suddenly entrance into the conversation caused an expected change in the demeanor of the speakers.
What do you mean no? Jess stood up, his shirt was stained with already dried blood.
Too much weight. Can’t carry him, so need a cart. Don’t see a cart of any sorts around here. Besides he’ll be dead before you make it a mile. There are other things that can be gotten done, instead of trying to bring back the already dead.
So what? You just want to leave him here, like a rodent crushed by a car. Jess has stood up, his eyes are angry.
Prefer the term dead person to rodent, but yes leave him is what I was getting at. Jess lunges. His teeth mashed together like a dangerous animal. Fists tightened, so blue veins can be seen on the edge of his palm. China-face grabs his shirt and pulls him back.
Whether we like it or not. She does have a point. How do we know that he’ll even be able to make it? If we go and he doesn’t it’ll be an unnecessary detour. He looks at Floyd on ground, raspy delayed breathing, seem to compliment China-Face’s comment. He lets Jess go.
The only way we can solve this is by taking a vote. We can leave him here, or go across the bridges to get to the hospital. What do you think Vessy? He turns to look at the whore. She signs and take’s Jess’s hand in hers.
I’ll go along with whatever Jess thinks is right. She glares at me.
We all already know how you feel. The whore says with a snarl. Then she looks at China-Face.
I guess you’re the tie-breaker. He scratches the back of his head.
I think……We should find a cart or something like she said. He gestures at me. And then take him to the old hospital, but if he gets really bad, we should find somewhere safe to leave him. Theirs is a mutter of agreement throughout, and they all look at me. Don’t protest, it would be dense to leave them, I have no choice but to follow their decision and kept mouth shut.
All right, Vessy and I will go find a grocery cart. In the meantime, Con-lin use this. Jess throws one of the worn blankets to China-Face.
Try and slow the bleeding while we are gone. The two, turn slowly, as if they expect a word of disapproval from me, but I stay silent, and they leave. I join China-face on the ground next to Floyd.
You know they hate you. He glances at me.
Jess especially. He regrets letting you come with us.
Not my problem. His. China-face signs, as he tucks the blanket underneath the groaning Floyd, pressing it against the bloody marks on his sides.
I defended you and you can’t even muster up a thank you?
Shouldn’t have. Never done the same for you. Never will.
You know you could try to act the slightest bit human. I don’t bother answering him. We sit in silence, the afternoon sun begins to fold the day into a darker end, a colder night is coming then last night, don’t have a lot of time.
Thirty minutes. Forty minutes. An hour. Floyd is still breathing. The noise of squeaky wheels breaks the silence and brings both China-Face and I to our feet. They slide down the wall of the concrete ravine with an old grocery cart that they attempt to keep it stable.
They roll towards us, Jess with a grave look in his eyes.
We stole this, so we better put him in and get a move on.
I doubt anyone is going to come after you because of a stolen cart. China-Face says pulling Floyd to a sitting position and inspecting his face.
You’re sure we can move him; I don’t want him to get more hurt when we pick him up. Jess looks nervous, as he bends down to look at Floyd, who has nothing but a blank stare in his bruised eyes.
We’re going to help you buddy you’ll be fine. Wraps his arms around Floyd’s arms, and China-Face, holds him through the armpits. She dances back and forth, in a sort of spotting method, that probably won’t work if it becomes needed. They hoist him and place him as carefully as possible into the slightly too small cart. Floyd moans, but doesn’t move.
The ravine has become darker, the silver light of the sun almost gone behind the skyline of the buildings in the distance. The shadow of the overpass no longer refuses them. Its black shade has touched the wheels of the red cart.
Now the dark trip begins under a cloud covered moonlight that barely lights the ravine.
Pick the way through the empty concrete path, breath coming out in whitish puffs that a sliver of the moon lights up. All the sleeping bags all the blankets have been piled onto the somehow still breathing Floyd. Jess insists on stopping every fifteen minutes to make sure he is okay. They will never get there in time; he’ll be dead before they know it. What a mistake of decisions. A pointless day lead to a pointless, sleepless night. This is useless, and if they do not realize it soon, I must force them into realization.
Everything is quiet; a chill runs through the steel woods to the left.
We’re getting close. There is the bridge. China-Face points. Across the grey-lite ravine it is seen, the large steel iron bridge. That stretches into darkness that no stars can light up. It leads to an empty old shit of a town, with a broken hospital. That’s where they want to go, across the bridge, across to end a pointless endeavor. The air beneath is black and empty, matching the blackness of the midnight sky. Nothing is below, and as they see it nothing behind. Jess and China-Face shift the cart to the right to place it onto the bridge, and begin to cross. Go last.
It stretches over a black abyss that glares up into the starry sky, while the sky glares back down into it. Emptiness below, Emptiness above.
The road is cracked beyond the bridge. The buildings are even more cracked. No noises. Walk along. All know the hospital is close. It was in the inner city, as the steel structures get more jumbled the closer the hospital is. Floyd’s breath had slowed, they want to hurry. But it’s too late it always was too late.
The cracked asphalt takes a sharp, blind, right curve that swings around a large pile of steel that blocks the view. Around the curve. There it is somehow still standing, against the midnight sky. Jess is starting to look frantic.
Come on help me push him inside. All three push the cart the last four hundred meters close to the hospital doors. There open cracked doors. Shove the cart through, into the main lobby. Gross ripped apart, pieces of black molded paint hanging from the black walls. The desk covered in dead papers and once alive plant leaves.
You guys go into one of the empty rooms down that hallway, find one with an open window, so we can see by moonlight. Jess says as he immediately goes to the desk digging for something while pointing down the bloated hallway. Two follow his directions, and I am not far behind. They check every room muttering as they do; every room walked by has no window, just dark blackness, with unknown shapes within.
Here this is going to have to do. They stop. I stop. Roll him in. It has a large hole in the wall giving way to white stars on top of clouded sky.
It’s an operating, room, a damaged lamp hangs over, broken, on a table covered in brown sheets that use to be teal. The wall are as bad as the ones in the lobby Broken tools laying around the floor, with pieces of glass and paint. A table strung with silver scalpels, lays on the ground, in half.
They clear off the operating table, China-face muttering in disgust as the blackened sheets fall to the floor. Floyd is gasping now his eyes rolling back into his head. They quickly lift him onto the silver platter, and inspect his blood ridden shirt.
Quick. We need something to stop the bleeding like clean sheets. The whore and China-Face run around the room, panicked. Digging through cabinets and drawers.
Watch Floyd. They say. Make sure he doesn’t stop breathing. I bend down, as they hustle around the room. The scalpel, slightly rusted.
You are a burden. Do you know that? I say to Floyd. He twists in pain, gasping more harshly. We would be back by now if you were not here, and if you stay, we must stay as well. This is for the good of them all, though they will never see it. It’s true.
My arm comes up, and tightens as the scalpel comes down almost about to smash Floyd’s neck.
Jess screams he tears at my hair, and down, onto the dirty ground.
Don’t you fucking touch him, you crazy piece of shit. He’s screaming now. My hands are bleeding with shards of glass. He has a big pipe in his hand China-Face and the whore are next to him, moonlight gleaming against their grey outlines. China-Face yells.
Jess, don’t! And smack, heads on the ground now, wetness is dripping out. I knew they would never understand.
Going into darkness, forever and for always. Their voices echoed, in an empty white purgatory.
Did she hurt him! Did she hurt him!
Jess…..He’s cold. He was gone before, she tried anything.
He was always gone.