At work yesterday we called 911 because we saw these two teenage boys beat up a homeless man. Or something. I didn’t see it happen. It happened so fast. I just saw the old dude laid out on the pavement and two kids running away. I think the kids were running from the marta station and it was Friday afternoon and they were racing. The street between our two warehouses looked empty and the breeze felt good and they couldn’t have known they were being watched. Our office is on street level and people routinely stop in front of our windows to pick their teeth in the reflection.
So the guy is spread eagle in the middle of the street, not moving. Should we call the cops? Everyone in the office was standing at the window watching with the thrill of disbelief. Was it worth it? Getting the police involved, getting ourselves involved? Was he worth it? What appeared to be an emergency to us could be just another day, another sordid episode to him. Then the dude managed to push up to his elbows and we could see the wide bloody splotch on the back of his head. It dripped. Me and the other woman pirouetted away from the window. Yes, let’s call. And get an ambulance.
Isn’t that the way it is with emergencies? It’s broad daylight, you’re thinking of getting to work or getting home, there is a noise or a phone call and you just refuse believe what you’ve seen or why its happened. You dwell in that moment of disbelief for as long as possible. You muster up the energy to care. Banality makes a stubborn retreat as the story takes form in your head. The victim is ambling down East Cleveland Ave, the kids are skittering away, looking over their shoulders, his Braves cap is upside down in the street.