Hearing Voices

I am walking. It is the big city, the New York City. I’m alone, looking at the people around me. I am not afraid. It is night time, but I don’t fear things like that. 

Ahead of me a girl with fashion model-like clothes. Swishing, poignant, making a statement. So many people talking out loud. I always check to make sure there are earbuds, so I know that they are on the phone. A young black man, angry, defending himself, “My mother says no I can’t make it happen but fuck her I know I can do this.” A strong-legged girl shouting, “If you can’t deal with my feelings then just forget it.” Greek tragedies played out on cement for us all to see. No one is concerned about privacy. I’m here now and this is what is happening, you can listen in or not. 

I walk with intent. I always do. And then I see him, just a half step ahead of me. “Yeah, well, no, you will never get it. You fool. You know nothing! I can’t ever explain it to you.”

I walk with Half-Step-Boy and observe. No ear bud on the left side. Hmmm. I saunter to the right to check. Nope. Nothing there.

Ah for the time when we knew that people talking out loud were the crazy ones.

So now I am sure. He is crazy. No iPhone, no ear buds, no electronics. Only the electrical charge emanating, agitating, disrupting my…my what? Oh god it is my cervix. That is where I feel it! The place where it happens. The sperm enters; maybe a person, maybe nothing. Maybe a beautiful boy who veers terribly off course and loses his mind. (I have one of those myself.)

 oil on canvas                                                                                                         Nicholas O'Rourke

oil on canvas                                                                                                         Nicholas O'Rourke

I walk for three blocks, a half-step behind Crazy Boy. I summon the genetics of his mother and tell her that I am here. I am beside him. I hear him. There is nothing I can do, but I am next to him, trying to carry some little part of his burden. Her burden.

He screams, and people stare. The noisy night shatters into silence for a minute. I can see it disperse into the air: his mind, his agency, his future. I want to jump up and catch it, return it to him, but I know that is impossible.

I walk, one half-step behind, and gather the detritus, because I know it is not garbage. It is his soul.