Around this time last year, I went to a therapist and got EMDR for my PTSD. Everyone I know has PTSD. I think it’s a side effect of modern life. We’re not meant to experience this much. In the sessions, I had to imagine a place that was totally safe, where I would always feel good. I imagined a garden, with a rough stone wall, and two fig trees. The sun shining down the way it had at the beginning of all time. Plants change so slowly. There’s really nothing to keep track of.
Summer. 2001. My day off. All of a sudden three or four hours were gone. Walking down Broadway. Things that shouldn’t have taken any time, then I look at my watch and it’s almost night. What was I doing? Inside the emergency I was fine. And in the bus. As long as I had my medic uniform on I was right there. I knew what to do. And what I might have to do a couple minutes later. I could always do it.
A typewriter striking. Tick. Tick. Tick./The O full with ink, like the moon.
Sometimes I really do think that none of this was real. Twenty years working the busiest medic bus during the crack years. Then go home and not ever talk about it. After the first year I only talked about work to my partner. I think I forgot something and all of a sudden it shows up again.
Is raining?/Yes is raining.
We were the most violent unit in the city for a while. It’s like it all got mashed into a spotlight and the spotlight is inside me and when it turns on I see little things I didn’t even know were there: A man who looked like he had small barbells driven into his face to deform it. The woman under the stove. A girl with the swastika carved into her, a boy in a car, New Year’s Eve, screaming, all his skin was gone, like Mister Invisible. Dead boys on top of him. I have flashes of Lucy and me running towards something, but it’s all in flashes; my fist around the scoop climbing someplace. How my boots looked standing on a toilet seat as I lifted a dying man off it.
Taped around a lamp-post uptown./All the crazy posters.
In the club there were guns everywhere. The victim was large, lying on his back I was the only one talking to him, the others were getting the backboard. He asked if he would ever walk again. He got shot 30 second before. He couldn’t move his legs. “You might,” I said. It was such a small bullet hole in such a huge back. How did it hit the exact spot to transect the spine like that? All for fight over a girl. In a bar we had to walk the path a bartender was marched to his death. He was cuffed, his eyes covered. They led him there. He gave them the money and they shot him in the back in front of the open safe. Sometimes I feel like I’m mixing it all up. Did I really open the bag and see the foot in it, under the Conrail? Or was that some other leg we found to reattach? It had red painted nails. When I walked I mainly didn’t pay attention to my thoughts which is why I lost so much time. I must have been walking and walking but never getting anywhere.
Is raining hard?/Yes is raining hard.