by S.D. Jones
I heard a voice as I unlocked the front door;
fumbling with the unfamiliar keys.
- Hey, hey, up here it said,
but there was no-one.
It was coming from the top of the stairs
of the shack next door.
I thumped my way up,
unsure if I was doing the right thing,
but I didn’t know
and I try to help where I can.
There was a man sitting on a plastic chair
his back to a frayed screen door
a leg outstretched and badly wrapped,
he didn’t look well; thin and unfocused.
- Hey, hey man can you do me a favor?
Sure why not, I thought.
- Can you get me some vodka?
- Hit by a car, I need something for the pain
- But don’t tell Greg okay?
He needed a doctor, not vodka
but he couldn’t afford it;
he was waiting to see if the insurance would pay
from the crash but it didn’t seem likely.
He'd been on a bike and was Mexican
the only thing worse is if you’re black
or gay, or muslim, or Indian,
it's all pretty bad
especially in that neighbourhood,
though we were only a few streets from the yachts
and the big mansions.
I’d said I’d help so I drove to to the store
where the black woman pointed to the one-dollar vodka
when I showed her the scrap of paper
he'd given me
I thought about just getting him
the bigger bottle
but I wasn't sure, so I drove back
(strange the driving there)
and went back up the stairs.
- Thanks man, he said, and, where you from?
- Ah yeah man, kangaroo, kangaroo
I left him talking
and wondered, as I went down the warped stairs
to my front door,
what my girlfriend would think,
was he an addict?
Maybe I wouldn’t mention it
but would ask about her friend at work
the one who might not be able to afford her chemo
But then we’d have to think about that man
and the people who love him
and the hate and the spite
in a place that’s so warm
and that invites daiquiris and cigars.
No I wouldn’t mention her either, the friend,
she would probably die
of her woman’s cancer
and by then we would have left
and we might be able to forget about it,
all of it, though it isn’t likely
because I can still picture my neighbour
who got hit by a car.
S. D. Jones is a Swiss/Australian writer currently living in France. He has recently completed a MSt in creative Writing at Cambridge University and is now working on his first novel. Examples of his writing can be found at Short Fiction Break, Typishly, and STORGY Magazine.