Callous Bastard

Callous Bastard

out walking
in the park
broiling
on the blacktop
of an august
afternoon

a younger woman
was walking
on the steaming path
several yards
in front of me

we came to the tunnel
under the road
i could see
in front of her
something was wrong

inside the tunnel
a man
was kneeling
over someone
lying unconscious
on the asphalt
in the shadow
inside the tunnel

as i walked around them
callously
i noticed
it was 
another young woman
much like
the woman
walking in front of me
who'd walked right past them
so callously
too

i noticed 
some liquid
all around 
the woman
lying supine
in the tunnel

water?
i wondered
or 
had she voided?
sick
from the heat
an overdose
hypoglycemia
or epilepsy?

as i'd approached them
i could see
through the tunnel
the ambulance
firetruck
police and park ranger
their vehicles
and the emergency personnel
making their way
to the scene

so i kept on walking
another mile or so
back to the lake
where i planned
on having
a seat by the water
enjoying a beer
with a hope of wellness
to that gal
and thankful
in the moment
for being able
to enjoy
that drink
instead of being
in that circumstance
of hers

weeks later
i told some guy
about this scene
he asked
what did i do?
i told him
about finishing my walk
and enjoying
that cold beer
by the lake
since it was
so godawfully
hot outside

"you didn't follow up?"

"no," i said

"exactly what i'd expect," he said
in disgust

"exactly what i'd have guessed"

but what was i 
to do?
how was i to help?
what should i have wanted
to hear or see
lingering around
like some
morbid
creep 
or stalking around later
cyber-ghoul
style?

i work in a hospital
i see
the results
of disease and illness
every day

and i see
the aftermath
of accidents
as i drive
on the highway
and i hear
emergency vehicles
blaring horns
flashing lights
regularly
as they dash
some poor victim
of health or violence
past my home
off to the city
and i never think
to scan the newspaper
to see
who the victim was
or what
their outcomes
were

so i suppose
it makes me
some heartless
callous bastard
instead of a sympathetic buzzard
though i suspect
this guy
wouldn't have done much sleuthing
had he come upon 
that woman
a vehicular accident
or an ambulance
blaring by
in the night

i figure
it mostly
makes him feel better
to think
what i should have done
instead of
what he 
would 
or
more realistically
wouldn't
have done
either

he
wouldn't have reached out
to the family
at a funeral
or even
sent flowers
or a card
or 
tracked down
that girl
in the hospital
to offer her
well wishes
or support

he'd wouldn't have done 
any of it
or anything
except
feel
better
about himself
for doing
just a little more
by pretending to himself
to care
which is more
at least
than not
even
pretending

it's a tough thing
being around
insincere and melodramatic
guys like him
making me
feel like shit
with his moral preening
faux 
transparent humanitarianism
like cheap cologne
covering up
the stink
of his own
unwashed asshole
and
callousness

it's tough
being around
guys like him
it's the kinda thing
that sometimes
makes me walk past
a possible tragedy
without much concern
or consideration
just walking on by
for the reward
of a hard earned drink
sitting by a lake
on a godawfully
hot
summer 
day

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