Friday, May 16, 2008

Confusion (Love the One You’re With)

Category: Issue 10

A lot of disasters have been happening all over the world.  I was just trying to imagine what it would be like to be in one.  Most of the people who get hurt are just living normal lives, as we say.  And it doesn’t matter if it’s a natural disaster or a terrorist attack… I’d be confused.

I’m not thinking about anything except I am thinking about confusion, possibly.  This must happen to other people as well.  It’s not a complete panic-stricken confusion, where lights are flashing and explosions are right over there, and someone is crying for help while you’re standing there… holding a puppy, who’s still alive, but clearly has a broken leg, and is yelping.  What are you gonna do?  Put the puppy down.  Put the puppy down?
Lay it down at your feet and walk away as it limps, howling, after you?  RIGHT. 

Let’s face it.  You are not going to put the puppy down, in spite of all the things going on around you, in spite of the humans who are shrieking and waving their arms and bleeding and crying.  This little puppy body grinds itself into you, in its own unreserved instinct for self-preservation.  It whimpers.  Of course you don’t put it down.  You’d do the same for a kitten, a calf… a baby, a woman or even a man.

But the puppy got there first.  Que sera sera.

In the course of all this confusion, what have you done?  You’ve made a reasonable decision (“Love the one you’re with”).  You’re still standing there with this stranger, this unknown, injured puppy in your arms, realizing that you are making reasonable choices in what looks like a war movie. 

Except it’s not a movie.  It’s real. It could be a war, or it could be something else.  This doesn’t come up right now.  You’re a civilian with a puppy.  Neither of you has a clue. 

It’s really just a lot of people screaming and crying, and buildings that don’t look the way they looked before.  Buildings that aren’t there.  Things are in places they don’t belong.  Just before now, the buildings and the cars were there, on the right sides of the road; and the puppy was just something vaguely cute and fluffy that made it into the corner of your eye as it trotted optimistically across the street before you, on a leash at the heels of someone… who was someone… who suddenly is… no more.  But before that, you were just crossing the street in the other direction.  Then suddenly. 

It crosses your mind like idiocy to try looking through the pockets of the puppy’s erstwhile owner, which pockets are lying in view before you, about three yards away.  The person has had his head bashed in by something, and doesn’t actually have one anymore.  Not a head to stand on.  You don’t want to go over there.  You decide that, too.  Que sera sera.  This owner won’t be coming to look for this dog, any time soon.  You can post an ad in the newspaper later, just for show.  If there is to be a show.  If there is to be a newspaper. 

Since you are thinking so clearly, you decide that you can’t actually be confused in anything like a literal sense.  None of this has taken any time so far, and you recognize this.  The fact that you can’t hear anything except the sound of your own thoughts is interesting, considering that before your eyes, this visual cacaphony of waving and running and weeping is taking place.  Also interesting, because you can hear the puppy whining, and the sound of your own breathing.  And some of the screaming.  Alarms going off.  More screaming, swearing.  People demanding help, as if the world owed them a living. 

And in your arms the puppy squirms, then squeals in agony as he moves his leg.  And the world gets smaller again.  Bigger and smaller.  You had better find out what is going on, and you had better find a phone, if there is one, and there are a few people you absolutely must call right now.

And you had better look after this puppy.
As gently as possible, you flip him on his back and support his leg.  And you are going to stalk off, through all of this, and do what you have decided to do, and deal with your confusion later.