A Distraction at 57th and Fifth Avenue

The following is an updated narrative poem.

Mental Health
Credit: zodebala

Joe Vega is a lost young man who cannot find his memory or the light in his eyes. Nor the sounds of his past. There is no way back and no map forward. He is stuck where he stands. Void of any purpose except this moment.

Blood pooling at his wrists. He opens his mouth to hear nothing but silence. 57th and Fifth Avenue. It’s 3 o’clock. 1966. Invisible to them, the crowds rush past him.

He’s late for work. Chock Full o’Nuts Coffee Shop splashing cups on customers and flipping those greasy half-beef patties onto stale buns while smiling uselessly. Hopelessly. It’s a future that will not arrive.

No, he’s just going to throw himself down at the feet of New York’s finest, directing traffic in the middle of 57th and Fifth Avenue. The symbol of a civilized society, the guardian of order, protector of the law. He’ll take care of things. He’ll know what to do, how to help. This really wasn’t a badly botched suicide attempt begun in Central Park on a knoll overlooking a quiet, placid lake. No, it’s more like a cry for help.

That’s what they will later tell the nice busy policeman minding his job and not thinking about someone falling, scrawling with their bloodied hands on his long blue coat with the silver badge glinting in the afternoon sun on a fall day in the middle of Fifth Avenue encircled by the rush hour traffic crush and a №49 bus vainly attempting a left turn onto 57th Street blocked by hundreds of New Yorkers zombie fast-walking to stale jobs and the latest personal bankruptcy sales at Bloomingdales and Macys. Slowed down by gawking tourists (Look, Ethel, Tiffany, Bergdorf Goodman, Van Cleef & Arpels).

Mental Health
Image by Pat McKane from Pixabay
They all stop. Distracted for a second in time. Dropping their jaws in awe at the sight of the young man with the red blood pooling at his wrists. Dripping a trail down Fifth Avenue. Falling with arms and hands outreached like he was praying to the skyscrapers before him. Barely shouting. Help me.

Oh, well, just another distraction in New York City. They move on.

Writer’s note: You are never alone. Someone is always there to help you. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. 1-800-273-8255.

Author: Antonio Pedro Ruiz

Antonio Ruiz is an ex-junkie-alcoholic, former seminarian, one-time radio host-producer, past community organizer, continuing to be a media advocate, retired television reporter, ex-commission executive director, once a street vendor of jewelry and gloves, waitron (waiter to you), a former bartender who drank too much on the job, an ex-motorcycle courier who learned to ride a bike just for the job, ex-airport shuttle driver, former Entertainment news director-producer, the best time of my life, one-time live TV events red carpet producer-executive producer, ex-small business consultant, ex-youth media and journalism mentor, and now a college student who also has been married three times (thirds the charm), and just couldn't help living with two other women because well, that's part of my story.

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