Monday, April 30, 2007

And So He Died, Jackie

You know how he died. It's like we always thought he would.

Alone.

With nobody to help. Hold his hand. Call an ambulance.

An animal mowed down by a truck in the middle of the street, messy roadkill to be cleared up and disposed off.

Did you know when they broke the door down, they couldn't find his wallet? His IC? It's like he didn't have an identity, didn't really exist. More than 20 years in that tiny room with few friends, walking out for meals, coming back and stripping to his big underwear, trapped in the closeness of his room.

Some of Igor's friends came after, and they ransacked the room. Helped themselves to the pitiful trinkets there. He had no family. At least, none around. They left him to die alone in a tiny room, after all. I saw one bottle of Brown Brothers wine. Probably saved for a special occassion. In the hands of a Malay boy who advanced threateningly on Elliot who backed away barking.

I came up and stood next to Elliot, arms folded, face menacing.

"Ada apa?" (Is there anything?) I growled, thankful for my imposing girth. The Malay boy with the stolen wine bottle (two sins, not one, you fucking hypocrite!) backed away arms raised in a conciliatory manner. I remained there, glowering, until he left with the rest of Igor's thieving friends. Elliot took refuge behind my legs and continued barking. Maggotty remained under Mom's car, uninterested.

The boy who lived in the next room, the one who gave Maggot and Elliot the rubber duckies, the one who displayed his trophies in the window for us to see, the one who looks at us with eager friendliness, said he heard the gasping, the coughs, the grim rattle of death. He told the (ahem!) landlords who declined to do anything.

"Leave him. He has heart problems."

Julie contended that this inquisitive boy could have called an ambulance on his own volition. Or at least knocked on the door to ask if everything was OK. Could have done something at least. But in a house full of rented rooms, everyone is shut off in their own sealed compartments. Their lives don't intersect.

So he didn't.

And so the old man died, Jackie. Exactly like we thought he would. Alone in that room, a heart attack, a black body bag (Mummy says it was like the garbage bag she buried Bobby in), a stained mattress.

And that's it.

7 comments:

Erratic Scribbler said...

even after reading your blog for a year now i am still amazed at how well you encapsulate such emotion in such subtle details.

amazing.

jackie said...

Words fail me. Hopefully he's now in a better place than he was the last 20 years.That young guy should move out before that horrid place sucks him in.

goldennib said...

Your writing always draws me in. Some lives seem like they are just marking time and seem so sad. You have given him to the rest of us and we can mourn him.

hot coffee girl said...

You have an amazing ability to be lovely even in sadness.

I envy you that.

Susanna said...

That's sad. Very sad.

It's so true. We live so close to one another but are so uninvolved, sealed off behind our walls because we are afraid to become too involved, afraid of what it may demand of us, afraid to care...

Time to break that trend.

Grey Shades said...

Sometimes you know the place is driving you nuts but you jus cant get the hell out!!! Hows you doing lady? Been ages since we spoke...

Jenn said...

erratic scribbler: Thank you. Coming from you that's a huge compliment.

Jackie: Any place (even hell) would be a better place. Or maybe he was practising for hell.

Nessa: I never thought of it like that. But if that's true - then I'm glad I wrote it.

HCG: Thanks dear. You needn't envy me anything seeing what a great writer you are.

Susanna: I don't know how to.

Grey: It would have to be during a weekend. Really! I am out late nearly every night. Very tired.