April 1, 2010

Wet and cold

Night before last I was walking to the E train on 23rd street. It was cold and spitting rain. Just before going down the steps into the station I noticed this older man standing alone on the corner, wet and motionless with a blank, vacant look on his face. I stepped under a restaurant's awning close by to watch him. He stood there, completely still for a few minutes, and then suddenly pointed a finger to the sky and started barking out strange growls and grunting noises. Sort of like the sounds Danny DeVito's character the Penguin made in Batman Returns. I started to walk away at least ten times but couldn't stop watching him. Partly out of concern, mostly out of curiosity. It was getting late and the temperature was falling and it began to rain harder. About an hour passed and he was completely soaked. As he growled and pointed, his pants began to fall down from being soaked and heavy. He tried to pull them up with one hand still pointing with the other. Two people approached him asking him to step out of the rain but he didn't even acknowledge them. At one point I asked myself, "We're both out in the rain, wet and cold. Even though he's disturbed he seems to be fairly content. Who's the crazy one here?" Finally, after an hour and 15 minutes, I called the police. They arrived 7 minutes later and tried to talk to him. He was off in another place and didn't respond. I spoke to one of the officers and told him that I was the person who called. They said they knew who he was and were calling an ambulance. He was suffering from Alzheimer's. As I walked down the steps to the train I could hear the siren off in the distance getting closer.

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