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Thursday, 27 November 2014

Salinas

I’m at the Salinas Transit station sitting on a bench and waiting for the 12.15 bus to Monterey, when a young man walks over, sits down beside me and starts talking very loudly about needing to get himself to a hospital.
‘I need to get myself to a hospital,’ he says, ‘Because, you know, really I do not belong here,’
I’m looking down at my phone, looking up train timetables, so I look up from my phone and look over at the man, who is young and dark, stubbled and handsome and wearing a pair of jeans, a dark blue tee shirt and no shoes.
‘My mother’s in the hospital,’ he says to me, this time even louder, ‘So, I need to see my mother. I need to make a phone call,’
And then he goes quiet.
And I smile to myself.
And then, the young man, very softly he says to me, ‘I’m suicidal, so we’re talking suicide and maybe homicide,’
And then he screams - ‘Doesn’t anyone speak fucking ENGLISH here? I don’t fucking BELONG HERE, I don’t belong here in Chinatown,’
And, startled by this, I give a little involuntary shout and stop concentrating on my phone and look up from it and look around the Salinas Transit station.
There’s a curve of beige columns going nowhere.
There are bench seats, there is a blue sky, there are lonely buses parked and shadows cast in one long direction.
And Nobody is talking.
We are all stood far apart and everyone is looking away from me and the young man when suddenly he stands up and starts screaming about homicide and suicide and Chinatown again.
And then he takes off his dark blue tee shirt and throws it into the air and the throws his hands up in the air, as if he’s been running a race and is crossing a finishing line, victoriously
‘I’M A FUCKING CAUCASIAN MAN AND I AM LATINO,’ he screams, and then he goes down on his knees, as if he’s been felled by a bullet and still with his hands in the air screams out,  ‘NO DRUGS, NO WEAPONS, NO BOOOOOOOOOOZE, NO GANG AFFILIATION,’
Then, he stands up, walks to a rubbish bin, picks up the lid and waves it around in the air.
‘My mother is in the FUCKING HOSPITAL,’ he screams into the air, ‘I was there, with her, and I need to get out of this fucking town and see my MOTHER. I need to get out of CHINATOWN. DOESN’T ANYBODY SPEAK ENGLISH?’
And then he throws the rubbish bin lid hard onto the ground and screams ‘WE’RE TALKING SUICIDE HERE. WE’RE TALKING POTENTIAL HOMICIDE,’
Then he throws the rubbish bin lid, like a frisbee, into a column.
‘I spent the night here, I don’t belong here,’ he says picking up the rubbish bin lid and bashing the concrete floor of the Salinas Transit Station with it, ‘Someone call me a fucking AMBULANCE,’
And just then a police car arrives and a policeman gets out of it.
The policeman is fat and dressed in a dark blue uniform and the top of his head would be bald if it wasn’t for a ring of hair that starts just above his ears and goes down to touch his collar.
He is wearing a moustache and glasses and when the young man sees him he puts his hands up in the air and turns and does a little jig.
And while he dances the jig, his jeans, which are tied with a piece of white rope, start slipping down his legs and while this is happening the police officer is putting on blue surgical gloves.
‘I know you,’ says the police officer as he goes through the pockets of the dancing man.
‘Yeh, yeh,’ says the young man who is now speaking softly, ‘you know me. No drugs, no weapons, no booze, no gang affiliation,’
‘I’ll give you a ride to the hospital,’ says the policeman to the young man.
Yes,’ says the young man, ‘because, you know I don’t belong down here in Chinatown.’