I’m watching this guy struggle, mightily, with the vending machine. Peering deep inside at the collected offerings, kneeling down, then standing, then peering deep inside again. Hands on the glass, finally sliding in a couple of bucks into the slot and choosing a Baby Ruth. I made an idiotic comment about too many choices and he walked away.
On the elevator the same guy. Again, he looks confused, can’t seem to find the buttons to push. The door closes and there we were, just him and me—alone.
“My mom is dying, this week, all week she’s been trying to die…”
I listen in silence, he continues, “I can’t tell nobody, but I hope she dies. I hope she dies tonight. That makes me a bad person, right?”
I couldn’t tell if he wanted validation or a fight.
I said, finally, “My mom has been here since 2016. Every day I want her to die. Every goddamn day…”
He looks at me and says, “Thank you, man. This ain’t no life.”
He comes up to me and and puts his hand on my shoulder and says, “I can’t find the tears. I know I should be crying, I can’t find the tears…”
I said, “This is a world without curiosity, or joy, or music. You ever hear music here, man? It would confound them. The memories of the music would torture and haunt. When I do hear music here it’s sad music, a caricature, almost mocking…
When you reach this space and time, there is no place for tears.”
Another son of someone who has outlived life itself…