Wednesday, February 01, 2006


I've had this on my mind off and on over the last few weeks. Last Monday was particularly rough. I was hormonal and weepy and tired to begin with, and pictures of Luke's face kept jumping up in my head all day. I even sketched him during the staff meeting at work. I achieved a pretty reasonable likeness in a few of the doodles, because I scared myself with them when I ran across the paper on my desk yesterday. When I saw it, my brain injected this little ink sketch on yellow paper with three dimensions and color. It was eerily "real" for a minute. I was so rattled off my center when I saw it that I threw it away, but I wish now that I'd kept it. I did a little sketch of the scene, as well -- a view as I originally saw it, from across Wabash street. I sketch like autistic kids do, though. I see too much detail about how things are put together. I want to draw things the way I know they fit and function, not the way they look, so my perspective is always all wrong. I put in details that don't fit because I know they're there, even though I couldn't really see them from the distance I started sketching at.

Sketching it didn't help, though. The images were and still are there in my head... all a disconnected jumble. I was talking about this with a friend yesterday, and I think part of the reason I'm having so much trouble connecting the images and building a comprehensive movie of what was happening is that my perspective was not what it usually is. I usually see entirely too much detail about the physical world, as I mentioned. I may or may not notice that the couple in the corner are making googly eyes at each other, but I guarantee I'll notice whether the columns they're eyeing each other around are Corinthian, Doric, or Ionic. I usually have a near 360 degree view of my surroundings, always checking the edges. I may never turn my attention fully to those things on the periphery, but I know where they are and more or less what they are. In this situation, though, I was so completely focused on Luke and on his injuries and his condition that I remember feeling like I had tunnel vision. I don't multi-task very well in general, and it was all I could do to keep up with Luke. My surroundings, from the moment I put my hand on his throat to check for a pulse, virtually ceased to exist. I don't remember crowd sounds, I don't remember traffic noises. I don't remember light or shadow or the composition of the crowd or whether there was litter on the street. I only remember the maroon paint of the Blazer, the black glass everywhere, and Luke's brown skin and red blood. His hair was very dark, and curly, and frizzy. It was like mine is when I've given it the day off and not put any "product" in it. I don't even remember what he was wearing. I do remember the texture and color of the glove I picked up out of the Blazer... I just reached around the window frame into what would have been the cargo area and grabbed an eggshell-colored knitted wool glove. I remember thinking that I hoped it was clean, just before I used it to cover the wound on the back of his hand. It didn't seem very absorbent, and it was hard to get much direct pressure with the other injuries and the glass everywhere. He didn't seem to be bleeding too much from his hand, though.

I remember his face often. The red of blood on the brown of skin and the fear in his face when he realized he was alive and surrounded by strangers. His girlfriend came out of the building, I'm told, from which he had jumped. I never even saw her, but I'm told that she approached us at the car and looked down at him and then backed away. I never became aware of her at all. I was so grateful when Tuffy slid up next to me on my right side, because I felt safer then, with him there, guarding my flank. The surgeon who asked Luke about his medicines came up on my left side. I remember only that his skin wasn't white, I couldn't have identified his race beyond that. Later, Amy and Tuffy told me he was Asian, but I don't remember. I remember ignoring some interfering noise coming from that side of my body while I was trying to get Luke to lie still, I imagine he must've been speaking. Eventually he touched my shoulder, made me stop and pay attention to him, told me he was a doctor. When he did, I stopped talking to Luke, and just listened.

Amy saw the crowd come and go. Some people were claiming that he jumped from the "El" but that was clearly impossible from where he landed. It did look as though he had from across the street, though. A train went by on the "El" track just before we heard the sound of him landing on top of the Blazer. It seemed from the timing of the sounds that he'd been thrown from the train, or had been knocked off the track by the passage of the train.

And now, for a minute, my head is blessedly empty. So I'm off to bed. I hope this is the last of it, but I doubt it will be. Sorry, readers. Thanks for your patience.


andrea said...

did you ever find out what happened to him ?

Thalassa said...

I never did. There was only the briefest mention of his suicide attempt in the newspaper the next day and never any followup. His name wasn't in the article, so it was hard to do follow-up searches. No young men named Luke showed up in the obituaries in the 6 weeks or so after the accident that I kept searching, so I hope he didn't die, but it's far from conclusive.