FIVE FEET FORWARD

Todays sermon is late but frankly it’s so damn hot you’re lucky to get anything at all .roman death mosaic

Five Feet Forward

 

I was sitting on the bus

in the underground transit-centre in town,

the lowest level of a noisy concrete bunker.

A series of escalators takes you up from the bus platform

past the shopping levels to the streets above.

 

I was reading while I waited

for the bus to start, glancing out the window

now and then, idly surveying the crowd.

We were parked directly opposite the escalators

about fifteen feet away.

 

Finally, the driver started the engine up,

I closed my book

and cast a last look out the window.

By chance my eye came to rest for a moment

on an ordinary looking, middle-aged man

going up the escalator across from me.

 

Yes it was the merest chance I came to be

looking at him at that moment,

he was totally unremarkable,

it was only that the escalator

had brought him to my eye-level

just then, another second

and my eye would have drifted away.

 

But it was precisely at that moment that

a look of surprise crossed his face,

as he suddenly stiffened and fell back.

His body rigid as a board,

described a perfect arc

as he toppled backwards,

like he was hinged at the ankles,

bringing him crashing onto the sharp edged steps,

then sliding in a helpless heap to the bottom

of the endlessly ascending treadmill.

He was dead. Just like that.

And then my bus drove off.

!?

As the bus sped away

and I peered back thru the window.

I could see the crowd,

snapped out of their self-involved daydreams

rushing towards where he lay

hoping to come to his aid.

Too late for that, I knew.

There was no doubt in my mind at all

that he had died before he hit the ground.

A moment before none of them

had noticed that he was alive,

now he was the center of attention.

 

Hundreds of people had been

all around in a public place

and I alone had seen his death.

I felt a little stunned

by the improbability of it all..

 

If the bus had departed two seconds earlier,

or had parked a further five feet forward,

if I had kept reading a little longer,

or sat in another seat,

or if a pretty girl had wandered by

and caught my eye,

if any one of a thousand variables had occurred,

I would not have been the solitary witness

to this strangers death.

It made me wonder if

there was some Meaning to this event,

some Life Lesson I was meant to learn,

but in the end I decided

it was probably just one of those things.

*

ENVOI;

Later it occurred to me

that if you gotta go, then that’s

probably the way to go;

One brief moment of surprise,

(“What? So soon?”)

and it’s over.

No pain-filled last good byes,

no futile lingering over loose ends.

No long and degrading deterioration

of the body or the mind.

One blink of the eye

and it’s someone else’s problem.

 

By preference though,

if I had my way,

rather than riding an escalator

when it occurs,

I’d like it to be in the midst of friends

whilst I’m laughing loud and long

at some favourite, old and terrible joke

I’ve just told

for the forty-fifth time.

*

A NOTE ON THE TITLE; Due to the solemn subject matter of this sermon I considered calling it,

Six Foot Under”,

but seeing as how currently I’ve only got One foot in the Grave,

I figure that gives me a five foot head start on the Reaper, so instead I called it

Five Foot Forward.”

Oh yeah, and it might have something to do with the Relativity of the buses location in Time and Space also.

(See what I mean about the terrible jokes?)

?..!

***

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SQUAREY! is still on Holiday, working on his tan. Back soon.

***

tai chi hand strawberry circle

The Reverend Hellfire is a  practising Performance Poet, President of the Kurilpa Institute of Creativity and an ordained Minister of the Church of Spiritual Humanists AND the Church of the Universe.

If sighted do not approach. Inform your local authorities.

***

***

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~ by reverendhellfire on January 5, 2014.

3 Responses to “FIVE FEET FORWARD”

  1. An unusual incident carefully described and well fitted into your own personal world. In some ways it wasn’t that unusual – we all have to go some time, and ‘on an escalator’ will at least give the descendants something to talk about…

  2. Almost sure I get relativity evolution-wise but time & space are way above my pay grade…

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