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Monday, January 2, 2017

Your Sickness (Your Survival)



I saw him on the Southeast corner of the town square, across from the Chinese restaurant. It was January, but incredibly warm for that winter month, warm enough that I was out without a coat and only a hooded sweatshirt. It was even raining (far too warm for snow or ice) slightly. As I walked down the sidewalk towards him, away from the movie theater where I’d just enjoyed a Saturday science-fiction matinee. I could hear him shouting. I could hear him well before I saw him. Heard him almost as soon as I stepped out from the movie theater, in fact.

There weren’t many pedestrians out – not in January (even as warm as it was) – not in the rain – not when it was easier and drier to drive across town. But there were a few people walking around the square. A married couple walked arm in arm from their parked car towards The Great Wall. He held the door open for her and stared at him from the entryway. I could smell Szechuan sauce and warm eggrolls (more appetizing than the artificial-butter flavored popcorn of the movie theater). A trio of teenagers laughed and flicked cigarette butts at him as they passed. “Shut up, freaky-man!” they hooted.

I saw him: a distinguished man of middle age and ebony dark skin, a few white curls twisted out from the kinky hair at his temples. His eyes were tight. His teeth even. His jaw firm. He wore plain, belted jeans over scuffed work boots, and a grey / green plaid, flannel shirt. He stood on the Southeast corner of the courthouse square, next to the old civil war canon and said in a loud (but not shouting), unflinching voice:

“Your sickness is not survival!”

and

Your survival is not sickness!”


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