The crowd formed around the near lifeless body.
“Wow, how do you think he got here?” asked one guy.
“I dunno, I saw a couple of guys in the alley.” said another.
“Homeless guys. I've seen them before. They stand on the median holding signs saying they are homeless vets, but they don't like animals. Saw one kick a dog the other day,” said one guy amid stares of disbelief.
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah, I thought vets took a hypocritical oath or something.”
“No, I meant are you seriously that stupid?” Some in the crowd chuckled. So did the guy laying in the street. It was mistaken for a moan of pain. They say laughter is the best medicine, but it wasn't helping this guy.
The crowd was growing. Some pointed. Many turned their heads away at first look, but quickly turned back as if the guy was going to suddenly disappear. The man on the ground managed to get out a faint, “Help,” but it was drowned out by the speculative conversation.
“What should we do?”
“Anybody know CPR?”
“He doesn't need CPR. He needs a doctor.”
“Anybody know the number for 911?” The crowd shifted their eyes from the dying man to the genius. There was a momentary silence, as the soon to be dead man whispered, “911..”
As quick as eyes were initially diverted from the dying man the crowd returned to their talking, only now the conversations had nothing to do with the man on the ground.
“I got it on the Plaza.”
“And then she said....”
“ I think it's going to rain..”
“My grandma was a nun..”
And so on....
The two homeless vets walked up to the crowd. They were talking to each other.
“He had it coming to him. Sorry to see him go like this.”
“Yeah, I wish it could have been different.”
“He was a rat fink. You just can't do that and expect nothing to happen.”
“I know, just wish it could've been different.”
Sirens were heard in the distance. Apparently genius, after getting the number to 911, called it. It was too late. During all the banal conversation the guy died, right there in the middle of the street.
The paramedics arrived, checked the guy over, lifted the lifeless body on the stretcher, and loaded him into the ambulance. The two homeless vets ducked back into the alley. The crowd disbursed as the ambulance left the scene, and life on that street went back to normal.