I see myself lying misshapen as a used condom against the Chicago asphalt. My face is limp, and peppered with the bits of city shit that settles along the curbs. A dark blood pools out from beneath my head, and when it meets the collar of my $275 Hugo Boss Lex Classic button down, I cringe. Bloodstains are a bitch.
My name is Adam Johnson, and I’m an Associate Attorney for the Longhi and Gretti Law Firm at 333 N. Michigan Avenue. That’s a renowned law firm at a chic address, and a job that requires a lot of dick-sucking to maintain. It doesn’t matter when I decided adding a job title to the end of my name enhances my self-worth, because it does. You’re not going anywhere in this reputation-based world without supplementing your first name with something more pretentious than your last. Nobody gives a shit about an “I’m Mark Walbergh,” and they give less of a shit about an “I’m Marissa.” But an “I’m Mark Walbergh, CEO of Walbergh and Drake,” or an “I’m Marissa Valden, VP of Dreiser Corp.,” or an “I’m Adam Johnson, Associate Attorney to Longhi and Gretti. Yes, the Adam Johnson, the one currently spilling blood onto Wabash and Superior at a notable rate”? That’s raising eyebrows.
I don’t know what the fuck happened, but I don’t have time for this. The last thing I remember is shouting “Goddamned Italians” and shutting my eyes in agony, as a too-hot double ristretto seared the taste buds down the center of my tongue. I didn’t think “Goddamned Italians” was code for “Please toss me disheveled and bleeding into oncoming traffic,” but apparently I need to Google that when I get to the office. I can’t see my crumpled body anymore, because people who don’t know me have decided to be heroes. It’ll be a good story for them to tell later that day, at the office, after dinner, to a woman at the bar they’re trying to fuck. “I saw this man bleed today. All over the street. It was nuts.”
Sirens begin their deafening wail somewhere a few blocks over. My heroes start looking around frantically, competing for the position of “first one who cries ‘Over there!’ and points.” As the wailing swells, blue and red starts to bounce over the Holy Name Cathedral a block west on State. A woman in lululemon excitedly shrieks “There!” as she turns to point. She’s basically a celebrity, now, and as my other heroes slump slightly in their anonymity, I wonder what blood smells like when you’re that close. Maybe a warm, bitter stench, like rotting seitan or burnt hair. Definitely a scent I’m sure is merging with my Versace Homme in some offensive way beneath this August heat. How embarrassing.
The paramedics sprint dramatically from their seats, and a cop starts strolling around with his chest puffed out in authority. My heroes disperse, and I see myself looking disappointingly pale for just getting back from St. Maarten. The paramedics unfold my crooked limbs, and start CPR. One of them shouts “Defib!” and another scurries over with a cart. They pull and prod and my body jumps; I’m growing really fucking exhausted with this whole thing. I was supposed to be in the quarterly meeting 10 minutes ago, and now ass-kissing’s going to occupy the next month of my life.
A tow truck flashes its lights behind me to get through a growing crowd of passersby, and I notice it pulling toward a dashboard-less Toyota Camry. Another inflated cop is kneeling with his cop pad in front of a man who’s seated on the curb. The Camry’s hood is dented, and the seated man is crying with his face between his hands. I draw a line with my view from the front of the car to the top of my bleeding skull; fucking shit.
The son of a bitch hit me. The son of a fucking bitch hit me with his plebeian fucking car. I look between the Camry and my blood, trying to piece together what happened. I was walking, now I’m bleeding. I was walking, now I’m bleeding? I was walking and I burned my tongue, and now I’m bleeding. I burned my tongue, I closed my eyes, and…god-fucking-damned Italians.
A hotel doorman to my left starts rambling to an elderly woman who’s just emerged from within. “That man right there in the suit, he was walkin’ ‘cross Wabash with a cuppa coffee, and somethin’ in that coffee cup made him flinch and get all close-eyed. And that T’yota there, it was comin’ down Wabash and I guess it didn’t see the dude in the suit, ’cause it just ran right into him. And now old suit dude’s been layin’ in the street for ’bout 15 minutes, bleedin’ and shit all over the place. And people been tryin’ to help him, but ain’t nobody wanna get that close to a bleedin’ man with AIDs and shit goin’ ’round these days.” The woman nodded.
I guess I’m “old suit dude.” What a fucking humiliating way to die. No valor, no integrity, no tales of drug lords or Mafia hits or laundering deals gone bad. No prolonged battles verse cancer, filled with remission parties and fruit baskets. I look back to the paramedics, desperate for them to revive my flaccid body. Just stop the bleeding, and let me live. Just stop the fucking bleeding so I don’t die like a piece of fucking road kill. I’m Adam Johnson, Associate Attorney for the Longhi and Gretti Law Firm. Fucking save me.
But they don’t. They don’t or they can’t or it doesn’t even matter, because there I am, on the stretcher, with a sheet pulled over my face. A sheet that announces to my heroes, the passersby, the fucking Toyota man, the overstated cops, that I’m dead. I see them roll me into the back of an ambulance, shut the doors, and drive off. What the fuck? I turn around and try to scream, but I can’t, because I no longer fucking exist. I collapse onto my fake-knees and throw my fake-head back in a theatrical fashion, fake-breathing to slow my fake-pulse. Where are the bright lights, the golden gates, and the old man with a silver beard? All I see is city patrol in orange jumpsuits warring with my drying blood, and people losing interest. I think God overlooked a few details here, because it seems he’s accidentally left me wandering the streets of Chicago, alone, for the rest of eternity. I’m supposed to be in Heaven right now, sucking honey from the nipples of naked virgins. But I’m not. I’m fake-seated against a piss-stained wall beneath a Chinese Takeout sign at the corner of Wabash and Superior, after just watching myself bleed to death out of my eyes. I’m Adam Johnson, Associate Attorney for the Longhi and Gretti Law Firm at 333 N. Michigan Avenue. This is my fucking hell.