On my walk from work to Ogilvie I saw my first dead guy outside the train station. At first I didn't recognize it for what it was. I saw a guy who looked like he was passed out on the sidewalk with his back against the building. Then I saw the Metra guard trying to keep everyone away from him with the ol' there's-nothing-to-see-here routine. As I got closer I realized that he wasn't passed out drunk.
He was dead.
There's something about a dead person that completely separates them from a living person. I studied crime scene photos for a novel I was working on a long time ago. Corpses don't look like human beings. They look like Hollywood props. As soon as life leaves them they are nothing but an empty vessel. Whatever spark life gives them is gone, and they're nothing but dolls made of human flesh.
That's what this kid looked like. He was young. I wouldn't put him past 25 years old. I suspected heroin overdose. There were no bruises on him, but there was a bit of blood on the sidewalk.
I realized in that moment that the Metra guard didn't have to work too hard. No one looked at this poor bastard except for me. Is this a common occurrence? Dead people outside of the train station? It must be. Everyone else walked around him like he was a piece of garbage by the side of the street. They were busy. They had places to be.
Was I the only one, aside from the Metra guard whose job depended on it, who saw this dead young man?
No. As I walked on I saw two other kids. One of them looked almost exactly like the dead man, to the point I could only assume it was the dead man's brother. He was bawling his eyes out, clutching a friend in an embrace that only the bereaved can understand. His friend looked at the body with sadness in his eyes, and he hugged his friend back.
My train was late. That pissed me off until I realized that someone wasn't going to make it home tonight.