Khary Bello at the boardinghouse window. Morning. Tattered side city. Scattered sky clouds. Small hunger. No voices. August.
Streetside, shoes cracked, he walked. Each day the same. Walk the old districts for a small job for a small coin. Sweep out a doorway. Throw a bag of trash in a pile of other bags of trash. Pity work for an old man, but he managed. On occasion thrived.
On the sidewalk a hatch opened in his mind and a voice dropped in that spoke in broken tiles and sparks from a bench grinder. It grated out the word bomb and Khary Bello put his hands to his head and whispered oh god.
He thought to tell a cop but he knew it was too late to save shattered victims they would deadlift from the rubble. It was too late for those who ran with redscream on their faces. The world coughed tragedy from its tainted lungs every dying day and Khary Bello was just one man. One man in a world of calamity.
The bomb had struck a hotel next to the park on the Avenue of Immortals. Khary Bello steered his feet in that direction to view the aftermath. A small spider of dread climbed his throat but he swallowed it down with the relief that death hadn’t taken its shot at him this day.
Things not as he thought. Children chased a ball in the park and laughed. Taxis stopped at the hotel. Two women spoke calm. A cop leaned on a wall.
Where is the bomb? Khary Bello asked the cop and the cop said what bomb? The one I heard. No bomb here, beat it. The hotel bomb. Are you okay old man? I’m fine, said Khary Bello and the cop said then beat it. The world coughed up unwell people every dying day and the cop saw Khary Bello as just another glob of the sickness.
Black and white not the same as color, said Khary Bello and walked away.
He knew what he meant even if cops did not. Cops spoke only the language of rules and not of imagination or of ancestor voices and shared humanity. Khary Bello spoke of things both past and yet to come. A rainbow of possibility, a continuum.
Later they would examine another spilled casket of anguish and then wish they had heeded an old man with broken shoes. But he left the thought of future victims beneath the stained blankets of his belief and continued. He helped move a few boxes in the garment district, and with the coins he earned bought a bowl of soup and bread.
That night he lay awake in his cheap room with a warm breeze through the window and waited for a hatch to open in his mind but only silence. The curtain fluttered.
Next day the city wept for the bombing that killed woman and men and children and bellboys and cops in the hotel next to the park on the Avenue of Immortals but Khary Bello said nothing to anyone. Even if authority did open their ears to his prescience they would likely consider him perpetrator with an awakened conscience rather than oracle. Besides, he couldn’t say how it worked. Voices cracked open his mind on their schedule, not his. And sometimes they merely muttered. Babylon.
That’s how it was for Khary Bello. Lost. An inauspicious visionary. Chaotic. An unknown presence in a world that coughed out anonymous faces every dying day. Streetside, shoes cracked, he walked, looked for a job of no consequence. He low circled the mournful city for a small coin.