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Tuesday, September 15

the crying man

We drove through the Utah wilderness at night, the mountains  unseen but present. Few cars on this lonely stretch of road and little Oliver  is restless. Russ thinks he’s cold, I think he is affected by the unfamiliar toography because his little head swivels back and forth like doggie radar. Once night falls, he is spooked by the looming shadows of the mountains. He trembles until I pull my sweatshirt over him, but soon he has popped his head out to check and the trembling begins again. I hug him to me but that only helps for a moment. I can’t wait to stop for the night, if only to see him happy again.

We find a pet friendly Comfort Inn in Richfield, about 2 hours from Bryce Canyon. Nice place. Beautiful hotel, friendly people, coffee and cold drinks available all night and a crying man in the lobby. I check us in, find that the credit card I am using for hotels is missing. I was very organized this trip. This card for gas, this card for hotels, this card for “stuff”. Losing my hotel card would screw the pooch as they say. I assume I will find it, but the crying man cuts into my concentration and I pull out the gas card and tell her to just use this, I will have to do what the GPS lady does: recalculate. My OCD whimpers.

The crying man is tall, black, handsome, big like an athlete. He has a a trendy hair do, like tiny braids close to his head and a red shirt, loose over his jeans. He is pacing in tiny circles and whimpering. By the time we get into our room, just a ew feet from the front desk, he is weeping. I turn to him and say “are you OK?” but his reply is garbled and my concern makes him cry harder. The women at the desk keep asking what is wrong and can they help. The crying intensifies. I close my door and hope this ends well, but it is sad and a bit scary.

Russell goes out  to find us some food. I peek through the little glass thingy in the door every so often to see what’s happening. His weeping has turned to wailing. It is real and I can feel his heart breaking and nobody can get through the pain to help him. I know they will need to call the cops and they do. I hate to say it, but the events of this past year flash through my mind when I look through the peep hole and see this  black man losing control, with 3 white cops surrounding him. My heart is in my throat. But I needn’t worry. They were so kind to him, so gentle . They tried for quite a while to reason with him, find out what was wrong, let him know they were there to help. His anguish intensified. And then he started yelling for them to shoot him. “Please shoot me, please. Shoot me!” He wailed and pleaded for them to put him out of his misery.  My heart was breaking for him. Russ came back with food and said there was an ambulance outside. He goes out to get our bags.

I wait a few minutes and see that the EMT’s have come with a stretcher and now they and the cops are trying to get the man to go with them for help. They need to cuff him and all hell breaks loose. He is terrified of being handcuffed. He begs, he pleads, he screams, but they cuff him. They have to. 

And then he is on the gurney, tied down, crying, but on his way to help. I pressed my forehead to the door, beneath the little peephole and listened to the quiet and tried to make sense of what had taken 10 minutes to unfold, but felt like a lifetime. I felt so sad for him. For whatever made him cry and ask to be killed by three strangers in uniform.

The desk clerk said he had been working up to this all day. From the time he checked in, he would come into the lobby and pace and stare at the TV and go back to his room. Russ asked the cop if he thought the crying man would be OK and he shook his head no.

It felt kind of wrong to turn on TV, and pull out our fast food, to carry on as if nothing had happened. The two of us and our dogs, safe and happy, looking forward to tomorrow. The big man in a red shirt, strapped down in an ambulance, looking forward only to pain.  I don’t know where to put all of this in my heart’

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