Complacency Kills

“It’s easy to forget just how fragile our existence is. It only takes a moment, and everything could end.”

I reached in and helped her out. She had fallen into the bushes, and the other residents were laughing at her, calling her Vanessa the Drunk, Vanessa the Whore, Vanessa the Pig. She isn’t a drunk, whore or a pig, she’s a sixty-three year old lady who drinks too much, and gets sloppy, and used to sell herself on Broad Street back in the seventies.

It’s tough to live down a reputation, tougher still when you don’t leave the neighborhood where that reputation was formed, and solidified by your actions. Everybody knows you when you fail, and everybody gets to feel a little better about themselves because even if they too failed, they didn’t fail as hard as Vanessa. I’ve known her for years, taken her to the hospital dozens of times. She’s a sad lady who lights up when she drinks, the falls back into depression when the glow fades.

The overcoat she wore concealed an eight inch butcher knife. When I stood her up she stabbed at me, and very nearly landed it in the middle of my chest, and would have if i didn’t jump back it time, and nearly fall into the bushes myself.

knife“Put it down Vanessa!” I yelled, but she would have none of it, and went at me again. I managed to separate her from the knife without stabbing myself, or her.

“What are you, crazy!” I yelled once we were in the back of the truck and away from the crowd. “You could have killed me!”

“I was trying to kill myself,” she cried, and continued to cry all the way to the hospital.

I deal with murderers, child molesters, rapists, robbers and maniacs on a daily basis and the one that nearly killed me is an old lady who couldn’t even hurt herself. Complacency kills, every minute of every shift could be the last. I need to keep that in mind as the hours and situations add up.

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Michael Morse

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