I stand across the street from him and watch him stand back up. He dusts himself off and heads west toward the office building that he works in. I sigh and walk after him, my head hung and my hands in my pockets. He strolls at a brisk pace as he straightens his suit with the hand that isn't holding a briefcase. I catch up to him in no time.
"Carl?" I say loudly and cheerfully. "Is that you?"
"Yes," he answers. "Do I know you?"
"We met a long time ago, when you were a little boy. Your grandmother's funeral."
"Oh, well then you'll forgive me if I don't recognize you."
"It's alright," I say. "Most people don't. Even when I'm staring right at them. So where are you headed Carl?"
"Oh, just off to the office for another day of accounting!" he says in what he thinks sounds like a cheery voice.
"Sounds like fulfilling work," I reply.
"It pays the bills," he says solemnly.
"That's all that matters, right? Just take it a day at a time. Keep doing your job. What is else is there to life?"
"Something," Carl says, "Something's not right."
He stops on the sidewalk and looks at me.
"Who did you say you were again?" he asks.
An ambulance and three police cars go flying past us, heading in the other direction, sirens blaring.
"I hope no one's hurt," Carl mumbles.
"Why don't you go find out? You can be late to the office one last time."
Carl drops his briefcase and starts jogging back to where we met. Then he speeds up more and more until he's sprinting frantically down the sidewalk.
I catch up to him and he's kneeling in the intersection, staring at the body, mouth agape.
"I swear officer, he came out of nowhere!" the truckdriver explains loudly. "I hit the breaks, but it was too late for the poor fella."
I stand behind Carl and I place my hand on his shoulder. A tear runs slowly down my face.
I take him away from that place of pain.
It's my job after all.