It’s the 20th of December in the year we understand to be 2009 on the Gregorian. Jeremy Mccgaffey has been dead for about one year. Most of the mourning aloud was long over. But his ghost remains. Those that kill themselves traumatize the living. But all the late nights driving the ambulance around Brooklyn until my soul leaks, I see him again. Looking at me in the mirror, stone faced, he almost whispers something prophetic from the world to come.
Those fucking pagans from Gerritsen Beach tried to kill me and Maria, Nick and also Angelica on the damn Q train. This hate crime was defeated with fists and knives and the press machine. The FDNY EMS hired him immediately, he cut a whole long civil service list somehow. Then came FDNY in the Bronx at night, then losing his Maria slowly for almost two years. Then recently Maria left him. About two months ago. After a little episode on Block Island that scared her too bad. Vodka, a dive into the stormy sea he followed Jeremey’s ghost way out into the Atlnatic and left her alone in the night on a beach.
It hasn’t been a very good year. Sebastian’s a Jew at heart. At heart, he starts counting the year from September. A real shit year all things considered, it isn’t rounding out to be the decade he’d hoped for either. He’d believed in so many things once. Had so much sense of possibility for life. The hope, the feeling of possible change, the want for greater justice. For an imagined freedom fighting life via a “militant nonviolence”. Making bombs that didn’t kill. Things he learned in the Middle East applied to America. Now, it seemed maybe he’d just pass the firefighter promotional exam. Maybe become an FDNY Lt and lead a noble but simple working class life. He’s gone and joined the FDNY boxing team. Maria left him over the many ghosts of his dead friend and comrade Jeremy. Who blew his brains out a year ago or so.
Sebastian Adon has been technically working for the F.D.N.Y. Bureau of EMS since January of 2008. But, just a month into the Academy his best friend, his comrade and old partner Jeremy took a pistol to his foolish head. He got off two rounds. Now that was some zealous work. Two shots to the head and from this world departed the best partner Sebastian ever had. Jeremy and Sebastian used to organize people back in college. They tried to make a little change in the community. They’d together built a revolutionary club of several hundred in nine chapters dedicated to human rights and “real change”. They were a good team. But now Jeremy was dead and Sebastian didn’t believe human beings were all that good anymore after about two years in the South Bronx and Bedford Stuyvesant. And the other places where the sidewalk ended and the schools were too crowded and the American dream was a nightmare. All right alongside such incredible wealth.
Before the F.D.N.Y., Adon used to work on a Tran-scare Transport Unit. About a month after Jeremy died on January 31st of 2008 Adon worked his very last Transcare shift with a Haitian Paramedic named Victor Emile Cange. After dropping out of the FDNY Academy he picked up overtime where he could get it waiting for the next Academy class..
He’ll retell it to you in a flashback:
“It’s late at night, in the old city, sometime around 4 in the morning, no calls, the transport bus was seated somewhere deep in Canarsie, waiting for orders on the Nextel for work. As Transcare tended to assign per Diem employees random partners, Cange and Adon were total strangers, met that night. It was a Sunday, Victor Cange tried to never work on Saturday ‘cause it was the Lord’s Day. He was a practicing Adventist now and had recently been educated how the Lord’s Day was actually Saturday, not Sunday. Sebastian always tried to work on Sunday because everyone else had been fooled into thinking it was the lord’s day, and that drove the call volume down.”
“Why’d you go and become an EMT anyways?” Victor Cange asks him with a faux Southern twang that he turns on and off.
“To do the Lord’s work,” Sebastian claims.
The conversation then turned to God and the Jews, and it was a conversation that had gotten old to Sebastian, as he’d had by now with what seemed like every other black person he’d ever rode with, a talk about God, late at night, on an ambulance, a talk about Jews. Blacks were obsessed with Jews it seemed to Sebastian, couldn’t decide just how anti-Semitic they were as a people, the answer was that blacks were pretty anti-Semitic as a people. Victor wasn’t though. They talk for a while, their palaver leaves an impression on Victor, but to Sebastian it’s the same old song he’s been singing to blacks for years. But he likes them as much as he likes the Soviets, which is to say more than anyone else via projedice.
“The lord’s work is often done by an unwittingly righteous person I’ll have you know,” Sebastian interjects.
“Amen to that. God has a plan, and man is filled with all sorts of arrogance that he can generate one, better to let the lord work through you.”
Black people are just fuckin’ loaded with their stammering opinionated biblical insight, thinks Sebastian. But Sebastian’s lungs are black and his heart too, so some of that knowledge he can relate too. But, Sebastian doesn’t believe in God any more, and has no use for her.
It has seemed increasingly that he is to walk his life Alone. In the past year, tragedy in the form of questionable suicide struck. Everything had gotten a little surreal since then. He’d retreated into his work, bringing out the sick and dying. By the time he met Victor Cange, there wasn’t too much going on for him, days he slept, nights he worked, and on free days he was drunk, bad, bad-evil drunk.
“Jesus has a plan for you brother!” Victor Cange had told him more than a couple times.
He doubted it. He deeply missed his dead friend Jeremy. He often wondered what kind of guy lets his best friend off himself without seeing it coming. He’d seen him a week before he did it at Woodhull hospital psychiatric. He wonders what kind of piece of shit he is when that’s the best friend he respectively takes on. He wonders if he’ll ever get the true nerve to kill himself.
Sometimes Sebastian sits on the ledge of the Brooklyn Bridge, all horror show and wonders if he has the nerve to jump. He imagines his body hitting the cold blue black brine and moving on to the sweet hereafter. He doesn’t mind the very late night ambulance work. Seeing all these sick and dying people. He’s already dead himself. His body just has to catch up with his mostly long lost mind.