Mike stopped sorting the mail, took off his glasses and wiped his eyes. I was surprised to see him cry because he was a tough guy who once broke a coworker’s nose. But Laura had been bleeding and this was their child, in the toilet. The medical person on the phone told him: “Pick it up. Feel it. Describe it to me.” Their child. In the toilet. Then he had to go to work. What do you say to a man at a time like that? “Throw the mail,” scowled a fat supervisor. “Just throw the fuckin’ mail.” “Go fuck yourself,” said Mike. He signed out on the bathroom break sheet, then I did too. When I got to the locker room two rum & Cokes in plastic cups were waiting on the shelf of his locker. We tapped cups and tossed them right down, then another and another and another. I took a joint from my pocket and we stood under an air vent and lit up. We started walking, no destination. We floated along, huge machines thrashing all around us, hundreds of people moving in slow motion. A freight elevator opened up and a little Vietnamese man rolled out trays and trays of mail.
We took it down to the loading docks, hopped off, and in the darkness we walked along the grimy depressing channel with water so thick it barely moved. A car stopped ahead of us and a woman jumped out shrieking, “Agggggghhhhhh!” Her tortured cry pierced the night like the horn of a freight train. She leaned on the railing over the water and screeched again: “Agggggghhhhhh!”
“Wait!” shouted Mike. He ran to her and they embraced like long lost lovers. Muffled crying. Relief.