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The Box of the Mind
Central Park was humming with the business of people. Everyday people, they were everywhere; talking on cell phones, chatting to one another, walking their dogs, doing everyday things. Groups of tourists ebbed and flowed across the pavement, their bright faces enjoying the sights and beauties of the world-famous park. Many people walked by the crying man in a tattered business suit. If something didn't concern you, the rule was to walk on by. The man pounded his fists on an invisible wall, a mother pulled her curious child away. Even children must heed to the rule.
"Please," the man yelled, his hands resting on an invisible wall. "Someone, tell my wife, my name is Joe Dunn, tell my wife I can't get out. Somebody tell her!" This brought on another round of sobs. Abruptly, the man's eyes widened. He spun around like a crazed mime, banging on four surrounding walls.
“I-I can’t breathe, they’re getting closer, someone stop it, someone help me!” The man pleaded as if they were his last words. People passed without turning their heads. It was the normal scene, they had seen people like this for years. You don’t stop to help crazies.
One man stepped out from the river of the crowd. His face was shaded by his black hat, and he was smothered by a long black jacket better suited for the rain, not the enveloping heat that was creeping among the city. He gently placed his leather case onto the ground.
“Looks like you’re in the need of some help,” the man drawled with a soft southern accent.
Joe stood straight up and looked around wildly. “Where are you? I can’t see you. I can’t see anything anymore. It’s…getting worse.” Words tumbled from Joe’s mouth.
The caped man stuck forth his hand as if to shake the other man’s hand. Joe stared at it.
“Take my hand, I’ll help you out,” the man told Joe.
Joe slowly reached his hand towards the other. When the two hands were still an inch or two apart, he quickly lunged forwards and clasped the stranger’s hand like a lifeline.
The man in black pulled back hard, wrenching the man towards him. The air was punched out of Joe as he was ripped through his wall and left stumbling onto the sidewalk. He didn’t comprehend when the man in black let his hand go. He was still choking on the fresh air as the leather case was picked up. He turned, his face exhilarant, and life seeming to be flowing through him for the first time in a long time. Thanks were spilling out of his mouth. It took him another moment to realize that the man was gone.
Joe ran a few steps up and down the sidewalk, tippy-toeing to gain an advantage over the crowd. The man was gone.
“Thank you, oh thank you,” Joe whispered to the wind. “Whoever – wherever you are.” Despite the state of himself and his suit, Joe Dunn stumbled out of the park and into the streets, walking with the crowd and blending in as one is meant to do in such a circumstance.
“Home,” he muttered.
High in a sky-scraper three blocks away, a small apartment lay abandoned. Dust lined a window sill whose glass pane sat high up letting in the noise of the traffic and hundreds of people below. Threatening to fall off the sill was a small battery-powered radio. Its speaker faced proudly off the ledge and it crackled with tension and the sound of angry waterfalls. For a few seconds, the bent antenna caught a radio signal from hundreds of miles away.
It sang in a sad tune before fizzling out of battery; “If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow why, oh why can't --?” It used up the last bit of its power in a celebration. It liked it when people escaped the boxes of their minds.