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Dean Haspiel

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13th April 2005

10:39am: Breathe
I'm riding my bike down Clinton Street when I see an ambulance blocking the middle of the road. I look down to see what the cops and paramedics are looking at and it's a well dressed, white haired old lady lying on her back next to the back wheel of a parked car clutching her cell phone. She's beside herself. She's trying to push the right numbers to reach her husband but she can't. She's weeping "I need to call my husband. I need to call my husband." She says this over and over again as if she needs to call him to say goodbye. I think she thinks she's dying. The one female paramedic leans down and tells her to calm down. That "everything is going to be okay." The paramedic wants the old lady to hand over the cell phone so they can pull her out from under the parked car. The old lady won't let go of the phone. She needs to call her husband one last time. I feel a chill crawl up my spine and it makes me dizzy. Nobody wants to die huddled next to the back wheel of a car trying to call their loved one. I feel bad watching. I can't stand it when I can't do anything to help, even when professionals are doing the job. As they figure a way to pry her from the space she crawled under, I hop my bike and cycle slowly around the ambulance, silently wishing her well. On the other side of the ambulance is a sports car with two Spanish thugs dressed in gang gear looking white as a sheet. They're clutching their cell phones. Their eyes are locked on the old lady's plight. I put two and two together and realize that they were the ones who called 911. I bike past their sports car and look back one last time. Splayed across their windshield is a one word decal painted heavenly white in a hip-hop font. It says BREATHE.
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