My name is Bleek. This is not my real name. But, I can no longer remember my real name, nor do I care to try. All the people I know call me Bleek because of the world I live in.
I try to be happy, but I cannot. People tell me what a wonderful time they’re having, and ‘Ain’t life grand?’ But, I can’t see it. I can’t agree with them.
They speak of sunshine. Even now, as I look through the broken-glass windows of my rotting apartment, up toward the sky– I see no sunshine– only buildings, smoke, and pigeons; and slow approaching storm clouds.
Where is this ‘other world’ everyone else lives in? I do not understand. If I manage to talk with anyone for a minute or two, it feels like receiving a postcard from some exotic paradise.
I creep my yellow skin into a t-shirt, and shuffle out of the apartment. At the end of the hallway, the stairs begin to crumble. I hurry to catch steps before they break; slipping on splinters, cutting my feet wide open. A deep suck of breath and I fall over dizzy– hitting my head on the floor.
I cry out. My face throbs against linoleum.
“Oh, Bleek, you poor thing!” It is Mrs. Porter, my downstairs neighbor, “What happened to you now?”
She drops her purse, and struggles to get me to my feet. “How are you such a clumsy, clumsy man?” She studies my face with a worried smile once I am upright again.
“The stairs broke,” I try to explain, “I cut my feet.”
She looks down at my legs, which are bloodied. I see I have lost a shoe somehow. My foot is scratched and gorged; red and disgusting.
“We best get you to the hospital,” she ushers me toward the front door.
I slink outside. Mrs. Porter is right behind, one arm around me to make sure I don’t go down. Loud claps of thunder rumble toward us. I stand still for a moment. Lightening flickers on the horizon. Heavy beads of water begin their assault on my body.
“Mr. Bleek,” Mrs. Porter says with familiar amazement, “You seem to be completely wet!”
She looks around, and then up toward the sky– toward the windows of all the apartments around us. I look up too. I can just see the cloud. I can tell it is beyond her range of vision.
Mrs. Porter shakes her head. She is astonished. She regards my soaked body, “Some fool upstairs must’ve dumped a bucket of water on you!”
“No,” I shake my head slowly, “It’s just the world I live in.”

© Robert Emmett McWhorter


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