Today I walked past a woman on the street. Well, I actually walked past many women on the street. I imagine I passed a countless number of women without seeing them as anything other than another obstacle to navigate on the streetscape. Equality yo.
Some I did notice. One in particular caught and held my attention.
I’ll admit, the prime cause of this noticing was most usually because I found these passing strangers to be attractive. Shiny. I’m not sure if it’s OK to find women attractive in these modern times, or call them shiny, but the truth is the truth. I get distracted by shiny things. Women included. If I were a bower bird decorating my nest it would be built and decorated with attractive women. Well, I mean, um… Hmm. That metaphor took a decidedly grim turn. I leave it up to you to come up with your own. Hopefully one that’s a little less Ed Gein-y.
I can say, with all honesty, it’s not just pretty girls that distract me. While in motion almost anything can cause my brain to switch from mission mode, i.e.; get to my destination as soon as possible with the least amount of resistance, to a meerkat-esque “Oh, what’s that?”
Seeing a bird indoors can break my stride; no Matthew Wilder or Unique II here. A cat wandering seemingly aimlessly to its destination. Sirens. Screeching of tires. Waves of heat causing scalding concrete to shimmer. Reflections of light in puddles. I’ll often be walking home, or more likely from bar to bar, in full mission mode when one thing or other piques my interest. Even if only briefly.
Which brings me to…
I was walking down one of the busiest streets in the city. Perhaps the entire country. The wide streets are paved with smooth grey stone and lined with trees trying to eke out an existence within the concrete jungle. Sporadically the completeness of the concrete breaks enough for grassy spaces to break through, where people congregate and enjoy themselves. Benches abound for travellers to rest their weary souls. Free from cars, the only vehicles that traverse this particular street are countless bicycles and rattling trams. The occasional horse pulls a romantic couple through the grey in a light filled carriage fit for a princess while jealous onlookers look on.
I was taking all of this in as I trundled with ragged determination toward my destination. My destination still being decided upon in my head. Being new to the city and having a few pints of Young & Jackson’s finest ale in my belly I was content to wander somewhat aimlessly while taking in the cacophony of senses that collide to make up my new home.
Sometimes I pay an inordinate amount of regard to the footpath itself. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m inherently interested in the ground upon which I walk, or simply that having my head down limits the things I can be distracted by. Or, most likely, I’ve become aware that if you don’t look ahead while walking the people coming towards you can’t assume you’ve seen them and then further assume you’ll move out of their way. Regardless of the cause, on this day, gravity keeps my head down.
You see some shit on the footpath man. Garbage, gum, graffiti, vomit, blood, other less determinate liquids… Every single blight a story unto itself. On this occasion, it was my propensity to keep my head down that lead me to discover what appeared to be some kind of leak.
A stream of liquid blocked my path. Not that I needed a drawbridge to cross this impromptu watercourse but it was substantial enough that I noticed it. As the day was hot and there was no natural precipitation in the sky, I assumed it was a leak.
Aaaand, it was.
As I happened to be walking in the center of the footpath I turned my vision right to see the unknown liquid continue for a few feet before diverging into two separate streams, both of which continued their flow all the way to the curb before pooling slightly then waterfalling over the crest and into the gutter that lined the street.
“Ok,” I thought, “That’s where it’s going. I wonder where it’s coming from.”
Clearly this was not the kind of leak that leads to celebrities private pictures being distributed on the internet for all and sundry to shamefully fap to. I assume. No, this was an altogether different, significantly less sexy, yet equally distasteful leak.
Turning my vision left, seeking the source of the leak, I followed the stream up the slight gradient to find a woman sitting on one of the aforementioned benches that litter the streetscape. She was a portly woman, in shabby clothes. Not overly portly, so as to appear morbidly obese. And not too shabbily dressed to give the impression that she was homeless. She was, however, portly and shabbily dressed.
She also wore a light blue beanie marked with stains. Stains that appeared to be attained from at least three separate unknown sources. I’m not sure why, but I feel like that’s a significant identifier to consolidate whatever her specific affliction was. Yeah. Like, she looked off. She definitely wasn’t one of the norms that shuffle off to their shitty jobs every day to earn just enough money to do it again next pay cycle under the ridiculous belief that they’re getting ahead. No, this woman was an entirely different specimen playing by her own rules.
So. This woman. Not a norm. Sitting on a bench. Leaking fluid. Across the breadth of the footpath. First thing that comes to mind? Pee right? You think it’s pee. I thought it was pee. I was all prepared to write the stream off as one of the fellow denizens of the city expelling excess fluid from her bladder without feeling it entirely necessary to go to the trouble of utilizing one of the cities many public toilets.
We’ve all been there.
As gravity continued to push the liquid towards the curb a cursory glance gave me pause to think that her urethra was not the source of the fluid. Yes, urethra, I paid attention in biology. The more I looked the more it became clear that her leg, not her urethra, was the culprit. Her shabby dress was hiked far enough up her portly legs for me to see that her left leg was swollen in such a grotesque way that it could easily have been the model for a Dali painting. Without the need for any added surrealism.
In addition to the swelling I could clearly make out three large raised lumps that looked angry. Swollen and inflamed these lumps were clearly not the source of the flow but nonetheless, they didn’t look benevolent. The spring was clearly emanating from the three-inch wound on the left side of her calf. It didn’t appear to be a cut, burn, stab wound or any other identifiable injury. The wound was of a completely indeterminable origin. It was almost as if her skin had stretched too thin and had simply pulled away from itself at the weakest point. Split. Fissure! It was a fissure. Spewing copious amounts of leg juice out into the water table.
Now, nonsense aside, it wasn’t such a raging torrent that I grabbed the nearest pair of pigeons and ran for the closest ark but I can safely say, without any hyperbole, that the amount of fluid streaming from this woman’s leg was not usual.
Any fluid coming from a leg is not usual. Legs shouldn’t be doing fluid.
I, being the significantly flawed individual I am, an individual that is still shocked by the sight of a stream of fluid coming from fellow human beings LEG, stopped dead in my tracks and stared. Not necessarily because I’m an asshole, that more than likely still being a critical factor, but more because my brain had not seen an event like this before. I needed time to process what was actually happening before adding it to my personal database of things that can actually happen in real life.
Had I have been a better person, or at least a less intoxicated one, I may have offered some assistance. Asked some questions. Seen that she was OK. As OK as someone with an unknown fluid gushing from their leg can be. Maybe bought her a mop. I don’t know.
I did none of these things. Instead I decided that I’d had enough of my drunken wandering for one night and chose to head home. No more getting distracted by women.
Making my way downtown, walking fast, faces pass and I’m home bound.