I was my usual flippant self: "What? He finally found a wall that talked back?"
"No, he tried to kill himself. He's in the hospital right now."
"Oh," I said at the news this world of ours had shed one more tear. "I guess it had to come to that, didn't it?"
Street people talk to themselves a lot and outsiders find that "scary". And usually, the older a person is, the more prevalent the self-dialog. The young are in no less pain but still have something left in the tank to absorb the blows of the street. But comes a point when you're all tapped out, trapped and terrified you'll never have another human connection ever again. So you have to start talking, to keep your racing mind company and hopefully maybe stay one step ahead of the wolves of insanity barking at your heels.
I read about people who are experiencing long term unemployment for the first time. They talk about being invisible, feeling separated while standing in line for movie tickets, thinking: "I'm not one of them anymore, spending money without giving it a second thought. I'm a secret outcast." Suddenly, certain places are forbidden to you as you notice the upscale restaurant you can no longer frequent. In fact, forbidden zones are everywhere for the moneyless. It gets worse over time.
When explorers traverse over large blocks of ice they stay linked together by a rope in case a crack forms and one of them falls through. The lifeline will save them. America doesn't believe in lifelines, everyone has to "Pull their own weight" as a sign of alleged virtue. It's why we have the highest anxiety in the world. We pretend we're so strong no crack can come along to hurt us and if it does, then you must be doing something wrong. Leaving someone to die like that is a form of rape, America's true pastime.
Oh sure, we do a little of what I call "Jew hiding" like in WWII, giving shelter to those who would be crushed. Donate some money, fund a shelter and you hide a Jew from the Nazis of capitalism. But while that has to be done, it does no good if no one is fighting the Nazis - or even admit they exist! You can't stop the bleeding if you never heal the wound. Now you see why good deeds won't get us to heaven - we only do them so we won't have to change our wicked, wicked ways.
Ever been inside an ice schism? It's very cold and very lonely. And very quickly you realize your life depends on others to help. There is no possible worse feeling than that in America with its despicable code words like "individual responsibility" i.e. "You're on your own, pal!". Not what you want to hear as the ice walls close in and no matter how loudly you scream, no one will ever hear you. I know it's radical beyond all current norms of modern thought, but abandoning people is not my idea of being responsible. We are bloodthirsty savages in three piece suits, clawing and slashing to keep our futureless fantasy.
Conversation Guy had long ago fell through the crack, the ice splitting open right in the middle of his conversation. And to keep himself going, he never stopped having that discussion, he just kept talking away, desperately clinging to the hope he'd be pulled right back up and could continue along as if nothing had ever happened. We'd made a game of trying to deduce the original subject of his conversation, making a sort of "Who's on first?" routine out of it. All we really knew was it was about a relationship he'd once had or was having with a woman.
It's a long fall from feeling outcast standing in the check out lane to losing everything and walking the streets in complete despair. Somewhere along the way you lose your mind imprisoned between the relentless, unforgiving perils of the ice walls. They say when you reach the end of your rope to tie a knot in it. Conversation Guy did that, he survived the best he could hiding from the Nazis, but with no one fighting the good fight his strength to hold on finally gave way.