I was driving home last night. It was very late, around 1:00 am. I came upon a train crossing, and as I neared it I heard the familiar tone as the arms dropped. I immediately put the car into park. This late at night the only trains that would be running would be freight. I was right, as the cars rolled past. While I sat there, a man stepped out from the dark, from the ditch that separated the woods from the track. It was raining.
The man looked like he had something wrong with him. As he walked, he seemed to sway and limp at the same time, stumbling until he was halfway across the road, standing on the center line. His eyes were yellowed, and he seemed to have odd discolorations in his skin. His hair was dirty and stringy, and he shook as he breathed. The train continued to roll past, tanker cars blurring together with standard freight. All the while the man simply stood there, swaying in place, his eyes looking off at nothing.
At first I thought he was drunk, but then he turned and looked at me, and I could tell that what was wrong with him wasn't alcohol. I've been drunk enough times to know. His eyes weren't bloodshot, and his pupils weren't dilated. He simply looked lost and disinterested. I turned my gaze away from him, not wanting to bring on attention.
The man was soaked, and seemed not to notice when the rain began to pick up. I focused off of him, and simply brought my attention onto the flashing signal, watching the train pass by. Wishing it would finish passing through. I thought about my day, and how much I hated this cold I have. Small things like an itchy throat can really rile you up. I turned my attention back to the center of the road, only to jump. Because the man now standing next to my door, staring in.
I tried to ignore him, but that is awfully hard to do when someone is that close. He didn't really move, didn't try to open the door or talk to me. He just stared. All the while the train rolled past. The rain pattered on the hood of my car. And the man just kept swaying back and forth.
At last the train passed, and the rails began to rise. I put my car back into gear and when I was sure I could get underneath I drove off. I looked back, only to see the man staring at me as I drove away. When I was far enough away I parked at a local gas station, went inside, and called the police. They arrived soon there after, and I directed them to where I saw him last, which to my surprise he had not moved from. I watched as they gathered him into the car, the officers keeping contact with him to a minimum. He didn't put up any bit of a fight anyway. Just calmly got in.
The police came by and asked me a few questions, as I shared with them what happened. They said that the man was probably mentally ill, and lacked identification. They then drove away, with the man in tow. I watched, my gaze falling on the man again. He simply looked at me, and waved. Then he was gone, and I didn't hear anything else about it.
They say thoughts are things. That somehow we attract things to us, that things aren't just coincidence. I can't imagine that to be true. Because I really don't want to think about what that would mean for me. If this is what I draw to me...maybe I do. There is so much I don't talk about. Things people wouldn't understand. Maybe...maybe in some way I did draw the man to me. Someone who looked as sick as I have been feeling lately.
I was curious. I have no idea why I was so damn curious. I have to try to avoid crap like this. But I went off to the side of the road where I saw the man and searched the woods, unsure what I would find. For all I knew anything I found could have belonged to someone else.
But as I searched I came upon a plastic bag, sealed tight. Feeling around before opening it, I could tell it was a book. I opened the bag, rainwater dripping onto my leg. The book was in another language, though I could see it was a journal. I resolved to give it to the police. Maybe it would help them in some way. But then I noticed something among the words that I recognized...Ardat-Lili.
It was the words my wife had uttered when she was near to death. A Sumerian demon.
An unclean creature. A creature of disease and filth.
I handed the book over. It wasn't any use to me. I couldn't read it. I mentioned the man from the other night, and the cops said that he had died in his cell. He spoke German. The cause of death hadn't been determined. But they said how he had mentioned “A nice man, who waited with him.” They figured he was referring to me. Thought I had done the right thing calling them.
I don't know.
I am not sure what is right anymore.