invisible insanity

A shriek echoes through downtown. Like a soprano's vibrato, only applied to a trilled R - a letter and sound on which you'd never hear a singer hold a note. It stops. And starts again. On and off, repeating at irregular but frequent intervals.

As I walk around the corner, I see a scattered crowd of business people, their gazes all pointing in the same direction. For a moment, I imagine the sound is an emergency whistle. Someone is in trouble, but all the passers-by stop to watch instead of help - cold "professionals" who can't be bothered to ease someone else's suffering. After all, it's not their job.

But as I cross the street, I see the whistle blower - a 30-something man, pressed slacks and dress shoes showing beneath his black peacoat. He repeats the shrill call again and again and again, his eyes fixed on the street, the whistle between his lips, both hands at his sides.

And all those business people? Their gazes are actually fixed in the opposite direction, as if they don't have to acknowledge the man's existence if they refuse to make eye contact with him. Or, as they say, out of sight, out of mind.

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