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Until he pulls out the knife, the young man sitting in the corner is like every other homeless man that comes through the shelter, a little smelly, a little crazy, a little lost among all the others getting out of the storm. And when he starts arguing with himself, she doesn’t pay any attention. Until he pulls out the knife.
She thinks, it’s my last day. At this job, in this life, she doesn’t know. But it’s the violent end of something and she isn’t surprised. She’s been waiting. Waiting with every hospital closure, cold snap, cutback, for this day to come.
Until he pulls the knife out she doesn’t know she’s been stabbed, that her lung’s been punctured. Until he pulls the knife out it doesn’t even hurt. After that it does nothing but hurt, the air going in, the air coming out, the air itself is painful.
What if she has to testify against him? That’s when the fear starts. It’s not that she’s afraid to see his face, it’s that she’s afraid she won’t recognize him. He could sit beside her on a bus and she wouldn’t know him. Until he pulls out the knife.