As early as it was – we were there before 10am on a Sunday – the park was far from quiet. Near the fountain a large group of older men and women were practicing resistance exercises, pushing against one another, discovering (or working to maintain) their strength, and down by what was once the bird preserve, three police cars were parked at odd angles with their lights flashing.
One policeman was leaning across the hood of his car and talking to an athletic man in a red shirt. The man was animated, hands waving spiderlike as he spoke, and the policeman was writing furiously in his notebook, his pen scratching beetlelike across the page. Two insects in conversation. Another man, invisible except for his voice, was yelling loudly from the back seat of one of the patrol cars. Not an insect.
His nonstop yet nearly unintelligible tirade overwhelmed all other sound, but he did not sound drunk or drugged. His voice was clear, his words rounded but erratic. The words piled on each other, but did not seem to form sentences that made any sense. I could hear him pause as if a thought had been completed but the thought remained mysterious, blurred. The words did not follow one another sensibly; instead they bumped rudely into one another. Muttered swear words roared into meeker adjectives like ‘pink,’ ‘jellied,’ or ‘tender. ‘Furry’ became ‘furious’ in a split-second. ‘Obama’ and ‘Bush’ leaped into his wordstream now and again but without any apparent rhyme or reason. The names fell over waterfalls of words and lodged against a tumble of words with no glue to hold them together.
The yelling man was persistent, energetic, and loud; nothing could stop his harangue, but then no one was particularly interested in placating him, stopping him, or listening to what he had to say. Off to one side, away from the police cars, a serious young man scribbled frantically in a small notebook, and I had to wonder what he was writing. He appeared to be listening as intently as I was, but from the speed his pencil across the page, I assumed he was perhaps more interested in nonsequetors than I was or else needed somehow, for whatever reason known only to him, to collect and corral this spill of words. Except for the one patrolman busily recording what the man in the red shirt had to say, all the other policemen were standing calmly off to the side, well away from the scribbling man who may or may not have been listening to the yelling man. The policemen clearly had little interest in the flood of words. They stood, not doing much of anything, mostly shifting their weight from one foot to the next. One knelt down to speak with the gander leading the gaggle of geese crossing the street, heads bobbing to and fro, tails waddling, on their way to the lake. Another drank coffee from a paper cup, and the rest shifted from foot to foot.
I wondered where they would take the yelling man. I hoped he would not be confined in a jail cell without a window looking out on a tree filled with birds. I spent the rest of the morning and much of the afternoon with images, photographing, recording my own environment, needing to shove aside my own loneliness, trying not to think about how loneliness can become so large that the only way to make contact with anyone at all is to yell and yell and yell until words become floods, clogged with all the detritus of a forgotten life, expletives lodged against tender words of endearment, sorrow clogging all spillways into the heart.