Thursday, June 30, 2016

Standpipe: Delivering Water To Flint

A man waits for us in front of his apartment building fifty yards distant from the nearest parking space.  I called ahead so we wouldn’t have to search for the unit in this confusing warren of identical buildings.  He needs ten cases, apologizes.  His place is on the top floor. I load six cases vertically on the hand truck, my partner and the man carry two cases apiece and we set off across a parched expanse of weedy grass.  We stack the water on the stoop, use one case to prop open the door.  I ask my partner to stay with the truck and the man and I lug two cases each up six flights to the third floor.  We swelter in the stairwell, airless as a tomb.  The man pauses on the second floor landing on his way back down.  His breathing is shallow, color bad.  I ask if he is all right.  He nods but says nothing.  I ask him to wait by his door while I bring up the remaining six cases.  That done, the man thanks me.  Both of us are winded, find it hard to talk.  I take care to remove my work glove before shaking his hand. 

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