Dayo looked towards the train terminal and thought of all the ways he could die right now. Jumping in front of it, or stampeded by even-toed pouch animals—let’s call them soccer moms, or falling between the cracks, or his head squished against the heavy doors. So many ways he thought. So many.
On a Monday night, sometime between 11:23 and 11:27, 1,125 even-toed pouch animals came herding in front of Dayo’s apartment complex. On the corner of 42nd and Vine, a pink-faced man with side-swept hair—well, as side-swept as a balding head could be—emerged from the distance. Pink-face was squished between pink pussy hats and brown pussy hats. Oddly, there were no pink penises to be found.
Dayo, a soft-hearted, earnest man, had the skin of a brasilia blueberry. Navy edges with lapis surrounds. Lamenting all of his days. He thought again of all the ways he could die right now as he looked down from the top floor of his 13-story apartment next to the silver-plated mega church in Chicago.
A furry squirrel emerged on the glass view from his one bedroom. Face to face they met, separated by the tall drink of water that was Pink-face’s frame smashed against the window. Suddenly, squirrel was rising higher and higher through the clouds, taken by a rogue eagle. Eagle dropped squirrel down thirteen stories and squirrel died a noble death, hard and fast. Dayo wished that was him.
On a Tuesday morning, sometime between 10:39 and 10:44, Dayo and his 1042 Nigerian cousins entered a vegan, organic, locally owned, open-source, fair-trade, food cooperative in the art district of a gentrified neighborhood searching for plantains. They were turned away. Dayo thought of all the ways he could die after he ate some plantain.
Dayo said goodbye to Fufu, Naya, Nasha, Ahunna, Chioma, Bako, Folashade, Eziamaka, Ginika, Adaego, and his other 1032 cousins. He sat in the taqueria next to Asafo’s African Market with a basket of six fried plantains left. According to past Dayo, this would be a good time to die.
Just then a stampede of pink-pouched even toed animals emerged from their early 2000s Subaru Outbacks. Dayo missed the good old days.
So, the Subaru Outbacks containing soccer moms emerged from the parking lot of Valley Natural Foods, just south of 32nd and Quinteros, precariously across from Taqueria El Comal. Then the Subaru Outbacks entered the parking lot of Taqueria El Comal in search of fish tacos and other exotic delicacies. But the soccer moms were turned away. Dayo thought of all the ways he could die when he ate that last fish taco.
Dayo exited Taqueria El Comal and suddenly fell sick. Maybe it was the Subaru Outbacks or the gentrification or the fried plantains or the vegan, organic, locally owned, open source, fair trade food cooperative or the fish tacos. But it must have been a flashback to Pink-face’s smashed pink face. Mr. Gonzalez from the taqueria found him unconscious outside of Valley Natural Foods, Dayo had fainted, overcome by the smog surrounding the South Side of Chicago.
In the early 2000s, Dayo and his family rode around Chicago in search of the best plantain and bookstores. He entered Books 4 Brokes, the local used bookstore in Pleasant Ridge, an up-and-coming neighborhood for young professionals. Dayo’s father, Ife, waited there for Dayo in the car every Saturday. Lining the walls were titles such as Thrillers & Killers, Self-Help for Poets, and Manga for Young White Readers. Self-help books were his favorites. They took away the feeling of being dragged down by the poisonous monsters in True Crime: Christianity & Alternative Beliefs.
Dayo was first prescribed Zoloft, then Zyban, then Paxil, Celexa, then Cymbalta, Nardil, and then Parnate. Until the psychiatrists began to lose hope. Treatment-resistant they called him. Later, psychotic. In the hospital, Dayo befriended Ofunne, a woman about twice his age. Bipolar Type 1, she told him. “Whatcha in for?” she asks, as if this were a prison movie. He was high as an eagle soaring above a thirteen-story apartment, high as in the highest position in the land—like the Pink-face president, high as in pilots who never run into pigeons, high as in skylight shining on the pitch-black eyes of a boy diagnosed with terminal sorrow. Terminal, they said. A condition that cannot be fixed by medicine, therapy, or hope.
Dayo thought of all the ways he would die here.
He hoped for the Subarus.
Image Credit: ITI Ion Vincent Danu, The Ghost Of Madness (2011)