The man in 2C

The man in 2C is depressed.

That diagnosis is not my standard “observation M.D.”at work,  it’s scuttlebutt from the woman in 2A, the apartment directly across the way. We’re taking it as gospel, for lack of other sources, and because she was the one who let the cops/firemen in for the welfare check.

Welfare check. Dear me. That is a term I am acquainted with only from crime novels and sad winter stories about distant, widowed, grandmothers who haven’t checked in for a few days.

I woke up when they pounded on the locked vestibule door because he wasn’t answering his bell. The thudding after that was breaking down his door.

He was in there, alive, and redolently sotted.

And angry.

The yelling was unintelligible from a floor and a door away, but loud like the last shout before a punch, and the voices were tight with sorrow and challenge.

My mother sighed with empathy and a fearful parental anticipatory sorrow when I told her. That mournful exhalation changed him from a door, couple pairs of shoes, a pained shout, into a person for me.

I’ve seen him once since then. Possibly the first time I’ve seen him since he moved in. He was swearing volubly at his snow crusted car while he scraped ineffectually at it with a shovel. He grunted at my hello. I tried not to attribute emotion to the way he drove his poorly cleared car from the lot, but I couldn’t help feeling deeply sad that this entry level life activity, getting up and going to work, was so hard for him.

Today every recycling and trash bin is full, I suspect, of the months of trash accumulated in his apartment. It smells even worse than one might expect, and I don’t want to speculate why. The sorrow struck me again, seeing all the waste one person can make.

This is mental health in real life. This is the daily struggle of a stranger in a not-quite community. What is a human to do?

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