The sleepy afternoon sun dipped lower into the sky faster than traffic that day. Some impatient drivers poked their heads out open windows; others abandoned their cars and walked a ways to see what was causing the traffic standstill; and others turned on their radios, hopeful for news. When those who had abandoned their cars returned and spoke to the ones who were still poking their heads out, and were then stopped and questioned by those cycling the radio stations, a hush fell over the drivers, no longer impatient, but pale and wide-eyed. A hesitant eagerness slowly rose among them.
Honking horns and screeching tires were heard in the distance of those who had not yet been apprised of the situation, but slowly they, too, stopped. Traffic held its breath as they inched closer and closer to the cause of their late afternoon delay. Parents covered their children’s eyes as their own faces pressed close to the car window, their noses flattened and the white of their eyes overwhelming their faces. Those without children rolled down their windows and unabashedly stared, now wishing traffic would not move at all. The flash of cameras clicked away. Cell phones of all backgrounds clicked and linked this patch of late afternoon traffic to the world.
A bright blue and white building on the left signaled their approach to the scene. On the building were the words “Hospital” and “Emergencia”. A few more turns of the tires revealed a growing crowd of onlookers—shaking their heads, talking in hushed whispers, and attempting to help the police by directing traffic. As if flailing their arms wildly would force curious drivers to move faster. A few individuals occasionally broke away from the crowd and casually walked between the cars, telling the gory details to anyone who would listen. Everyone did.
Five more turns of the tires revealed the scene. The onlookers were forbidden from seeing it, but the police could do nothing about the traffic that slithered past.
He was on the sidewalk, a young man dressed in a bright, white T-shirt and jeans. His body faced traffic and was bowed as if showing great respect. Upon closer inspection, a patch of his bright, white shirt was drenched with blood. His face was crushed on the sidewalk, as if he had been dropped from a great distance face-first into the cement. He had died on his knees, body folded as if bowing, held up only by his arms, askew and awkward, on either side of his head. What looked like yellow folded index cards surrounded the body, marking blood spatters and a discarded cigarette butt.
In front of the hospital, the onlookers repeated the story without fail to the new drivers stuck in traffic. About the poor young man riding his horse around town. About a car that had stopped next to him. About the man who shot the rider at least eleven times. About the horse bucking and throwing the body to the sidewalk, then falling into the ravine and dying.
They spread the news long after the sun had set. By tomorrow it would all be a forgotten stain on the sidewalk.