Marco had schizophrenia. He thought he was magic. When he walked down the street and was in his normal state, he acted with kindness. He gave the few coins his sister gave to him, to the ones with signs that said “HUNGRY.”
He wasn’t hungry. At least not today. At breakfast, he had three eggs sunny side, five pieces of crisply fried bacon, four pancakes smothered in syrup and butter and one sausage. He would have had more sausages but the babies, little Melissa, five, and Derrick, four, liked them. His sister, big Melissa, loved it when he ate, so he ate as much as he could. No coffee, though. Coffee made him act crazy.
On Tuesday a week ago, he made multiple mistakes. The first mistake was that he drank one and a half cups of straight coffee. Then, he made a second mistake. He left home alone. That was the day he discovered how magical he was. He took off all his clothes except for his Hanes boxers. This was his third mistake. He would have been faster and not weighted down if he had taken off all of his underwear.
People gathered with cells phones raised like salutes. Do it, do it they chanted. He didn’t know what they meant.
The police came and he hugged both of them. He knew them and they knew him.
They put their arms around him and led him to their police car. They were going to take him home.
The crowd chanted Leave him alone over and over. Marco smiled and waved. He bowed. He felt like a king.
I am magical he told Officer Jim. I know Jim nodded.
It started to drizzle. Marco shivered. He was sensitive to water. It made him feel afraid. Officer Dan patted his shoulder. Me, too, he said. Water makes me nervous. Officer Dan looked over Marco’s shoulder at the big bridge in front of them and shook his head
The crowd grew quiet. The sudden silence stunned Marco. He felt betrayed.
Everyone was looking at the bridge. A woman with a small girl waved back and forth. It appeared they were struggling. Then something flew downward into the water.
Marco felt his magic return. He shrugged free of Officer Dan. That little girl needed her dolly. He thought of little Melisa and big Melisa and he was off.
The water was cold. He moved on instinct plunging toward the dolly. His kept his breathing steady as he went under the bitter water. He had her or something. It was so light like a limp piece of water-soaked cloth.
He heard cheering as his head broke the water’s surface and he took a deep magical breath sucking in all the air he could. A rope was lowered to him but it looked like a snake and he was afraid to take hold of it. The crowd chanted take it take it and his magic overcame his fear.
With one hand he grabbed the rope while with the other he held onto the wet cloth that dripped all over him as he was pulled free from the darkness around him.
The crowd went wild with glee as he handed the soaked fabric to Officer Jim who laid it on the ground and began kissing it. Odd Marco thought, a grown man kissing wet cloth.
Officer Dan put an arm around Marco and said Thatta Boy.
Someone in the crowd gave him a blue blanket to put on. It felt like a cape and it was warm.
Officer Jim looked up at the sky. Marco thought he saw Officer Jim’s lips move. The paisley figure spurted some water and began moving. Officer Jim nodded and bowed his head. The cloth sat up.
That’s when Marco confirmed to himself that he was magical. The piece of cloth became a little girl. He did that. Marco raised his arms like Rocky in that old movie.
An ambulance arrived and the little girl was taken away. Officer Dan put his arm around Marco. I’ll walk with you, he said. Let’s get you home.
Lynette Esposito has been published in Poetry Quarterly, Inwood Indiana, Walt Whitman Project, That Literary Review, North of Oxford, and others. She was married to Attilio Esposito.