Covid City Blues
By: Adam Kluger
It will end someday…but I probably won’t be around to see that thought Eldred Chambarlee.
90+ days in self-quarantine can make a man think.
Think about his mortality. His mistakes. His loved ones. His courage or lack thereof. Cowardice more like it.
When push came to shove and the CDC said to stay inside, Eldred listened.
Guilt and anxiety kept him company.
Hope visited on rare occasions.
At 7 pm every day, New Yorkers would bang pots and yell and clap a serenade to front line workers. Eldred thought of his friends on the front line as he clapped alone.
How brave they were and how cowardly he was.
While his friends and family went on with their lives seemingly unafraid, Eldred burrowed into his small apartment and did his laundry in his bathtub and tipped the Super to go to the supermarket for him when supplies ran low.
Ramen and coffee were the main staples along with Cheerios and cans of tomato soup.
Zoom calls and business calls conducted on a cell phone with a cracked screen that had a fast-draining battery kept Eldred somewhat connected, helped him pay some bills, and created a sense of normalcy in a world and life turned upside down.
Not normalcy. Routine.
TV and the computer kept Eldred sane along with anti-anxiety pills and pills for his diabetes.
Every day he would Google “vaccine” or watch the local news report with the Mayor and Governor talking about the death tolls and the curve and the need for social distance. The need for immune-compromised individuals to remain cautious and vigilant.
To avoid going outside when possible.
Eldred did not step out of the apartment now. Ever.
When supplies, ordered on-line, were left outside his door Eldred wore a mask under a face covering and frantically took in the supplies and washed them in nearby plastic garbage cans filled with soapy water–the whole process took about three minutes. It always left him gasping and covered in sweat. Afraid.
Opening the door.
Spraying the area and items outside the door with Lysol spray.
Quickly dunking the wrapped and canned food in soapy water then throwing it to an area near the kitchen to dry.
Then Eldred would quickly take off his face covering and clothes and throw them in the hamper and jump in the shower.
His beard and appearance were unkempt. A broken pair of glasses was held together by scotch-tape.
He was sure that things would eventually go back to normal but he wasn’t at all sure if he would still be around for that.