Walking With Virus

Walking With Virus

I live in the city. My neighbors are out walking. Not just a few but lots of them. Most are walking alone or at most two abreast. They walk slowly, without purpose, as if they have no place to go. They look like prisoners walking in the exercise yard.

This would be an opportunity for them to get to know each other but when they meet on the sidewalk they don’t stop and talk. A perfunctory “hello” or “good morning” serves as acknowledgement of the other. They cut a wide swath around each other as if each had a rabid pit bull on a leash. They seem like they are afraid of something.

Where the sidewalk is narrow one party will often step away and walk in the street. It is not dangerous because there is almost no traffic.

I live on the corner of what is normally a busy street on a weekday morning. I have not heard a car go by today, or yesterday or the day before. It is as if an alien electro-magnetic ray had disabled all the cars. Some of the cars have been parked in the street for weeks. There are no parking tickets on the windshields because the police stopped enforcing the rules.

I read about a town where the sidewalks had one-way signs. The police can fine people $100, for walking the wrong way. It reminded me of that scene in the movie Midnight Express where the main character, a prisoner in Turkey, is walking the “wheel” and suddenly starts walking the wrong direction. The other prisoners attack him.

With one-way sidewalks, the walkers never need to worry about running into their neighbors.

Some of the walkers have a terrible mysterious disease but no one knows which ones. Even those with the disease may not know it. I suppose it is best to assume they all have it.

The scientists don’t yet understand how the disease works. There is a new story everyday about different symptoms or treatments or transmission. The disease may be too much for our scientists. This has happened before.

There is a disease they have been working on for almost 40 years. Even after all that time, there are some treatments but there is no vaccine, or cure. That disease changed the way people behaved permanently.

I wonder if this disease will change people permanently.

Some small percentage of the walkers will eventually die of the disease. Of course, it is impossible to tell which ones. Maybe each person assumes they will be the one that dies.

Perhaps that’s why they are afraid.