In the movie Short Cuts, Buck Henry and his pals, while on a fishing trip, find the body of a young woman. She’s underwater and clearly dead. And, by the looks of it, she hasn’t been there long. They debate hiking back to civilization so that they can tell someone, but ultimately decide to stay where they are and continue their vacation. So they stand by her body, beers in hand, and reel in fish.
It’s the kind of thing that you can’t imagine would ever really happen, but, at the same time, you know very well might.
I was reminded of this scene today while reading an article in the Detroit News about the man found dead and frozen in ice few days ago in an abandoned Detroit warehouse. The story in itself was appalling — the image of his feet sticking up out of the ice just seemed to convey the helpless, demoralized and fragile state of Detroit at the moment – but what really got me was the fact that the men who had found him, while exploring the abandoned building, didn’t immediately tell anyone. Instead, they proceeded to play a game of ice hockey there, on the surface of the ice above him. I know that he was dead, and that there was no helping him at that point, but I can’t imagine being so cavalier about loss of human life as to do nothing. It makes me doubt our future prospects as a society. And I hate that it happened here in Detroit.
[At the request of several readers, I’ve chosen to take down that image that originally accompanied this article. The image showed the dead man’s legs extending from the ice. I’d originally thought that it was important to share the image, as it illustrates the dire circumstances in Detroit better than any article could ever hope to. Upon further reflection, however, I’ve decided to take it down. If you want to see similar images, just follow that link at the top of the post.]