Fire men were standing in their usual confused huddle around a bench outside the Myrtle Ave projects. One of them came and met us on the walkway. “Um, he’s having chest pain, we think and he had a…seizure…maybe…”
He looked nervous. “And he’s…singing.”
Indeed, the slurred, drunken strains of I’ll Be There were wafting out from the center of the firemen’s circle and we knew it was Singin’ Joe.
This dude calls every couple days when he’s lonely or cold or just too drunk to get home. He was sitting jauntily on the bench, looking back and forth at the confused FDNY dudes, singing at the top of his lungs thru his oxygen mask and punctuating his song with the occasional scream of “OH MY HEART!! OW! OW!…I’ll be thaayayare!!”
“Whatsa matter Singing Joe?”
“Oh I was at dis ol party on the second flo’ and I caught a heart atta- no wait I caught seizure. I caught a seizure. JUST REMEMBER…Yeah!”
“So you came down stairs?”
“Uh huh, I’ll be thaaaayaaaree!”
I wave at Fire. “You can take that oxygen mask off.”
One of the boys goes to pull off the little plastic piece and Joe rolls his eyes back and starts twitching, his great big fro waving back and forth like a peacock tail. The fireman jumps back, horrified. “I’m ca-a-a-tchin a see-e-e-e-iz-ure a-a-a-aga-a-a-ai-n!!! Oh my chest, FUCK!”
I’m biting my finger not to laugh. “Just get on my stretcher, Joe. Seriously. You can finish your seizure on the bus.”
He obligingly brings his shaking to a dramatic close and climbs up onto our stretcher (Singing Joe is fucking tiny, by the way- more fro than dude.)
All the ER nurses turn and smile when we wheel Joe in. He’s crooning at the top of his lungs again, waving at his adoring fans like the drunken king of Brooklyn.