A Public Death

text and drive

His body was sprawled out in the dirt on the side of the road underneath a steady stream of clear smoke from the tail pipe of a new red truck. His lips were cracked and dried. His eyes were closed. The sun burned through the layer of filth on his skin and the boy leaned outside of his window and took a picture.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he said. “What a piece of trash.”

The image flashed up on the retina display of his new phone. You could see every sweaty streak of dirt across his face and every ounce of blood that had dried on the top of his weeks old mustache. You could see the bruises on his sunburned skin and everybody, the boy thought, should see it.

He double tapped the center of the screen and brought up a menu of filters and effects. He tattered the border of the image and upped the contrast. He brightened the blood on the man’s lip and dulled the tone of his skin. He wrote the words “white trash” in between the white clouds that hung above the body and then sent the photo out into the world.

“Look what I found,” he wrote before the neon blue link of the image. “Another one of Scotland’s great citizens.”

The boy smiled, shifted the truck into gear, and pulled back out onto the open country road as the body slowly disappeared in the rear view mirror like the afterthought of a meaningless conversation.

It wasn’t until the next day when the boy heard on the radio that a man had died at the intersection of Perth and Highlandman road that he thought again about the picture. According to the report, the man had been walking with his thumb out when a car clipped him and left him for dead. Left him on the side of the road for someone else to find. For someone else to worry about. For someone else to care. For someone else.

Hundreds of car must have passed by that day, the boy thought, and saw the man lying on the side of the road. They must have seen the blood on his lips and the dirt on his face. They must have seen his mangled body wrapped inside his burnt red skin.

He took the phone out of his pocket and scrolled to the image of the dead man on the side of the road. He studied the picture for a long time trying to determine if the man was dead at the time of the photo. He shaded the screen with his hand and looked at the expression on the man’s face.

“He was dead,” the boy said nervously to himself. “It wasn’t my fault. He was dead. There was nothing I could do about it.”

He put the photo back into his pocket and wondered why no one else had stopped to help.


An Edinburgh, Scotland, teen could face criminal charges for tweeting a photo of a dying hit-and-run victim but doing nothing to help the man. – NY Daily News

2 thoughts on “A Public Death

  1. I liked this story. It felt real and plausible no one would have stopped for the man. Things like that, sadly, happen. I loved that the story left me with some sadness contemplating it and the reality of people who don’t care about the suffering of others and those who’d rather take a photo of someone in trouble than help him.

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