This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
“I’m going to jump!” the woman said as she stood on the parapet of Essex Inn on Michigan avenue.
I lit a Marlboro Red. This was going to be a one smoke job. The first pull is the most satisfying, then the exercise becomes a task to completion. Dispatch sent me here before I could grab lunch. A smoke tends to quell tension in life.
Either she splatters the spectators on the ground and I go to lunch or she takes the elevator down and I go eat. It’s a binary outcome for her. A meal for me.
“You don’t need to do this,” said a union electrician who was working on the roof before the jumper arrived. I wonder if he needs to report this work stoppage on his time sheet.
I have fifteen years on as a cop. I have a wife, handful of kids-some from the current wife, others from previous relations, and I play pickup basketball once a week at a discounted gym. I’ll need solid health insurance to combat the lung cancer which will develop due to all the cigarettes wailing away on my torso. I always bet the under at tourney time. Yes, I do need to do this.
My partner, a rookie, looks like he is the one on the ledge. In three years, he will be blasé about the job. Now he is overwrought and almost catatonic. This morning he was a kid. No grey hair and hope in his eyes and heart. I’m hungry and need to eat.
“I’ll never find love again,” the young, blonde exclaimed. The electrician responded with words of empathy.
Finding love was easy for me. Keeping it was another story. Tracy Pallito ruined me by leading me along for months before my senior year. I found her ankles up on my parents’ college with Jason Mitira. After, it was a swirlee of unrequited sex. Very unstable, but enjoyable. I’m content today. Tomorrow-maybe. The day after-I don’t predict the future.
A crowd gathered on the street to watch. The people will say to their families at dinner tonight, “I saw a jumper today. She took the stairs down. What a tragedy to get to that point in life.” Or “I saw a jumper today. Some of her bile, bone, and blood peppered me like a Jackson Pollock. What a tragedy to get to that point in life.”
My cigarette was on its sixth puff. No one sells smokes on the roof of the Essex Inn.
I think my partner pissed himself as the women’s legs started shaking. If she turns around, she could call me a “pig” and spit on me.
Oh good, a fireman arrived. Those guys always have a solution.
“Everyone has a bad day. Tomorrow will be better,” the electrician pleaded with her.
Will tomorrow be better? Today is going well. Cloudless sky, nice shot of the lake six hundred feet up, and it’s T-shirt weather while the breeze keeps it from being a furnace. I like today. “Today was a good day,” Ice Cube rapped, and he didn’t have to use his AK. Live in the moment, I guess. Unless an omelet has your name on it in the future. Then live for the omelet.
The fireman rode the elevator down to talk to his supervisor. He was probably told to hold the jump net, mattress collection, or oversize beach towel to catch her in case she jumps. I’ve never seen it work. Good in theory, but more for show.
“I’m going to do it. I mean it,” she howled at the sky.
The electrician kept saying, “Don’t do it” showing he was out of emotional arguments. I was ready to throw him over the cornice because he was annoying.
The ash was building on my smoke. I need to hit the dry cleaners after work to get my suit for Aunt Pam’s third wedding this weekend. Aunt Pam found love again. I also need to unclog my second floor toilet, because someone ignored the sign on the wall “ONLY FOUR SHEETS OF TOILET PAPER PER FLUSH”.
A news helicopter flew above us. News at Nine or footage to be buried in the archives. My partner is working on his resignation letter in his mind. C’mon kid, this is a character builder. The half of dozen cops behind me are placing bets if she does it. Last trade I heard was 3:1 and survival wasn’t the favorite. My stomach growled.
They stop serving breakfast at Sonny’s at 10:30, and if this doesn’t end soon, my cigarette will be gone, and I’ll miss my ham and onion omelet.
I took a final drag off my Red. I should really quit smoking, but how would I kill time? 10:10-I can still make it.
The cherry on my cigarette glowed as I flicked it over the parapet distracting her long enough so I could yank her to the side of the living. We fell to the modified bitumen roof.
“Thank you,” she stammered as cheering rose from the street. I bet I get a lifesaving award which I can put next to my second-grade t-ball trophy in a landfill in Pontiac, Illinois. My partner will get a participation trophy.
The electrician resumed working. The crowd dispersed and the fire department folded up the splash pad so it could be used to thwart the next jumper. The paramedics wrapped a blanket around her.
“Wait,” she said as I took a look at her face. She was a knock-out. Someone you could bring home to mom.
“How did you two meet?”
“Church, Mom, we met at church.”
“How do you handle your problems?” her bright blue eyes enhanced by the sun framed her as the poster child for misguided youth. She sought answers no one could provide.
“Luck is never on my side when I bet, my wife spends more time with the neighbor than me, and my credit card is my bank account. The only problem I can solve is my starvation,”
I was at the stairs.
“But how do you deal with it all?” She wanted a more grandiose or epic statement, but I’m one of rudimentary build.
“I sure as shit don’t throw myself off a building.”
“Lady, you got a smoke?” I asked.
“You know a cig?”
“Gross! Those things are bad for you,”
10:30 am. It was a two cig job.