“This is gonna be a tough one.” Wiping the remnants of his morning banana from the fringe of his mustache with the back of his swarthy hand, Jimmy peered up to the 21st floor and shook his head.
“Yep, don’t like the look of this one…” he continued to no one in particular, “got that desperate look about him”.
Tossing his banana skin to the ground, Jimmy hitched up his dungarees and worked his way to the building entrance.
To see Jimmy once is enough to give even the causal pedestrian an instant idea of his character. To speak with him only reasserts your first impressions that here is a man who knows what he likes… and it ain’t much. That being said, Jimmy prided himself on being able to talk anyone into just about anything, be it a hardened junky into giving up the needle or convincing a 10-year-old Girl Scout into giving him half off a box of Samoas.
Climbing the stairs used to be part of the thrill, but now a days they only reminded him that he was pushing 60 and should have traded the double cheeseburgers for bananas more than two decades ago. “Damn bananas…” he grumbled to himself. None of that mattered now, he needed to focus. On flight 17 he lost the battle with his pride and took the elevator; after all, every second counted and he couldn’t risk things ending badly because he was hefting a few too many pounds for his 5’11’ frame.
Upon reaching the window in closest proximity of the ledge, Jimmy paused, ignored the urge to vomit, (would he ever get used to this?) and inched closer until he had the subject in sight.
“Hi, there, my name is Jimmy and I’m here to help. Why don’t you come down from that ledge so we can talk.”
On receiving no response after several minutes, Jimmy continued, “I can tell you that you don’t want to do what you’re thinking about. I know what it is to live with pain, son. I also know that it’s worth it, to live. Now why don’t we talk a little and see if we can come up with a better solution?”
“You don’t know what it’s like. I can’t take it anymore…I… I just can’t.”
Encouraged by enticing some sort of response, Jimmy was starting to feel that he may be gaining a handle on the situation. “You would be amazed to find what you can do, son. Take it from me.”
“Yeah, what’s that supposed to mean, old man?”
“It means I’ve seen some things, done some things, things I wish I could take back but instead have to live with every day. But it’s worth it. Trust me on this, son. It’s worth it.” Jimmy scanned the situation with his peripheral vision and decided the risk could be taken. All the safety measures were in place, the area was secured, workers from the building and all other civilians had been evacuated and Jimmy’s safety harness was secured to a load-bearing beam in case the worst happened. If he was going to take the risk, now was the time.
“Ok now son, why don’t you tell me what this is all about.” It was a diversion. Jimmy needed to keep him talking so when he lunged the subject wouldn’t have time to react and do something dumb…like jump.
“What’s the point? No one cares, no one gets it… why even both—“
Jimmy had made his move and using his haunches had sprung towards his subject with an agility that betrayed his age, but somehow… he had missed.
Dangling from the safety cord secured to the beam inside, Jimmy made a last desperate grab and watched, horrified, as the boy fell, helpless to do anthing.
“GOD, NOOOOOO!!!!”, he screamed, “NOOO!!!”
Jimmy? Jimmy, why are you screaming?
Looking away from the sunless sky, Jimmy blinked several times before recognizing his nurse, Agatha. “Agatha, you’ve got to help me. I just killed another one,” Jimmy sobbed, “another one slipped right through my hands. I could have saved him. I had him, damn it! I had him! It should have worked, the risk was justified, I should have had him…I should have…”.
Shaking her head, Agatha bent down to pick up the discarded banana peel by his wheelchair and walked away. She had heard this story almost every day that Jimmy had been in residence, going on 6 months now, following his mental collapse when a 16-year-old boy fell to his death when Jimmy had been on the force as the suicide negotiator. She had tried to comfort him in the past, gave him extra meds to calm his nerves, but nothing helped. She had other patients to tend to, patients that could be helped, and Jimmy seemed beyond her, or anyone’s help.
Turning again to the window, Jimmy stared out at nothing. A few minutes later, or maybe an hour, (who can be sure in a room with no clocks?) the pigeon returned to the outside sill of the window and in short time was nestled quite comfortably in its usual spot.
An expression of awareness appeared on Jimmy’s face as he looked at the pigeon. “This is gonna be a tough one.”
“Yep, don’t like the looks of this one…” Jimmy said to the now vacant room, “got that desperate look about him”.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
Ok, so this story took kind of a dark turn that I really wasn’t planning on, but hey, I go where the story leads me.
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: Today on one of my many trips to the ladies room (I have a bladder the size of a peanut, I swear), I happened to glance out of the window to see a pigeon sitting quite comfortably on the window ledge outside. I work on the second floor and seeing pigeons is no great event in and of itself, however this pigeon seems so content to be on that ledge he didn’t care who was walking by or how close they came. He would simply cock his head to one side, peer at you a little, and then go back to whatever pigeon thought was consuming his wee pigeon brain that moment. I began carrying on a little conversation with this pigeon (in my head of course, I’m not completely insane…yet, anyway) like he was a suicidal jumper and I was trying to talk him down, “don’t do it man, you have so much to live for!” I was cracking myself up, which I do quite often, and that led me here…
TWO: Jimmy (the name only) is an ode to my dear brother who reached out to me today, all the way from California. He made my day (and bought my dinner) with a sweet gesture that honestly took me aback. So thank you, James (and visit your sister soon!).
THREE: The banana in the story and Jimmy taking the stairs refers to my daily struggle to eat and live healthy. I failed miserably today, the banana is ripening in my office as we speak and I bypassed the stairs for the elevator, I blame the heels. And so, as punishment I am chronicling my failure here, where I will be reminded to eat my fruit (and veggies) and always take the stairs (its only two flights, for goodness sake!).
And thus concludes day 2. Still going strong?
Love & Squirrels.