Marionette

Good morning.
I'm hoping to turn this one into a short film. I think it has potential.

Puppets and Pools

I was supposed to meet Will for lunch this afternoon at this little café off Letty Street. Normally, we meet at the sidewalk under his building. That’s one of the drawbacks working in two different buildings. It’s sometimes hard to coordinate.


I must have made it out first because Will wasn’t where he usually leans. I got my phone out and buzzed him.

“Hello?”

“Will, it’s Steve.”

“Oh, hey bud.”

“Lunch?”

“Oh, shit. Yeah, sorry. Time got away from me. Mr Worthen is working my team hard.”

“Tell me about it." We shared a chuckle. "Where are you man? You sound like you’re in a tunnel.”

"I’ll be down soon. Reception sucks up here.”

"Alright. Bye." We hung up, and I leaned in Will’s spot, a nice shaded area just under the awning and next to the trashcan.

The streets were busy, which was unremarkable. It was lunch time after all. People hustling and bustling. I couldn’t help but think I’m just like them, the only thing on their minds being what they want to eat. Sure, some of them are probably thinking about the morning, what they have to do when they come back from lunch, what’s due for tomorrow.

I stopped doing that a long time ago. Working for an advertising firm makes everything an ad. I look down the street and I see an Audi with the voice over that's telling me the MPG. I see people sitting in café chairs, and I automatically see a commercial for Chantix. So, I have to unplug.

I think it was the man in the red cap who pointed first. Straight up. The lady next to him followed his finger and replicated the gesture. She covered her mouth with her other hand to stifle a, what, scream?

“Oh my god!” someone shouted.

“Call the police!” someone else yelled.

A few people had their cell phones out.

“That man is going to jump!” The woman was wearing a tan trench and modest kitten heels. Her perfectly manicured nails pointed to where the man was. Oh my God, he's going to jump! Cut to man on rooftop, who puts 5Gum into his mouth. Tag line: living on the edge.

I don’t like accidents. I’m the person who’s behind you, honking my horn, when you slow down to leer at an accident on the side of the road. I’m the guy who pushes from behind when you stop to stare at the police handcuffing a guy. Today, I decided to take a look. Perhaps Will knows this guy. That would be excellent lunch conversation.

I peeled myself from the wall and sauntered to the brunette. I followed her elegant arm line to the ledge of the roof.

There he was. The jumper. He was in a grey suit, probably Armani. Nice suit really. If I were to jump to my death, I’d want to look that nice.

Then, I noticed. Perhaps it was the swoop of the hair. Perhaps it was the way his toes stuck out over the ledge. Will Harson was about to jump to his death.

“Oh shit. I know that guy.”

“You do?” The brunette glanced at me. “Well, do something!”

I didn’t realize I had said what I did out loud. She was right, though. I had to do something. I don’t remember getting to the roof. I’m pretty sure I knocked someone over. I burst through the rooftop door just like they do in movies, out of breath, shirt half untucked.

Despite the fact my best friend might become sidewalk art, the day was pleasant. And up here, on the roof of his building, the breeze picked up just enough to lift my hair from my head.

Will was on the ledge just below the roof line.

“Hey bud.” I said as I approached him.

“Hey! Want to join me?” He waved me over.

What else did I have planned? “Sure.” I sat on the edge of the roof, not daring to descend to his little ledge.

“You’ve come here to stop me.”

“Yep.”

“You can’t. I just want to make that perfectly clear.”

I sighed and stared out over the horizon. Down the street, the Empire State Building brandished its phallus heavenward. “Then, what’s going to happen?”

“Don’t know.” He reached up to me. “Shake my hand, Steve.”

I extended my hand down to his, warm and firm. He shook twice.

“I’ll be seeing you pal.” He looked up to me.

“Wait.” I held tight to his hand. “Just tell me why.”

“Why?” He chuckled. “I guess I hadn’t thought it. But, if I had to say, I’d say, why not?”

And then, he leapt. I watched his body falling through space, as if suspended. Little puppet strings pulling on a rapidly shrinking puppet. He had a smile on his face. I wonder what his last thought was.

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