It was getting late as they all gathered around him. He seemed so peaceful, lying there naked and spread eagle with his eyes shut, and his mouth wide open. If not for the ever-collecting puddle of blood underneath his buttocks, it would be quite difficult for any of them to tell that James wasn’t sleeping. The fact still remains, however, that less than a minute earlier, James uttered his final words, and took his step, which ended it all off the ledge of his thirty-second floor flat.
The world was racing furiously. How could she do this to me?! After all I’ve done for her, after all I’ve given her…all the jewelry, all the cars, the house in the Hamptons! No, it couldn’t be. James must have been dreaming. After pinching himself several times, James came to the morbid realization that it was real. Beth was sleeping with Frank, and there’s no other way to look at it. I mean I walked in on them for god’s sake!
There was only one thing that mattered now. Get the kids and get them out of town. They were the only things in his life that mattered anymore, and James had to make sure they weren’t hurt. He got into his ’67 Stingray, and drove the 5 miles to Emily and Johnny’s elementary school. James always hated the way that 135 of the 150 spots in the Eastville Oaks School were roped off for use by teachers only.
Regardless of the rope combining two cones on either side of the parking spot, James plowed his nose underneath the rope, and jumped out of his driver-side door as quickly and efficiently as was humanly possible. I can’t just run in, grab the kids, and run back out. I’ll look way too suspicious. I’ve got to slow down and take a breath.
Betty had her eyes on him the second he pulled up off the main street into her driveway. As the campus security guard, of course Betty had the low down on whatever criminal activity happened to be unfolding at any given moment of the day in Eastville. Therefore, it was no surprise that James rolled up in his ’67 black beauty, just like the chatter predicted he would. “We’ve got a situation here. The bird has landed in the nest. Requesting all units in the vicinity for backup.” That should do it, thought Betty. If James gets out of here with his two kids, then I’m going to resign right here and now.
“Babe, calm down. He’s not going to do anything rash. He loves those kids more than he loves me or you.” “Frank! Are you insane?!?! He’s going to take them, he’s going to disappear with them, and I’m never going to see them again!! I need a drink.” The two were arguing for the past several hours. In fact Frank and Beth deemed to always be arguing when they weren’t making love. It’s a good thing she married James and not me, thought Frank.
“Frank, I think I’ll call the cops. I’ll tell them how you and I are lovers, and how he’s probably over there right now trying to extract my babies from their…their…school!!” With this, Beth broke down crying. Frank, the masculine, lumberjack, man’s man type guy, was never good at getting in touch with his or other people’s feelings, but he put a heavy hand on her back to comfort her nevertheless.
As James slowed down, he took a second to think about what he was doing, which was probably a bad idea. He knew that if he didn’t get the kids and get out of there, he would probably never get another chance. Screw it, he thought. James walked straight up to the door, and as he got closer, was able to make out the faint outline of a heavyset woman, who appeared to be wearing a police uniform. Please don’t tell me they trust this woman to try and stop me, James quipped in his mind. However, as he got closer, the large woman in the police uniform, who James didn’t know as Betty just yet, slowly reached down to her utility belt, and unfastened her gun holster.
Why a campus security guard had a gun, James had no idea, but he would have to be crazy to continue his stride, if his life were on the line. No. He must get the kids. It was worth risking his life for. He marched onwards, and as he took each step, bringing him closer and closer to the front doors, Betty moved a little bit. Eventually, she was standing there with her revolver pointed squarely at James’s chest, and he was stopped dead in his tracks with his hands up, about ten or fifteen feet away. “Sir, if you don’t stop now, I’m going to have to use my firearm. I can’t let you endanger any of these kids lives.”
Suddenly, there were sirens and squad cars everywhere. James decided this was his chance, and he made a run for it. He turned on his heel and sprinted back to his idling ‘vette as fast as his 6’2” wide receiver’s frame would allow. He didn’t even care that he was leaving the kids with Beth and Frank. If James was going to save his own, he’d have to look out for his own, which means no baggage. No kids. He hopped into the seat and backed out of the spot. James put the pedal to the metal, but slammed on the brakes only seconds later. The pigs seemed to have made a makeshift rope with their cars.
He loved his baby, but it seemed that desperate times called for desperate measures. He gunned it and aimed for the tail of the nearest crown vic painted in white and black. All of a sudden, there was a huge explosion, and James was shaken to his very core. He could not have possibly gauged the magnitude of the explosion or the collision, especially since he couldn’t see the row of cars behind the two he just hit. Regardless, something inside his brain told him that he must keep going or it was all over.
Foot on the gas and just moments away from passing out, James plowed on through the black and white ring and right into his very own ocean of freedom. But what freedom? The love of his life was sleeping with his brother, and in just a few minutes, the two of them will have taken the kids and left town, never to be seen or heard from again, most probably. James reached down between the seats for the bottle of Jack that he kept stashed away for dire circumstances just as this one. He downed the entire thing in 2 swigs, and he felt fine for a minute. Then it hit him like a ton of bricks.
Miraculously, he managed to make it back home in one piece, but barely. His car was destroyed, his life was destroyed, he seemed to have nothing more to live for. He stumbled out of the top of his no-longer beautiful 1967 Chevy, and made his way across the front lawn to his apartment complex. He waved to Ralph, who smiled at him a bit comically, and then pushed the down button for the elevator. It took James 30 seconds before he realized that he pushed the down button, which wasn’t illuminating, before he pushed the up button, and the elevator made it’s descent from the roof down to the floor level.
Ralph knew something was up. After all, he’d been seeing more and more of James’s brother than James himself, and Ralph was no idiot. He knew what was up, he just didn’t know how long the two of them could keep it up. Guess their luck ran out. I better follow the big guy, thought Ralph, lest he end up in a poor situation. Ralph took the next car up to the 32nd floor, and walked to apartment 3241, where the door was wide open, and the slightest draft seemed to be coming out of the doorway.
What Ralph saw next was a frightening sight that would keep him up for the next several weeks. After all, at 17, he was just a kid, and wasn’t cut out for this type of stress. “James! Just come back in off the ledge,” yelled Ralph. The room was completely disheveled, with broken glass strewn about the carpeted floor, and James clothing, body-clad just moments earlier, now shed to the floor like a viper’s skin which has overstayed its welcome. Ralph reached into his pocket for his cell phone, and silently dialed 911. Lord knows this is an emergency, if ever there was one.
What’s Ralph doing here? No one was supposed to see this. It was supposed to be quick. clean. painless. He wasn’t supposed to see it, but oh well. It has to be done, and there’s no way some scrawny punk 17-year old Jew with braces and a skullcap is going to stop fate. Now, all I’ve got to do is shed my drawers, and make the leap. James slowly bent down, took off his boxers, and turned to look at the endless landscape and lights beneath him. A crowd seemed to be gathering, and even though he was over 300 feet up, he could swear he saw Emily and Johnny down there. Don’t be ridiculous, old man. They’re in school at their overnight. You just left there minutes ago. If they weren’t you would have had no trouble walking right through the front door, but that pestering Betty was there. It’s all her fault. Everything. No. Don’t blame it on her. Man up, and take responsibility. Jump. NOW!
As James took that final step of the ledge, he had one last regret. The last regret that would have made him change his mind, but it was too late. He fell through the air, weightless and insignificant, and it seemed as if, momentarily, all of his problems seemed to have vanished. No more Beth. No more Frank. No more Emily. No more Johnny. Just Ralph’s outstretched hand reaching down, and his springy red curls on top of his head bouncing as he ran to the balcony to try and save James. And just like that, it was over. As quickly as it all began, James’s life came to a close, leaving his two babies, Emily and Johnny, legitimate orphans. If she chose to tell anyone, then Melissa’s the only one who they have left now.
Cast of Characters
James – suicidal father of Emily and Johnny. Wife of Beth. Brother of Frank
Beth – Wife of James. Frank’s sister-in-law and lover.
Frank – James’s brother. Beth’s brother-in-law and lover. Emily and Johnny’s uncle.
Emily – Younger of the two Baker children.
Johnny – Older of the two Baker children.
Betty – Campus security.
Ralph – the doorman at James, Beth, Johnny and Emily’s apartment.
Melissa – Beth’s sister. Mother of Emily and Johnny.