Two people are talking to each other on their cell phones. They have been doing this for a while now, perhaps half an hour, which is unusually long for them on the phone. They are boyfriend and girlfriend, Jimmy and Sue. Jimmy has been telling Sue how depressed he has been since he went to his high school graduation reunion, the fifteenth such of his class. It was for some of the classic reasons that many people don’t go to such events that his depression had struck him as hard as it did. He had listened to classmates who were happily married with children, of whom there were many pictures stuck in his face without him ever asking to see them. He had the same girlfriend for three months now, which for his track record was something of a major accomplishment. Some of those who had achieved marks in school no better than his and were screw-ups just like he was, now had remarkable jobs, a few even becoming bosses at their workplace. His job was rated by him, and by the tone of their voices by others in how they responded, as very ordinary and not a sign of any great success on his part.
Now Sue was trying to cheer him up, telling him how good their relationship was, and how his job had opportunities for promotion that he would see sooner than he could imagine right now. They had discussed this before. In her estimation, her words had yet to have any real effect on his mood. That hadn’t ever happened before. She was worried.
And Sue was especially concerned about the discussion they were having for another reason. Jimmy had called her from on top of the Babcock Tower, the tallest building in town, in being 20 some storeys up (she couldn’t remember how many there were as she had never been inside it). It was where he would go when something was bothering him. She had never thought of him as potentially suicidal before, but the relationship was only three months old, and there was a lot about him that she knew that she was not yet aware of.
“So Sue, I really wish that I hadn’t gone to the reunion. I hadn’t gone to any of them before, and now I know why. I’ve been up here on the top of the building for over an hour now, and I don’t feel any better. Yes, I know that you are trying to help, and I really appreciate that. Everything considered, I think that it would be best for me to j…..”
Jimmy’s words were cut off sharply by a sudden interruption in their call. She tried calling him again, twice, but she couldn’t get through. And the beginning of his last word to her, -j- made her think immediately that he might be thinking about JUMPING. She had to go to where he was and try to stop him before it was too late. There was no question about it
Sue’s Rescue Mission
Sue rushed out of her apartment, and then ran down the stairs to the ground floor. She felt that the elevator would take ‘forever’ to arrive at the third floor, and she just couldn’t wait that long. She also decided that she would run to the Babcock Tower. Calling and waiting for a taxi would also take ‘forever’ to Sue in her current frame of mind. She quickly decided what would be the optimal route to the building that Jimmy may already have jumped off of and ran as fast as she could. She narrowly missed a few fellow pedestrians on the way, one of whom had something seriously loud to say about the subject of her ‘rude behaviour’.
Finally, after what Sue felt was ‘forever’, she arrived at the building. She was relieved that there were no dead bodies that she could see as she circled the building looking for Jimmy. That included the large garbage bin that she thoroughly investigated, without thinking about how that would make her smell. The mood that she was in, her next thought was that maybe his death plunge had been reported, his body picked up, and the ground cleaned up. But she still held some hope out.
Sue entered the building and headed straight to the elevator. As long as it might take, it would still be a shorter time than running up twenty some storeys. She waited and waited, wondering how many stops had been on the way. Finally, it arrived. She wanted to grab the arms of the people in the elevator, to haul them out so that she could get to Jimmy as fast as possible. But she knew that she could not do that without getting into some trouble.
The elevator stopped on the second, fourth and fourteenth floors. She sensibly refrained from pushing the people out, who had pressed the buttons for those floors. At last, she arrived at the 21st floor. She then scurried around finally finding the door leading to the stairs that went to the roof. Her heart was beating very fast. She was breathing deeply. The doorknob was a bit rusty, and stuck a little bit at first, but she soon overpowered it to get the door open.
Up she went, then she shoulder-checked the roof door when it resisted her first push.
She was on the roof now. A quick look around did not reveal to her any sign of Jimmy. Would he be there? Would he still be alive?
She then searched the roof. To her surprise and deep joy, she saw Jimmy. He was standing by the roof edge, looking far into the distance. Sue ran to him. He heard her coming, turned around, and faced her, a happy little grin becoming a full smile, becoming an expression of silent laughter.
They ran into each other’s arms. She declared, “I thought you might have jumped.” ‘Suicide’ was too accusatory a word for her to say out loud. “The last sound that I heard from
you was the sound -j-“. His smile diminished, then grew back again. “I was beginning to say, ‘I just want to stay here awhile.’ How could I leave you?”
No words then had to be spoken.