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Nine-Fourteen

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He stood pressed against the windows: new windows, freshly cleaned windows, the kind you wince at when they get smudged up. They looked into his spacious office, furnished with a classy mahogany desk and chairs, a leather couch, fancy paperweights. The wind blistered his face, teared his eyes. His freshly purchased checkered tie flapped behind him. The jet stream forced his arms up and straight out at ninety-degree angles, his legs bound as if they were tied together by ropes. Standing on a fifteen-inch deep ledge on the seventy-fifth story of a Manhattan skyscraper doesn’t give comfort to most people but it gave comfort to him. Today, he was going to jump.

This wasn’t one of those “call for attention” suicides either. This was the real deal, thought out and planned. No one was going to interfere with his escape. He wrote no note, left no explanation. If people couldn’t figure out why he’d jumped on their own, it wasn’t their right to know. He left no signs of his intentions nor did anyone have any reason to suspect. How could they? He never showed any emotion anyway.

He lived his life simple enough. He had a beautiful wife, a nice house, two rotten kids. He punched numbers and statistics into a computer, like a monkey hoping to type Shakespeare. He frantically searched for that magic combination that would net him his next big win. Years ago, he found the search exhilarating. He used to be just another Michael-Douglas-Wall Street wannabe in a sea of mice racing for the cheese. He grew tired of running on his hamster wheel. In short, he became dissatisfied.

He had awoken that morning early. It seemed like any other. The sunrays flooded his bedroom windows, spilling onto his bed, blinding his sight. His vacuous succubus of a wife slept on, her head buried in the pillows. The clock read 6:30. “Plenty of time”, he mumbled.

He went about his morning routine more meticulously than he had ever done so before. He stood in his morning shower for an eternity; he scrubbed away dirt from his skin like a murderer in the confession booth desperately hoping to wash away his sins. He came out sparkling. He shaved with pinpoint precision, cleaner than he had ever been. He combed his hair, slicked it back, a fashion he gave up years ago. Today, he was going to look his best.

He went into his closet, pulled his finest suit. The fresh, crisp wool cracked as pulled his pants up, his jacket on. He put his new, checkered tie around his neck then tied it with a professional Windsor knot. He took out his fancy Italian dress shoes, the ones he used for special occasions. This was special enough…wasn’t it? He planned on jumping in style.

Too bad it didn’t stay that way. The wind blowing hard against his body on the side of the building wrinkled and ruined the suit. Maybe he should’ve jumped faster.

Standing on the ledge, he began to remember moments from his childhood. They came into his brain like Polaroid snapshots of someone else’s family photo album. He could remember his father’s voice when he told him he wasn’t following the family business. He wouldn’t join the army. “Dammit” the old man wrinkled by age and grizzled by anger said to his boy. “Wake up! I was in ‘Nam, my father fought the damn Nazis, you’ll fight whatever it is them men in blue suits in that damn White House tell you to fight.”

The young boy could barely protest. He tried to tell him how the world isn’t the same anymore. How “the Wall” came down. We weren’t stuck in a frigid icebox with a bunch of Russians anymore. He tried to tell him how his generation had “no defining moment, no eminent conflict. The greatest conflict” he said to the old man who seldom listened, “is the fight for our own souls.” The old man screamed “bull***” and walked out of his mind.

Life just didn’t seem that simple anymore. There was an air of futility to everything he did. He felt like he was stuck in an ant farm, carrying little morsels of food from one end to another. Everything he did began to feel like exactly what it was, a series of chemical reactions in his brain, neurons hell bent on carrying out their jobs. When everything began to feel pointless, it was the beginning of the end. Perhaps someone more optimistic might say, “the end of the beginning”. Who knew what lay beyond this useless human existence? He sure didn’t.

“The point of human existence” he said to all those bugs scuttling below him on the city streets, “is to continue human existence.” He paused and caught his breath. “We are one extremely glorified virus.” His heels lifted up, his thighs gripped tight, and he pushed off the balls of his feet. His spread arms fell down in front of him. He was an Olympic diver, going for the gold. He pushed towards the ground, forcing himself towards the concrete. He could see the drones bracing for the fall they weren’t going to experience, at least not yet. He was a skydiver, ready to pull the parachute…but there was no string. Landing wasn’t really an option…so he didn’t. He flew up.

He moved through the clouds, past the birds flying in V’s, past the commercial jet planes ferrying their neat little businessmen between their clandestine affairs and hollow trophy wives. He moved through the atmosphere, the stratosphere, the mesosphere, through the thermosphere. He passed the thinning ozone layer, waved hello to the dumfounded astronauts in their silly little jumpsuits and moved on. He got a tan near the sun and kept going, moving through the diamond studded vacuum. He flew past some aliens heading to visit Roswell and finally found what he was looking for: complete blackness. The cold recess he found, pitch black, brimming with nothingness, soothed him like a warm blanket. He stopped flying. “So this is it?” he said.

“I guess so,” said a bodiless voice. He looked around. There was no one there.





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