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We all watch as life goes by. But have you seen a life end? For someone to die before your very eyes? My sister and I profile, or watch I guess you could say, the meek, the worthless, and the loners. Those who feel they mean little to the world or actually do mean little to the world. This is one account that changed our little, harmless hobby...
* * *
“So, who is that? What’s his story?” I fired questions at my older sister, Addy—formally known as Adria. Her newly dyed black hair blew easily in the wind as we walked the streets of downtown Stillwater.
She gazed in thought at the guy with greasy, dirty blonde hair and pale skin that walked only a few steps ahead of us.
“Hmm…let me think for a second, Sonny,” She sighed. My real name is Sonja but Addy always calls me Sonny.
An intent look pasted itself across Addy's face. I could almost see the gears whirring in her head.
“Late teens or early twenties, no girlfriend, lives alone—probably in those apartments out near that old law firm, dresses out of the norm but is not proud of it. He’s also probably a smoker or stoner who started real young.” Addy profiled confidently.
The guy rounded a corner on to a busy street, the main street. We followed suit. The sun was hot on my shoulders and neck. The streets were packed with people of all ages looking through the quaint little shops and dining in the simple restaurants and bars. From the looks of it, the guy was headed to the waterfront where numerous people were laughing, playing, and fishing. All completely unaware of the horror to come.
“Seriously, how do you do that?” I asked in awe at her detailed profile. Even if she was wrong it was very thorough for how short a time she’d taken to make it up.
“Well, take his self esteem for instance,” Addy explained talking with her hands like she always did. “his cheap clothes are not worn proudly and even though he isn’t that tall his posture is horrible and slumped over. C‘mon, Sonny, ask me a difficult question!”
“Ha ha, okay smarty, here’s a hard one. What’s his name?” I loved that question. She had so much fun with it. The names she’d come up with are always perfectly matched with their appearance.
Addy thought long and hard about that question. She examined his looks, what she knew about him, and what she thought she knew. Looking up and down at his baggy, torn cargo pants and simple t-shirt, she came a decision.
“Ray.” Addy blurted. “Short for Raymond, no doubt.”
Ray seemed to fit. I don’t know how to put it into words but even after Addy and I read the paper and found out his real name, I would always call him Ray.
We followed him as he passed the many stores. He crossed the street passing a small diner that my family and I have been to on several occasions. Ray paused for a second.
I watched as he dug in his baggy, ripped, pocket and pulled out a pack of cheap cigarettes and a lighter. Addy smiled accomplishedly as one detail was confirmed. I was, again, in awe.
This is what my sister and I did on summer Saturdays. We basically stalked people and profiled them. Though, I’m not really sure you could call it stalking. Stalking is illegal. It was more like, watching life. Watching the world go by. We never followed them into stores, their homes, or across the bridge; but just down the streets until we got bored or lost them and then moved on to the next unsuspecting bystander. We watched as they’d talk on their cell phones, hold the hand with their significant other, or walked with a friend or co-worker.
But Ray…Ray was different. He was alone. No cell phone, no girlfriend, no friends, not even a dog on a leash. No one but Ray and his cigarette. He seemed lost and unsure but determined. He wanted something but didn't know what or how to get it.
He snaked his way through the crowd, his head to the ground. My sister and I followed. Ray headed for the bridge, I cursed under my breath because I wanted to continue profiling him. We kept tabs as long as we could. Sitting on the concrete wall and dangled our feet near the waters edge. Still, he’s in view. He’d just begun to step on to the bridge.
“Where do you think he’s going, sis?” Addy asked me.
“I dunno. You’re supposed to be the profiler. Not many people walk across that bridge.”
“Yeah, I suppose you’re right.” She paused for a moment. “He seems like he doesn’t like the cards he’s been dealt in life. Everything he’s ever done in life has been for someone else not for himself.”
Ray stopped once he was in the center of the bridge. Cars and SUVs whizzed by. His uncut hair whipped in the wind and his eyes were dazed in thought. Ray was breathing heavily but he didn’t second guess anything. He put his right foot on the iron restraints and then his left. First dropping in his half finished cigarette.
Quite a crowd had gathered as people noticed Ray's daring behavior.
“He’s gonna jump!” I heard a by stander scream.
“Someone call 911!” Exclaimed another.
“Oh my God!”
“Let’s get out of here.” Addy suggested grabbing my arm and trying to pull me up. I wouldn’t budge. I stalled. I wanted to watch. This is what we did. We watched life go by and now we would see it end unless someone intervened.
Ray began to step forward. He took one final look at the crowd that had gathered, it felt like he was looking straight at me. A satisfied smile slipped across his face as he let himself fall gracefully after his cigarette.
Screams rang out in ever direction. I could hear sirens wailing down the street.
“Sonny, lets go!” Addy begged as I slowed to my feet. My heart raced as the ripples faded one after the other. I felt my mouth begin to stammer.
My eyes were glued to the river. Ray never came back to the surface.
I'm assuming Addy didn't want to stay in case the cops had to interview the bystanders. My feet began to fly out from under me as Addy and I scurried under the bridge to get a safe distance away from the chaotic commotion.
Gasping for breath, I paused and looked back at the scene. Addy stopped too, breathing heavily.
“That's what Ray wanted...” Addy breathed. “He wanted all eyes to be on him, for once. He wanted an audience...”