The Y Bridge
I found myself in the car, driving out to the bridge, parking in an abandoned lot not far from its beginning. Walking out towards the middle, I could feel the cold drizzle sting onto my face. Hands shoved deep into my pockets, head lowered to the wind, the sounds of the cars whizzing by sounded as if waves breaking on the shore. Horizontal stripes painted onto my jacket by the shadow of their lights reaching through the guardrails, I eased myself over. Feet dangling with nothing beneath them, swinging back and forth as if on their own, making circles with them on the ground beneath me. Like a target for a parachutist to land on, I X’d the spot where I would land, ending what I knew as me once and for all.
The bridge was high, many feet above the valley beneath. Having no fencing to keep the living from joining the dead, the Y Bridge was famous for claiming the life of many a soul too tired to carry on. As a child I’d heard stories told by the folks living beneath it, them sitting on their porch, watching the bodies spiral down from above, installing themselves in their front yards like gruesome lawn ornaments.
“Fred and Gary told me a story once about them coming home from an AA meeting at the hospital on the north side of the bridge,” I thought to myself. The way they told it they had come across a woman climbing over the rail, getting ready to jump to her death.
“I told Gary to pull the damn car over right quick,” said Fred. Fred was an old drunk in his 70’s that had come over from West Virginia to work in the rubber factories after World War 2. He was a crazy old man and from time to time, he would disappear in his Mobile Home with a gallon or two of whiskey and stay out for a week or so. Drinking himself to near death he would someone how make his way back home. His wife dressed and waiting to take him to the hospital, to detox from all that alcohol. I liked Fred; he always had great stories to tell.
“I’ll be damned!” said Gary as he pulled the car over, stopping just in time to see the woman pull her leg over the rail. Gary was in his 40’s and he was Fred’s sponsor. He was one of those AA guys’ that could recite the literature as if he was quoting scripture, and he always had a couple of new guy’s hanging around him trying to get sober.
Both of them were out of the car and Fred was trying to grab the lady around the waist.
“Get out of the way Fred”, said Gary as he reached around him to grab the lady in his grip, pulling her back over the rail, to the safety of the street side. The story went that Fred and Gary just sat there staring at the woman, she was sitting cross-legged on the street with her head in her hands sobbing. Fred and Gary standing there, shaking their heads in disbelief.
Reaching up to wipe the cold rain from my face I realized it had been awhile since that thought had crossed my mind. I spit a dry spit and watched it tumble into the darkness below.
Tonight, with the cars passing by, the strobe of their lights illuminating my hands, likely sitting in the same spot that lady tried to crawl to her death like an animal mutilated in a trap, I remembered hearing that Gary had killed himself recently. Moved out of town and within a few months he put a gun to his head. Didn’t know anything about how Fred was doing.
Most of my life I had a loose arrangement with fate that if it were my time to go than that would be just fine by me. A drive by shooting, dozing off left of center, maybe even a fantastic explosion of all my internal organs; I would understand and harbor no hard feelings.
There were times when I envied those who took their own life. Such a pathetic selfish act, my latent death wish would be nothing more than a daydream. Even in the deepest depths of my despair, I was always keenly aware that there were people in my life that loved and cared about me, and the thought of causing them pain on my account was too much to bear.
©mordechai zoltan 2010