Most people at some point in their life wonder what things would be like if their spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend would go away. Or maybe their entire family. Carry it to the extreme and you get your classic last man on Earth scenario. A cliche, I know. But we all idly fantasize about it at least once in our lives. A vast world all existing just for us. But then you think how boring it would be. Sure you can have your pick of the most expensive and luxurious mansions, have a garage filled with all the cars your dreamed of having as an adolescent. But when the only company you have is yourself, all the glittering riches lose their luster. No one to share it with. The only romantic company available, your imagination and your right hand.
Soon the lights would go out, no one down at the old electric company to keep the generators running. No coal coming in to run them even it there were. All of mankind's clever works would come grinding to a halt and Begin the slow and inevitable decay.
Not something I really have to imagine. I am living it. If you are reading this then most likely I am dead and the Gods of Irony have brought everyone back. I hope you don't mind I stole your laptop computer, raided your fridge and jerked off in your kitchen sink.
I fully intend to delete this if the world does come back.
This story begins on the 19th. I was standing on the roof of the Hyatt. The view was terrific. I wondered what the final impact would be like. If I did it right I would not feel a thing. I wondered if I would change my mind on the way down. I have always had a fear and fascination with heights. I guess that was why I chose this. There are of course taller buildings in Kansas City, but I had a friend that worked at the Skies restaurant. Of course he did not know why I was really here, he thought I was just going to take a few pictures for a book I was working on. By trade I am a mechanic. But I'm also a writer. I have written about twelve books. Published one. You probably have not read it. Few people did. But I have not really written a word since Lisa died.
We were on our way to her mother's house when we were in a car accident. Technically it had been the other guy's fault, but I knew that it was really my own. We were approaching a four way intersection. For years there has only been a stop for Broad Street, but not Mechanic. but the city had just put up one making it a four way stop. My cell phone was ringing and rather than let it go into voice mail I pulled it out of my pocket. I was not going to answer it while driving. I am not that stupid. But usually when my phone rings I hand it over to my wife and let her answer it. I wasn't paying attention and just cruised right through it. The only reason I did not get a ticket was that some kids had stolen the sign the night before. The pickup that hit us was not going that fast. But it was a big 4x4 and it's bumper was right on level with the side windows of our little Ford Focus. My wife suffered a minor head injury. But at the hospital her blood pressure began rising to dangerous levels. The medications they gave her for that caused fluid to build up in her lungs. It was decided to deliver our son by Cesarean. I really can't remember the reasoning behind this and never got a straight story from the staff or doctors. Christopher was almost four months premature. Lisa died of a stroke that night.
A week later Chris died. Just like that. He had been struggling all week of course. Everyday is a struggle for a preemie. But one minute he was batting at the side of the plastic dome with the splint they had on his arm. My gloved finger was touching to bottom of his foot. It was about the only place that I felt safe touching him. He had wire leads and IV lines all over him. His skin was so thin and fragile. Then his back arched and his mouth opened as if to scream. Then his chest slowly sank. This took about half a second. Then the alarms started to sound and I remember a nurse shoving me aside as they tried in vain to save him. But I knew he was already gone.
That was five years ago.
I think a big part of me died that night as well. I never resorted to drugs or alcohol. I think what happened was somewhere in my brain a little breaker switch got flipped. I have not been able to feel anything since. I have put up a pretty good show I think, but it is just that. So really that is why I was up there. I was hoping that maybe on the way down I would jump start my soul again.
I stood on the ledge looking down. It was a cool day. It had rained the night before but the sky was clear. I was on the east side of the building, the wind was blowing up behind me from the southwest as if urging me to get on with it. The sun was shining through breaks in the clouds, and you could just feel it was going to rain again that afternoon. I was aware when people came out on roof to try to stop me, but I paid them no mind. I was watching the traffic below. Oak comes down from the north and then Y's off. To the east it becomes Locust and to the west Gillham and a short distance to the south they rejoin and just Gillham continues south. The effect is that in the center there is an almond shaped park. They had just put in a large fountain. This is Kansas City so they have to put in a new fountain somewhere at least twice a year. I think it is written into the city charter. So now it looked less like an almond and more like a gigantic eye looking up at me.
A Metro bus was coming down Oak. I remember wondering, if it turned down Gillham, if I could time it right I would land squarely in the center of the roof of that bus. I decided not to because that would hardly be fair to the passengers. But the bus did not turn down, Gillham, nor did it turn down Locust. It chose a third option that I had not considered. It drove right into park. A giant maple tree stopped it quite abruptly. And then another car flew into the park, followed by a city utility truck (from that height and angle I could not tell which utility it belonged to). Three more cars followed the utility truck. I looked around and I could see all up and down the streets no matter which way I was looking, cars were crashing into one another or running up the sidewalks. It was all over in a matter of seconds. Soon there were no moving cars visible. It was like all the drivers in the city just suddenly said "Fuck it" and took their hands off the wheel and foot off the brake. Fortunately, TV and the movie theatre are the only places you will ever really see a car hit a light pole and burst into a ball of fire. Surprisingly they are engineered specifically not to do that.
I half expected my would be rescuers to come to the ledge and survey the carnage below. there is something about a fire or a car wreck that just draws the eye. But I was once again alone on the roof. And there was no one milling about the wrecked cars below, no gawkers, good Samaritans or injured motorists. Not even a sicko taking macabre pictures with his cell phone to show his equally twisted friends. My curiosity has never really been snuffed out and it quickly won over my desire to throw myself off the roof and see what was happening and headed for the roof access door. That was when I heard the plane.
The battery is running low on my laptop so I will have to pick this up again tomorrow.
© 2009 R. Keith McBride