I am becoming more and more convinced that I did jump and this is punishment for taking my life. I am not really a religious man, but I did consider the idea that the Rapture grandmother used to go on about finally did come. But according to everything I have heard and read about that, it is only those that are in a state of divine grace that will be taken. I find it very hard to believe that out of everyone in the Kansas City metropolitan area, I am the only soul that was not in a state of grace.
To test this theory I even ventured back into the city yesterday.
The Jackson County Detention Center is located on 13th and Cherry. It's a large brick building made to look as bleak as possible. From the front looks like to octagonal towers melded together. The window are narrow, horizontal slits. These are not designed to illuminate or to offer soothing panoramic views. It was designed to be just a temporary holding facility for those waiting trail. So theoretically the people housed there were presumed innocent. But it was still not some place that I would expect to find many saints. Like most jails the security is designed to keep people in, not out so I had a fairly easy time exploring the place. Most of their security systems are dependent on either electricity or people. Neither of which were in evidence. I did almost lock myself in a section of corridor.
It was a warm day for April and the detention center had no windows that I could open. I had arrived late in the day so the building had all day to absorb heat. It was designed to be dependent on a massive air conditioner for cooling and without that it was almost ninety degrees inside. Come August it would probably get up to one twenty in there, at least on the upper floors. The heat was giving me a headache. I had brought a half a dozen flashlights with me just in case. I have become increasingly uneasy at night or in dark buildings. I carry a flashlight with me at all times.
The place was almost completely vacant. The detention center's sole occupant I found on the fourth floor. I opened a glass door and was driven back by the smell. The odor was alive and wild with decay. Even holding my breath it invaded my nostrils and breathing through my mouth did not help, it flowed over my tongue almost like liquid and I could taste it. I immediately closed the door. The smell did not instantly abate of course, there was no airflow to dissipate it. It clung to me and I was afraid that my clothes would forever have that smell to them. I vomited in a corner and although that did not help the smell any, I did feel better once I stopped heaving.
It appeared to be a property room. Shining my flashlight through the glass door I found the source of the stench. The body appeared to be an older man slumped back in his chair behind a large counter. I am only going by the fact that his hair was silver gray. I did not search his pockets for ID. A thick panel of bullet proof glass separated his booth from the lobby of the records room, a tray running under the bottom edge and a circle of holes at face level allowing conversation and documents to pass. As well as aromas. Rows of file cabinets were lined up in the room behind him and a computer screen stared blankly back at the corpse. Another glass door separated his booth from the property room. I stared for a few moments, then a movement of shadows caught my eye. I pulled out another flashlight and shone them both into the room. A ghostly, skeletal face suddenly leered back at me. I will have to admit that I screamed like a little girl and almost fell backwards onto the tiled floor. But then I was able to get both flashlights trained on it. A large black mylar balloon bobbed up and down secured by a silver ribbon just beyond the glass door behind the clerk's chair. The bony face of the Grim Reaper was printed on it with the caption "Don't worry I'm just hear for the cake" on it. I had got one of just like it for my uncle once on his birthday. The other side was something like "Uh Oh, it's the Big 5-0!"
I am proud of myself for the fact that I searched another two floors before giving up. I was fairly satisfied that the building was empty. Only my echoes had answered my calls at each floor.
It was not until I left the building that it hit me. There were two glass panels between me and the balloon. My assumption that my opening the door had stirred the air enough to disturb that balloon was impossible. Part of me wanted to investigate further. I even turned to head back inside but could not make my feet move.
The Rapture has not come. That much I know. But am I alive or am I dead? Is this some sort of private purgatory? One way I could test it would be to try to kill myself. If this is the afterlife I should not be able to. But then I might just wake up to find myself some place worse.
There is an alternate theory I have. Perhaps I am not real at all. I am just a character made up by some two-bit wannabe writer. I am a writer created by a writer, writing about his writer. Makes me dizzy just thinking about it.
© 2009 R. Keith McBride