Thought I would share my work-in-progress of a play I’m working on. It’s been deeply cathartic. Sad, but cathartic.
Hope you enjoy,
-Scott “Badda Bing” Brown
“Just move along,” Jeff told her.
His hands clung to the railing on the golden gate bridge. He was on the water side, with a two hundred feet drop below him.
She had no marks on her face, and fit as running could make her. She stopped, mid stride, in her brightly-colored jogging outfit.
“Keep on jogging,” Jeff said again, more insistent.
“You know,” she started, “It’s only temporary. Whatever pain you’re feeling right now.”
Jeff chuckled, “I’ve heard it before. Move along.”
She took a step towards him, now a little more than a car length’s away.
“I’m Emily. What’s your name?” she said.
“That’s close enough,” Jeff shot back.
“What an odd name,” Emily said with a smirk.
Jeff turned and saw her distance. He let go one hand and swung around to face the bridge. His heart leaped into his throat, and his breathing grew fast.
“Take a step back,” his voice wavered.
With hand was at her chest, she obliged. She moved a few steps away from him.
“Good. Good,” Jeff said, his tongue pulling at his teeth.
“Can we talk?” she asked, a bit quieter.
“Sure,” he smiled, “What do you want to talk about?”
Emily thought for a minute.
“Let’s talk about you.”
“Okay, what about?”
“Well, what happened?”
“What do you mean?” Jeff shot back.
He shifted back to his original stance, with his back against the outside of the railings, arms slung over the top.
“Why are you sad?” Emily asked.
She had barely finished asking when he responded, “Why do I have to be sad?”
“You’re not sad?”
“I am here to end the cycle,” Jeff said, his face contorting to a bitter frown.
“So you’re sad a lot of the time?”
“You could say that.”
“What’s going on?”
Jeff rolled his tongue in his mouth a bit. He looked to the other direction of the bridge. Three people had gathered, keeping their distance. One of them was on their cell phone.
“Just move on. The police will be here soon.” he said.
“I can stay with you until they do,” Emily said with a little more volume.
“You wanna know what’s going on?”
“It can’t be this bad.”
Jeff’s face turned into rage.
“Y’know what. Get the fuck out of here. You fuckin people think no one could ever think about death like this. Well here I am, looking down,” Jeff looked down, and lost his breath, “Looking down at my end.”
“I’m sorry,” Emily said.
“No you’re fucking not,” Jeff screamed, “No one’s sorry.”
“I’m sorry,” Emily said, taking a step back.
Jeff turned to her, “Where do you think you’re going?”
“I think I’m doing more harm…”
“You have to talk me out of killing myself,” Jeff swallowed.
“I don’t think…”
“You started this, lady. I was doing fine. But you had to come over here with your fucking WISDOM that “It can’t be that bad”, he said with venom.
Her eyes were becoming glassy.
“I have to go,” Emily turned to leave.
“If you leave, I jump,” Jeff said.
“But you said…”
“Look, the cops are here now,” he signaled with his head to the opposite end of the bridge. The blinking lights were unmistakable.
“So if I jump now, you’ll be the one that fucked up. Oh, look at that, news crews are here!” Jeff smiled.
“Why are you doing this to me?” Emily said.
“How does it feel?” Jeff turned and looked at her.
“I understand you’re upset…”
“You don’t fucking understand ANYTHING. Don’t you get it?”
“Alright, alright,” Emily said.
“You ask me what’s going on, and then TELL me that it can’t be that bad. You have no fucking idea. None. Now you’re scared.”
The sound of a helicopter was now audible to both of them, and they looked up to see channel 4 news written on the side.
“All eyes on you,” Jeff said, “What are you gonna do now? Tell me I need to eat more carrots or some shit?”
“I’m trying to help you,” Emily said, with an air of contempt.
Jeff’s eyebrows raised, “Ooo, now we’re getting somewhere.”
“So, what’s going on in your life that would bring you here,” she asked.
“No,” Jeff replied.
“Weren’t ready for this, were you? Just thought you could walk up here, say “The sun’ll come out tomorrow,” and keep on jogging.”
“I’ll listen, just tell me…”
“Fuck you. Everyone wants out. Things become uncomfortable and they just want it to be over. I tell people I want to die and they tell me that THAT makes them sad,” he breathed through gritted teeth, “Then tell me to exercise more.”
Emily simply waited for him to finish. A police officer was walking towards them on the sidewalk.
“There’s a cop coming, what you want me to do?” she asked.
“Tell him to fuck off,” Jeff laughed, “But seriously, tell him to leave. You’re my handler. If you take longer than thirty seconds to tell him off, I’m falling off.”
“I have to go past you,” she said.
“Go on the road,” Jeff said, “They cleared that lane for me anyways.”
She glared at the back of his head as she stepped off the sidewalk. Further down the road, she met the officer.
He reached his hand out, and she shook it.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Hey Emily. I’m Officer Hudson. Thank you for talking to him until we showed up,” he said.
“There’s one of our psych guys at the ambulance back there if you wanna go over some things. Anything you can provide will be helpful,” he smiled.
He took a step forward and patted her on the shoulder.
“His name is Jeff…” she started.
“…and he said if I was not back in thirty seconds he’ll jump,” she finished.
The officer’s eyes widened, “Okay. Okay this changes things.”
She started backing off, towards Jeff.
“Yep. Yep, you go back and keep him talking. I’ll talk it over with my people. You’re doing good, Elizabeth.”
Emily turned away from the officer. The other end of the bridge was bare, but the traffic on the other side was jamming up, as all the drivers slowed to see what happening.
She lowered herself to sit a bit away from Jeff on the sidewalk.
“Alright,” she said, “I’m here.”
“Well,” Jeff said, “Talk me down.”
“I don’t have anything, Jeff. You’re the one with a plan here,” she said.
“You wanna know why I’m here.”
She said nothing.
“That reflex in people. Fight or flight. It’s always on flight. From anything. Minor social situations. Paperwork. It tells me to run, or face the worst pain you’ve ever known. It keeps me from doing things. Things that you probably do every day.”
“I can’t go on dates. I can’t maintain a job longer than a month. I’ve seen therapists, at least seven. But, god damn. It’s like all their training goes out the fucking window when I talk about suicide. Then it’s all about how I can stay safe,” Jeff told her.
“So if you had a dog, and it was in pain, with no treatment on the horizon. Wouldn’t you put it down?”
“You’re talking about dogs. You’re a person,” Emily said.
“Fine. When you’re feeling like shit. Like you have a cold. You take something to help you sleep. When you’re asleep there’s no discomfort and no pain.”
“You’re also talking about death, not sleep.”
“God damn it! It’s a mercy killing! Do you fucking get it? I don’t know how to fix myself! I can’t live! I simply exist. Everyone tells me to just hang on one more day. Why? Cause things will change? Nothing has changed in over a decade. You just don’t want me to jump cause then you’d be sad. I don’t matter to you!” Jeff began yelling, “I don’t matter to you! I don’t matter to anyone!”
“That’s not true,” she said, “Think about your mother, your father.”
“So I have to exist in a state of anguish so they can feel alright?”
“They want to help you!” Emily said.
“They want me to be better, sure. So they can move on,” Jeff shot back.
“Then do it for yourself,” she said.
“Fuck you,” he said, “Why the fuck would I be here if I wanted to keep on going for myself? That’s a coward’s way out, what you’re doing. Pretending to be helping me. You’re reaching, and I say fuck that. Do it for myself? Why?”
“There must be things you haven’t experienced,” Emily said.
Jeff’s hands tightened against the railings.
“I told you that already,” he said.
“I’m twenty-six. I’ve never been in a romantic relationship,” Jeff said.
“That’s not so bad. Lots of people don’t have SO’s until their twenties.”
“It’s a huge part of life. Movies, stories, poems. All those feelings. Sex,” he chuffed.
“Maybe you just haven’t found the right woman,” Emily said.
“You see,” Jeff’s lips curled, “You just can’t let it be. It’s like as soon as someone becomes sad, it’s like everyone starts panicking. What the fuck does that even mean? I just told you I’m twenty fucking six. How many other twenty six year-olds do you know that haven’t touched another person.”
“Just fucking leave it! Be sad! It’s alright! Not everything needs to just “be fixed”. Just listen! Listen to a person talk without butting in with statements of stupid disingenuous nonsense,” he ranted, “I mean, Jesus Christ, all that’s fucking missing is a little kitten hanging on to a branch.”
“Alright! I get it!” Emily laughed.
Jeff laughed too, “I’m sorry. I just. That’s all I get from everyone around me. My friends, my parents, even my therapists. They don’t know how to fix me, so they just kind of push me away.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. It sounds rough.”
Jeff looked over at Emily.
“Yup. It sure is.”
To be continued.