Man on a ledge

10 Dec





“I`m so tired” Larry moaned.

“That’s odd” Jan said lazily.

“Why’s that?” Larry asked.

“Because you don’t do anything” she answered not even having the energy to lift her eyes off the tips of her fingernails.

“I do plenty!” he said, slightly peeved.

“Like what?” she yawned.

Larry started to open his mouth to speak but not a thought came to his head. He closed his mouth again. He really didn’t do anything. He never had. He was even too lazy to breast feed when he was an infant and here he was, 35 years old, no job, renting a tiny apartment paid for by the government and without a hobby.

“I’m waiting” Jan said unable to hide the boredom in her voice.

Larry felt a slight panic in his chest. Up to this point he had never evaluated his life, not even for a moment. He was closer to animal than to human in the survivalist way he conducted his life. Food, shelter, sleep, television. Those were the only necessities he required. He couldn’t believe what he was feeling. He couldn`t believe he was feeling. When you are accustomed to leading a life as profound a loser as Larry, you don’t feel much. That is the only way to move forward in these circumstances.

“Just wait right here” Larry said to Jan.

“Ok” Jan almost whispered without an ounce of curiosity as to where Larry was going.

Larry undid the four locks of his third floor apartment. He made his way to the staircase. He took a deep breath before opening the heavy metal door. He made his way up the six flights of stairs that led to the tenth floor. At the ninth floor, he noticed that the light was burned out and he walked the rest of the way in complete darkness. When he reached the door that gives access to the roof he paused. He pulled his cigarettes out of his pocket. As he lit his cigarette in the dark he marveled at the pale illumination the lighter gave off.  He took a long drag of the cigarette and opened the door.

The light was blinding because of the darkness he had just spent the last few moments in. The air was so warm that the wind was hot. It felt like the exhaust of a tractor trailer being blown on his face. He stood there just feeling the hot wind and letting his cigarette burn down.  He did this for so long a time that the cigarette had burned down to the filter and reached his fingers. The pain felt so good to Larry at that moment.

He made his way to the ledge and looked down.  He couldn’t help but feel like a failure. Everybody who had come into contact with him had been let down at some point. He stepped up onto the waist high wall. He felt unbalanced on the wall but he was strangely unafraid. Then he heard a scratching in the gravel that covered the rooftop. It was the stray cat that hangs around the building and whom Larry would give food on a daily basis. It too jumped up on the wall. It started to rub its head on Larry`s head.

Larry bent over to pick up the cat and he immediately burst into tears. This sudden eruption of emotion was just what it took to topple his already precarious balance.  In thirty five years Larry had avoiding killing anything. That day he succeeded in killing two.

13 Responses to “Man on a ledge”

  1. Bruce Goodman December 10, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    WOW! The writing was terrific. The story was horrific. Well done!

    • Ryan December 10, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

      Thanks. When you say horrific, you mean what takes place and not that it sucked, right? 😉

      • Bruce Goodman December 11, 2013 at 3:11 am #

        Yeah – exactly. I mean it didn’t suck, it was terrific. What happened was horrific. 🙂

  2. Eric Tonningsen December 10, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

    Nice work!, Ryan except the cat didn’t deserve the same fate. Unnecessary twist?

    • Ryan December 10, 2013 at 10:19 pm #

      I was going for the “he hurt something he loved”angle making him a screw up even in death. Thanks for reading!

      • Eric Tonningsen December 10, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

        Your clarifying remark (and intention) makes perfect sense. I’m more comfortable with this knowledge (not that I need to be comfortable). Thanks.

      • Ryan December 10, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

        🙂 Thank you! I learned something with this comment.

  3. kbeezyisviral December 10, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

    Very well written. Had me feeling like I was walking up the flights of stairs with Larry.

    • Ryan December 10, 2013 at 10:20 pm #

      Thanks for reading it! As I was writing it, I felt myself going up the steps as well.

  4. myothervoices December 11, 2013 at 3:49 am #

    Great ending.

  5. Jennifer Writings of a Mrs January 9, 2014 at 6:56 pm #

    I really enjoyed this read!
    I especially like when he pauses in the dark to light his cigarette, your choice of words make me feel like I know him, like we’ve shared a moment like this before.
    So very well done.

    • Ryan January 9, 2014 at 6:58 pm #

      Thank you, this means a lot coming from you. (I’m definitely a fan!) 🙂

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