There are moments, only tiny fragments compared to the grand scheme of our lives, that we find our bodies moving without our conscious control. As if pulled by some unseen force. Or perhaps pushed by one. This momentum carries us the same as any, but the destinations feel different. Foreign. As if we had no reason to go there.
How best to describe it? Perhaps it’s like finding yourself in a room of your house, and having no memory of the purpose for being there. At some point, the conscious thought process of moving yourself to a room for a purpose dissipated, and a natural movement took over. You know you had to be in that room for a reason, but your mind no longer remembers it. But yet you still find yourself at the destination. Your body, subconsciously, brought you there, even without your understanding of the purpose.
But this is a small-scale for that. What if we applied that theory to a larger movement. The Crisis, for example. What if it is not the mystery of the journey, but the destination. That is, if there is a destination at all.
Why was he walking in this direction?
That means a solid two hours had gone by since he watched that footage. A video camera recording something that is impossible to truly capture with words. A “now you see it, now you don’t” magic trick pulled off in the blink of an eye. Less than a blink of an eye, even.
Marcy Crosby. Gone. The voice, that terrified voice. His daughter, Kylie. Screaming for her mother. And then the sound of feet on crunching leaves, trailing off in search of something that could not be found. That was the last thing Damien saw. Two hours ago.
And now he’s here. Why? Without any regard for his old friend, Damien Crosby just started walking. First, into the woods. To look for his daughter? But he’s far away from the woods now, and he never stopped to turn his head, or change his course. He just kept walking. And now he’s on a bridge. The 7th Street bridge? Why? And what is that awful noise?
“Hey! Sir, the bridge is closed… sir…”
“What, oh… shit, sorry. Um… I’m… I’m a cop. Sorta.”
“You’re a cop, sorta?”
“Um, well… ah hell, you know what, never mind.”
“Whoa, wait, it’s fine Joe, let him pass.”
Damien furrowed his brow at the sound of the familiar voice. Where had he heard it before? Right, he heard it…
“Police Academy basic training, my God. Damien Crosby, how the hell are ya, buddy?”
“Curtis Holland. Been awhile.”
Damien shook off the confusion of his mysterious journey and raised his tired eyes up to meet Curtis’. He was surprised that, despite fifteen years of age draped over him, the man looked relatively the same as he did back then. Puking into a bucket after running the obstacle course. Laughing at himself for being in police training and eating a donut. The kinds of things that pretty much assured that the kid would be stopping cars at barricades instead of solving major crimes.
“So, Curtis, what do they have you doing these days?”
His whole body shifted forward, as if the forced niceness had to actually be physically worked up from inside of him. His brain running that obstacle course, then puking up phony small talk into a bucket.
“Oh, you know, keepin’ crime scenes safe, that sorta thing.”
“So you’re working barricades then?”
“…yeah, mostly. Heh, just like you said. I suppose I should have listened.”
“Believe me, I’d much rather have been doing that these last fifteen years.”
Damien watched the blinking lights of a nearby squad. Red Blue Red Blue Red Blue…
“Oh yeah, you were working missing persons, weren’t you? Man, you guys must be swamped these days. What with…”
“What’s going on here?”
Curtis jerked back, as if someone lightly shoved him. It clearly surprised him to have the conversation’s direction shift so suddenly. After a few rapid blinks, he let his face drop into a more stern look.
“Well, we got a jumper here. Yeah, some guy decided he wanted to paint the freeway with his blood. Was going on and on about losing someone to the Crisis. It’s not like he’s the first, suicide rates have been pretty high since this whole thing started. It’s pretty awful, if you ask me. People who are lucky enough not to disappear, throwing their lives away like this…”
“Let me talk to him.”
“It’s… wait, what? I can’t just…”
Clearly the words surprised Curtis just as much as they surprised Damien himself. Why did he say that? Why did he feel obligated to talk to a suicidal on a random bridge he didn’t even remember walking to. He supposed anything was better than thinking about his current situation.
“Ah, come on Curtis. You know I’m trained in crisis negotiation. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what this is. Crisis negotiation.”
“I… I’d have to check with the chief but… are you sure?”
“Do you have anyone else trying to talk him down?”
“We’re stretched pretty thin as is, so no, we’ve just got a normal detective…”
“Then you have no reason to turn down the free help. The Chief will be ok with it, we’re friends.”
Within fifteen minutes, Damien found himself leaning against the hood of an unmarked detectives car, a megaphone resting in his hand, staring up at the man. He looked surprisingly calm considering he was only a few inches away from certain death. But perhaps that’s why he was calm. Certain death is still certainty. And at this point in time, certainty was perhaps the greatest comfort someone could find. He understood that thought.
“So, am I supposed to talk you down?”
The man swung around, surprised by the new voice behind the crackling megaphone. He had to catch himself on one of the support beams to keep from falling. Strange, to prevent yourself from accidentally doing what you were planning on doing on purpose anyway.
“What… who are…”
“Ah, come on. You don’t care who I am. I’m just another schmuck with a megaphone to you. Just another voice to try and reason with you. As if that’s going to work. Look, if you think I’m going to beg you to stay, to tell you life is worth living, to try and give you some hope and trick you off that ledge, you’re wrong. I’m not going to say that. It’s a lie. At least in your mind. Hell, probably in my mind too.”
“So what, you… you just want me to jump?”
Damien smirked. He already liked the guy, just by the surprising strength hidden behind his quivering voice. He set the megaphone on the hood of the car and walked towards the edge of the bridge slowly, sliding his hands into his pockets.
“Hey! Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want you to do anything. I don’t want you to die, nor do I want you to come down. Why would I, I don’t know you. You don’t want ME to die, so why would I want you to die? The reasoning is sound, no?”
“I… I guess. Then what do you want?”
“I don’t know. I want to know why it’s you on that ledge right now and not me, I guess. What makes you think you have the right to end it when so many other people are down here, safely on the ground, pushing through all this shit. More shit than you are, less shit than you are, doesn’t matter. What makes you think you’re the one who should jump? Maybe I should jump? Maybe you should be talking me down?”
Even from the height he was at, Damien could see the man let out a deep sigh. It didn’t look like a sigh of relief, or a sigh of despair. No, it was… a sigh of contentment?
“So, Mr. Jumper. No no, that doesn’t work. What’s your name, man? Can we at least get that far?”
“Um… it’s… Thomas… uh, Tom…”
“Ok, Thomas uh Tom, I’m Damien. So… who was it?”
Tom’s eyes widened, but not with surprise at the question. He’d been asked it several times already. It was more a look of sudden realization. As if he’d forgotten why he was up there, if only for a second.
“It… well, my… it was my son… he… disappeared a week ago.”
“Tough break. Lots of people have lost their sons. You know who I lost today? My daughter.”
“She… she disappeared?”
“Nope. Her mother did. My wife… well, ex-wife, well… we’re separated, whatever, not important, anyway, she disappeared and my daughter just wandered off looking for her. No one can find her.”
“Oh, I’m… I’m sorry.”
“No you’re not. No more or less than I am that your son disappeared. Why would we care? I don’t know you, you don’t know me. But you know, I gotta say, it’s a hell of a lot more frustrating that I can’t blame the Crisis for my daughter. You know what I mean?”
Various emotions flickered over Tom’s face in only a few seconds. Confusion. Sadness. Anger. Concern. Sadness again. And then a look of deep concentration, as if he was trying to figure out a tough math problem.
“So was this the game? You tell me a story worse than my own and I realize my mistake and come down? You just said yourself I shouldn’t care about you or your situation. So why would I let it change my choice?”
“Because you’re being an idiot.”
Both Tom and Damien showed a surprised look at the same time. Damien because he was surprised no one had dragged him off yet, and Tom because he was taken aback by the bluntness of the disheveled looking man’s words. He could tell, even from his eagle-eye view, that this man was carrying a burden far heavier than any man should bear. As if it had been piled on for years, holding him down. As if the world had turned up the very force of gravity to push him to the ground, to crush him. And yet, he was down there…
“I am an idiot…”
“Ah, good, we’re on the same page then. Look, do you mind if I came up there and joined you?”
“What? Why… so you can…”
“No, not so I can grab you. I wanna see what it looks like. To be only inches away from ending my life. I want to see if I was in the same position as you right now, how I’d feel about that choice. Hell, who knows, I may go right ahead and jump with you. At this point, what’s it matter? Right?”
Before Tom had a chance to respond, Damien began climbing up the side of the bridge himself. It was at this point that several officers stepped forward, but to Damien’s surprise, it was Curtis that stopped them. Shaking his head as he tossed a concerned look at Damien. The look was, of course, ignored as Damien began inching his way over to Tom, stopping on the other side of the support beam.
“Well, son of a bitch. That is quite the drop, ain’t it? Heh, so Tom, I’m not too good with heights, so if we’re gonna do this, let’s do it before I have second thoughts.”
“You… you won’t jump…”
“Oh? I won’t? Why wouldn’t I? By your logic, I have the same, no MORE, reasons to do it, right?”
“No, your daughter is alive!”
Damien’s demeanor changed in an instant. A flash of lightning in his brain caused every muscle in his body to tense at once. Sweat soaking through his shirt. He hadn’t made up that part about heights.
“IS SHE?! Can you say that for certain! My daughter could be dead right now! She could have been hit by a car, kidnapped, a million other horrible things could have happened to her by now! And what if she is! I could find my little girl, dead. I could see her body. You selfish fuck, you’re the lucky one here! Your son is GONE! He’s not dead, he’s just gone. The most peaceful fucking thing that could happen, you just… disappear. I wish my daughter had just vanished. But no, she’s out there somewhere, scared, alone, in danger. Even still. And here I am, being a selfish asshole, standing on a bridge, about to throw myself to my death? Fuck that. I won’t die. Not until my daughter is holding my hand. Not until I feel her. See her. Smell her. And fuck you for thinking you should give up too.”
“No, you know what, I don’t even want to hear it. You’re right. It’s hopeless. We should all give up, right?! I should give up on Kylie, you should give up on… on…”
“Anthony! You should just give up on him! Right? He’s gone?! So you should give up! He couldn’t possibly be out there somewhere, because we already know so much about The Crisis. We know everything! We know he’ll never come back, right?!”
“NO WE DON’T! So what the fuck use is there in giving up now?! Are you going to give up on Anthony?!”
“…no… no I’m not…”
“…what about you?”
Damien felt his stomach drop as he looked down at the road below. Far below. Between the heavy breaths he was no taking, he finally pushed out the words he should have said hours before.
“I’m going to find my daughter. No matter what…”
Momentum. Moving forward, be it hours of walking or only a few inches to our deaths, momentum drives us. It brings us from one point to the next. Not even just physically. The human race in and of itself is in a constant state of moving forward. A sort of cosmic momentum that carries us through time and space. The Crisis doesn’t halt momentum, it just adds to it.
It took only a few minutes for Damien and Tom to climb down off the bridge. They never said another word to each other, didn’t even shake hands or wish each other good luck. There was no need for that. They had no reason to care for one another, and yet that didn’t stop Damien from sliding his card into the jacket pocket of the man he was only inches away from facing death with.
He knew that Tom would move forward, and he knew he had to do the same. Always forward. The momentum of this event carrying him forward, closer to his destination.
Closer to his daughter.