reply to post by Skid Mark
Jerry finishes his dinner and lays a ten-dollar bill on the table without looking at it. He goes to the counter to pay for his dinner, then walks out
the door. A right turn will take him to his apartment and to his gun. A left turn will take him to a block of stores and restaurants, a bridge
spanning the Saint Mary’s River, and to a small park beyond. For some reason unknown to him, he turns left. He walks along, deep in thought.
There is a commotion up ahead as he nears the bridge. He looks up and sees ten people gathered there. No, eleven. A woman is on the other side of
the guardrail, preparing to jump. Jerry realizes that it is the woman that he saw in front of the diner. A man with a scruffy beard and a red
baseball cap is trying to pull her back over the rail.
“Don’t do this! Please don’t do this,” he yells.
“Anybody got a cell phone? Anybody? Call the police,” someone else is shouting.
The woman manages to wriggle free of the man and teeters on the brink of falling. He shoots an arm out to grab her again. His hand closes on
empty air. The crowd cries out in unison.
Jerry watches in horror as she falls. All thoughts of taking his life vanish. He explodes into motion without thinking. There is a distance of ten
feet between Jerry and the bridge. He covers it in seconds.
The man with the scruffy beard tries to hold him back but he slips away.
“You damn fool! She’s gone!”
Jerry doesn’t hear him. His mind is focused on saving the woman. He can’t let her die.
The fall isn’t as long as he’d thought it would be, just a few seconds. The cold water shocks the breath out of him. The momentum from the fall
drives him a few feet under the water. He fights his way back up and emerges coughing and sputtering. He takes a breath before diving back down to
look for her.
The water is murky and he can only see a foot in front of him. Something brushes his leg and he grabs onto it. It is a tree limb. He holds onto it
as the current moves him along.
There is a logjam up ahead. Some limbs stick out a little way into the river. Something blue catches his eye. At first, he dismisses it as a piece
of garbage. The river is littered with it. Then, he notices something white attached to it.
Waves lap the jumble of sticks and the white thing bobs up. Jerry swims toward it.
He remembers his mother’s warning about not swimming after eating as a cramp hits him. He’s still four feet away from the jam. His energy
begins to wane as the cramp takes hold.
Not now. Not now.
He struggles against the pain and thrashes ever closer. He starts to go down when he is just two feet away from it.
He shoots out a hand in desperation and is relieved when it closes around a good-sized stick. He works his way to the spot he had been swimming
His heart skips a beat when he sees that the thing is a leg encased in blue jeans with a sneaker on its foot. He takes hold of it and pulls himself
along until he can se the rest of the body, submerged under a few inches of water. Dark hair floats around her head like ink.
He notices that he can feel the bottom and pulls her toward the riverbank by her armpits, holding her head above water. It lolls forward. He pulls
her out and lays her on her back.
His heart sinks when he sees how pale she is, her bluish lips, and her lack of breathing. She’s been under the water for five minutes. He checks
for a pulse. It is very faint. He’s glad that he took that course for CPR a few years ago at the Red Cross.
Jerry tilts her head back and makes sure her airway is clear, then gives her the breath of life. Her chest rises and falls.
Nothing. He feels a hand on his shoulder and half-turns. The man with the scruffy beard is standing there, along with four others. Sorrow fills
“There’s nothin’ you can do for her, mister. She’s gone.”
Jerry turns back to her and tries once more to revive her. Nothing happens at first. He sits back and puts his hands to his eyes.
He pulls them away when he hears a watery cough a second later. Water is pouring from her mouth. He lifts her head a little so that it can be
expelled easier. She gasps for breath and begins to breath once more. When her dark eyes flutter open and focus on him, Jerry thinks that life was
never more beautiful.