Natural To Fly

By Nancy Cook

Everything was pretty quiet downtown, it being Sunday and all. My head was in serious need of a caffeine fix and I was craving a muffin, or anything with sugar. I’d just been to a meeting where a guy had been agonizing because he’d had a relapse, whimpering about how he didn’t have desire enough to stop. Sometimes you just ache to be up there soaring with the planets, he said. Yeah, I thought, I’ve been there.

So I was considering this a little later as I rounded the corner on 8th Avenue, when out of the narrow sky between hotels there came a blast. It rained glass. A taxi’s tires crunched the fragments like they were ice. Up above I could see someone falling, really fast. Arms outstretched in a dive. Then, like a quarter, the body flipped, and it dropped face-up. Just like that it was on the pavement. Broken. Dead.

Police brought efficiency to the scene. I was the only witness, or so I was told. I did what I could. “You’ve checked his room?” I asked. “Maybe someone else was there. There might be a weapon, or a note,” I told them. “A reason or a clue. Who called you? What could break that window? Did someone want to hurt him? Don’t you care? Who is he?”

“Ma’am,” they said, “what we have here is an apparent suicide.”

The man was draped with a heavy cloth, like a lone piece of furniture left in a storage warehouse. They painted a huge ring around him, neon yellow, right there in the middle of the street. Outside that circle, free to be scavenged, were a plastic hotel keycard, sunglasses, and two fine leather shoes facing opposite directions. 

I waited hours for the coroner. A couple times I thought to call a friend or maybe my sponsor, but it seemed a sacrilege to break into the atmosphere like that. Sunday foot traffic inched by. Most people were hush-hush, but one guy, maybe showing off for his woman, said kinda loud, “It’s unnatural to fly.”

But hawks fly, don’t they? And angels. Kites, bats, years. And junkies.

Finally, a sterile van came and wiped the roadway clean. See-through plastic gloves lifted a stretcher into the back end of the anonymous wheeled coffin.

Nothing got reported on the news. I checked the precinct the next day; the report on file revealed only what I already knew. No name. Not a hint about who the guy was. Not one.

Faceless man, I don’t know your story, but you didn’t die alone. In those seconds – was it five? Or thirty? – I felt with you an intimacy greater than I’ve ever known.

We flew.

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One Response to “Natural To Fly”

  1. Annette Gagliardi Says:

    This was a raw, unabashed look at suicide – or murder. I loved what you did with it. great line- that last “We flew” connected you, left it’s impression. Nice write.

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