You are standing on the precipice of a skeletal building frame when you make the following realization: underneath your skin there are systems and universes and sacks of general gooey mayhem which you will never understand. They operate without your knowledge and assist you in many ways. They breathe for you, crap for you, process food and water. They also give you cancer, strokes, pink eye.
From the top of the building frame you can see the rooftops of the city. They are pointed and flat, adorned with abandoned mattresses and patio furniture. Behind you, the sun floats like an egg yolk in the sky. It warms your neck and makes you feel a pleasant nostalgia for nothing in particular. You are merely glad to be alive, momentarily, with the sun on your neck and the city spread out before you like a patchwork quilt.
You look with the eye of a photographer, and you see beauty in the horror that you can almost ignore from your perch. The drunken homeless man asleep in the sun. The prostitutes stumbling toward a needle, ready to screw or be screwed by anything that gets in the way. On the street they are a panic. They are quickened blood flow. They are the realization that you are weak and pathetic. From the top of the building they are shadow and contrast. They are stark, beautiful images. You wish, not for the first time, that the world was black and white.
As you prepare to launch yourself forward, you are aware of several distinct sensations. The wind in your face…it has the subtle scent of the city itself. A scent with texture. Car exhaust and piss and pastry shops. You feel the wind separating the hairs on your head. You feel it urging you back, but you are stronger than the wind. Next, you notice the position of your hands. You are entering the motions of a dive. You did not plan this. You are momentarily amused by the idea that your brain stared at a ten story drop and decided that it was much like jumping off the high dive. Next you feel gravel. Every piece of it. Every indentation in each of your toes, softened by the thin rubber barrier of your old Chuck Taylors. Now you are airborne. The wind is all there is.
You were hoping for your life to flash before you like they say it does. It is more like ultimate system stimulus. Your mind is firing like a tommy gun, exploding in images, color, sensation, regret, and memory. Every detail of your body becomes distinct, as does every detail of your environment. You see every gum wrapper on the sidewalk. You see the sidewalk itself. You see the worlds within the texture of the gray which you always thought was uniform. You see shadow and light.
The feeling is a terrible glee. The feeling you get from a mean joke. With each passing nanosecond, the sensations become magnified. Behind you, the skeletal building is an imaginary construct. It is from some recess of your mind. In the splitting of seconds, everything attains a perfect unity. Nothing is more or less important than anything else. For the first time in your life you are really 100 percent present. You are alive in the wind and a part of the shadow. You are experiencing contrast. And then it is just black.
* * * * * *
JD Mader is the author of ‘Joe Café’ and a contributing author to Indies Unlimited. You can find more of JD’s writing at his blog www.jdmader.com.