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The icy wind from the brutal winter’s night sliced through Bill’s paper thin jacket as he took a step to the edge. Peering down that hundred foot drop, his palms began to drip with sweat despite the cold weather.
Bill used to roll his eyes every time he heard that someone was depressed. “Honestly,” thought Bill, “Why can’t people just get on with their lives?” He was in for a surprise. Six months ago, Bill made a sudden U-turn when his dad, Chuck, decided to leave his mom for another woman.
In appearance, Chuck was a true man. He stood 6’2” with a hefty build and worked as a banker in a high sky rise downtown. After investigating Chuck’s mysterious business trips to only-God-knows-where, Bill and his mom slowly peeled back the shallow layers of Chuck only to discover the woman he had been sleeping with for a year and a half. Bill responded in the only way he could. Withdrawal. Hatred. Suicide.
It was 4 a.m., and Bill stood over the city bridge that hovered over a giant river. Chunks of ice floated in the dark water below, which had to be 10 degrees at most.
Bill took a deep breath as backed up to—
“Your shoes are untied,” said a hoarse voice suddenly.
“What?” Bill angrily turned around to see a man on a bench smoking a cigarette.
“Before you jump, you should tie your shoes,” said the man.
Bill asked, “Now why would I want to do that?”
“Because,” said the man, “you might trip before the jump and ruin your attempt completely. The last thing you would want would be waking up in an emergency room to your mom wondering why you were out at 4am.”
“My mom doesn’t give a rat’s a** where I am right now,” said Bill. “And what is to you anyways?”
“I’m just trying to help a brother out,” said the man.
Bill got a slightly better look at him as the man stood up. He looked to be in about his mid 40s, a little younger than his dad, but he had the same cocked expression Chuck always had.
“Well, I don’t need your help, and I’d appreciate it if you just left me alone,” said Bill.
“You’re the one that invaded my space. I’ve been here for the past three hours,” said the man as he put out his cigarette.
“Well, what the hell are you doing here at 4 in the morning?”
“I could ask you the same question,” said the man.
“Listen old man,” said Bill, “I don’t need you or anyone else telling me what to do with my life.”
“Now listen to me, kid,” the man said sternly, “I don’t know what you’ve been through, but I know that you have a family out there that cares about you. You got your whole life ahead of you. The last thing you’d want to do is waste it in that river.”
“I uh—I uh—guess,” Bill stuttered as he nervously scratched the back of his head.
Confused and curious, Bill asked him, “Did my mom hire you to follow me around?”
The man chuckled. “I’m just a soul passing through.” He put on his baseball cap and said, “Your mom will be expecting you soon.” He disappeared out of sight on the city lit street. Confused, Bill took another glance at the river and felt his stomach growl for food. No suicide was going to take place that morning.
As Bill made his way to a diner downtown, the Sun began to rise. Passing by a newspaper stand, Bill glanced at the front-page of that morning’s paper.
“That’s him!” Bill exclaimed as he saw the picture of the man that had just saved his life.
Bill dashed for a copy and fumbled to page 6. Bill read: “Derrick Willis, age 43, died last night around 8 p.m. in the Hudson River as he jumped in to save his teenage son, Josh, from drowning. Josh survived, but Willis’ body was found along the bay about an hour later.”
Speechless, Bill stared as the man at the stand asked, “Are you going to buy that?”