“Don’t miss the bus,” the man growled. Stephen just walked past, but the man followed. “Talking to you.”
Stephen looked back, wavering between threatening and dismissive. Usually he ignored the homeless, but this guy taunted for weeks.
“There’s a bus for you. Be on it.”
Hours later he stepped onto the balcony. Too cold really, but he admired the December air. The lights. The half-silence of height.
His grandfather owned 40 acres in Ohio and was a humble, poor man. Stephen owned a fraction of that, but in Manhattan, and was decadently rich.
His grandfather had disputes over stray cows. Stephen – insider trading. The feds were interested.
“Thinking of jumping?” Helen pulled on the fur as she stepped out. Nothing on underneath but black lace, looking like his Jack Vettriano painting. She said he lived a Vettriano-painted life.
He bought the coat to distract her from the federal investigation and from his secretary.
“Not that bad. I’ll pull through.”
She looked out. “You think jumpers ever hurt others? Hit a person? Hit a cab?”
The man came to mind. “Hit a bus?” Even transients wanted him to take a flying leap.
“My grandpa… with a shotgun,” he told Helen. “Because he lost the farm.”
The next morning, again: “Don’t miss the bus.”
Stephen snapped, grabbed the man’s coat. “Stop harassing me! You want a bus?” And pushed him into the street.
He had time to reconsider. As the bus approached he leapt, pushed the man back. Saved his life.