fictoid: Street Pizza
The very tip of the spire housed the aircraft warning beacons, but the work platform below it was about the size of an elevator.
With six full grown men, it felt very, very crowded.
The ringleader unlatched an access hatch and swung it open. Four of the other men held the sixth man, two with their massive arms wrapped tightly around his knees, the others grasping his wrists with one hand and applying leverage against his elbows with the other.
He struggled mightily, screaming and begging all the way, but against their combined strength his efforts proved futile.
They carted him up two hundred feet of rickety metal stairs to make a point, and now that point would be made with grim finality.
The two men holding his knees lifted his legs over the edge of the access hatch. He felt the hard metal frame dig into his buttocks. Before him the city stretched out like a million diamonds and emeralds and rubies on a vast field of black velvet; the cool night air smelled sweet and faintly of the bay. “No! No! Please, God, NO!”
The other two men shoved his head and shoulders through the hatch but held onto his arms, as if not yet ready to let him go. The ringleader said, “Don’t act like you don’t deserve this.”
Then they shoved him out.
He screamed, spreading his legs out in some vain instinctual hope that he could somehow slow his fall by sliding down the steep side of the eight hundred foot tall pyramid. The heels of his Salvatore Ferragamo shoes hit the edge of the aluminum spire that topped the skyscraper and jolted his legs so hard he flipped ass over tea kettle and started tumbling end over end down the siding.
His head hit the metal sharply at least three times, splitting his scalp open and spraying blood. Sheer survival instinct told his body to throw his arms out to stop his tumbling and turn his fall into a slide.
Below him, rushing up faster and faster, came the flat roof of one of the building’s wings, jutting out from the side of the pyramid to accommodate the skyscraper’s numerous elevators.
A desperate thought shot through his brain: Slide over and hit the roof of the elevator wing. He leaned in that direction, hoping to guide his fall.
His right ring finger caught in one of the vents along the aluminum spire and ripped loose from his hand, a sharp jolt of pain electrifying his body, sharpening his focus.
Thirty-two feet per second per second flashed through his head, a formula absorbed in some long forgotten prep school or university class.
He cleared the aluminum spire and began falling down the actual windows of the skyscraper’s façade.
The imaginary safety of the wing roof whooshed past at seventy miles an hour. His fall down the aluminum spire took three and a half seconds; his fall down the remaining 48 stories of the main part of the skyscraper would take less than that.
On the 44th floor, two co-workers “staying late for a business call from China” fornicated enthusiastically on her desk. She faced the window and saw a brief dark blur pass.
“Hey!” she said. “Something fell!” But her partner’s attention remained focused elsewhere and so she turned her eyes away from the dazzling city nightscape.
Plunging faster and faster down the side of the building, the battered and bleeding man tried to catch the rim of a window, any window.
The stone and concrete facing felt like a machine driven sanding belt stripping his clothes and skin off.
Dimly he realized that even if he somehow miraculously managed to grasp the edge of a window, his velocity would tear his arm right out of its socket.
The last four floors of the building flared out slightly to provide shelter from wind and rain to pedestrians. Large decorative beams crisscrossed this portion of the skyscraper. If he could hit them at the right angle, maybe he could --
He hit the top one and it shattered his hips and flung him far enough away from the building that he would clear the last four floors and hit face first on the sidewalk below.
His terror stricken brain -- his heart pumping nothing but pure oxygen and adrenaline now -- perceived the last split second of his life in a long, languid, leisurely fashion.
His thoughts turned not to family and friends, not to pleasant memories, but to the chain of events that brought him to this point.
The thousands of tiny, petty, selfish gestures that first raised him high, then hurled him low.
The sidewalk rushed up to kiss him. His nose struck first, collapsing instantly, then his forehead.
The skin of his forehead split open like a water balloon, the frontal bones shattered like fine porcelain china.
The front part of his brain slammed to a halt against the filthy concrete while the rear portion continued rushing downwards at a hundred and twenty miles an hour.
Deep in the temporal lobe, the core memories -- the memories that defined who he was, what he was -- fired one last time as physics pulverized his brain against the spit and shit and chewing gummed stained sidewalk.
The last thoughts he ever processed focused with crystal clarity on the stark realization that the men who threw him out the access hatch spoke truly: He did deserve this.
A lifetime of shortcuts.
A lifetime of cheats.
A lifetime of lies.
© Buzz Dixon