Standing there, in the cold driving rain. Looking down upon the feet, those big feet that feel so heavy, that seem to move so slowly these days. Can’t move, paralyzed…The wind grows stronger, faster, more powerful than he ever thought possible. A crack in the dirt below. Tiny at first, can’t see it but knows it is there, just knows it by instinct. Then he can see it, see it all right…It’s big Oh God Oh God Oh God it’s growing so big. So bigger and wider and the very Earth is rendering and he’s standing right over that big Crevasse and a foot on either side those big heavy feet and Oh God his feet are going in opposite directions and he’s being torn apart and Oh God…
Jim Garner woke in the middle of the night in a big, heavy sweat that covered his entire body. He was alive oh thank god he was still alive. Yes, he was still alive. He felt the damp sheets clinging to his body and looked over to where Shelly lay on her side, facing away and sound asleep, too caught up in her own dreams to know what terror had lain within his.
He was tired, oh so very tired. He had not slept decently in a week, and it was starting to wear on him. He felt old, much older than his thirty-two years.
Jim slipped out of bed, pulled the covers back onto his own side as if he were laying something to rest, and staggered through the dining room to the kitchen. His head hurt badly, and he needed an aspirin. He opened the cabinet nearest the fridge and fumbled with the bottle which he pulled from within. Then he started to reach for the fridge door to get some milk, decided against the effort, and swallowed the two pills dry.
The woken leaned his sweaty forehead against the coolness of the fridge and took three long, deep breaths. After a further wait, he finally opened the fridge’s door and pulled out the last Heineken of the pack of six which had been sitting in the cold for that number of weeks.
The first swallow reached his throat at the border between kitchen and dining room, and Jim lowered the bottle from his lips as he entered the living room. He sat himself upon the black leather couch Shelly had bought to go with the black dining room table and with the big black screen tv which dominated the living room. Black was his mind.
Jim flipped the tv on with the remote control and watched it alone for the first time during the six months the couple had lived in the apartment. It felt odd, like sitting in a stranger’s living room with the self-consciousness of knowing you are using another man’s possessions. Letterman was on, and the viewer turned the volume low so as not to disturb the ghosts floating about him.
Ghosts. They were all about him, all the time. He didn’t feel their presence during the days, the days filled with briefs and contracts and power lunches. Yet at night he felt them fleet in and out and about his world when his mind was alive enough to notice them. He was a man haunted by ghosts that would not die, ghosts that would never die.
The Crevasse, that was what he faced. A big, gaping Crevasse that threatened to rip his world apart if he did not jump. To one side or the other, he knew he would have to jump sooner or later. Or perhaps the jump had already been made for him.
The Crevasse was only in his head, he knew, but it had a reality created by belief. The first and tiniest crack, the crack in his dream, had come on a college campus more than ten years before. English, then law school, and the crack had widened. The firm, and then family, and the crack had become the Crevasse that was a rift in his mind, under his feet, in his soul. And now the time had come to jump one way or the other. Yet his feet were heavy, like stone.
It is funny what prompts a crisis in a man’s soul. Sometimes it is a tragedy, a death, a loss. Sometimes it is more subtle than that, a random word or page placed in time and space with precision that bears home to the heart of hearts. And so it was with Jim Garner. He walked, not staggering now, to the bookshelves which lined the farthest wall of his living room.
It was a volume, however slim, that he pulled reverently from the jumble of tomes that packed the shelves. In this lied his week-long agony. What it was or what it said didn’t matter now, for the damage was done. Jim Garner had come to question his existence.
Jim walked to one of the windows that looked down upon the Manhattan skyline, which glittered with lights. He had flicked Letterman off, and now took in the beauty he was paying three thousand a month for. He was surrounded by the silence that his soul searching needed.
To write, that was what he had wanted to do in the beginning. To lawyer, that was what he had come to do, through a laziness of the spirit. Not of the mind or body, for he was fast on his way to becoming a junior partner in the firm. No, it was a laziness born of inertia. He had been pushed, ever so gently, in a certain direction. And he had gone with the push to place a firm foot on the other side of the Crevasse.
Maybe that push was a pull, a pull from the other side of the Crevasse that beckoned him to make his leap before it was too late. No matter, the Crevasse was there underneath his leaden feet. If he did not leap, he would be swallowed whole.
Jump Jim! Jump Jim! Jump jump jump! His head was beginning to throb once more. He walked out onto the narrow balcony and felt the cool, moist air against his clammy skin.
The sky had started to rain a cold, driving rain. Jump Jim Jump Jim Jump Jim Jump Jump Jump! Now he looked down below, at the streets that glared up at him in their savagery. The Crevasse was there, waiting patiently for him as that old heaviness came creeping through him. He could just give it all up and go to the streets. That would be the easy thing to do.
No! No! No! It was a tiny part of him, an oh-so-very-tiny part of him that at one time had been much bigger. And would be big again. No! No! No! That was not for him. The Crevasse could be traversed. The Crevasse could be tamed.
Jim looked back upon his existence, the books and the romances that had faded away. The work, the tremendous amount of work, which had filled his life. It filled, yet it wasn’t filling, for nothing can satiate true emptiness. Emptiness can only be filled by that which one loves.
Jim stepped back inside, and softly slid the door shut behind him. He strode through the living and dining rooms and into the small study he used for late night paperwork sessions. Yes, he would have a paperwork session that night.
The computer came on, and its screen lit up the blackness of the room. A new file, and he made his leap.
Leaping, leaping, leaping into the air after the ledge. Chasing a ledge Oh God chasing a ledge. Don’t look down Oh God don’t look down at the Chasm beneath…It’s coming it’s coming it’s coming the Ledge is coming back to meet my feet, my feet light and flying in the air…