It always came as a surprise to Henry when a cliche proved to be true, but he had to admit that when he looked down, the people below him did indeed look like ants. Ants at a picnic, clustered along the police barricade in hopes of seeing another human splattered all over the pavement. The world was going to hell in a hand basket. Of course, Henry knew this, that's why he was out on the ledge.
A gust of wind caught him, whipping his tie up into his face and making the white sleeve of his button down shirt snap in the breeze. He tottered, and a loud "ooooooo" erupted from the crowd below, only to be replaced by an "awwww" as he managed to regain his balance and press himself against the comforting coolness of the steel behind him.
He took a deep breath. He wasn't ready yet. He wanted Janet to be here. So she could see what she had wrought.
Henry slowly, carefully, turned his head. There was a man standing next to him on the ledge. He was short, with a greasy comb over and a salt and pepper mustache. The pin stripe suit he wore was immaculate, and the shoes freshly shined. His sad eyes and saggy jowls reminded Henry of that cartoon character, Droopy Dog.
"Got a minute?" asked the man.
"Oh no, lord no," the man chuckled. "Bernard Laversham, I'm the building manager. You may have seen me in the hallways." Bernard held out his hand to shake.
Henry didn't move.
Bernard shrugged. "Not a fan of heights, eh? Never bothered me. Worked construction on a lot of the highrises when I was starting out. Second day on the job will cure you of any fear of heights you might have had. Either that or your a smear on the ground," Bernard's eyes widened, "Whoops, sorry about that."
"What do you want?!" Henry asked.
"Ah, a man who gets straight to business. I can appreciate that. So, here's the situation, um, errr, well, this is a bit awkward. What's your name again?"
"Ah. Here's the situation Henry. I have a bit of a labor problem on my hands. The janitorial staff is demanding a pay raise, and well, what with the economy and all, that's really a no go. Anyway, they're threatening to strike and, well, here's the awkward part, I'm afraid that if you do what I think you're planning on doing, that might just be the straw that breaks the camel's back." Barnard refused to look at Henry as he talked but instead studied his manicured fingernails intently.
"I don't understand."
"It's really the size of the mess, you see. I well built fellow like yourself, lots of meat on your bones, why, you could cover half a block. And my staff just wouldn't stand for it. And if they strike, well, you're rotting corpse could be down there for days, maybe even weeks, though I don't see how I could hold out for that long without losing some tenants."
"You don't want me to kill myself because of a labor dispute? I'm up here because my wife betrayed me with my best friend, the world is going into the crapper, my kids..."
Bernard held up his hands. "Hold on now, hold on. I'm not saying don't kill yourself."
"Just don't do it here. Look, I've got some nice stout rope down in the basement and I'm pretty sure we can Google how to tie a noose. Heck, if you can hold out for a few days I might even be able to get you a gun, now that'll make an impression she won't soon forget, am I right?" Bernard gave Henry a wink and a smile.
"Unbelievable," muttered Henry.
Bernard didn't seem to hear. "So, tell me friend, will you do me this favor?"
Copyright 2012 John Lance