John H. Bennett, Jr. Prize
Spring 2008
Donald L. Geddes

The Tear of Things

For Joe Zealberg, M.D.

The two most common methods of suicide in Charleston
are bridge jumping, and throwing one’s self in front of
a moving vehicle.

There are two Cooper River Bridges.
The Grace Memorial Bridge is the one with a history, a ribbon
of steel that grew with our city out of the depression.
The new bridge is the preferred bridge, wider, easy access.
The mad jumper leaves her keys locked in the car at the scene
before she leaps. As if to say: ‘Yes, I know this will be an
inconvenience, but I need to die and the traffic will be my
only indulgence when I’m gone.’

Dr. Joe is the first to go when the call arrives: ‘Yes,
a few have survived. Mostly, when people hit the water,
they are knocked unconscious by the impact, and then drown,
which is the primary mechanism of death.
A few remain conscious, and change their mind.’

And then there’s another way gaining in popularity.
Imagine driving home after a grueling day, or a pleasant day,
it doesn’t matter, and someone shoots out between parked
cars and leaps out in front of you, bounces up off your bumper
and slams into your windshield. You’re traveling 40 in a 35.
His head a bloody smear. Eyes that no longer see stare
at you before you come to a complete stop and the body flops
off the hood and rolls to rest in front of your car. Followed
by the police interviews and statements from witnesses. Yes,
you were driving too fast. Who told this pathetic soul to
jump in front of your car in the first place? God?
I don’t think so. And hours later when you finally pull into
your drive, you hear: ‘Hi dear, how was your day?’
What do you say???

Remember the next time sunlight bleeds through the gauze
of morning, pray for the weary who have lost their way.
And if they insist, pray they jump from the bridge.
©2008 Donald L. Geddes