Saturday, November 3, 2012


(Bluewater Bridges, Wiki Commons, by 'optionbooter.')

Naveed clung to a vertical girder in the dimness, a cluster of other grey-painted I-beams slanting upwards right and left. A small satchel was tucked into the corner where they all met in a massive gusset, liberally planted with thirty-five millimetre bolts.

Pinned by several powerful lights, he waited, lungs aching from exertion, and sobbing for life.

The top of the bag was open. The gusting wind high over the river sucked out a page and it flew off like an avenging angel of death, intent upon some mission of punishment far below.

Naveed’s white-rimmed eyes stared pitifully up into the faces of the emergency responders.

“It’s proof—proof,” he yelled in despair.

“We’re just trying to help you,” called Jim Melshevik, the negotiator. “What’s this all about?”

He found it hard to be reassuring when hanging over a chasm of several hundred feet, and yelling at the top of his lungs at a crazy man. At his present weight of three hundred and forty pounds, bending over the rail at all was something of a miracle.

He huffed and puffed, and then tried again.

“What’s this all about?” he shouted weakly down to the man known as Naveed.

“Proof that genetic engineering and hormone-enhanced agriculture is causing Americans to get really, really fat,” shrieked Naveed, his rising hopes threatened by a gust of heavy rain.


“Did he just say what I thought he said?” asked Staff Sergeant Paul Monnopo.

“Yes!” said Jim, a highly trained psychologist, and the hostage-negotiator, suicide talk-down guy, and duty shrink at the hospital on Jones Boulevard.

“So what do you think?” asked Paul.

“Kill him,” advised Melshevik. “He’s obviously not going to shut up about it, and he did say he has proof.”

Staff Sergeant Monnopo drew his service revolver. By standing on his tiptoes, twisting his upper body, and tucking his belly carefully to one side, he leaned over the rail.

Melshivek waited patiently, but no shot came and the sergeant popped back up for air. He put the gun away, noting the raised eyebrow. After a minute of deep, slow breathing, he was able to talk.

“He saved us a bullet,” he said, giving Melshevik an old-fashioned look. “We’ll have to get one of the smaller men down there and recover the papers, but I think we’re all right.”

Sergeant Monnopo reached up and pressed the button on his transceiver.

“All right, he hit water, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s see if we can wrap this up tonight,” and with a nod to Melshevik, the good sergeant strolled back to his cruiser.

“Phew,” muttered Melshevik. “That was a bad one.”

Naveed came so close to getting away.

The consequences of a successful departure just didn’t bear thinking about. The worrying part really wasn’t his job, it was merely the reason for it.

Looking idly over the rail again out of morbid curiousity, he saw lights and boats milling around a common point. Men with poles and hooks were hauling in a sodden form, draped in Naveed’s long white raincoat.

Wrapped up like a douche, another runner in the night.

With a wink and a nod at the firemen rigging up some brave volunteer to go over the rail and grab the bag, Jim Melshevik headed for his own Escalade. His thoughts were already elsewhere. It might be a good idea to grab a double box of French fries and gravy, and maybe a foot-long barbecued sausage on a stick while he was in the neighbourhood.

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