She sat at the bus stop right outside of the police station on Main and Cordova. It was a rough part of town but she figured she would be safe here while she waited for her bus to take her home. The sun was still hot that Sunday afternoon and there wasn’t anyone else out on the street. Good, she thought and relaxed against the back of the bench soaking up the sun on her face. She watched little dirt dervishes swirl in the street in front of her after each vehicle past by.
She didn’t see or hear him approaching.
“I’m going to kill myself!” he slurred.
Startled, she sat upright and tightened her grip on her handbag. She wanted to plug her nose with her fingers to block out the stink coming from him but that would be rude so she just turned her face away.
“Do you hear me?” he yelled. “I’m going to kill myself!”
She slid to the far edge of the bench and kept her head turned away from him. Go away, go away, go away, she silently prayed. He staggered forward and stood, swaying in front of her. The smell of alcohol mixed with his pungent body odour almost made her gag.
“Do you hear me?” he yelled again.
She looked up at him, “Yes, I heard you” she said quietly. She was terrified.
He stared at her for a long moment, and then stepped backwards onto the road without taking his eyes off hers. A car swerved to avoid him and honked. She jumped to her feet.
“What are you doing?”
He stood in the road and faced the oncoming traffic.
“Hit me you sons of bitches!” he yelled.
“Get off the road!” she cried out.
She looked around desperate now to see someone else on the street but there wasn’t a soul. She was grateful the traffic was sporadic but he only needed one to hit.
“Please get off the road!” she tried again. Every car that went by had to swerve suddenly to avoid him as he hurled himself in front of them. He was too drunk to be able to move very fast and the cars were just able to avoid him in time. So far.
This is insane, she thought. We are right in front of a police station and there isn’t a cop to be seen. The next break in traffic she would go in and get help. When the opportunity finally came she hurried to the entrance door and once inside ran up to the front desk.
“There is a drunk guy trying to kill himself by running in front of the traffic!”
The cop behind the desk took a minute to look up from his paper work.
“Has anything hit him yet?” he asked casually.
“Just ignore him” he said and looked back down at his papers.
“What…are you kidding me? He is throwing himself in front of every vehicle that goes by. It’s just a matter of time before he’s hit, aren’t you going to do anything?”
The officer looked somewhere between bored and annoyed. He sighed and put his pen down.
“Look. Just ignore him. He’ll be fine.”
She stared at him, incredulous, unable to think of what to say or able to move. After a moment she turned and slowly made her way back to the door. Just before she stepped outside she heard him say “Let me know if something hits him.”
She was afraid she’d find his body, bloody, in the middle of the road. She prayed that he’d come to his senses and just gone away, but instead she found him slumped on the bus stop bench crying.
“They won’t let me see my son. I can’t work and they won’t let me see my boy anymore. There is nothing left for me. I want it to be over. I just want to die.”
She stood watching him for a few minutes, unsure of what to do next. Finally she sat beside him and turned to face him. When he looked up at her she saw intense pain in his eyes.
“I don’t know you and I don’t know your whole situation. You probably don’t want to listen to a fifteen year old kid like me anyway, but if you have a little boy then I think you have that to live for. If you can’t see him right now then you need to do whatever you need to do so that you can see him again one day. I’m positive he doesn’t want his dad run over on the street. I wish I could help you more but I don’t know what to do for you. Please don’t run in front of a car. Please don’t hurt yourself. Please.”
He sobbed quietly with his face buried in his hands. He sat and cried. Cars came and went and he sat and cried. Her bus pulled up then and the door swished open. She got up and put her hand on his shoulder. “You’re going to be ok.”
She watched him through the window as the bus pulled away. She saw his shoulders move as he cried, but otherwise he was still.
He’s going to be ok, she thought, God I hope he’s going to be ok. Please God, please let him be ok.