It was 1:30am and Jimmy sat at his desk reading the posts from others who had also witnessed the horror, the young man hurling himself from the roof top of the Mountain Winery stage, landing in the middle of the Swell Season concert...three feet from lead singer Glen Hansard. Jimmy read out loud, the words stumbling, his shoulders shaking from the sobs. "It was fucked up Mer, it was totally surreal and fucked up....I watched a man die." "I know Jimmy, you're right, it was totally fucked up," I said, my arm around his shoulder pulling him closer. There is nothing else one can say really, other than to acknowledge the insanity, to acknowledge the horror, to sit with it and hug your brother.
That morning I had slept in, rolled out of bed after nine and shuffled into my slippers. I fed Cosmo her kibbles and picked up the papers from the porch, tossing the NY Times on Jimmy's bed, noting that he had not slept there. I knew he and our 12 year old niece Devyn had gone to the Swell Season concert the night before and I thought little of his not coming home, knowing he had probably crashed at our sister Julie's house. I walked into my office, plopped into my desk chair and clicked onto email. "Freaky Experience" read the subject line in an email from my sister Juls to me and my siblings. "Huh?" I thought as I opened it and read:
"Well, Jim took Devyn to her first concert last night (Swell Season) at an upscale venue that included a lovely dinner. What a shock that they were forced to witness a suicide by jumper. Thank god Devyn was looking away when the man fell and hit, but Jim saw the bounce."
WTF? I was suddenly fully awake and calling Jul's. "WTF Juls, are Jimmy and Dev ok?" "Yeah, but we were up till 1am talking, processing it all. Jimmy walked in the door and I could tell he was freaked. He grabbed a beer and we talked for a couple of hours. Thank god Dev was looking away when the guy hit the stage but Jimmy saw the whole thing."
Juls and I talked for some time, she shared some of the details, how two doctors in the audience ran on stage and administered CPR, how folks were sobbing, how several people near Jimmy and Dev fainted, how Dev looked up at Jimmy and said, "Am I going to faint?" "No Dev, you're ok, just breathe normally and you will be fine," Jimmy assured her.
Juls explained how they saw the medevac helicopter coming and then suddenly turn around because the man was beyond rescue, he was dead. Juls explained that Glen had been only a few feet away from where the jumper had landed on an amp after bouncing off the lighting scaffolding....how Glenn had startled, then moved towards the man while calling for help. When Jimmy had finished telling the story, Juls turned to Dev, "this is not normal Dev, I want you to know that this is not normal." It was Devyn's first concert....a special night out with her uncle Jim. So it was supposed to be.
After I hung up with Juls I called Jimmy, left him a voicemail. "Dude, WTF? Are you doing ok?" I thought about him all day. Six thirty came and I had just laid down in the hammock when Cosmo lept towards the door, tail wagging....Jimmy was home. I saw him through the kitchen and I immediately knew, he was still freaked. "Dude, Juls told me everything, are you ok?" "Not really, you wanna go get a beer?" We went to dinner and Jimmy shared some more of the details, the latest news reports...how they had to stand around for some time while the emergency workers came and went. "Alcohol helps," Jimmy offered, I don't feel so anxious now." "Yeah bud, it's called self-medicating and it's totally cool for a night or two."
After dinner we headed to the local dive bar and shot a few games of pool, drank a few beers and laughed at our own ridiculous silliness. I got dissed and slapped on the shoulder (which spilled my beer) by some agro asshole who I subsequently humbled....and Jimmy made friends with an architect who wanted to be a decent pool player but wasn't. It was a typical Mer and Jimmy night out, laughing, drinking one more beer than we should have, over tipping the friendly cabbie. And then Jimmy was at his computer, reading the posts out loud, a little drunk and crying, asking "I'm not fucked up cause I am crying, right?" "No Jimmy" I assured him, "Crying is a healthy response to having seen a man kill himself." We talked some more and then Jimmy declared, "That's it, I am done for now. I gotta sleep." He put his iPod earbuds in and I jokingly tucked him in and then turned off his light. "Good night, and no listening to the Swell Season dude. I will see you for breakfast in the morning."