EMERALD CITY EULOGY
(Suicide at the Montlake Ship Canal Bridge)
In Seattle, new Volvos and Saabs crossed The Montlake Ship Canal Bridge a block south of the University of Washington Medical Center, passing the yacht club and 17th story research offices. The academic decals moved through the dispersing breath of exhausts - rising, as the specter of an aging Judy Garland rose. All lingering over the Emerald City on this coming, cool, last sunny day in late September of '85 - a day right for filming a forty's MGM musical. Today though, Judy was too sadly experienced and too harried with the thinned nerves of a toy terrier on amphetamines. She sang the shrill screams of middle-aged California horns seeking new beginnings, dark winter sirens' screams echoing undefined urgency, a ritual to lure the mists and fog from the canal and the sound for the coming Great Season Of Unending Rain.
Here, parking an old VW van with expired plates in the middle of the drawbridge thoroughfare on 23rd Ave., someone jumped off The Montlake Ship Canal Bridge - twice! His first plunge, over the west center side-rail into the cold canal, was unsuccessful. Swimming over, he then climbed, soaked and frenzied, determined not to punctuate his life with yet another failure, to the steep steps and up and across the bridge's street to the east rail. Leaping into the screams of a drawbridge operator atop a gothic watchtower, he aimed himself at the concrete canal walkway fifty feet below - the inefficient romance of drowning purged from this last determined impulse of action!
The urbane diffidence of the people broke. A sorority girl in bright jogging tights stood… then explained to an approaching other "I was just awestruck!", while burying her mother's naive mind in the lock of her hands forever. Older boys, street surfers with attitudes holding skateboards under their arms in colorful retro-bermudas, leaned over, intent and silent, determined, plucking boldly this rare real red fruit of death into their knowing for some feared future moment on a distant land.
Then, after the arrival of two ambulances (as if his remains could be shared), the police came, freed from the threat of personal violence on this call, worldly and casual, they descended the steps in a film-noir nonchalance standing momentarily still - from above, dots on a child's line drawing with the notion of having won a lottery prize without danger. Beginning, in a futile attempt along the fits of concrete, they outlined in finite parameters of white chalk anonymous mute dreams.
Beyond the chalk lines, the walkway and lush grass were awash with the spewn succulent red of glistening ruby slippers from a ripe red summer melon broken open, sowing the ground with diminutive moist pearl like opals in the sun - a crown of some exotic Jungle Lorro against the grey and green, rendering up to the very first onlookers on a cool fall morning in quick tiny unison, the wisp of a tiny steaming chorus of last warm breaths.