Wednesday, 24 August 2011


"I know you," he says, his knock on the window jolting me out of my nocturnal daydream. "You picked me up when them cops came to my house! S'pose you don't remember." 


"Good memory you've got there." 

"What are you doing here at four in the morning?" 

"Oh, you know. This and that. Just hanging around." 

"Outside a hospital?"

"S'pose this is where I live now. Under section, in the nut house round the back. They just let me out for a smoke, but I ran off to get a better spot." 

Craig was dragged away from home a couple of weeks earlier by the police after destroying every piece of furniture in his house and threatening to set fire to the damaged remains. His mother begged us to let him stay at home, claiming it had never happened before, that he was just drunk, and that she'd look after him now. Two facts prevented that from happening. The first was the fact that it was taking the full force of several police officers to restrain him, and the second was the arterial bleed from his arm. 

Craig went back to sitting on the wall where he must have been perched before scaring the life out of me. It was three storeys up from the ground, with nothing between him and the concrete below. 

"You know, I'm pleased you're here. You can be my witness." 

"Witness for what, Craig?" 

"For me jumping off here. You can tell them that I meant it, that I didn't just fall." 

"Jumping? What do you want to do that for?" I sat there, frantically wracking my brain for a way to get some help without alerting him to the idea, but in the meantime I was happy that he just kept talking. 

He took a crumpled cigarette out of his pocket. "I 'spose you don't smoke, do you?"

"Nope. Never have done. Why?"

"Smoked since I was fourteen. Ten years that is. S'pose I knew then already that I wasn't going to have a long life. Twenty a day normally, sometimes thirty, forty. Even had a hundred once in one day, thought it would kill me there and then, but it didn't. Still here, aren't I? Still need my smokes. Still need some fresh air to smoke 'em. Pollute the air with smoke like they tried to pollute my mind. I know what they were doing to me in there!"

"In where, Craig?"

"There! The nut house!"

Craig pulled a lighter out that was tucked into his watch strap, made himself a little more comfortable on the edge of the wall and after a few attempts finally managed to light the cigarette. Two long drags later, he kept talking.

"I'm gonna finish the pack of twenty that I've got, and then that's it. I'm getting out. I've got this one and one more. That's it. No more smokes, no more police, no more hospitals, no more nothing. Glad you're here, anyway. I already told you that, didn't I?"

"You did. But I might be gone in a minute, if I get a call."

"S'pose I'll wait 'til you get back then."

As if on cue, the computer rang and sent me out into the night, heading in the vague direction of a jumbled set of coordinates on a map. Someone had called in from a mobile phone, and before the exact details are confirmed, the system works out which mast the call is routed through, and starts sending me there. The little red triangle on the map showed a point less than a mile away. Now that I finally had the chance, I called up control and let them know about Craig, where he was sitting, and that they need to send someone, anyone, to stop him from carrying out his threat.

A minute or so down the road, the details of the call finally came through.

Location: Nearby Hospital, by the A&E entrance. 

Details: Male, unknown age, threatening to jump off high wall. Ambulance car was on scene, now left. 

By the time I'd turned round and got back to where I started, two members of staff from the Mental Health unit were talking to Craig, as a police officer helped him off the wall. He looks up at me, perhaps confused by my swift return, perhaps amused by it.

"You know what," he says, as a pair of handcuffs are applied, "I'll do it one day, whether you're there, or anyone's there. Or not. S'pose it's back to the nut house. S'pose I'd better get another packet of smokes, though."


jp said...

If only there was more support 24 7 and not just mon-fri 9-5 what these people dont need is to be dragged into a+e and wait hours for assessment.

manchesteregg said...

Could of ended in so many ways that.
1 you leave and he decides not to jump and go back in

2 you leave and he jumps (could you have stopped him? and would he have jumped whilst you where there?)

3 you dont leave and he jumps (question as above)

4 you dont leave and he does not jump.

two of those questions are related to the call that was made.

why ring 999 when there is already a car on scene?

could this call have made things worse as you were on your way to him. Had the call not been made you were already there. However the other question to ask is how would you have raised the alarm

I believe this is called and enigma
or early am a mind f*ck

SaintPara said...

A perfect demo of why playing "Chase the mobile mast" is fundamentally flawed! *head desk*