There he was, then. A man, more or less human, cusp of thirty. There he was, standing on a bypass, screaming bedlam into the ravine below. “Like that bit in Garden State”, you might think. No, not like that. This was more like Penderecki screeching echoes of a hundred thousand souls lost to Hiroshima.
I stopped to look, since it hadn’t started raining yet. I waited for one scream to finish before asking him, “What’s going on, there?”
The man looked to me, black around the eyes, all hand-beaten and gaunt. “What?” he responded.
“All this. This caterwauling and such, never heard the like of it. What’s that all about?”
“I’m hoping something down there can hear me.”
He gestured towards the ravine. Aside from some litter and what appeared to be a dead opossum, there was nothing down there that would have any interest listening to him scream.
I decided to tell him that, “You know there’s nothing down there that would have any interest listening to you scream, mate.”
“Aye,” said he, “but there’s nothing else, so it was worth a go.”
“That’s not true,” I assured him. “Don’t you have a lovely wife you could be screaming at? Or some friends? Enemies, even. Or just somecunt else, maybe someone once wronged you in an aquarium. The sea lions therein, even. You’re more likely to get a reaction out of them. Something to scream back at you, at the very least.”
“Nah. I don’t want screaming back at. I just want to be heard.”
I pondered, “Kind of like that ‘tree falling in a forest’ thing?”
“If you were to go into a forest and scream ‘WANKER’ at a tree, and no one was there to hear it, would it have even happened? Something like that.”
“Aye,” he said, pensively. “Something like that.”
“You could scream at me, if you want,” I offered, dropping the salmon-fish I was carrying. “I won’t mind. And I promise I won’t scream back at you.”
The man looked back to the ravine, clearly uninterested in my offer.
I reassessed. “Or I could scream with you. How about that?”
He studied me for a second, confused. “What’s the use in screaming if you have nothing to scream for?”
“For the fuck of it, I suppose,” I shrugged.
The man turned his gaze, tears starting their way out of it, back towards the ravine. He was in a bad way. Time to go nuclear.
“Alright, alright. Hello, there. Yeah. Right, I do have a solution to your problem. All of them. It’s extreme, but it does work every time. Guaranteed.”
His eyes turned back to me, not even hopefully.
“See where you are?” I continued. “And see down there, that big old hole you’re so furious at? You’re gonna wanna put yourself in there, mate.”
I approached him slowly, making my assessment. “Aye, you’ve got probably a good 20 meters’ drop, there. A lot of rocks and shite down there an’ all. Chuck thyself with enough force and you’ll be well out of it, mate.”
“Out of it?”
“Aye. Well out. Out of all of it. It’ll be over and done with. You won’t be heard, but you won’t have need for that anymore. You’ll be out.”
He returned his stare to the ravine. He was pondering, but he needed an extra push.
“You can scream while you do it, if you like. Hell, I’ll even do it with you.”
“You will?” he responded snappily, bright as I’d seen him yet. Brightest he’d been in weeks by the looks of it. He was coming round.
“Aye, why not. Be a laugh, won’t it?”
“A laugh,” he returned, grimly, but I was already climbing my way up the bypass.
I stood next to him and offered my hand. “C’mon, lad. Take my hand. We’ll do it together. I’m mad as a one-inch hospital myself. I’m ready to be out.”
Apprehensively, he took my hand. He looked back towards the ravine. “Count of three,” I said. “One …”
He tightened his grip as I slowly swung our hands. “Two …”
Something in his face, now. What was that? Hope? Fear? Something, anyway.
He let out a mighty yell and lunged forward. I instantly pulled my hand back and stayed right where I was as I watched him career down into the ravine, bouncing off all the rocks and shite as he did. He finally came to a stop, as did his yelling, in a particularly crap lump of soil. I think that was him done.
Funny. He did look quite peaceful at the end of all of it. I could just about make out a daft grin pop-riveted onto his vacant face. I don’t know if I really expected that. Maybe I did him a favor. Heh. Not that that was my intention, mind you. I’m a right bad bastard.
Oh look, it’s started to rain.