A bungled, hilarious suicide attempt gives birth to the darkest of business plans; to choreograph spectacular suicides and film them for sale on DVD. This compelling story is told with brilliant black humour and a unique zest for life!!
Read an Excerpt
recycling JimmyA NOVEL
By Andy Tilley
Kunati Inc.Copyright © 2007 Andy Tilley
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIn the couple of hours since Jimmy had left his friend Dave outside the Duke of York pub, he had managed to turn his world upside down. Literally, for he was no longer standing but dangling now, head first above London Road, connected back to his life on the bridge by only a short length of rusting reinforcement bar that had hooked through his belt when he had fallen.
It was his favorite belt, too. A strip of battered old leather that he loved but that Wendy hated so much. Only that morning she had given him a crisp ten-pound note to replace it, but Jimmy had spent five pounds of that on beer and two pounds on lottery tickets. The other three pounds had tumbled from his pocket when he had inverted. He could see the coins now, lying on the tarmac eighty feet below his soft, red head.
"Shit," he gasped as another nick in the leather stretched and yielded.
Jimmy had to do something quickly to take as much of the strain as he could off his belt, so he pushed his arms downwards to dampen his swing. It worked and his swing shrank to a sway.
"Why the hell didn't I do as the bitch said and buy a fuckin' belt!" Jimmy screamed.
He took a deep breath and roared once more at thetraffic below.
Of course, had Jimmy understood that ultimately his life would depend on his doing as he was told for once, then he probably would have bought a new belt. But the belt he had was fine. It held his trousers up perfectly, molded casually to his hips just below the waistband of his Calvins. How the hell was he supposed to know that today, on the very day that he had the money to buy a new one, he would need the belt to function as a safety harness?
The belt creaked again and Jimmy slipped a little more. He looked down at the deadly road below and cursed his decision to kill himself.
"So when did you decide that suicide was such a good idea, Jimmy?"
He couldn't remember exactly, for it hadn't been a snap decision. All he knew was that the dark depression that had drawn itself around him over the past six months had gently coaxed him to it. During this time, even the smallest of setbacks ("nails" he had called them) seemed to have had gravity far beyond their size, and the unreasonable weight of each had dragged him deeper into the black. It had been a one-way journey too because there never seemed to be a day when something didn't go against him, never a bright day that presented him with an opportunity to shed some of the ballast and so allow him to rise a little.
Take this week, for example.
Monday, the milk man doesn't deliver and there's no bread for toast.
Bam! A nail drives home.
Tuesday, Wendy's working late (again) and he burns his Bench T-shirt trying to iron it.
Wednesday, the telly packs up thirty minutes before the away leg of United's Champions League tie with Inter Milan.
Thursday, it's pissing down and the bus shelter's closed because some little toe rag has put his foot through the Perspex.
Friday, he's late for work for the third time in two weeks and he smacks his boss in the face when his pay is docked.
Friday, he can't find the keys to the flat, so he has to run all the way to Dave's house (whom he has just left at the pub) to get the spare.
Friday, he trips over his shoelace at the top of Dave's road and hits the ground hard. ( Jimmy never ties his shoelaces.)
Friday, he turns the corner and sees Wendy and Dave kissing on the doorstep. She's holding him close and, as she reluctantly moves away, she smiles in a way that Jimmy hasn't seen for three years.
Bam! Bam! Bam!
Yeah, Friday was a bad day. Friday was the day that the lid on Jimmy's coffin was finally nailed down.
Jimmy closed his eyes and clamped his hands over his ears to shut out the vertigo. Thoughts of Wendy and Dave's kiss seeped into his mind, anaesthetized his fear a little and carried him away from the bridge. Not a rescue though, for his mind was too far gone to find refuge. Broken and tired, it dropped him in a place perhaps even more desperate than the underside of the bridge.
He was back, standing with bruised knees, trembling on the footpath twenty yards from the doorstep of Dave's house. He wanted to confront Dave and Wendy when he saw them there, arms and lips wrapped around each other, but he didn't know how. What could he say to his lifelong friend, a friend who had Jimmy's fiancée's lipstick smeared all over his smug face, that made any kind of sense? Yet he needed so much to do something, something to let them know that he had discovered their betrayal.
Oh yeah, Jimmy, and didn't you show 'em good, mate!
Jimmy managed a smile as he recalled how evil and clever he had felt as he leant over a low garden wall and grabbed a large pebble from the edge of a water feature bubbling there. He had marched toward Dave's house, breathing short, sharp, angry breaths, tossing the pebble from hand to hand as he wound himself up. When he had reached within thirty feet of them, he unleashed the tension that he had built.
"Dave! Wendy! You're a pair of bastards!" he shouted.
And that was it? That was all you could think of to say to your supposed best friend whose trousers were still swollen from your fiancée's touch? Shit, Jimmy, no wonder people have taken the piss out of you for most of your life, son!
The inadequacy of these, his final words, wiped the smile from Jimmy's face. But there was worse to come, and as the memory of what had happened next spooled into view, Jimmy cringed so hard that he almost began to swing again.
Wendy and Dave had heard Jimmy call and had turned towards him. Jimmy had pulled back his arm and aimed the rock at Dave's car, a black Mini Cooper S bought by Dave only a week before, but as Jimmy flung his arm forward, his grip was greased by the slimy surface of the stone and all the power in his throw was stolen by it. The rock looped impotently to the ground, slipped and skidded across the footpath before stopping feet short of the car. Jimmy groaned, turned and ran.
Perhaps it was that moment, when the rock mocked him, that the decision to end it all had been taken. Yes, and what was more, he remembered why he was swinging under this particular bridge and not the one nearest to Dave's place.
For while he had run from the lovers, he had reasoned thus: even if Wendy managed to convince herself that her husband-to-be hadn't seen her betrayal (or at least sufficient of it to come to a conclusion), and that the tossed rock was some kind of "new-car lad" joke, there could be no denial when she learned about his leap from their bridge, the bridge where Jimmy had first kissed her. The bridge where Jimmy had taken Wendy twelve months after that first kiss and asked her to marry him.
She had laughed then as he had pretended to climb over the barrier, threatening to jump if she didn't say yes.
And she was laughing at him still as Jimmy had arrived back at the bridge, broken and breathless, this time determined to deliver on his promise. Jimmy had climbed the rail and planted his left foot firmly on the outside edge of the bridge. Without hesitating he had followed it over with his right and stood there looking back at the safety of the footpath he was denying himself, pulling the handrail tightly into his fizzing stomach. Quickly then, before his courage fell without him, he had released one hand to turn awkwardly on the slim ledge, whipping his free hand around in a smooth arc to find the rail once more.
Finally he would achieve something, something that people would talk about and that the woman he had loved would both respect and regret. With his back to the road, Jimmy had stared into space and prepared to let go of his life.
And that was the exact moment when Jimmy decided that death wasn't such a good idea after all, and that Wendy was a slag anyway, and that Dave was never much fun, and that he really should start to tie his shoelaces.
Me and my bloody shoelaces!
He had begun to turn again to make his way back to safety, but that lace-that treacherous, murdering left lace-had snagged a loose bolt. This had happened at the exact moment that he released his grip on the handrail, and while it had resulted in only a soft tug on his leg, the jerk had been sufficient to tip him off balance. Jimmy had tried to compensate by shuffling his right foot quickly backwards towards the barrier, but had succeeded only in tipping his upper body further forward. In a rush of panic he had tried to spin around but had been too slow and began falling almost immediately, gravity yanking him from the ledge and throwing him down in one swift, knock-out maneuver. Jimmy had cracked his knees hard on the concrete, but somehow managed to slap two hands firmly onto the bridge. For a moment his arms had held, but it had been an all too fleeting one, and soon Jimmy's legs had swung and curled underneath the bridge, slamming his chest into the stonework and levering his open palms from the concrete.
Jimmy had begun to fall, eyes closed, screaming, as he waited for the road to end it. But incredibly his head hadn't smashed into the tarmac below, it had simply tapped it. One of those annoying taps too, the type that hurts like hell but doesn't leave so much as a scratch and so tends to earn laughter not sympathy. Jimmy had rubbed his head and opened his eyes, not really understanding why it was the bridge that he had collided with and not the road. It wasn't until he had looked towards his feet again that everything had made some kind of sense. His tatty belt had hooked onto a curl of rebar jutting out from the underside of the bridge and stopped his fall.
Up to date now and with his memories played out, Jimmy finally arrived back where he had left his precariously swaying self and was forced to consider his options. But what was he supposed to do now? Normally such cliff-hangers would run a trailer, at least give a clue as to what would happen to the hero in next week's exciting episode, but his situation felt so hopeless. Perhaps this was indeed the final episode.
Jimmy screamed again at the road below then lifted his head to scream at the road above, but his cries either bounced off the underside of the road deck or dissolved into the traffic noise. He stretched and tried to reach the edge of the bridge again but it remained inches away. The belt stretched a little more, and Jimmy felt himself slip closer to death.
"Shit shit shit shit shit," he hissed as he realized that the blood draining to his head was now becoming more than just an annoyance.
His arms and legs were tingling badly, and Jimmy reckoned that shortly they would be numbed by the lack of circulation. If he was going to do something to rescue himself, he would have to do it soon.
He looked at the re-bar and wondered if he could grab it, perhaps unhook himself. But what then? He would simply be dangling underneath the bridge waiting for his arms to tire and give up on him completely. He looked at the bridge and tried to remember if the sharp edge he could see was profiled on its vertical face, sufficient at least for him to get some purchase and maybe use the last of his strength to pull himself up. Jimmy convinced himself that it was, certain that there was a three- or four-inch lip just beyond his reach, and that if he could get enough of a swing going, he could close the gap and finger a hold. Even if the belt failed, which it most certainly would do under the strain, there remained a fifty/fifty chance that he would be flying in the right direction and that his momentum would carry him to the lip.
You know, Jimmy, mate, this might just work.
For someone who only ten minutes ago had been so depressed that he had tried to kill himself, Jimmy's optimism was admirable. Admirable but completely misplaced. At the end of the third of his hip-and-arm induced swings, his belt did indeed fail, and as he was released from the re-bar, his shifting weight threw him horizontally out of the dark shadow of the bridge and into the bright sunlight. At first, gravity seemed disinterested in the renewed fight, and Jimmy continued upwards, scrabbling for purchase as he cleared the edge of the bridge.
But there was no lip, no concrete ledge, only a smooth vertical surface that his hands slapped. Back in the grip of gravity, Jimmy slowed and as the momentum drained from his upward motion, he stopped momentarily at the peak of his swing, which had carried him high enough to see the handrail and the pretty blonde head of a young woman who was walking safely behind it. He shouted to her and she turned, instant horror stretching her face into a silent scream.
(But what was that in her eyes? There was something else in there, something other than horror, an emotion that didn't seem to belong in those big brown terrified eyes.)
By the time the woman had moved toward him and peered over the handrail, Jimmy was already fifteen feet below her and accelerating away. He managed to turn onto his front, kicking his legs frantically and making short swift flaps with his arms. The road below thickened with every inch of his fall and the dull rumble of its traffic now had bright tones, beeps and clangs that spiked his ears even through the rush of air that tugged his hair and clothes. As he entered the final thirty feet of his life, Jimmy closed his eyes.
Just as he had always suspected, the moment of impact was painless. This, he believed, was a natural response to intolerable levels of pain, his body accepting the futility of telling a condemned man that he would soon be flat.
But the noise! The noise was deafening and unexpected-popping and scraping, screeching and crashing. Even seconds after impact as Jimmy lay in the dark waiting for the bright light to appear and lead him down the tunnel, he could still hear noise-more screeching, metal twisting, glass tinkling.
And there were voices now, and that surprised him because they weren't the calm, assured voices of his guardian Angels (one of whom he had hoped would be his mum), but the brash cries of men.
Angry men, too, by the sound of it.
"What the fuck did you stop for, you fat twat, the lights are on green! Look what you've done to my car!"
"Listen, some wanker just threw summat off the bridge at me and nearly fuckin' killed me, and anyway, who are you callin' a twat?"
Jimmy moved for the first time since his death and pushed his arms upward. They struck something and it moved easily. He pushed again, and again, each time moving something large but light, until a shaft of sunshine burst through onto his face. He squinted, took a deep breath and then coughed hard as the dust and small balls of polystyrene that he had just inhaled hit the back of his throat.
"Fuck me, there's someone in there. Listen!"
"Help. HELP!" Jimmy shouted, and then heard digging sounds above him.
A minute later someone grabbed one leg then the other and he was dragged from under a pile of crap and onto the tail gate at the rear of a truck.
"Shit, mate, where the hell have you come from?" asked the driver.
"Up there." Jimmy raised a trembling arm and pointed to the bridge.
"You're shittin' me, yeah? No way, no fuckin' way, man!"
The driver of a bent Ford stood on top of what was left of its hood, jammed under the rear axle of the much bigger wagon, and looked up to where Jimmy was pointing.
"You are one lucky son of a bitch!" He laughed and covered his face with both hands, shaking his head in disbelief. Then he looked at Jimmy again, concerned now.
"Hey, are you all right?"
Jimmy thought about this for a moment. His head hurt where he had banged it on the bridge, but as there was no blood, he didn't mention it. His back was stinging where the re-bar had grazed as it caught him, but other than that he felt fine.
"I'm okay, I think. Yeah, I feel fine."
And then it hit him. He had just jumped off a bridge and there wasn't a scratch on him. Jimmy sat up.
"No, I don't feel fine. I feel better than that. I feel great!"
Jimmy pushed himself off the wagon, slid onto the crumpled hood of the trapped car and finally stood on the ground. He held his arms out wide and grinned.
"I feel fuckin' great!"
Jimmy looked at the side of the wagon that had broken his fall. Shaw Heath Recycling Centre it said beneath the dirt, the words encircled by two huge blue arrows. Jimmy laughed.
"Hah! I've been recycled, dude!"
Jimmy was high now, higher than the bridge, and his excitement was un-containable. He bounced away from the crash, leaping into the air and shouting "Recycled Man" at the top of his voice every time he jumped, stopping his antics only when he noticed two shiny gold dots on the road behind the car. Jimmy bent down to collect two of the one-pound coins that had slipped from his pocket as he had hung under the bridge. He turned to show them to the two men.
Excerpted from recycling Jimmy by Andy Tilley Copyright © 2007 by Andy Tilley. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.