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The Long Drop

By Tony Foster

May 2006

Sergeant Varga was feeling very jaded.
He had been on duty for nearly twelve hours, his body ached, his eyes were smarting with tiredness, and he felt that he had been hit by a truck.
This was the fourth night shift that he had endured, and he was aching for a day
off and tomorrow was one.

The Sergeant had just dealt with an irate member of the public at his desk, who had demanded to see the Inspector.
The customer had been loud and demanding and he was pleased to pass on the problem to the Inspector.
Then just as he was taking a sip of the lukewarm tea sitting on his desk, the phone rang.

He reluctantly picked up the phone," Sergeant Varga, South Australian Police, can I help you".
There was a distinct pause, and a male voice, almost breathless, said "I wish to report a missing person".
Sergeant Varga was feeling very exasperated at this, he had really just wanted to sit out the last few minutes of his shift.
A missing persons report would take him beyond the finishing time of his shift.

"Right Sir" said Sergeant Peter Varga, "Calm down and I will take down a report."
Positioning himself in front of the computer, he readied himself for writing down the details.
He was not very proficient with touch typing, so he knew that using the P.C. he would have to laboriously type it out with two fingers.
"What is your name please?"
"John Wright"
The sergeant went through the standard reporting procedure, name address, and phone number of the person reporting the incident.
"Name of the missing person please"?
John replied "Tom Stevens at the same address."

The sergeant said "what relationship is Tom Stevens to you"?
"We are life partners" said John in reply.
Sergeant Varga felt exasperated, "What do you mean, life partners" he said.
John replied" We are a gay couple and have been together for five years".

Sergeant Varga felt disgusted, here was a member of the public reporting a missing person and they were a couple of poofters, and had been living together for five years as a committed couple!

Sergeant Varga, trying to prevent his disgust showing through the tone of his voice, and remembering the recent police directive informing staff to deal with minority groups without prejudice, said, "I see, how long has he been missing"?
John said" About two days now".

Sergeant Varga said" Where was he last seen'?
John said wearily," He left for work from our home about two days ago."
"Right Sir" said the Sergeant, I have enough information at the present, if we receive any information in regards to Tom Stevens whereabouts we will be in touch with you".
Sergeant Peter Varga finished his two finger typing, and thought to himself, at least that it is possible that there one poofter less in the community!

In the meanwhile, Tom Stevens had been wandering around the city of Adelaide in a disturbed state, he kept repeating to himself in his mind the information that he had been given by a "Concerned Friend" to him.
The letter was burnt into his memory;
It had been written in a scrawl, poor spelling and obviously disguised.

This is from a Concerned Friend, you mate ougt to know that your so called lover is cheeting you and is sleeping with loads of guys in twn."
It was written on a cheap notepaper in red.

When he had read this, it confirmed what he had been dreading to accept.
His partner of five years was sleeping around and that all the excuses John had made to cover his absences and the nights that he had not come home from work
were based on lies.

He knew that in their relationship, John had never felt that white heat of love.
However he had told himself that at least John was true to their relationship
and even this had now been shattered.

He decided to commit suicide and let all of Adelaide know why he had made this decision; he jumped on a bus that was heading to Unley.
Entering his home, he looked around, this will be the last time that he would be here, and he remembered the good times that John and he had shared in this place.

Going to his desk, he turned on the computer, as it warmed up he thought about what he would say in his farewell letter to John and the general public in Adelaide.

Tom sat in front of the computer screen, tears started to flow down his face and for a moment his resolution wavered.
No, I will not allow sentiment to change my mind, John has caused this by his actions and I will show him that this is the end!

He started to type his suicide note;
I, Tom Stevens, wish to tell the world the reason that I have decided to end my life.
My partner, John Wright who has lived with me for the last five years, has been cheating on me, and sleeping around with numerous guys.
Our relationship clearly means little to him, so I have decided to end my life and leave my cheating partner to the many friends that he has.
Perhaps one day he will miss the true love that I had for him.
Tom Stevens.

I shall expose my former partner to the public as a "cheap hustler"
He does not deserve me! he thought.
Tom printed out the letter, placed it in an envelope and addressed it to
Readers Letters, Advertiser Newspapers, King William Street Adelaide.
Tom left his house and got the bus back to the city, and posted the letter he had laboured over.

He walked quickly along King William Road, turning into Grenfell Street.
The action was set in his mind, I shall get entry to the Grenfell Centre
25 Grenfell Street, this building was known locally as the "Black Stump".
It was twenty three stories high; high enough to make a public statement from a suicide bid and be headline news.

He was familiar with this building as he used to work in Family Services on the 16th floor
Tom approached the glass doors, they slid open, good job it was 4.p.m he knew that the building went on to secure at 6 p.m.

The high rise lift bell sounded as it glided to the ground floor, thank goodness it was empty, he wanted to keep his mind in the frame of pure excitement.
He was going down in history, the first person to commit suicide from the "Black Stump.
This would show all his friends that he had true love in his soul, and show up his cheating partner for what he was worth!

On reaching the 23rd floor he went to the stairs that led to the roof, and then he suddenly remembered that the door leading to the roof would be locked.
What do I do now! He thought.

He raced to the fire box hose box on the landing and quickly wrenched out the small axe inside.
Tom ran back upstairs to the 23rd floor, to the roof door and jammed the axe between the door and the door jamb, and after a number of attempts he managed to lever the door open.

Now he was on the roof, it was cold and windy and for a moment he really wondered what he was doing there.
No, I will not be stopped by fear or concern, my life is over, my partner has shown he does not love me; he does not deserve my love.

He took off his jacket, and rolled up his sleeves, I want to be really workmanlike
about this.
The hairs on his arm were almost perpendicular, his breath was coming in short gasps, he felt hot and cold, do not look down he said to himself, look across
the city of Adelaide for the last time and say goodbye to the cheaters of this world and especially his former partner.
He moved to the edge of the building, stepped up on the narrow ledge, the wind whipped about his body.

He said a short prayer, he smiled inwardly, thank goodness he had upgraded his funeral arrangements last week, he had also asked the funeral directors to play the hymn, "Abide with Me," very appropriate.
With that in mind, he raised his arms and launched into space.

Wham, his fall was suddenly halted, he had hit a window cleaner's trestle attached to the side of the building and had all the breath knocked out of him.
The window cleaner was swinging in the wind from the ropes, desperately trying to regain his hold after being hit by the falling body.
He managed to scramble back on the swinging trestle.
"What the bloody hell is going on" said the window cleaner, in gasps as he struggled to get his breath back.
Tom was still lying flat on the trestle, both his arms were broken and he could not stand.

The window cleaner, an ex paratrooper and still very fit, regained his position on the trestle, and engaged the motor and very slowly lowered the trestle to ground level.
On reaching the ground, the police came and asked what was going on.
The window cleaner gave them the facts and Tom was removed into an ambulance.

Due to the severe injuries to his arms, Tom was sedated and was taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
Four days later, after some extensive surgery and being kept sedated to assist the healing, Tom awoke, when he opened his eyes, he saw John.
John said, "What the bloody hell did you want to do that for"
Tom very wearily said" Well my life is finished, you are sleeping around and our relationship is over."

John said "No mate I will give you my promise now, I will stop playing around,
I really do not know why I do it, I have always loved you, it's just that chasing after someone else seemed to make me feel younger, I know that is stupid."
Tears streamed down John's face and he picked up Tom's limp hand and gently kissed him on the cheek.
Just at that moment Sergeant Varga came through the ward door.

The sergeant turned to a constable following him, "what did I tell you" he said
"Bloody Poofters, even a jump from a twenty three story building doesn't stop them".

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