You never see old guys jump. It’s always a scared teenager who got dumped or some middle aged guy with debt up to his eyeballs. Detective Merrick had never had to talk an old man down before.
He approached the ledge slowly, showing his palms. The old guy had an eerie calm to his face.
“I’m sorry I’m doing this,” said the man.
Merrick shook his head. “Nothing to apologize for. Not to me.”
The old man smiled the saddest smile Merrick had ever seen. “You don’t know that.”
“I know there’s no reason to commit suicide.”
“I agree. Suicide is an awful thing. Good thing I’m not going to kill myself.”
“I’m glad to hear you say that, sir.”
“Oh, I am going to jump, but it’s not going to kill me. You see,” the man said with a wink, “none of this is real. It’s all a dream.”
Merrick wasn’t quite sure what to do with this one. Crazies were always the hardest. “Why do you say that?”
“I know it is. It’s all part of the deal.”
“Deal, sir?” said Merrick, trying to move forward as subtly as possible.
“Did you know there are all kinds of genies, Detective? I encountered one who promised me three dreams. Not wishes, but dreams. While sleeping, I’d live and grow old, and when I died, I’d just wake up. Then repeat the process the next night. When I’m dreaming, I remember everything, but when I wake up, I only get impressions. Feelings about the lessons I’ve learned in my dream lives. This is the third lifetime I’ve lived, Detective, and you can’t imagine the things I’ve seen. The things I’ve done. But now I’m ready for it to end.”
“But if you wake up, won’t all of this end? Won’t I? You won’t die, but I sure don’t want to be killed.”
“I told you I was sorry,” the man said, and it seemed he meant it. “There’s a chance you’ll live. I may decide before I hit that I don’t want to wake up.”
“I’ll just fly away, Detective. It is a dream, after all,” said the man, grinning.
Then he jumped.