User Group Disco
Stanley and I were happy together, happier than anyone should be allowed to be. White-hot joy. So we chose to celebrate our first wedding anniversary by renting a room at the very, very top of a posh hotel – the twenty-first floor. It was amazing being elevated like that, way above the noise of the city. We felt so remote, so special.
‘Maybe each year we’ll stay in a room at a higher level,’ Stanley said.
‘We’ll end up somewhere like Kuala Lumpa,’ I said.
‘Eventually well have to be shot into space.’ Stanley said.
Stanley was about to start a new job – digital marketing for a parking company. His last job came with free life insurance but the parking company didn’t offer that so he needed to take out a new policy which he kept forgetting to do. We leaned on the balcony rail discussing Stan’s inability to type his name into an online form. He assured me he would get to it on Monday when we were back home. I remember looking down at the scurrying dots below and thinking about how those people would have no interest in me and Stanley’s insurance arrangements and wouldn’t even be aware that we could see them.
‘I mean obviously,’ I said. ‘It’s not gonna happen. But if you suddenly dropped dead now, here, this minute, I wouldn’t get your half of the house. Your ex would get it, and I’d be her bitch.’
‘I’m not going to drop dead now,’ he said.
Then he gripped his throat, made his eyes go googly, and pretended to choke. Stanley was always doing this type of thing. ‘Help me,’ he said in this whiny, pitiful whimper.
I just laughed and made a V sign.
Then he called down to the dots below.
‘Help me, I’m dying,’ he cried out.
‘Shut up,’ I said, and lit a cigarette.
Then, as if he were so out of his mind with pain he wanted to leap off the building, he climbed up on to the balcony rail and began to shout and wave his fists at the sky.
The panel in the balcony wall must have been loose and under his weight it swayed and buckled outwards. Some steel pins burst out of the sides with a clop-clop sound and then Stanley sailed into the air on that little oblong of glass and steel. I’m sure it floated for a moment, and at the time I thought, he’ll be fine, he will bob down to the ground like Aladdin on a magic carpet.
But it plummeted away from me with Stanley gripping the sides.
I wondered if time had slowed down for Stan like they said it did when you fell from a tall building, and I hoped more than anything that it hadn’t.
If Stan made a sound when he hit the earth I was unable to hear it.
The hospital introduced me to the help group; it was for the survivors of people who had died while pretending to die.
A lot of people died this way; all well-loved jokers with a lust for life, who would use any excuse to act the goat and cheer everyone up.
I missed Stan desperately. And also, I began to wonder if I might die while pretending to die.
But the group leader assured me that this would never happen.
‘For some reason women never pretend to die,’ he said. ‘They just die.’