Powder Burn Flash # 263 - Timothy P. Monaghan

The Jumper
by Timothy P. Monaghan

She lay face down in the tiled courtyard.  Her apartment was five stories up.  It had a balcony.

Detectives McFayden and Kelsey stood next to the corpse and looked up at the balcony.  A uniformed officer stood on the balcony and looked down, then went out of view.

McFayden knelt on one knee and pushed on her shoulder.  McFayden had a squareish head, large ears, sandy blond hair, cut in a crew cut, and green eyes.  Three uniformed officers, and a small crowd watched the expression on his face as he examined the corpse.  It didn't change.  He could be reading the newspaper instead of the crushed and bloody face of a young woman.

She wore a T shirt and jeans.

He gently pushed in the right side of her rib cage, just under her breasts.

“There's a lot of broken bones in there.”

His partner looked up at the crowd, up at the balcony, anywhere --he couldn't look at jumpers.

“Let's go up and snoop.”  McFayden said.  He stood up, right next to Kelsey and Kelsey jumped.

“What'you sneak up on me like that?”  Kelsey said.

McFayden laughed as they turned to walk to the elevator.

“You see all kinds of death, Mike, but jumpers make you goofy.”

Kelsey walked along side his partner and didn’t respond.

As the two detectives stepped into the elevator, a uniform officer stepped out and said.

“Here's her cell phone, detectives.”

McFayden took the phone, looked down at its screen and asked.

“Last call?”

“To her doctor.”


“No, regular family doc.  I called.  All he said was that she was in perfect health.”

As the elevator shut McFayden said, “Not any more.”

Kelsey was mad, “That's Murphy, he's dying to be a detective.  We make the calls not the uniforms.”

McFayden, smiling, looked down at Kelsey.  McFayden was six foot two inches tall, five inches taller than his partner.

Out on the balcony Detective Kelsey looked over the edge.

“She jumped out a bit, like a swan dive, then straight down.”

“Here's a note.”  McFayden said as he pried open a beige sheet of stationary with a pen.  The note was on a glass table.  Half a glass of wine pinned the sheet to the table.  McFayden read:

“I don't … understand?  There's no sense anymore … .  Why?  It's no one's fault, I just ...”

“Deep.  Sounds like you, Vinny.  Do you understand?”

“Not a clue.  There's more to the note.  A whole paragraph.  I'll wait for the lab to dust it.”

“It's convenient, 'no one's to blame.'”

“Who's cuttin?”

“Fowler.  Shit!”  Kelsey said as he stepped back from the balcony, “They just flipped her.”

McFayden looked over the edge, “She's not pretty any more.  And after the autopsy.”

“Fowler’s sloppy, leaves a mess for the funeral home.”

Detective Kelsey looked at a picture just inside the sliding glass doors of the balcony.

“Thirty minutes ago she was a very attractive young woman, and now-- a jumper."

McFayden said.  "I'm satisfied.  No signs of struggle.  We'll get some uniforms to canvass, see what the lab and ME comes up with, but it all fits -- boyfriend, work, family problems -- she's a jumper.”

“Why?” Kelsey said as he put the picture down.



“That's usual.  One too many breakups”

“But why jump?”

“Her sense of identity … where she belonged, where she fit in life.  Got shaken, bad.”

“See, just like I said, you're deep Vinny?  The deepest cop I ever partnered with.”

“And you hate jumpers because you think, ‘If Linda ever leaves me I might jump.'”

Kelsey, short, muscular, a weight lifter, for a second looked startled.  McFayden, looking in his partner’s eyes saw a moment of fear, vulnerability, and hopelessness.  Then the hard mask of a homicide detective came back and he said to McFayden, “Don’t analyze me Vinny.  You take a few graduate courses and you think you’re Freud.”

BIO: I’m an attorney.  I was an Attorney Advisor to a Presidential commission and argued cases for the Commission in federal appellate courts (e.g., 262 F.3d 1363 (Fed. Cir. 2001)).  Then, I fell, was in a coma for 12 hours, ended up on disability. I’m in constant head and neck pain and being a “jumper” looks very appealing.  However, I have a heaven-sent psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and take a lot of pills.  So far I haven’t gone airborne.  My first publication was in Long Story Short, I have two other stories accepted for publication in other publications, and I’ve written a mystery novel (see the first few “set up” chapters at: tim-s-novel.blogspot.com/). Also, I’ve started a pain blog Poems on Chronic Pain (monaghan02.wordpress.com).


A Nice Little Study of Human Nature

If you don't mind my saying so, this would also be a fine starting point for another novel. Either as a segue into McFayden and Kelsey's next case. or as a character study for the duo.

A nice little study of human nature. Thanks for this.


Des Nnochiri