of people walking down Bishop Street one morning, if they looked at all
skyward in their busy scuttles, would have seen a naked man dangling from
a window ledge. But they did not have to be especially observant, as the
man, one Dan Redomsky, began to yell for help and kick his spindly legs
about, striking his knees inadvertently against the cold, hard granite façade.
Letting out little yelps and intermittent ouches, Dan was soon drawing attention
to himself, so much so that a crowd began to gather eighty feet below him,
at street level. Some shouted up to him, “Jump!” and then laughed with their
friends at their cleverness, not noticing that their suggestion was impossible,
for Dan had nothing to jump from, since his feet were swishing around in
the air and not planted on a ledge; and one woman was heard to say, perhaps
not as quietly as she’d have liked, “Mm, cute buns.” Seeing that she was
overheard, she covered her mouth with a hand and scurried off down the street,
the only person on Bishop that January morning with a red face.
“Help!” Dan called out, bringing the attention back to him. Unfortunately, the security for the building was very tight, and none of the passersby who stopped to see the naked man hanging from a building was allowed inside to go up and save him. The security pointed out that in order to get inside one needed to have a badge.
“Do you have a badge?” they asked the group.
“No,” the group admitted, and then gloomily turned away.
Dan’s fingers were surely tiring; ditto his arms and shoulders. The weight of his, let’s face it, chubby body would before long be too much. He could now be seen to be trying to hoist himself up back to the window, his arms shivering with effort and futility. No one could say how long he had been hanging that way, but it must not have been long, since he wasn’t yet a splat on the pavement. Hearing the effort in his grunts and the weariness that seemed to be ever increasing, fretful pedestrians once again asked the security if there was not something that could be done. Perhaps they, the security, could go help? Or maybe they could call someone?
“Now, now, now,” the security said, adjusting the hats on their heads, which were in danger of being blown off by the wind. “What good would that do? By the time we get up there, he’ll be back inside and tying the laces on his shoes. It’s just a prank, and the only way to stop a prankster is to not give him the attention he’s after. Right?”
The crowd all agreed that, yes, that was so. “But all the same,” one said, “would it not be a good idea to have someone pull the man up, just in case he’s not joking?”
The security, curling up their fingers in theatrical frustration, yelled, “That’s just what he wants us to do!” They then turned around, went back inside the revolving doors, and sat in their big comfy chairs to sip coffee and talk of important matters, leaving the crowd, collectively, alone.
One of the old ladies in the crowd (there were many) turned to the group and said, “Does anybody know how to scale walls?” They all admitted that, no, they could not scale walls, at least not without some ropes and safety helmets. So then they were left there pondering other alternatives, whilst Dan Redomsky continued to kick and flail and lose his grip.
One new man passing along the street, Pirro Soporo, the only man in the entire city to be actually wearing a fedora, a man whose adjectival description could only in all honesty be the word “mysterious,” stopped and asked what the hubbub was. Apprised of the nude gentleman clutching onto a windowsill for dear life and of the insufficient help of the security, Mr. Soporo tossed his parcels and fedora aside, spat in his palms, rubbed his hands together, and sprinted toward the wall. Coming within three feet of the wall he then jumped, sailed the rest of the distance to the building’s front, and made a mad scratch for the niches wherein the granite blocks were adhered to one another with cement. It was no good. His fingers were too stubby and the nooks were too small. He gave up within a few moments, reclaimed his hat and parcels, and promised to write a letter to the company on behalf of the nude man, regarding the poorness of the wall’s climbability.
As Pirro Soporo walked off into the horizon, the crowd returned their gazes to Dan Redomsky, who had, at some point during the moments since they’d last looked, managed to get his feet into a crevice and take some of the weight off of his arms. He perched there, his body at a bizarre sixty-degree angle, his hairy end sticking out like a figurehead, swaying back and forth as he got into the most comfortable position possible. The throng let out relieved sighs, hoping that this turn of events would somehow buy Dan Redomsky more time to find a way back inside, or for them to get up there and rescue him.
The matter at hand, it seemed to them, was to somehow find a way up there without alerting the security of their presence. Perhaps, one suggested, they could find a fire escape round back that would let them in. But no, everyone agreed, most buildings of this size do not have rickety metal structures connected to the windows a hundred feet up. So then one suggested that maybe they should go across the street and call the police; and that perhaps the police could override the security and save the day. Sadly though, there were many escaped convicts and uncaught criminals in the group, and no one was too keen on calling the coppers.
Snapping his fingers and bulging his eyes, one of the shorter men in the back cried out, “Why don’t we just charge through the door, all of us, and force our way past the security?” Everyone thought a moment, trying to come up with a reason why that was a such a stupid idea and why did he even say it, but none could be found; and so, grouped together like a flock of birds, old and frail Missus Cosima Ne the head duck, they burst through the doorway, toppled over the security in their Barco Loungers, and stormed the elevator. Once inside the elevator, after admiring its sepulcher-like ornamentation, Cosima asked, not unwisely, “Which floor is he hanging from?” Everyone inside the elevator wheezed; no one knew. No one except, that is, Fabrizio Goodman, who fortunately enough possessed a photographic memory and was able to recount that it was the one, two, three, four, five, sixth flight up; to which Cosima replied by pressing the nice round 6 halfway up the list on the elevator panel.
In spite of that, the helpful pedestrians on their way to save Dan Redomsky were not out of the woodwork yet. During their time counting floors in their head and remembering from which window up Dan was hanging, the security had roused and sneakily placed their hands over the elevator’s doors, rendering them uncloseable. The fiends, with their espressos’ brown stains still sending up wisps of steam into their eyes, chortled to each other and grabbed, forcefully, bodily, reprehensibly, poor frail old spinster Cosima Ne right by the neck of her argyle sweater. No amount of haymakers from her heavy horsehide purse was able to get their brawny grips to loosen or, much less, give way.
“Go on without me!” she importuned. “I’ll only get in the way. I’ve had a good long life, I’ve seen as many presidents and Olympics as I need. What’s another four years? Nothing. Go ahead. Go.” Oh, but Gordon Wisteria, a sandhog by trade, refused to vouchsafe the old woman to the security. Rolling up the wet sleeves of his worn cotton flannel shirt, baring his brown crooked teeth, he tackled the security with his arms spread out and his feet pointed together, like a horizontal high-dive, bringing them down hard, chipping one of his own eyeteeth as they all three crumpled on the cool marble floor, Cosima Ne standing disoriented, clutching onto her purse as if it were a teddy bear. The security was out cold, their mouths in pouts, their arms and legs touching each other on interdicted places.
Cosima Ne, with her jib now concluded, scurried back to the elevator, waving Gordon Wisteria in alongside her, and pressed the loopty-loop of a 6 again, this time bringing the doors to a close with a ping of servitude. Once closed, the sovereignty of the elevator was usurped uncontested by Iain Kozumplik, who was by far the tallest person in the group at 7´1? and who solely could identify the Muzak dinking in the elevator as the synthesizer’s imitation of traffic noises, intended of course to coax and acclimate jumpy commuters as they made the adjustment to corporate interaction. Once knowing this, the group happily sang along with the chorus, “Honk, honk,” until the composition was cut short by another ping and they found themselves, sadly, already to the sixth floor. Iain suggested that they consult a directory in the hopes of finding which office belonged to Dan Redomsky, whom they knew exclusively as the Naked Man Hanging From a Window. When it was pointed out to Iain that they did not know the man’s name, he paused, rubbed the black bristles of his chin stubble, and remarked that perhaps they should inquire into this manner with someone on the floor, most preferably a receptionist. “Executive Assistant,” corrected a voice from the back. Iain apologized for the gaffe to the space in front of him, peopled with office plants and breakaway walls, and pointed ahead to a woman with a black set of earphones and a microphone thereon attached, which had been bent in such a way to curve around her cheek and rest opposite her lips. Her burnt-orange chemise matched the color of her hair, which was conspicuously dyed within the past few days or so, the color stains on her forehead and around her ears giving her away.
To her Iain said, “Quick, where’s the naked man’s office?”
“I haven’t time for repetition. The man, naked, hanging out a window: which room is it? We’ve come to save him.”
“Hmm. I wasn’t aware of any nude persons dangling from a window. Let me check.” She pressed a hand to her earphone and dialed up a number on her out-of-date phone. “Florence? It’s Alice. Are there any naked men hanging from a window?” A pause. “Yes, I think it’s this floor. Hold on.” She covered the mouthpiece and leaned toward Iain and the group.
“Yes it’s this floor!” Iain yelled.
“Please don’t listen in on my conversations.” She uncovered the mouthpiece. “Yes, the sixth floor. Uh-huh. O.K. All right. Well, you don’t say? And how old was he? Ha, the same thing happened to my Harold when he was two. Yes, it was just a few months before he got out of it; don’t worry. All right, dear. O.K. All right.” She pressed a button on her phone and looked back to Iain. “Seventh floor.” Everyone in the band gave Fabrizio Goodman dirty looks, and it was all he could do not to cry.
Displaying the decisive action that earned him his leadership, Iain Kozumplik made a scramble for the nearest window, flung it open, and stuck out his head. From there he could see Dan Redomsky, nude and turning blue from the cold, hanging on with his last bit of strength, his fat undulating in his rear and belly, his toes wiggling as a stretch from being strained against the wall for so long. “Do not despair!” Iain yelled up to him. “We’re on our way. Which office is it?”
Dan cried down to Iain, “734: Dan Redomsky. Hurry!”
Iain threw the window closed, turned around with his jacket fluttering behind him like a superhero’s cape, and strode to his compatriots, elucidating them with his newfound knowledge of Dan Redomsky.
And they were to the stairs in a moment, fighting over whom would be first up the stairway. Iain and Cosima began to scuffle, grabbing each other’s eyeglasses and trying to pry them off the other’s head. Cosima’s horn-rimmed glasses, Iain’s wire-oval frames: both flew into the air and twirled like a gyroscope until they came down and splintered against the cement of the stairwell. As everyone watched this transpire, mouths agape, young Billy Wisse, eleven, climbed over the awestruck clan and bounded up the stairs. Seeing him, the followers of Dan Redomsky scampered up the stairs, a throng of voyeurs, and came at last to room 734, whose oak slab door was shut and decorated with cutouts from the Funnies taped to it.
There they found Dan Redomsky, eyes bright and a piano-key smile across his face, fully dressed in a lavender suit, putting the finishing touches on his outfit by tying the laces of his soft leather shoes. Later, over a round of drinks, they all agreed that it was for the best, that had they come into his office and found him holding onto the windowsill, flung out there into the cold, naked, they would not have wanted very much to pull him in anyway.