In the distance, I hear a deep shout: “Hey!”
My phone skitters along the concrete. “Holland?”
It happens so fast—and I guess things like this always happen fast; if they happened slowly I’d like to think I’d do something, anything—but one second I’m on the nubby yellow warning line, and the next I’m falling onto the tracks.
I’ve never been inside an ambulance before, and it’s just as mortifying to snort awake in front of two sober professionals as I’d imagine it would be. A female paramedic with a permanent furrow etched into her forehead stares down at me, expression severe. Monitors beep. When I look around, my head becomes a rocket ship, counting down to some manner of combustive event. My arm is sore—no, not just sore, screaming. A glance down tells me it’s already restrained in a sling.
With the distant roar of an oncoming train, I remember being pushed onto the tracks.
Someone pushed me onto the subway tracks!
My heart begins doing a chaotic version of kung fu in my chest and the panicked tempo is echoed by the various machines surrounding me. I sit up, struggling against the monumental wave of nausea, and croak, “Did you catch him?”
“Whoa, whoa.” With concern in her eyes, the paramedic—her name tag reads ROSSI—gently urges me back down. “You’re okay.” She nods at me with confidence. “You’re okay.”
And then she presses a card into my hand.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
I flip it over, wondering if the other side says,
Who to call when a drunk dude pushes you onto the tracks
Unfortunately, it does not.
I look back up at her, feeling my face heat in indignation. “I didn’t jump.”
Rossi nods. “It’s okay, Ms. Bakker.” She misreads my mystified expression and adds, “We got your name from your purse, which we recovered just off the platform.”
“He didn’t take my purse?”
She presses her lips into a frown and I look around for backup. There are actually two paramedics here—the other is a scruffy Paramedic of the Month calendar-model type who is diligently charting something from where he stands just outside the ambulance. His name tag reads GONZALES. Beyond, a cop car is parked at the curb, and a pair of officers chat amiably near the open driver’s-side door. I can’t help but feel this isn’t the smoothest way to intervene in a potential suicide situation: I’ve just pig-snorted, my skirt is awkwardly bunched near my hips, the crotch of my tights is somewhere south of the equator, and my shirt is unbuttoned to make room for the adhesive cardiac monitors. A suicidal individual might suffer a touch of humiliation here.
Scooching my skirt down with as much grace as I can manage, I repeat, “I didn’t jump.”
Gonzales looks up from his paperwork and leans against the ambulance door. “We found you there, sweetie.”
I screw my eyes closed, growling at his condescension. This still doesn’t add up. “Two paramedics just happened to be wandering through the subway right after I fell onto the tracks?”
He gives me a tiny flicker of a smile. “Anonymous caller. Said there was someone on the tracks. Didn’t mention anyone pushing her. Nine times out of ten it’s an attempt.”
I see movement just outside the ambulance, at the curb. It’s dark out, but it’s definitely him, holy shit, and I see him just as he stands. Calvin meets my eyes for the briefest pulse before startling and jerking his face away. Without another look back, he turns to walk down Eighth Avenue.
“Hey!” I point. “Wait. Talk to him.”
Gonzales and Rossi slowly turn.
Rossi makes no move to stand, and I stab my finger forward again. “That guy.”
“He pushed you?” Gonzales asks.
“No, I think he’s the one who called.”
Rossi shakes her head; her wince is less sympathetic, more pitying. “That guy walked up after we arrived on scene, said he didn’t know anything.”
“He lied.” I struggle to sit up farther. “Calvin!”
He doesn’t stop. If anything, he speeds up, ducking behind a taxicab before jogging across the street.
“He was there,” I tell them, bewildered. Jesus, how much did I drink? “It was me, that busker—Calvin—and a drunk man. The drunk guy was going for my phone, and shoved me off the platform.”
Gonzales tilts his head, gesturing to the cops. “In that case, you should file a police report.”
I can’t help it—the rudeness just flies out of me: “You think?”
I’m given another flicker of a smile; no doubt it’s because I don’t look the part of a ballsy back-talker with my saggy tights and unbuttoned shirt with pink polka dots.
“Holland, we suspect your arm is broken.” Gonzales climbs inside and adjusts a strap on my sling. “And you may have a concussion. Our priority now is getting you down to Mount Sinai West. Is there anyone who can meet you there?”
“Yeah.” I need to call Robert and Jeff—my uncles. I look up at Gonzales, remembering how my phone was in my hand one moment, and I was being flung onto the tracks the next. “Did you also find my phone?”