I have hated Mondays my whole life. Everything bad that ever happened to me happened on a Monday. At times in my adulthood, relief washed over me when Monday passed and the rest of the week could continue.
So when I tripped over the bloody body of the middle-aged man in the stairwell of the parking garage, I knew instinctively it was going to be another hellish Monday.
The stairwell was dimly lit because of burnt out light fixtures on every other floor. The smell of yesterday’s urine permeated the corners. I was glad I could climb the four flights without having to touch the handrails. Gang graffiti decorated the walls like cheap wallpaper.
“Megan has a terrible lack of patience” is what the grammar school nuns told my mother years ago and obviously, I hadn’t conquered that fault. Instead of waiting for the elevator, I had bounded into the fetid stairwell to climb up to the car I had left on the fourth level.
So much for my great idea of getting a bit of aerobic exercise. What a wasted day spent at the Criminal Courts Building!
As I climbed the stairs, the smell reminded me of the remote outhouses at Indian Princess camp-outs years ago with my father. I regretted my decision to walk up to the car even before the tall, blonde man ran into me on the second level. The shock of the impact with his shoulder sent me reeling into the crud-infested wall. I brushed spider webs and some mysterious yellow gunk off my navy suit jacket as I watched him run down the stairs. He jumped on each landing after skipping down the steps of each flight. He paused briefly on the ground floor, mumbled something, and then ran out the exit door.
“Slow down!” I yelled down the echoing stairwell.
What a jerk! Why does he look familiar?
As I approached the third level of the garage, a cloying metallic odor wafted down to me. A man lay crumpled in the dark corner next to the exit door. He was propped up against the wall. His head hung down over his dark Armani suit. His throat had been cut. Blood was pouring out of the gaping wound. His white shirt was saturated with crimson. His left leg twitched. I jumped in terror.
I crouched to my knees next to him.
Did I trip over him? Can I help him? I’ve never seen so much blood in my life! Is he still alive?
Screaming for help, I could feel no pulse in his wrist, no sign of life in his body. His hand was still warm but I dropped it back onto his chest as though it would contaminate me. I was afraid to move his head or his torso. The smell of human waste permeated the small landing. I felt faint. My screams didn’t rouse the man. He had no final words for me in his opened throat. My own throat closed in panic. I yelled louder.
Doesn’t anyone hear me? Is there no one else in this garage?
My screams reverberated uselessly down the metal steps of the stairwell. My hands were shaking and my purse fell down a few steps as I tried to get out my cell phone. There wasn’t a strong signal so I climbed back up to the landing, opened the third floor exit door, walked a few car lengths away, propped myself up against somebody’s gold PT Cruiser, and called 911.
“There’s a man dying here. I think he’s dying. Please send help quickly.”
“What’s his location?” asked the 911 operator.
“Maybe he’s dead already, I don’t know. He’s in a stairwell, the third floor. In the parking garage across the street from the Court Building - the Criminal Courts Building at 26th and California.”
“What is your name, Miss?”
“Megan….Megan Malone. What should I do? I don’t know what to do?”