He was very stoned. Not high, but very stoned. He wasn't enjoying himself. The sound of the city around him, the rhythmic clanking of the rail, the sound of engines, and other sounds indecipherable had all joined into a slow, steady beat that gave his mind a hardened, narrow focus. The focus devoured his every thought, keeping him locked into one pattern: him, his life, his love, his death.

The night was clear, but this was Chicago -- there were no stars in the sky. He was sitting, leaned against the gray steel door, on the same place on the tarmac roof. He had been there for what felt like an hour.

Time had given away to the slow, rhythmic pulse of the city. He drifted only briefly from his focus, to wonder if he could hear this music when he was straight. Then he heard a change, and the focus of his mind locked on it.

The rest of the city sounded distant, yet intrusive, like the pain that remains after a splinter is removed. But the beat was changing, slowly, into a sound that seemed to be approaching.

He was so locked in the new sound that he barely noticed he was standing now. When it finally registered, he casually reminded himself that time worked differently when he was stoned. This was true for most people; most people perceived a speed change -- either things moved faster or slower than normal. But for him, events were out of order, even broken into pieces that were perceived in a random, meaningless mess.

The sound brought his focus back. It had grown much closer, and for an instant he felt scared, but fear did not fit into his narrow realm of consciousness.

The sound played with his ears, and even made him feel like smiling, were that under his control. He watched from inside himself as he approached the edge of the roof.

Two thoughts competed for the focus of his mind, and he was awarethat they were from different times. He felt these thoughts as if they were objects. One was like a serrated knife, terrifying to look at. The other felt more like a nervous buzz from a cup of coffee.

The coffee won.

He saw himself stand at the edge, looking down at the pavement five stories below. The L-rail ran past, though it failed to disrupt the music the sound had become.

The music was from another time, maybe minutes or hours before or after he had actually heard it.

The memory, or thought, that felt like coffee, seemed to be a question from the future, maybe a minute or so. It was: Why?

Time moved forward as normal, as he felt himself fall, 22 feet per second per second, towards the greasy pavement below.

And though he knew the answer was within him somewhere, WHY could only be answered, in duration of the fall, with the image of her.

After he stopped falling, his memory held frozen as he touched the pavement, the sound grew nearer, and sharp as a serrated knife. It became the whine of a siren, and the crackling of a radio, over which a dispatcher reported a suicide.