Just after eleven o'c.lock last night, a few minutes after I turned off my computer and while I was reading through some notes before heading to bed, I heard lots of shouting from outside. This happens every once in a while here, thanks to having two very popular and big pubs near me and living, as I do, just across from a taxi rank. I honestly couldn't say how long the shouting went on for before I noticed. Just after I did however, sirens sounded and I saw that there were flashing blue lights stopping right outside my building. I had a quick look out the window down at the street but couldn't see anything. People sounded alarmed though so I went into the bathroom to open the window there fully and have a proper look. I had visions of a fire (it was the fire brigade who had arrived, along with the police) and was kind of wondering if I needed to be getting dressed and the hell out of my apartment. I was looking down at the street and noticed that people were looking at the building on the other side of the road. I looked over there and was stunned to see a man hanging from the window ledge directly opposite me. I live on the fourth floor, people, so this guy was not just hanging a few feet off the ground.
He seemed to be scrabbling to find a purchase with his feet so either he was trying to jump and changed his mind, or he fell out somehow. No idea. People were shouting encouragement to him. "Come on, man, you can do it, just hold on, hold on tight," and that kind of thing. The fire brigade had taken out what looked like an inflatable mattress (in giant size) but they hadn't even unrolled it fully, never mind inflated it, when he just fell. It happened so fast.
I've heard the thunk a body makes hitting the ground before, something I'd forgotten about (I used to help my sister out at the Irish Parachute Club and there was a guy whose parachute got tangled, so although he was slowed down a bit and didn't quite go splat, he did hit very hard, breaking his leg, if I recall correctly). It's a horrible sound though - somehow shocking in its ordinariness and lack of drama.
It took a few seconds for the shock to hit me and I started shaking. I retained enough sense to realise it might be a good idea to not be entirely on my own while feeling like that so I went into the sitting room, grabbed the phone and rang my brother. By the time he answered I was in tears and felt ill. I have diarrhoea though and had eaten nothing yesterday evening, which I will always be glad of. My stomach was churning. The poor man, by now, had five or six paramedics/firemen working on him. His trouser legs were cut open but then I could see that he was moving one leg, so it seemed like they did that to check - his right leg was not moving though and seemed to be at a not entirely natural angle, I think, so it seems like it was broken. His shouts and cries, while horrible to listen too, at least meant that he was alive and, it seemed to me anyway, compus mentus to some extent at least. Surely recognition of the pain you're in is a good sign? It took a few minutes for them to hook up a drip though, which I assume had a strong sedative in it as he quieted down then. My brother kept talking to me the whole time, calming me down (yes, apparently I find it calming at a time like that to hear things like "Wow, that really is some fucked-up shit") and I did so after a couple of minutes but I still felt the need to watch out the window to see what happened. They got him up onto a stretcher and one of his hands was completely bandaged - there was blood on the pavement as well,. So it looks like a mashed-up hand, possibly a broken leg and who knows what kind of internal injuries he might have.
After that one fireman washed down the pavement while lots of others were folding up the inflatable thing again. I could see police in the apartment across from me, too, but couldn't tell if there was anyone else there. Surely not, though. If you were in an apartment with someone hanging out the window, surely you'd make some effort to grab hold of them or something? I was left with a mind spinning with the most bizarre thoughts. Among others, that I really should start doing a lot more sport, especially upper body strength exercises. Just in case, you know, I ever fall out a window and need to pull myself back in.