Earlier this week, a 57-year-old woman jumped to her death on University Place. Even when such suicides don’t make the news (and they usually don’t) they leave an indelible impression on those who encounter them. Such was the case in April when a woman, also 57, ended her life at the Salvation Army’s Markle Evangeline Residence for Women. Today, her would-be neighbor tells the story.
July 1, 2012
When I first stepped into the Markle Evangeline Residence, I felt it: a peculiar darkness. Yet this was the same bright cheerful woman’s dormitory on 13th Street I had been coming to for years, each semester I came from Paris to teach at NYU.
Was it the downturned lips of the receptionist? Was it the fact that the new manager of the place, which was run by the Salvation Army, had just sent me a curt e-mail, in response to my request, if possible, for a firm mattress: “You may need to look into another place to stay while you’re here in New York.” Signed Major William T. Bender, and cc-ed to his staff.
I took the elevator up to a room that was inauspiciously on the 13th floor: 1309, in fact, an odd number I did not like. I was afraid of what I would find. I turned the knob – and there, a grim disappointment.
The room faced south, the way I had asked, and the window showed a skyline of the city. But it was dark. How could it be dark? It was shining with light, the walls painted yellow.
The room needed something, but what? I asked for an air conditioner to be placed in the bathroom window, so as to not block my view, but the Major instructed the custodian to put it in the bedroom instead. You may need to go elsewhere…
Let it go, I told myself. After all, there was nothing wrong with this room. I moved the bed around by the window and with a screwdriver I opened the flaps of the air conditioner, to let in a slice of view. I put a poster up, of the Eiffel Tower. I moved the bed around once more. I pushed back the desk.
I stared out the open bathroom window. There was a patio below, nine stories down.
I wondered where the body would land if one threw oneself out. Read more…