Friday, June 7. 1940 <> Colorado Street Bridge, Pasadena

Welcome to Pasadena, home of the Tournament of Roses Parade, the Rose Bowl, and the Colorado Street Suicide Bridge. It was under the latter landmark I was standing with Helen.

While Helen dabbed at her eyes with my handkerchief, I leaned my head back and looked up. One hundred and fifty feet above my head automobiles traveled back and forth between LA and Pasadena over an arched concrete and steel span of about fifteen-hundred feet built nearly thirty years ago—the Colorado Street Bridge over Arroyo Seco.

Helen was my client, but that wasn't the reason she was crying. Well, at least not directly. Helen called me yesterday to ask if I would find her sister, who was missing along with her six-month-old baby. I took the case and spent the afternoon making the usual inquiries.

One of those inquiries—the one I'd made to a detective I knew with the Pasadena Police Department—paid off early this morning. The body of a woman matching the description of Helen's sister had just been found in Arroyo Seco under the Colorado Street Bridge. It appeared she had committed suicide by jumping from the bridge.

The woman intended for her baby to die as well. The way the cops figured it, she threw the child—a six-month old boy named Toby—from the bridge before she jumped. The remarkable part of the story is the kid survived! Toby ended his 150-foot fall in a tree that cushioned his landing.

When police arrived in response to a call about a dead body under the bridge, the kid was still in the tree and screaming his lungs out. Toby is now at County General being treated for a few minor bruises and scratches. Aside from that and the fact that he no longer has a mother, the kid is fine.

Helen, is not fine. She's busy blaming people for her sister's death, as if that would bring the woman back to life. At the top of her list was her sister's ex-husband. The divorce was messy, and instead of helping to support his son, the husband left the country to live in Mexico.

According to some incidental details I picked up while trying to locate the sister, hubby had more reasons than avoiding support payments for leaving the country. The Kern County Sheriff up in Bakersfield was looking for him in connection with the brutal murder of an oil field superintendent.

Next on Helen's list of folks to blame is Helen, herself. As is often the case with family members of suicidal people, Helen saw signs of depression in her sister, and now blames herself for not stepping in and preventing her sister's death. Mostly, however, the idea that Helen could have saved her sister is hogwash.

Using more diplomatic language, I explained that point to Helen. It had little impact on her, so I played my ace. "Helen, stop feeling sorry for yourself and give little Toby your attention. He's the only one in this sad situation who can benefit from it, although I think taking care of Toby might do you a lot of good, too."

Helen glared at me and I braced myself for a slap in the face. She looked like a slapper. Instead, she nodded, sighed, and said softly, "You're right, Mister Spicer. Thank you."

On that note, Helen turned and walked toward her Mercury sedan. I leaned against the tree Toby landed in and looked up at the Colorado Street Suicide Bridge. Of course, now there would be more cries to tear down the bridge because it attracted suicidal people. That gave the good city of Pasadena a bad name. Al Jolson might even stop singing about being . . .

"Beneath the palms in someone's arms in Pasadena town."

Friends and strangers die, but the city takes no notice. Life goes on in the city even when it doesn't.


Story and design © Steve Eitzen
Header graphic & HPO logo © HPO Productions
Character images © 123RF used by license
Colorado St. Bridge and LA City Hall Images © Water & Power Associates
All rights reserved by copyright owners

This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, locations, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.