The Big Time

Benjamin Rybeck

Benjamin Rybeck

Woman jumps to her death in Manhattan

Woman climbs to the 14th floor of 51 Fifth Avenue and 12th Street in Manhattan on August 8, 1972, and jumps to her death

Woman jumps to her death in front of men, other onlookers

Woman jumps to her death and cracks like an egg on the pavement in front of ex-boyfriends

Warhol Factory “actress” jumps to her death in Manhattan

Trash, Heat “actress” jumps to her death in Manhattan

Tortured Warhol Factory actress jumps to her death in Manhattan after years of drug abuse, promiscuity

Actress suicide: a warning about the dangers of drugs, promiscuity, unwarranted stardom

Note found in the pocket of “actress” suicide: “I want to go for the bigtime. I want to hit the jackpot.”

Warhol Factory actress, tortured by loneliness, despair, jumps to her death in front of ex-boyfriends

Warhol Factory actress ex-boyfriend: “She could never be close to anyone except her own constructed image of herself.”

Warhol Factory actress stands on top of roof, in the sun, moments before suicide, sparkles

Lonely Warhol Factory actress: sociopathic, some men say; self-centered, some men say; unable to connect, some men say.

Lonely Warhol Factory actress, Andrea Feldman: “I want to go for the big time. I want to hit the jackpot.”

Andrea Feldman calls ex-boyfriends, tells them to meet her at 51 Fifth Avenue and 12th Street in Manhattan on August 8, 1972, commits suicide in front of them

Anger, confusion, in ex-boyfriends of Warhol Factory suicide: “What was she trying to do? Why did she hate us? What did we do to give her this deluded image of herself?”

Andrea Feldman: lonely, or lunatic?

Andrea Feldman: despairing, or deluded?

Andrea Feldman: lonely from the “stardom,” hated ex-boyfriends, punishes them with suicide

Andrea Feldman wraps rosary around one hand, holds coke bottle in other hand, before jumping

Andrea Feldman: drug-induced stunt, or anguished cry?

Ex-boyfriend on Andrea Feldman: “Holy fucking shit, man. I mean, one has to admire the craziness of the whole thing, hasn’t one?”

Andrea Feldman, lonely, hating ex-boyfriends, full of delusions of grandeur, jumps to her death so the world will whisper her name, so the world will remember her, so somebody will remember her

Andrea Feldman wraps the rosary around her hand and waits at the top of the building

Men unknowingly gather for Warhol Factory actress suicide

Ex-boyfriends remember different versions of suicidal actress: did she only care about herself and was angry at the men, or did she care about them deeply?

Ex-boyfriend on Andrea Feldman: “She already thought she was a superstar. What did she mean by ‘the big time?’”

Andrea Feldman feels like star on roof; watches men gather; watches men stand around and wait for what they do not know, for the show they do not know is coming

Andrea Feldman in Trash: “It’s time for a show-time!”

Andrea Feldman, despairing, drugged, disturbed, distraught, destroyed, deluded

Andrea Feldman, loving life, jumps to her death

Ex-boyfriends say, “We were all lonely too, you know? She didn’t have to punish us this way. She knew we were all lonely too.”

Bitter Andrea Feldman waits at the top of the building for the men to arrive so she can jump to her death in front of them

Bitter Andrea Feldman sees the men gather

Bitter Andrea Feldman, struck by the similarities between the men, by how they all carry themselves the same way, by how they all smoke the same cigarettes, by how they all dress the same, by how they all carry the same loneliness on their backs

Ex-boyfriend on the whole show: “It’s nice to spend time with these men. In a funny way, meeting each other on the street, spending time with them at the wake, at the funeral, has made me feel less alone.”

On Warhol Factory suicide: Kindness found in strangest of places

On Warhol Factory suicide: Selfish woman strikes out against past pain, loneliness, anger

Ex-boyfriend on the whole show: “We are all the same, us men. We carry with us the memory of her. We carry it with us like a smooth stone in one hand.”

Lonely woman gives gift of togetherness to the men she loves

Andrea Feldman snakes the rosary through her fingers

Andrea Feldman: star of two movies, lives alone, stares at the wall, cannot bear it any longer, cannot bear thinking of how she cannot do it, how she cannot connect with the men in her life, how she finds herself with the same sort of man, over and over again, and how she cannot fucking do it anymore

Deluded “actress” believes love and kindness still possible in strangest of places

Ex-boyfriend on “actress” suicide: “I thank her for this gift. I thank her that I now know these other men, that I can call them my friends.”

Andrea Feldman sees ex-boyfriends start to converse on street below

Sees the invisible thread that ties them all together

The thread lit up, finally for her, almost glowing in the sunlight

“Actress” gives up, gives something to others

Ex-boyfriends feel comforted by newfound connections, by newfound friendship

We never stop trying to find ourselves in the people we fill our lives with

Andrea Feldman, gratified to see it, the web of it beneath her, closes her fist around the neck of the coke bottle, steps off roof

Andrea Feldman: “I want to hit the big time. I want to hit the jackpot.”

“Actress” falls, thinking of failed career, thinking of how cold the world has become for her

Woman falls, hating ex-lovers below for the pain they caused her

Andrea Feldman falls, feels warm, happy, worthwhile, able to see the world a little clearer, able to provide some small amount of pleasure to the men she loved, to the men she was unable to connect with, to the world she was unable to inhabit

The coke bottle shatters at their feet

Suicide reduced to men, and nothing more than that; suicide really about pain, about failure, about loneliness, but nobody seems to remember that when focusing instead on the poor men

Another woman dies so a bunch of men who never loved her when she was alive can love each other instead

Ex-boyfriends try to understand, can only understand by forgetting Andrea Feldman, by focusing, selfishly, on another, one what they mean to one another; they can only understand by closing their eyes and reaching out their hands and hoping, praying, somebody grazes their fingertips in the dark

Sign reads, Caution: Broken Glass, and nobody steps there for fear of hurting themselves

Actually, there is no sign: some guy just cleans the mess up with a broom and goes back inside


Benjamin Rybeck teaches fiction writing at the University of Arizona, where he received his MFA in 2011. He is the fiction editor for Spork Press and his work has appeared in Diagram, Guernica, Natural Bridge, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere.

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