That ill-fated day. It was all planned.
All in all the journey doesn’t take much longer than 40 minutes in the helicopter. He has done it many times before. Loading the stretch with the patient – 3,5 minutes, taking off – 2 minutes, Grenoble to Lausanne – 35 minutes, landing and unloading – 6 minutes. He is not worried. It will be alright.
But this time it will be different. The patient on board will be a legend. He looks at the magazine next to him on the desk and sees the familiar face, smiling, with the corners of the mouth pointing a little downwards, the typical smile of the man who’s been on the front cover of countless newspapers over the past months. He remembers him on the podium, the scenes of success, the frenzy of flashing cameras and champagne sparkles nearly every Sunday. He loves his job. He is known to react with calm decisiveness in the most crucial moments. Taking the right decisions when no one else can. Just like this man on the cover. But he is not like him. Not a hero. Admired by millions for his exceptional performance, watched by captivated fans cheering and trembling for his every move. Even now, when he can barely lift his eyelids.
He takes off his glasses and sighs. It is past his work hours but he is waiting for an email from the hospital in Grenoble confirming final date and time of the journey which is supposed to take place within the next few days. The people have been very secretive. He looks at his watch and starts to feel a little nervous as the familiar sender suddenly pops up on his screen. He reads and sinks back into his chair. The transport is cancelled. They will move him in a van. The man bites his lips and gruns with disappointment. He would have liked to see him…just once.
When he thinks back to this evening in the office, he wishes he would have closed the computer and just left the grey building. To go home to his family and forget about the hero. Forget about it all. But he didn’t. He sat there staring at the flickering monitor, biting his nails, contemplating. His colleagues had left the premises. No one was around. It all seemed so easy.
He goes onto the server and it takes him just a few minutes to find the document he is looking for. He knows what it says. He had to read it in order to prepare the transport. But this time he opens it with a different mindset. He waits impatiently while the pages are loading… medical statements, details about the injuries, surgeries, tests, X-rays…his heart is beating so loudly, he worries that someone could hear it outside of the room. His mind is racing. What if… he ponders, hesitates, he closes the file. Reopens it. Reads again. He looks at the magazine which shows the smiling hero and clenches his fist. Why shouldn’t I be lucky, just once? He has so much money, and why does he have it, just because of his fans, people like me who made him big. We are all there for him but are not being told what’s really going on. I won’t ask for much, after all he won’t even know about it. His lips are pressed firmly together and he can hardly breathe. His blood is thumping in his head. He glances at the corner of his office and sees the light of the printer flashing. He holds his breath. His hands are shaking as he pushes the button. They will pay for anything at this stage, no doubt.
The shame. The anxiety. The judgements. Being hated by millions, he had no idea. The words he had to read about him hurt him more than the ones he didn’t manage to get into the news. He thought they’d be happy and he’d remain safe. After all, they had been longing for this information for months, hadn’t they? And then… they all pulled out. Disgusted. Angry. Embarrassed for him. „You are the scum of the earth“. He remembers the words of a journalist who yelled at him and put down the phone. And when they pulled up his driveway with the siren blaring, he knew it was over. He would never be a legend. Never be rich. Never be admired. He would merely be the one person reminding them of the darkest abysses of the human soul.
He closes his eyes and says a last prayer for the fallen hero. Forgive me, he sighs. And jumps.
There is great tragedy in the suicide of the man suspected to have stolen Michael Schumacher’s medical records who killed himself in custody on wednesday. What goes on in the mind of a man who steals from a heavily injured, helpless mega star and whose crime fails so terribly? What role did the media play in inspiring this sick trade with news about the fate of the 7-times world champion? Aren’t we all a little guilty of this theft and of the consequent suicide? „Fan fiction is a way of the culture to repair the damage done…“ says Henry Jenkins.
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