December 21, 2003|Long story short, a few years ago as I was applying for a life insurance policy, I got to know an ex-paramedic who told me that he once answered a call to Denver's beautiful Brown Palace Hotel. One of its maids had just been let go after working there for decades, whereupon she proceeded to take the elevator to the top floor and jump to her death several stories into the central dining area. "Her face was perfectly preserved, perfectly peaceful," he said. "When I got there it looked as though she were standing in a hole in the floor, looking up with something like wonder at the ceiling." I think about this story a lot, it sticks with me for some reason; it has elements of betrayal, death with symbolic meaning, the grotesque--the sort of high human drama at extremis that leaves an indelible imprint on my imagination.