22 Apr


Surrounded by unopened bills and empty condiment bottles life’s joy was wearing thin. With a house that belonged to the bank, a wife that had run off with the milkman and two grown kids that didn’t care if he lived or died things were looking bleak. What was the bloody point? He opened the refrigerator door and pulled out the last beer and thanked God for small mercies. Where had it all gone wrong, the happy home life, kids playing in sprinklers, the new car parked on the drive way?

Was it all his own fault?

Sure he had to take some responsibility – but all of it? A victim of society, the flotsam and jetsam of a neap-tide economy, a statistic on a government chart.

The radio crackled in the background, a monotone voice reciting the litany of government under pressure.

“Of course as we tighten our belts and prepare ourselves to face the harsh winds of austerity we must stand firm. This is what we as a nation do. When times are rough, and jobs hard to find, neighbor stands by neighbor, friend by friend, family by family.”

Jack nearly choked on his beer. There weren’t any neighbors – the meter high grass in the next door houses betraying midnight runaways, the victims of foreclosure. Friends were few and far between, the majority having chosen his wife’s side – apparently finding his dalliance in Vegas hard to forgive.

 One weekend of pleasure for a life time of pergatory and pain. It hardly seemed fair.

At the time it had seemed worth it, the stranger in his hotel room who’d looked so good in thigh high boots and a push up bra. How was he supposed to have known she was a cop? She hadn’t looked like a cop! The way she’d grabbed his balls and stuck her tongue down his throat in the elevator hadn’t felt like she was a cop. No one was more surprised than he when the door had burst open and he’d been confronted by fully dressed persons unknown.

One night of stupidity for this.

His wife was gone, the kids hated his guts and every friend he’d ever had had dropped him from their social network. Friendless, penniless and soon to be very homeless the future wasn’t looking its rosiest.

When his picture had appeared in the paper his company had let him go. Someone had seen it, blabbed, and before he knew it he’d been carpeted in front of his boss. Conduct unbecoming they’d called it. Something they couldn’t possibly tolerate. Given the new economic pressures the corporation had to be squeaky clean – no whiff of impropriety. They’d shaken his hand, thanked him for his twenty years service and even paid him six months severance. Pretty pathetic for a lifetime of corporate servitude, slaving day and night to fill the coffers of those nameless faces who graced the pages of the monthly company magazine.

The money was long gone, spent on bills and other necessary items. Now he was broke, penniless, in need of a friend and a month’s salary. Of course he’d tried to find another job, however once his police file popped up on the background check it was over before it even started. Who wants to employ a degenerate arrested for lewd behavior? Lewd, what kind of word was that? It conjured up pictures of child molesters and perverts, not people out on a bender with a couple of drinks inside of them.

His first attempt had been laughable. He’d written the note, finished off the cooking sherry, jerked off and then fully clothed walked down the steps into the shallow end of the swimming pool – slipping beneath the sparkling blue. He’d read that drowning was painless although considering the source how true could that be? He’d held his breath for as long as possible, which in hindsight probably wasn’t in the best interests of somebody trying to commit suicide. The fact that he held his breath until his lungs nearly burst was self-evident that he wasn’t truly committed to his cause. He tried to push himself down holding onto the drain cover but failed miserably. He’d eventually given it up as a bad job and puddled his way back into the kitchen. Pathetic he thought, he couldn’t even do that right!

The pistol had also been a mistake; he’d nearly deafened himself, flinching at the last second. He still hadn’t fixed the smashed window broken by the poorly aimed bullet. It was a natural reaction – of course he’d moved – wouldn’t anybody?

The rope, hanging from the garage rafters offered a seemingly inescapable solution had been equally disaterous. After crashing through the plastic chair it’d nearly choked the life out of him, if it hadn’t been for the packing knife in his back pocket he’d have been toast.

Despite being halfhearted and an abject coward to boot, he was deadly serious about ending his life – it’s just that he wasn’t cut out to be a suicide victim – his heart really wasn’t in it. If he was going to do this then it had to be fool proof, beyond his control. Given the opportunity he knew that he would load the dice, stack the odds, do all he could to avoid his necessary fate. On the other hand, if he put his death in the hands of somebody else there could be no escape, no parachute; he would simply cease to exist. He thought long and hard, there had to be a way.


The wind howled around him, the updraft from the traffic racing beneath him sending swaths of warm exhaust across his face. A fail-proof plan that would end the pain; closing the chapter on a life worth curtailing. He’d hurt his hand climbing over the wire barricade, felt the sting from where the wire had scratched at his flesh. It didn’t matter, in a few minutes he’d feel nothing, the pain and torment of the past year terminating in a ground rush of brain-splattering asphalt. He’d probably never even feel it; all he had to do was lean out, let go and let gravity do the rest. A quick drop through space culminating in eternal rest, the sweet release of a serious weight forever lifted from his shoulders. He had to be brave, this is what he wanted – this would resolve everything. His employability, the family shame, the necessary insurance money that would take care of his family. Salvation at hand he took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and let go.


The traffic through Phoenix had improved, the new speed control cameras helping to modulate the push and pull of commuter haste. He’d been driving for the better part of two days with a load of plastic pellets from Mexico that was destined for the ports in San Francisco; a cargo ear-marked for sports shoe production for an over indulgent nation. Politics wasn’t his thing and to be honest thoughts of child labor and salary inadequacy in developing nations never crossed his mind. The country music was blaring, the coffee was hot, and the sausage biscuit adequate. So long as he got his paycheck he really didn’t give a shit. Driving under the bridge he saw the shadow pass above him, looked briefly and then returned to the joys of three chord ecstasy. He warbled along to “truck don’t work and my dog just died” lyrics and sipped his coffee. One more day and he’d be there.


Jack couldn’t move, his arms and legs pinioned by an overt heaviness. He was suspended as if in air – free floating yet held captive at the same time – the out of body experience perhaps? He’d felt the blow as he burst through the barrier between life and death, seen the rush of heavenly light racing to meet him – the tunnel of radiance he’d read about? Now there was nothing; no light, no sound, absolute cushioned nothingness. He tried to move but couldn’t; if this was death it wasn’t so bad. He was oblivious to the world around him, conscious only of the intense smell of plastic. Surely heaven was supposed to be a blooming garden of excess? Where were the dead relatives rushing to meet him? He drifted into unconsciousness, accepting his fate, relieved that his temporal troubles were over. His family would thank him later.


The truck driver shifted gear and pressed his foot to the floor. With the bright lights of Phoenix behind him it would be smooth sailing – just had to watch out for those damn cops skulking under bridges. He’d heard the flap of canvas, checked his mirrors and seen nothing.

He’d check it again when he got to Frisco.


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