This story is now just over a year old. I am posting it today because there is someone out there that needs to read it.
I’m going to tell you a story. A true story, but I make no claims here as to what it means, claim no moral, do not say that I have anything to show. There are no moral or ethical values here. Just the story.
I decided calmly, clearly and rationally that today was to be my last day on earth. Having made that decision I decided to hell with all the doctors, all the rules, and all my fears. I would provision myself and I would duly use up my provisions and then I would go home long enough to pack a box of rather special items to give or return to Robert, my small collection of meaningless treasures, mail it, and then go somewhere quiet (I was thinking of a graveyard in Marion where two of my friends are buried – both suicides, Mikhail went back to Russia in a bag, Hassani was cremated and sent back to wherever the fuck he came from, but I know where Crystal and Brian are and the graveyard already held other attractions for me) and sit there for awhile before I opened the major veins in my arms, feet and calves, with the double edged razor blade I have kept in my wallet for the last three years, it was behind a little laminated card that said,
Razors pain you,
rivers are damp/
acids stain you/
drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful/
Gas smells awful/
You might as well live”
Take a bow, Dorothy Parker, writer, critic, suicide. But I tired of the irony and threw the card away and kept the razor.
Then I would just take in whatever came and die looking up at the sky somewhere. My friend, Mike did this two years ago and he died smiling.
I got dressed, black socks, black jeans, a black tee shirt that says “THINK!, It’s not illegal yet.” And my favorite pair of boots. Wallet, keys, no watch cause I don’t give a fuck. Then I took out the last of Steve’s pot and I smoked it and then I got into my Mazda and rolled down all the windows and opened the sunroof and turned my favorite driving music up to forty and laid my leg against the door speaker.
Then I drove some seventy to eighty miles an hour around the back roads to 221 and then up to 74 where not being interested in murder I slowed down to an easy sixty five and listened to an unknown Japanese artist sing “All Around the World”.
“Inside an empty room/
my inspiration comes/
I wait to hear the tune/
Around my head it goes/
So deep inside of me/
The music is the key/
I don’t know what to do/
There is no me or you/
I don’t know what to say/
Oh not another word…/
Just la la la la la…”
And I listened to “Mad World”
“I find it kind of funny/
I find it kind of sad/
The dreams in which I’m dying/
Are the best I ever had”
And finding the road empty around me for a good ten miles in either direction, I made the car do a little car dance, turning the wheel to the music in short tight little spins, so that the car – a marvelously responsive little toy, rocked back and forth between the white and yellow lines, and then my exit came and back to the more sedate sixty and into the world of humans. Scared, stupid, unthinking, little bah sheep humans that I alternately fear, feel the utmost contempt for, and wish and pray would just fucking evolve already.
I went and bought two sub sandwiches with the works, I bought potatoes which are strictly verboten, two ginger beers, a pack of Djarum Clove cigarettes (Steve has always forbidden smoking, and although I smoked tobacco only twice a year – my birthday, my best friend’s birthday, I occasionally craved it) and then went off in search of cookies.
I went through the ginger beer, half the cigarettes (lighting them with my Sherlock Holmes Zippo and thinking I’d send that to Robert), and one of the sandwiches in the car listening to Barber’s Sonata for Strings played by the London Symphony, and then swung into the last store of the day feeling a little slow, a little bemused and at peace for the first time in a very long time.
The place is a beat to shit ghetto dollar store and it’s cracked parking lot with the weeds growing through, and the beater cars, and the vista of high tension power lines marching off north toward the Lake Lure relay station and south toward hell itself appealed to my mood, and besides I wanted to experience as many of my forbidden pleasures as possible, empty my bank card, stock up and then gorge and this was a good place to do it.
I put cookies, a magnetic dragon decal, a magnetic biohazard symbol, candy, mushrooms, garlic, a cigarette case, and a few other items in my basket – the food for me, the trinkets for those I owed some kind of parting gift to, and was about to add some high voltage sugar energy drinks when I was hailed by a disreputable chap in blue jeans, a blue denim shirt, and a blue baseball cap.
Scrungiest guy I’d ever seen, but what the hell, he though he knew me as his continuing remarks made clear, he was nuts, brain damage, as the two inch by half inch by say half an inch deep depression over his left eye gave ample evidence to, and he was filthy. His clothes were worn through in places, his shirt pocket unraveling, and random threads sticking out here and there. His shoes were black beat to shit sneakers of a higher quality, tho, and then I noticed that his cloths were a good brand and cloth…and he took care of them. There were discrete repairs, a small patch here, a neat and precise line where a needle and thread had repaired a rip. Calluses on his hands from farm work or construction work. And the filth was all the hard-to-remove kind, grease stains, grass stains, and so on. His skin was lightly grimed, and he was sweating even in the AC. He was slurring his words and twitching a bit, all the classics of left frontal lesion, ho hum, but he is aware of the slur and he is trying hard to enunciate, and to make eye contact, and you could see the effort he’s making to keep the sentences in order and the narrative clear. So here is some sick, confused, poor lunatic telling me about his father and his friend and where he is working now trying to be normal and to keep going and me in my much newer clothes and cleaned up skin smiling and nodding in all the right places and thinking of suicide. The irony appeals, and I’m in no hurry. And Robert had taught me that everyone was human and there is no need to humiliate someone needlessly. No reason to recoil or tell the guy to fuck off. Or even to embarrass him and tell him I have no idea who the fuck he is. He’s just some brain damaged guy making his way through his day.
And then he looks at me and he says “I’m praying for you. God knows about ya and your troubles and I just want ya to know that I love you, and I bet your real friends love you too. I got me a friend, he has kidney failure, and heart failure too and his doctor looked at his sheet and said “Man, you should jus’ be dead” and my friend he tells that doctor he says “I pray. Sometimes I think I don’t pray enough” Huh, there’s my friend alive and praying and thinking he ain’t doing enough when some people ain’t doing nothin’ at all. Me, I pray too, an’ I get through the day, an I pray for others.”
At this point troubled, I made some excuse and just walked off. I looked at hats, socks, tee-shirts, oven mitts, not really thinking anymore just kind of on automatic, and I finally shrugged it off and went back to the cookies, and this guy came up behind me and he put his arm on my shoulder and he turned me around so I’m looking into his eyes (blue eyes, a little cloudy, a little nuts, but very alive) and he says “I’m glad I got ta talk to ya, I’ve been worried about you. But you just hang in there, okay?” Thangs can surprise ya. Now you take care now, ya hear?”
And he’s gone.
And I put half the shit back from my basket and I buy a pair of warm winter socks, and the cigarette case, and the real food, and I go back out to my car.
I made it half way home before I started to cry. I made it home and into my closet hidey hole before I started to cry in earnest and to talk to myself and to people who were not there.
I do not intend to go about telling this story to every one I meet in the hopes of changing their lives. My philosophy has always been to lay back and watch and wait. Once I saved a little boy’s life, once I save a drunk woman’s life, and once I helped my dearest friend through a hard patch in his life. But once I swung a sword at a teenage boy intending to kill him. Once I broke three inches of pencil off inside of someone who was bullying me. I meant to kill him too. I am not a good person, much less a godly one.
But tonight I think I met an angel, and tonight I am alive.
So don’t give up yet, my friend, okay? Your angel is out there, too.