Whatever Prevents you from Killing Yourself

Submitted into Contest #5 in response to: Write a story about someone who finds life meaning in an unexpected place.... view prompt



This night, while the shadows of the leaves usurped his wall with Rorschach blotches that looked like dinosaurs, he stood underneath the rope. I know they don't want me to go out like this went through his mind as he thought about the people he would be leaving behind. Looking up, seeing the nail he hammered in, pulling on the rope to make sure it was secure, reminiscing over the time it took to formulate this plan, the only one that seemed quick and easy with very little room for error, he stepped on the stool.

He had spent many nights hanging out at bars, staying up late in hopes that he would drink enough to drown out the pain. It worked. He forgot, could not feel a thing, blacked-out even. Then he woke up, again. The coffee table, the bed, the alarm clock, the pictures on the wall, the closet, and all still there holding onto the memories like a spider that caught a family of flies in its webbing.

"It isn't like anyone needs me anyways," he said out loud to the protesting shadows. "No one has a use for me." The mental anguish he felt wrapped up his muscles in knots, which lead to pains few others have ever experienced. The shadows on the wall lashed out at him, begging him to take another look. "I've waisted my days wallowing in my self-pity. There is no way out. I’ve checked. It's all the same shit leading to the same shitty place."

He put the rough and itchy rope around his neck, the only one he could find in the kind of hurry he was in. He was not going to chicken out this time like the times before.

What does it matter, he thought, feeling the noose tighten around his neck, I'll be gone in a few moments anyway. A small part of him wanted this plan to fail so that he would have another chance at finding meaning in life but he needed it now, not on its own time, not a year from now, not tomorrow or the next, - now! He was tired of waiting and he would prove to the universe that this was so.

His phone screen lit up and buzzed. Shit he thought. He took his neck out of the loop and picked up his phone from the desk.

A text message from Makenzie read:

  • Will you meet me at the Park tonight? I would love your company. I need to talk to a friend.

"Why couldn't you wait?" he asked hoping that she would hear him and text back: Sorry. I didn't know you were in the middle of something. It can wait - until the next lifetime or the next.

The shadows on the wall stopped moving, posted on the wall like the hanging pictures as the wind died down, the roars of the dinosaurs receded into the abyss from where they came and remained quiet.

He texted her back saying that he would meet her. He grabbed a jacket and headed out the door.

Outside, the houseless lined the streets, rows upon rows of decorated Skid-Rodeo tents fashioned with covers of luxury store logos from the famous Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles, CA. The poor imagined what it could be like being rich without having the riches, generous in giving they were with the little that they had to give, while the rich never imagined what it was like to be poor and often scoffed at those they perceive as being below them, greed rotted their minds and they were out to destroy everything for a hole within themselves that can never be filled from gathering external things.

You’re all forgotten down here.

"Hey, hey, hey, Joey, get a haircut, you hippy." It was Frank, who almost always had a fifth of vodka in both hands. He sat on the same bench for years, maybe a decade or two, yelling at the tourists and the locals as they walked through. He was always nice about it in a funny way and people generally laughed at his antics as they passed by him.

Joey wanted to shout at the man, tell him about the awful shit running through his head, tell him about the pain he was suffering from, tell him he needed somebody to love, tell him he was going to leave this world. So calm and cool on the outside but the inside is where each demon ripped down his walls, stepped on each other as they fought for a lead position to wreak havoc on his mind.

We can go out together.

"When you," Joey said, "let that forest growing down your face burn away like the rainforest, we have a deal."

"Haha. Not a chance." Frank took a swig from his bottle. "Wait," he injected, seeing that Joey was in a hurry. "Do you know the meaning of life?"

The question made Joey visibly cringe as if he was trapped in a closed room that had a thousand needles filled with heroin inching their way closer to him with every breath he drew in. He quickly recovered, forcing a smile, not that a drunk would notice anyway. "No. I have been trying to figure that out," he said with a heavy heart. He was on the verge of crying.

"There," Frank said leaning forward, almost falling off the bench face first, "isn't one, but what I do makes one." He chuckled to himself. "Keep doin' what you're doing, kid. You bring light into my life."

"Thanks," he said without genuine feeling. He turned and walked down the street. The street was quiet this week, which was normal for this time of the month because everyone had run out of money so they had to get their gub on at the local kitchens.

Waiting for the bus, he looked across the street and saw graffiti was thrown up on the wall of the building, a painting by Jessy, Billy, and The Rock, no doubt the three best artists in the Row-of-Skids, depicting a black cat with a witches hat and the KKK dressed in white getting hosed by the cats symbolic language. This was after a gas leak was ignited by a spark within the building that had been shut down after the restaurant had to close its doors because of a governmental civil forfeiture. The police, after a five-minute investigation, ruled the explosion came from an oven and left the scene, closed the case, never to return.

No one gets out of here. They always will hold you down. Why struggle? Go home. Finish the job. What have you got to live for?

The bus pulled up. He hopped on. Time slipped by until a familiar statue brought him back. He thanked the bus driver as got off at his stop. 

Makenzie waved from across the street. When Joey was within striking distance, she embraced him with a hung that was real, genuine, heart-warming, heart-quickening.

She's breaking you down already?!? his thoughts pointed out.

"If you don't mind, Joey, I'd like to sit over there on the bench and talk about something that has been bothering me for quite sometime and it’s a lot to take in. You've always been a good listener." She was calm but Joey could tell it was something serious.

Joey, taking a deep breath to calm him mind a little and focus and then taking her hand in his, led the way to a bench under a dim overhead light and they sat down.

"Joey, I hope you don't mind but I'm just going to jump into deep water so brace yourself." She watched Joey for signs that he was ready and willing to listen. When his head nodded for her to continue, she did.

"I was thinking about killing myself and I almost went through with it." 

Joey looked down at the floor as the feeling of shame rose up in him.

"Why would you do that?" he asked because in his mind she had everything to live for, a good-paying job, a good, loving family, a supportive base of friends, a house, everything he didn't have but would like to have if it wasn’t for the cards dealt to him.

"Ever since my dad died, there has been a gaping hole within me that I've been trying to drown out. It worked, for the first few months but, as I had to take in more and more to get that same effect as the first time, I felt myself getting sicker, weaker, slower, like a psychic vampire leaving me enough alive to keep the blood pumping but not enough to have the energy to get out of my situation - the hole never filled. It only got deeper and more dark. "

Joey couldn't believe how similar her feelings resonated within him. She took his hand in hers, squeezing.

"You've been my best friend Joey. I'm sorry for having these thoughts. I hate to think what me leaving would do to my loved ones. I've been trying to find some way to open up to someone. I searched for answers - it led me all over the internet, down one rabbit hole after another, there had to be something to stop this craziness. Then, I came upon this quote."

She pulled out a piece of paper from her back pocket and read:

<center> “The literal meaning of life is whatever you're doing that prevents you from killing yourself.” ― Albert Camus </center>

Joey felt his heart lighten and the demons within him quiet down.

Then, they laughed together.

"I knew you'd love a bit of French absurdity," she said. "My dad would have laughed too. ... You know, Joey," she locked eyes with him, "you're the light that has kept me alive all this time. Your witty responses, the calm way in which you carry yourself, the kindness and loyalty you give to your friends - these things, and others, is something that few other people have and I would hate myself for denying myself the opportunity of being your friend here on this earth with the time we have left because you have always encouraged me to be my best self whether I'm way up high or way down low. There is always a choice. You taught me that. A choice to live. A choice to die. A choice to be our best even at our worst. Your encouragement has helped me fill that internal hole with peace and understanding. Change is going to happen and is necessary for growth."

Joey was not sure if this was the purpose of his life, but the feeling he felt broke him out of his stupor. If there was one reason for living, saving the life of someone else is pretty cool. This filled him with some sense of direction of where the light was and what path he should follow.

September 06, 2019 19:09

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