I learned something important about myself today.
No, not why I didn’t die. And no, not how I woke up with an icy tattoo on my clavicle.
I learned that I am shit at patching drywall. Another trip to the hardware store and hours of clean up and half assed plastering proved it. It was obvious a child must have tried to repair the ceiling in the living room. A child with motor skill issues and some mental issues no heaping of training could fix. Another reminder of my inability to complete even the most mundane task.
Forty four thousand people commit suicide in the US a year. One hundred and twenty one a day. Seven out of ten are white males. Fifty one percent are done by firearms. Five an hour, so every 12 minutes or so another person kills themself. And that is just the United States.
And I managed to fuck it up twice yesterday. Twice. Or two times by hanging and four times by knife but why add to the list of failings. Might as well call it twice and be done with it. Make it easier for everyone.
All of the hard work and self hate made me a might peckish. When depressed and low on funds there are two options. Fast food or Chinese. And I love Chinese. So I called up my favorite spot and ordered the pork fried rice with a side of steamed dumplings. Fifteen bucks for enough food for two or three meals. Frugile and Futile, the double f that defined me lately.
And who can say no to pork fried rice. And those dumplings with that delicious sauce. I have a weakness for Siracha and soy sauce. The more heat the better.
I know what I am really doing. Keeping busy. Not thinking. Trying to maintain a semblance of being a normal person. Not slip back into the depression. Not think about why I didn’t die. The dream. Her.
The capital H Her. It felt like more than a dream and the mark meant something. Felt like something familiar, like it had always been there just under the skin. A marking that meant something in another life. But I was damned if I remembered when or why.
None of it made any sense and I could feel the impending sense of sadness lurking just at the edge of my busy work. Wrestling with the hunger like two rabid dogs trying to establish dominance in the yard that was my psyche. Snarling at each other, teeth bared and seeking the soft spot.
So as I waited for the food to arrive I gathered the bags of trash and took them to the dumpster. Walking in the fall sunshine, that special kind of light that still manages a tinge of cool is supposed to be good for battling depression. Another lie sold to people desperate for anything but the sorrow in their hearts. An escape from the mundane misery the world dishes out in spades.
The sunlight and the depression were like a twelve year old battling a heavyweight boxer, it was not close to being a fair fight. The odds makers in Vegas would put it at around a thousand to one.
A fools bet. One I stopped placing years ago.
The dream stayed with me and I kept looking up at the sky for a floating being of perfection. The clouds remained formless. I silently screamed at them to give me a sign, something to prove that tjere was a hidden meaning to all of this.
That was the moment Wong came speeding in with my delivery. He was looking at his phone to find my apartment number. I was pleading for a sign. He hit me going fifty and I went flying through the air, into his windshield before bouncing across the roof and onto the ground.
He jumped out and stared at my corpse. I jumped up without a scratch and started screaming. Poor Wong fell to the ground, passed out from sheer fright. I stared at the damage to his car and my favorite shirt. Both were goners. Did a quick once over and saw there was injury to either of us. Of course there wasn’t.
I did what anyone would do when hit by a car and they should be dead. I grabbed my food and left the twenty that was previously earmarked for the person that found my body hanging from a rope and went home. But first I looked up at the sky and yelled fuck you to who or what ever decided I was their cosmic plaything.
Not the sign I was looking for. Not even close.
I have done a lot of drugs in my time. Not bragging. Nothing is as wonderful of a high as adrenaline though. I was vibrating. I sat on the couch, styrofoam container of pork fried rice, orange from the toxic level of hot sauce and soy mixed in, no longer feeling the hunger but shoveling it into my greedy mouth at rapid speed.
It tasted like burning nothing. I didn’t care, but there was some let down.
I kept waiting for the knock on the door. The police investigating a hit and walk away. Wong checking to see if I was okay. But in the time it took to consume half a container of rice and three dumplings, no one knocked. No flashing lights of an ambulance to see if there was someone bleeding out inside. Nothing.
Probably for the best. I couldn’t explain it and they wouldn’t believe it if I tried.
Also the whole multiple suicide thing would not be a good look.
Then it hit me. I was dead. This was that final five seconds of consciousness as my body jerked and brain death was occurring.
Even as I die it is a hopeless sense of sitting alone on the couch.
So I turned on the television and watched some Its Always Sunny. If this is the last moments might as well laugh my ass off.
Three hours later I was reasonable convinced it was not.
If at first you don’t succeed, try to die again.
I could rule hanging, cutting and stabbing out. Vehicular assault was an apparent no go as well.
An idea hit me, I grabbed the last three dumplings and the drain cleaner from beneath the sink and made a special meal. This may require an extra dollop of hot sauce.
I forced myself to finish them. It was horrific. The cleanser was pure chemical and my body did everything it could to not allow me to swallow but I am no quitter. I just sat covered in sweat and full of poison. My head was spinning and I could not concentrate on the television. I could feel my consciousness slipping. I did it. My last thought was of victory.
Or so I thought.
Instead of sweet release I woke up in a pool of, well, pure undigested dumpling and drain cleaner. A toxic mass of green bubbling fluid and still recognisable food stuff. And a burning rectum. Like fierce flame shooting out of my sphincter and the taste of hot sauce in my mouth.
And intense shame at another unsuccessful try at ending my misery.
And the realization maybe I was not quite as miserable. This lack of ability to die filled me with a new resolve. An anger at the one thing I wanted taken from my grasp.
A life of epic disaster, unmitigated failing and the lack of any grace. And now death is being taken off of the table?
Not on my watch.
Filled the tub with water, plugged in the toaster and took a bath. My back hair straightened.
And I discovered my sense of taste was nearly obliterated. Which led me to an idea I didn’t want to consider.
My inability to die was one thing, but I could still be hurt. The last thing I wanted was to cripple myself in one of these attempts. The way my life worked out I would find a way to become a quadriplegic and live to a rope old age unable to end it. I needed to think this through.
I need a sure fire way to die with minimal impact in case of failure.
I felt energized in my pursuit of death. I had purpose again.
A need filled me to answer this question of why an end alluded me. And a need for sleep. I spent all day working through this. The sun had set hours ago and my head felt filled with cobwebs. Racing thoughts and exhaustion make for poor bed fellows.
On the way to bed I accidentally saw my reflection in the mirror. I avoid looking at him, me, and what I saw staring back seemed more ghost than man. I needed a shave.
Sometimes an idea hits and it just has to be done. The stumble on my head seemed an affront to nature. The strange Rorschach patterns of baldness irrationally pissed me off. I couldn’t describe the rage that suddenly washed over me.
The frustration of the last two days, hell, the last ten years burst out of me. If I didn’t shave I was going to explode. It was a need, a mentally shattering need to remove the fucking hair from my head.
I cannot explain it.
It felt like the last ten years of shit luck and misery could all be traced along the odd patches of hair. A connect the dots of pure self hate.
I took my shirt off and started the hot water. The soap cake and and brush sat in the mug next to the sink. It was a gift from my ex wife. She bought me them to go along with the ivory handled razor our last Christmas together. A memory of a time long gone, before everything went to shit.
The leather strop hung from the hand towel bar and without thought I slid the razor back and forth, smoothing it out and finishing the edge. Once the water steamed up the mirror I ran a bit into the mug. Swishing the brush across the cake, a nice foam forming up and the scent of sandalwood filled the room.
When I opened the package I was pissed. We had agreed to not get gifts for each other. To save our money for the house we had been dreaming of. I didn’t listen of course and bought her a new watch. This was right before the smart phone boom when people actually wore watches still. I can still see the look of disappointment on her face as she opened it up. She hated it. It was obvious. I couldn’t understand why.
So I was angry about that and the fact that she bought me something. I know it is stupid but I was okay to break the rule. Her breaking it felt like cheating. It doesn’t make sense but it is what it is. When I saw the soap cake and brush I froze. I had made some joke months earlier about how the old style shaves were the best. How they didn’t seem as good nowadays. It was a throw away conversation and she remembered it. Under the mug was the razor. The same one I had always wanted, ever since the first time I realized I was going to be that guy that shaved his head. It was classy. I wanted to be classy.
She was good like that.
I was not.
She had hinted at a ring she wanted. A sapphire and emerald ring. I went to the store to buy that when I saw the watch. The watch was the same price and instead of listening to what she wanted I got her the watch.
The fucking watch. She got me exactly what I wanted from a talk five months earlier in passing. And I got her what I wanted her to have not what she wanted.
If you were to sum up our relationship this was the perfect explanation to why it ended.
I splashed the water on my head and ran the brush over it. A nice thick layer of foam, the itchy brush and sandalwood reassuring in their own weird way. The cool air and hot water steamed the mirror up, but I used my hand to feel not my eyes.
The key to a good shave is going both ways, not only does it make the head baby soft but adds a day or two between shaves. I was on autopilot. The muscle memory taking over and my mind stuck on that Christmas morning. On the look on her face as she didn’t see the ring.
Within six months she was gone. A note and empty apartment all that remained of six years together. I didn’t fight for her, we both knew it would have been pointless.
Thus began my steady decline. Lost a good job shortly after. Ended up going from a career to bouncing between contracts and bad decisions. Did the same thing in my love life. Bad decisions and relationships with obvious shelf lives.
Four years of this and I had had about enough. I went to the river and stood staring at the stars reflected on the ice. I didn’t know I had gone to kill myself. I just needed the feeling of having fucked everything up to go away. I had gotten a message earlier that my ex was about to get remarried. A friend sent me the link in am email. Thought I should know.
I clicked the link. I told myself not to but I never listen to sense. She was beautiful and so very happy in the photo. He was handsome with a full head of black hair. I hated him instantly. But the thing that really got me was the bright and sparkly sapphire and emerald ring on her finger. Like the one she wanted me to buy but better on every way. Like him I was sure. And definitely like her life was going to be.
I didn’t even think about it. I just started to walk out on the ice. The stars above and reflected below seemed call me. I stood at the center of the frozen river, mesmerized by the twinkling lights. Lost in thought of the one I pushed away. Cold and dejected, her smile and my sorrow playing with each other. I didn’t hear the ice cracking over my heart doing the same. Next thing I knew I was underwater, trapped in the current and pulled under the ice.
And just like that a freshly shave head and face. And tears running down my cheeks. I reached over and grabbed the towel and wiped the excess foam from my head. I let my now glistening head hang down and sobbed for a moment. It all went so wrong so fast. Like an avalanche starts with one errant drift my entire life went to shit in a flash and never recovered from the death spiral.
No point dwelling on the past when the present is just as much of garbage fire.
I decided to inspect the job I knew to be done adequately. I swept the towel across the mirror, careful to use the side without soap on it. I saw my stupid face looking back at me as I did it. Not what anyone wants to see. A little more wiping and I saw my smooth round head.
And the woman from my dream standing behind me.
I dropped the towel and before I could turn my head in shock I felt the razor against my throat.
“You are mine Mikhail. You belong to me. To me!” she snarled in my ear and dragged the blade roughly across my throat. A deluge of blood sprayed out and coated the mirror. I desperately tried to hold the smooth second mouth on my throat closed. I could feel myself choking on my own blood. The world took on a blurry haze and I felt my legs give out and my head crack the counter on the way down.
“Mine,” came from somewhere above me as I bled out on the tiled floor.
Finally was my last thought.