He sat back against the wall of his room, cradling the heavy object in his hand. The lights were out. The glow from a computer screen and the last few minutes of the sun lit his face. A voice repeated itself in the back of his mind.

Father: I'm not upset that you didn't graduate. You are being harder on yourself than I am.

    He grimaced, pushing the voice away, but it was replaced by another.

Mother: It was embarrassing. I wish you'd get your GED and go on to college, so we can get past this whole thing.

     And another.

Himself: I've been thinking of writing a play. I think I'll call it Prozac.

     They kept coming.

Girlfriend: I just don't love you anymore.

Teacher: I'm really disappointed in you.

Himself, writing: I used to be a genius. (thinking) That'd make a great opening to a book. (pause, anxious) If I ever write it.

Teacher: Why don't you just drop out and get your GED?

Himself: I just want to do something, anything. I feel like I have to accomplish something.

Therapist: Were you using any drugs?

Doctor: Just fill out this questionnaire, and I'll go get you some free samples.

Doctor: Just remember, if you kill yourself, you'll never have a chance to get laid.

     His diaphragm lurched in that sort of half-giggle half-patronizing snort that he performed too often. It comforted him, until he was filled with doubt again, and then he just felt hollow.
     He looked at the object in his hands.
     It was a gun.
     It was a loaded revolver. A .38 that belonged to a friend.
     He looked down the barrel. He realized he could only see a short distance down the barrel, because the light was bad. He shifted, moved to get a better look, but realized that his head was blocking out the light. He snorted again.
     He opened up the cylinder. He had only been able to find one bullet. He pried it out with his fingers, and looked at it. The leadvfelt soft; he tested it with his fingernail, and left a shallow mark in its side. In a fit of irony, he scratched his initials on the side.
     G. D.
     He snorted again. Putting the bullet back into the cylinder, he realized the cliche' of the action. He smiled and spun the cylinder, slamming it back into the gun with the palm of his hand before seeing where the bullet stopped.
     Russian Roulette.

Teacher: I don't want to be the reason that you don't graduate.

Friend: We've gotta know! Did you or didn't you?

Girlfriend: I love you.

     He tested it, weighing it in each hand, and tried twirling it around his finger. Unbalanced, handle too heavy. He pulled the hammer back.

Doctor: If you ever feel like that again, you should call a safe house. There's nothing worth killing yourself over.

     He pulled the trigger.

Girlfriend: I just don't love you anymore.

     He pulled the trigger.

Doctor: I want you to go on an antidepressant.

     He pulled the trigger.

     He was a hero. He didn't save the universe from aliens, or his country from a nuclear war, or feed the homeless. He rescued people. He had achieved his goal. He had done something.

     He had written a book, and the first line was "I used to be a genius." He wrote a play about his bout with depression; he played the main character. The play never became popular, but was shown at a local theater, and he was satisfied with it.

     He had a wife, and a family. He helped others realize the worth of friends, and in a peculiar twist of fate, they decided to pay him for it. Some thought he should be a minister. He took on the nickname "Reverend." He became relatively wealthy.

    He did not exist.

     He fell apart. He tried to make people understand who he was, and how he got that way, but they dismissed it as a crude attempt to gain sympathy.

     He drank too much. He became infatuated with illegal drugs. He lived off the state, eventually ending up in an undignified group home, where he continued his paranoid delusions in relative freedom.

     The people he met called him "Reverend." It was an insult, but he didn't understand it. He was, after all, insane. The drugs they kept him on made sure of it.

     He did not exist.

     He was just an ordinary guy. He worked for an electronics firm, enjoyed going to bars at night. He had been married twice, but both marriages ended with divorce, though he was still friendly with his ex- wives. His current marriage made his life complete: he would work, return home and eat an FDA-approved meal, watch a mindless show on television, read a newspaper, have sex with his wife, and go to sleep.

    Every summer they took a two-week vacation in Cape Cod.

     He did not exist.

     He sat back against the wall, cradling the heavy object in his hand. Voices ran through his mind. He cradled his head in his hands, the object resting in his lab. He cried. The voices kept coming. These were his thoughts. They never stopped. Gradually, they quieted, and he snorted to himself. The house was still.
     He looked at the object in his lap.
     It was a gun.
     It was a loaded revolver. A .38 from a friend.
     He looked into the barrel. He realized he could only see a short distance down the barrel, because the light was bad.
     He opened up the cylinder, and checked the bullet. He wrote his initials on the side.
     He snorted again. He put the bullet back into the gun and spun the cylinder, slapping it back into the gun.
     Russian Roulette.
     He pulled the hammer back.

     As he looked into the barrel again, he thought of Shroedinger's cat. It was an exercise in scientific theory; the abandonment of simple common sense in favor of scientific pragmatism: the cat is neither alive nor dead until you open the box to see.

Friend: She's definitely lost some respect in my mind.

     He thought of the bullet. If he pulled the trigger, and the bullet was there, then he created the bullet, didn't he? But then, he quickly realized (for no realization was ever slow for him), the bullet would travel through his skull and remove the center of his brain and send it flying out the back of his head. He read somewhere that the brain would die before the signals could even reach it.

Therapist: But you are feeling better now?

     If he died before he felt the bullet, then how could it exist in the random chamber? The only way to prove that the bullet existed would be to pull the trigger and feel himself dying.

Girlfriend: Do you ever dream about me?

     He tasted the gun. It had a metallic, oily flavor. He closed his eyes. The thoughts never ceased.

Himself: I love you.

     He pulled the trigger.

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