Short story

It’s funny how things are never as they seem. I never thought that being this close to death would be this scary, this easy. And it’s so much heavier then I thought it would be. It feels like my hand is tied to the table by invisible ropes. Unbelievable power. Impossible odds. I have this theory that Death is different for everybody.

My death is a four-ounce ball of lead.

Sweat rolls down my forehead and into my eye. It stings. Somehow I break my non-existent bonds and lift the gun to my head. It’s cold.

I thought about calling one of those hope hotlines, but I know what they’ll tell me. You have so much to live for. What if I don’t, I’ll tell them. My wife has been sleeping with my boss. My boss fired me for taking a day off to spend with my son. My son was awarded to my wife in the divorce. The divorce took my house and my car and my money. What do I have to live for, I’ll ask them, and they won’t answer. They can’t answer. There is no answer. And then I remember how cold the barrel is.

Ice can burn as much as fire.

I’ve never really been quick on the uptake. So, I never really spot irony when it’s staring me in the face. When I was fourteen, my father got into some trouble with a casino and swallowed a bottle of painkillers. This time I see the irony. I’m not laughing. What I find funny is the fact that every time I do see the irony of a situation, I’d rather not.

Irony is never ironic if everyone sees it.

I grip the handle tighter and push the barrel harder against my temple. I’m not sure why, I won’t miss from this distance. Squeeze; don’t pull. How I’m thinking of gun etiquette right now is beyond me. Squeeze; don’t pull. Keep the safety on until you’re sure of your shot. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. I kill me.

Does technique matter if the outcome is successful?

I played basketball in high school. I even started two games because our starter hurt his shoulder. I made one basket in four years. You couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. I’ve never even seen a barn in person. Is that something I wish I had seen? No. I don’t care for animals. Cows have the perfect life.

Eat. Sleep. Be led to slaughter.

In the movies, when someone knows they are going to die, they think about how great or sad their life was. When I read articles about inmates on death row, they talk about all the things they wish they had or had not done. When people talk about other people’s death, they say they wish they could have finished that last book. That last opera. A final song. The perfect role. I have no regrets. I fell in love and had a son.

Happiness is watching your son take his first steps.

My thumb finds the safety and releases it. I think of Job. He lost his farm, his food, his wife, his kids, everything he had. But he didn’t kill himself. He didn’t turn from God. I think of all those kids who listen to rock music and then kill themselves. I think about Gandhi whose life, by choice, was much worse then most people. I think about Moses, who would’ve killed his own son if God had not told him to stop. Killing your child is ten thousand times harder than killing yourself.

The child should bury the parent.

I decided not to write a note or leave a will. I’m not an organ donor. I don’t subscribe to the courtesies of life. If I’m dead, then I won’t get to see the spoils of my kindness. If I could see the reactions to my kindness, no one would be grateful. I cheated on my taxes. I never voted. I think about the things that other people do and I never did and I don’t care.

One man’s truth is another man’s deception.

I see all these magazines that tell people that they’re not thin enough. That they don’t have nice enough clothes. That they’re hair is ugly. Then I see all the people who say these magazines make these beautiful girls think they’re ugly. That the magazines make the fat teenagers think there’s something wrong with being fat. I think they’re both wrong. If a kid wants to be fat, let them be fat. If a person wants to be thin, let them be thin. If you want to do it, then do it.

Happiness is all that matters.

I’d rather not go through with this. I’d like to put the piece of metal in my hand back on the table. I’d like to close my eyes and wake up into my old life. I’ve never backed out of anything before in my life. I’m not going to start in my death. I didn’t leave my wife when I found out about her affair. I didn’t quit the basketball team. I stick to my commitments.

I cock the hammer.

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