Solutions to the problems in lateral thinking puzzles:

  1. The man had been in the Navy, and was shipwrecked on an island with his crewmates. Some died of starvation, but the captain kept the rest alive by feeding them what he said was "albatross soup." When the man discovered how different the restaurant's albatross soup tasted, he knew he had really been eating his dead shipmates, and he killed himself out of guilt.
  2. The man was a radio DJ who had gotten himself in trouble with the Mob (or any threatening group). He had put on an old recording of his show so his pursuers would think he was at work, and was attempting to skip town while the ringer show was broadcasting. However, he was listening to the show in his car, and heard the record start to skip (reel-to-reel go wobbly, CD do whatever it is CDs do when they mess up... pick one), and he knew his antagonists would catch on and come looking for him. He killed himself preemptively. (People commit suicide easily in these stories.)
  3. The man was a blind midget, and was part of a sideshow act, billed as "The World's Shortest Man." The other midget travelling with the sideshow was seized with professional jealousy because this man was shorter than he. He contrived to saw small pieces, one every week or so, from the bottom of the blind man's cane. The World's Shortest Man noticed that his cane felt too short, and became convinced he was growing. He killed himself rather than lose his job, or possibly out of shame.
  4. The man was also in the Navy, probably with the guy from Albatross Soup. He was also shipwrecked, and spent several weeks in a lifeboat with two shipmates, one of whom was a doctor. After their food ran out, and they were desperate, they decided to have the doctor amputate their arms so they could have something to eat... but of course, he couldn't amputate his own arm, and they weren't so keen on letting him get away scott free. They came to an agreement: They would remove and eat one arm from each person besides the doctor, as long as he agreed to have his own arm removed when they were rescued. It was the doctor's arm in the package; he sent it to both of the others so they could verify that he held up his end of the deal. (A variant of this puzzle has one shipmate running into the doctor in a subway, then shooting him because he notices him holding the pole with his supposedly-amputated arm... the doctor had paid off a drifter to let him remove his arm, and sent that arm to the others.)
  5. The man has been fishing and caught a huge fish. He took fish, pole and gear into the phone booth to call a friend about his success. While he was saying "I caught a fish THIS BIG!" and doing the accompanying gesture, he put his hands through the sides of the phone booth and cut his wrists on the broken glass.
  6. The man is blind, and is swimming in the harbor. When it's time for him to come in, his wife is supposed to ring a bell to let him know which way to swim to get to shore. However, a buoy bell tolls first, and the man, thinking it was his wife's signal, swims out towards the buoy. He becomes exhausted and drowns.
  7. The man is a lighthouse keeper, and the light he turned off was the one on top of the lighthouse. In the morning he sees that an ocean liner has crashed into the rocks, killing everyone aboard. He kills himself out of guilt.
  8. He is homeless, and has been eating from a dumpster outside a Japanese restaurant. Unfortunately, what he found were the rejected parts of a fugu, and he died of the poison.
  9. The man was going in for an MRI, because he thought he might have a brain tumor. However, unbeknownst to him, a doctor had left a metal instrument inside him during an earlier surgery (let's say a stomach operation). The MRI's powerful magnet ripped the instrument out of his abdomen. (I like this one 'cause it's gross!)