Death of a Gollum

By, Andrew Burgess Linden

Death of a Gollum

It was a warm Wednesday Summer’s Eve in Asbury Park, everyone was content. The Tourists were out enjoying the local shops and restaurants along with the young adults from the next town over who are home from College to visit their family and friends; they are from a prominent community mostly Doctors, Lawyers and Business people. They usually never had to face hardship, they had enough money and political power to be able to make any inconvenience disappear so they can enjoy the good times their families embrace. It was the perfect place to come from and to raise a family, this brings us to our proud heroine Jackie.

Now Jackie wasn’t like most of the people in her town, Jackie came from a blue collar family in Burlington, her father a Fire Fighter her mother a tax collector. Her family were your standard Catholic Family, she went to church every Sunday. Jackie often questioned the way things were thus bringing her shame and embarrassment from the community around her. She was often the scape goat for her family’s problems; her brother Gene on the other hand was the golden child, he was smart and good looking, he was everything she was not. When Gene went to Annapolis, his parents and neighbors were thrilled. Jackie was secretly upset, because she flunked out her first semester at college. When Gene moved away Jackie packed up her Pinto and moved to Missouri because she knew her destiny wasn’t with her Catholic family.

Jackie went to Bible College, because she knew her destiny was as a Methodist Pastor. She worked really hard to get ahead and was a great student. She met a man by the name of Mike, a man whom she fell in love with and later got married and had a son named Jonathan. After moving back to New Jersey to live with her parents, friction came between the two of them and they split. Mike moved up North to Bud Lake and Jackie and her son Jonathan stayed with her parents until she finished Seminary at Drew University.

Jonathan was loved by Jackie’s parents, her father gave him every toy he ever wanted. Although he was somewhat hyperactive and got a little overboard like most toddlers, he was always loved. One day, Jackie was at Drew University with Jonathan and he ran off, Jackie was chasing him and eventually he ran into a man sporting a mullet and a Leather Jacket. Jackie apologized for Jonathan’s hyperactivity but the man said it was no problem and he introduced himself, his name was Matt. She and Matt talked for a bit, Matt was also in seminary and they had similar classes and professors. The two of them hit it off and eventually they started dating.

Jackie introduced Matt to her parents like most couples do. Jackie’s parents did not approve of Matt because of his looks and his past. Matt's father was also a Fire Chief and County Commissioner like Jackie’s father only his family life was more prominent. Matt had more friends than Jackie did growing up in the 70s. Matt like most teenagers in the 70s did drugs. Matt was a rebel without a cause and got in trouble with the law, but his family had enough money and influence to keep him out of trouble. Jackie was upset with this and they eventually eloped less than a year after they met. Jackie finished Seminary and got an appointment as a Pastor, then she and Matt had two Sons, one by the name of Ian and his older brother by two years Andrew.

This brings us back to 2014 in Asbury Park on that warm Summer’s Eve, Jackie had just got back from her meeting on Disability Ministry. She and Matt split up 7 years prior and Finalized their divorce two years later. Jonathan moved in with Mike, his Father, that same year after he partied too much and dropped out of college. Andrew and Ian were the only two left in her house, but they were never there at the same time as the two of them always fought as most Brothers do. She went up stairs and banged on Andrews door to get him to take out the trash. When she opened it, she saw Andrews blood all over the couch, a gun in his hand and a note on his dresser, he was dead.

Jackie was shocked, she wasted no time calling the cops to come and remove the body. They came to the scene, they knew it was an open and shut case. Andrew had attempted suicide before but he never followed through. Jackie was quiet throughout the whole thing, she was so shook she couldn’t utter a word. Matt drove over there with their son Ian as fast as possible from his apartment in the next town over. Matt was in tears and hysterical over the death of his first born son, meanwhile Ian pouted because he was in the middle of a movie when they stormed over. When the cops approached Jackie, they presented the gun and the note. The gun was legally obtained as Andrew followed the proper procedures a year prior, because he was planning it for some time; when the cops read the note, her heart sank.

It read:

- I can no longer live in a World where Justice is an illusion, where the meek are exploit and the elites can cause suffering and escape accountability because they run the system and the poor are removed for questioning their power and exposing their criminal behavior. I am tired of being an outcast, I’m tired of my existence being a burden, I am tired of being a Gollum. Goodbye. –

When the cops left, everything was quiet; Matt was pacing back and forth because he thought he was in a nightmare. Matt was diagnosed with cancer shortly after his divorce, he left the church to pursue a career in music to live his life on his terms. He often would take Andrew to his shows because music was one thing they had in common and it was a form of penance for the stress the church put him and his brothers through. He knew Andrew had few friends and could not live up to the expectations of being a preachers kid, Andrew would often sit in his bedroom playing Heavy Metal all night just to get to sleep. This was much to Jackie’s dismay because she hated the lyrics and the noise of the instruments, when Andrew was in High School she refused to allow him to have a lock on his door because the music bothered her and she mistrusted his privacy ever since she found Playboy’s in his room. He was the most upset of Andrew’s death.

Jackie called her oldest son Jonathan and told him about what happened. Jonathan was out with his friends after a long days work when he got the call, he told her that he would be there on the weekend because he was busy with his work. Jonathan worked as a Delivery driver for a local pizza place in North Jersey. Jonathan excelled the least academically out of all Jackie’s children but he was by far the most likable. He was never lonely and was the only one who would be apart of the parties Jackie’s cousins would throw, without Jackie being present of course. Jackie’s mother loved Jonathan the most because he was the only child that reminded her of her late husband. A year after Jackie married Matt, Jackie’s father died of a Heart Attack at the age of 56. He was a heavy smoker and drinker that would eat on average a pound of bacon each day, what really drove him over the edge was becoming a County Commissioner, the added stress was too much for his heart to handle. Jonathan would often be praised with gifts from Jackie’s mother much like her husband did before he passed, Jonathan would get more gifts and privileges than Andrew and Ian could ever dream of, much to their dismay. His life was good and his brothers knew it.

Ian was discontent, not because his brother killed himself, it was because of all the attention surrounding his brothers death. Ian and Andrew haven’t gotten along since Ian was nine; when they were younger they were both considered outcasts from their peers, only Andrew got the worst treatment. Ian had friends and had more support from his mother, he was an Eagle Scout and an honor student. He believed himself to be superior to his brother in every way and was often treated as such. Ian was incredibly violent towards Andrew, whenever he was mad at him he would pull knives on him and chase him out of the house. He knew his mother would never punish him because he was the Golden Child, even if she saw the violence before her eyes she would blame Andrew for provoking him because Ian had a brighter future and Andrew was the problem child. Ian would often laugh and joke about Andrew's complaints, whenever his voice cracked as he tried to utter a word he would laugh because his brother was just a toy to him. Ian’s father would give Andrew the attention that he so needed much to his dismay, because Ian felt that he was more deserving despite all the rewards and gifts everyone else gave him. Ian hated his father because he treated Andrew like a person, when everyone else saw him as an ugly Christmas ornament at best. To him, Andrew's death was like stepping in Dog Shit and was more of a nuisance than a loss.

Jackie was quiet about the whole thing, she was questioning where she went wrong. In her thoughts, a lifetime of her relationship with her son flashed by in a couple of minutes. Normally when she looked back at her children’s relationship with her, it was glossed over with nostalgia; she would always remember the trips to King’s Dominion and Disney World and the Cruise ships that they enjoyed, but this time it was different. She remembered the times Andrew was crying about the kids at school while she pushed him away to do work, the time she kicked him out of the house for refusing to do dishes, the time when he first attempted suicide she had him sent to the psych ward and she just heartlessly told the cops “I need my sick son removed”. She knew Andrew was being abused by teachers at school, but by the time he was in the 7th Grade she didn’t care about his well being, she only cared about making sure his problems didn’t embarrass her. She treated her son like a nuisance when he needed love and now he was dead.

Matt and Ian went back to his house in the next town over, leaving Jackie at home alone the rest of the night. Jackie could not sleep, at midnight Jackie was on the Andrew's couch with her dog, Rosie. Rosie was lying at her feet on the blanket covered in Andrew’s blood. Rosie was sad that she lost her brother and she knew her mother was in pain. Jackie was silent and still, nothing Rosie could do could cheer her up.

Jackie was remembering her childhood, she remembered how she was her parents problem child. Everything she had said to Andrew, was the same as her mother said to her when she left home for Missouri. When she lived in Missouri, she lost connection with her family. Without her mother in her life, only her cousin Barbara Ann and he friend Cheryl ever talked to her. Barbara Ann and Cheryl were two of the few friends she ever had, Barbara Ann being the only family who genuinely liked her. They were both close in age only being separated by a couple of months, they would do everything together. One time the two of them went to get tattoos, Barbara Ann got a Butterfly but Jackie backed out because seeing her cousin in pain caused her to back out. Barbara Ann was the only family member who treated her like family not because of cultural obligation, but out of genuine love, which is why she made her Andrew's godmother.

By the time morning came, Jackie went to the church next door. The staff heard about it from the neighbors, everyone was gossiping about what happened. Some of it was of remorse, some of it was vulgar. They knew Andrew was a burden, they figured this way it was less embarrassment than him dying of Drug overdose or going to prison. Jackie was hurt by these comments, because these were the same comments that drove her son to kill himself. She never paid attention to them, often times she would join them, only now she saw the damage she did and how serious they were.

Jackie went to her office, looked at the gun that Andrew used to kill himself. The police figured it was an open and shut case and returned the evidence to Jackie in a matter of hours. To them Andrew's death was just another insignificant chore for a job that they slave away for just for the paycheck. Jackie looked at it, she pondered about how something that can fit in her pocket can cause so much damage. She realized why Andrew chose this method of death, it was quick, painless and very effective. She knew the damage she caused, she knew the pain Andrew went through only now she can never truly apologize and make it up to him. She closed the door, put the revolver in her mouth, she said “Lord Forgive Me” and then less than a second later she was dead.

Two weeks later, Jackie’s family had a dual funeral, one funeral for both her and Andrew. Matt was giving the eulogy for both of them. He spent more time talking about Andrew than Jackie, as expected. Ian was unhappy about his mother’s death, he blamed Andrew for her suicide and spat in his ashes since both Andrew and Jackie were cremated. Jonathan didn’t talk much during the funeral ceremony, he was most active during the reception where he and his cousins were at the Bar drinking and telling stories about his family. Matt was embarrassed by both Ian and Jonathan’s antics as were Matt’s parents and Brothers.

Matt walked up to Ian to ask why he spit in his brothers ashes, Ian recoiled with anger towards his father. Matt and Jonathan tried to calm him down and Ian punched his cancer plagued father, knocking him to the ground. Ia mn then stormed out of the funeral taking his Grandfather’s Flag that was used in his funeral with him. Jonathan walked over to Matt and helped him up, Jonathan looked Matt in the eye with a calming yet blank expression on his face, nodded his head and then walked away. Matt, Ian or Jonathan never spoke to each other again after that day.

Matt would move away from New Jersey to Georgia, he would spend the rest of his life as a musician as he was in his High School and College days. We would go on to be featured on various radio stations and would perform various concert halls throughout the South. When the cancer finally came back, he made his way back North to his old church to give one last sermon. Upon the news of his return various old members, who no longer went, returned to the church to see their Pastor preach for one last time. His funeral was quiet, Ian and Jonathan never came. His Ashes were split and kept in three locations; one being in Georgia where he performed, the other in his old church and one being kept in a family plot next to his mom and dad.

Ian would go on to become a civil engineer, he would often let the mental demands of the job consume him. In his thirties, being romantically lonely, he would marry the first girl who said yes. A few years after the wedding, he had two sons. He and his wife would always argue, sometimes over money, sometimes over family and sometimes it was over nothing. One day over come by Stress and Anger he balled up his fist and punched her repeatedly putting her in the hospital. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison but got out in two. When he got out, he saw he had nothing; both his children hated him, his wife remarried, he had no job prospects and he had no friends or relatives who wanted anything to do with him. He grabbed his Shotgun, put it in his mouth and just like his mother and brother before him, in less than one second he was dead. There was no funeral, nor cremation, his body is kept at the city morgue.

Jonathan was the only person who stayed in touch with his mother’s family. He would often visit his grandmother telling stories and sharing news. When he introduced her to his new Fiancée, she was filled with joy. The wedding was filled with drunken laughter and mummer music, which was the family custom. When his Grandmother was on her death bed, Jonathan introduced her to his first born son, Jack. She was filled with tears of joy when she learned he named his first born after her late husband, she passed right then and there with a smile on her face and baby Jack in her arms. Jonathan though not being the best academically, would go on to be a Factory manager and eventually following in his Grandfather’s footsteps in politics. On his desk in his county office are three pictures of his family; the first one was of him with his wife and children, the second one was of him with his mother and grandparents, the final one was of him and his brothers which he usually kept in a drawer in his desk. Every time he would take out the picture of him and his brothers, a tear would roll down his face and would remember the time he spent with them. He would look closely at his brother Andrew’s face, his voice would crack when he said “I’m sorry”. He would but the picture away and go back to business.


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Andrew Burgess-Linden
Andrew Burgess-Linden
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