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The following is a historical fiction reworking of the tragic story of one Jack Thayer, a real survivor of the sinking of the RMS Titanic; it is an attempt to get into the headspace of a man for whom paying witness to the demise of the world’s grandest ship is only one in a string of tragedies. TW: Suicide

By Koby SampsonPublished 2 years ago 5 min read
Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

Glenn Miller drooled out of the radio.

Blue Orchids.

He had numbly, faintly pressed the accelerator for some miles, from Haverford, past Ardmore and Wynnewood, really paying no attention at all to the road or the others he shared it with this night, and sputtered in aimless circles around the city proper until he gave out at 48th and Parkside.

Jack switched the ignition off and put the key in its place in his lapel pocket. It occurred to him that he wouldn’t be needing it anymore, but he couldn’t be bothered to think up a more appropriate place for the police to discover it than in the pocket of his rayon-wool jacket.

In a crinkled bag in the passenger seat lay a pint of I.W. Harper and a pack of Chesterfields.

He could still see confetti in the streets.

He could not rejoice with the living as the world was saved from the brink, his whole world was downed in the Pacific in ‘43 and presumed dead.

Jack still found himself staring at the folded American flag encased in glass on his wall, wondering how this could have been a worthy trade. From out the womb onwards, he looked into Edward’s eyes and saw the ingredients for ecstatic success and had to stop himself from being overcome with glittering visions of his future and progeny; and then through events that Jack wasn’t sure whether he wanted to be fate or galactic folly, the bavarian bastard ranted and railed in the beer hall and the newsreels and brought the heinous capacities of the world entire to meet at the brink of all existence.

The void took Eddie and the former world.

Now instead of waking from visions of choking life vests and the black depths of the Atlantic, he had to be consoled from the vestiges of slumber troubled with a myriad possible fates Eddie might have befallen.

He hoped beyond hope that Eddie felt nothing, that one second he was up in his flying fortress and the next was either infinite nothing or infinite something. He hoped the belly of the plane was struck by a shell that consumed him immediately and that he did not have to thrash about in terror for his parachute or become trapped in the gigantic coffin of American steel as it hurtled back to earth.

If he was captured…

Jack had had dreams.

There were whispers in the papers about how prisoners were treated, on both fronts.

If Eddie had been captured…

Mother had to console him.

“Oh Jesus…”

Despite his best efforts, he’d cried at her wake. His handkerchief could only disguise the moisture on his face, but not his shuddering shoulders and broken countenance. The boys from the University had seen the old man cry over his mother.

Last night he’d dreamt of both Eddie’s and poor Milton Long’s bodies laying half-buried in gray sediment at the bottom of the ocean, though they rested in opposite seas. There was some beauty in the suspended disbelief and disregard for corporeal logic that dreams offered. They were both about the same age.

He had last seen Milton on the near-perpendicular stern, trying to avoid sliding down the long galley straight into the deep. Jack had lost his own father in the fray soon after seeing Mother onto a lifeboat.

“Jesus, mother…”

She’d passed last year on the anniversary of the sinking.

“The goddamned anniversary…”

He’d rarely taken the Lord’s name in vain. He’d never partaken in drink before five, either.

A gun would be far too loud. He found the idea distasteful. He had a Walther in his desk, and there the Walther remained. If his wife grew concerned and she or the maid found the gun missing from his desk…

Those were alarms that he didn’t feel his passing deserved.

He would go quietly.

Jack wanted to go quietly in a dark corner, away with his face hidden.

He still had the painted model Spitfires that he and Eddie had done together. They had been hanging in his bedroom for the better part of adolescence, and when in a fit of molting of childishness he wished to dispose of them, Jack stepped in and saved them from the rubbish bin.

When he had last been to California, he took one along with him so that he could deposit it in the ocean where Eddie lay in place of scattering worldly possessions in a coffin with the body.

Jack went limp and his head hit the wheel. He spasmed with sobs and tears ran down the horn.

He cracked open the Harper and without hesitation sent the burning ichor down the hatch.

“They’ll be fine.”

They’ll be okay without your old husk hobbling about. Your affairs are in order.

You have your ticket.

He took the paper bag by the end and emptied the blades.

You won’t have to worry about anything ever again, old boy.


Jack stuck the butt of a Chesterfield in his lips and lit the end, drawing the sweet smoke deep into himself.

It was dusk now, and the laundry hung between tenements stirred gently in the chilled breeze.

There’s more for you at the other shore. They’re all waiting and likely rather sick of watching you flounder. Go be with them.

He rolled his window down and tossed his butt while still halfway done and got another one going. He wanted to feast on them. The air touched upon the layer of flop sweat from the liquor. The back of his collar was cool.

Jack tilted the bottle back and swallowed hard until he just about retched. His head became heavy and yet seemingly light.

He turned the radio up. More Glen Miller. He’d been lost over the sea as well.

The moon hung over the rooftops when he decided to punch his ticket.

He rolled up his sleeves and unwrapped the blades. He would have to be quick once he started. The thin intoxicated blood would run quicker.

Jack rolled the window up and commenced.

The blades ran true and it hurt little. By the time he took to cutting his throat, he didn’t feel much of anything, not even the hot crimson streaming down his clothes.

He had no almost no time to drop the razor and lay his head down over the wheel before he felt everything floating away.

Glen Miller drooled out of the radio.


About the Creator

Koby Sampson

I’ve been a writer since I was about eight years old, and am now looking to make the transition to professional writer. If I could get paid to do this, each day would be better than the last.

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