Joe was going crazy at home, he was having anxiety all day to the point where he had to leave the house and walk to clear his head. Only twenty-four years old and he was already losing his mind. It was 12am on a Saturday so he was going to walk to the bar three miles from his house to the city where he liked to sit and watch people. He’d sit around at the park, chain smoking, looking at all the tourist, locals, and city workers all walk by and sonder. Where do all these people go after work, after the night is over, do they like their jobs? Do they have secrets I cannot see? All these thoughts and questions would wash over him like a tsunami to the point where he would forget what he was worrying about, what was causing his own anxiety.
Once, less and less people stopped walking around and the people would disappear, he would then begin to start thinking why he was having so much anxiety, he tried to avoid it for so long but he also wondered about himself. All the people he was looking at were all going somewhere to someone or something, but where was Joe going to? Not home, but in life? Should he just give up on trying to become a writer and just work an ordinary job like all his high school friends? Have kids, start a family and hate his job and life everyday?. That thought made him more depress, he wanted to write, write away all his thoughts and form them into stories, all the events he’s been through, make them all into stories, poems, novels and just change a bit of it to make it more exciting. It seemed like a wild dream to him, a pipe dream, something unattainable, impossible, stupid, and plain wrong. He had it set that he had to do what his parents and everyone around him wanted him to do. Live a boring dull life, as long as you finish school and have a job. Joe started to walk, his heart was racing again for staying stuck in his head so long, hung up on his thoughts, he walked to the nearest bar.
Drinking always helped him, it helped the heart from racing so fast. The dependance people had on him was too much for him, sticking around and living a boring life scared him, or sticking around and keep writing forever to something picked up but he felt his stories, poems, ideas, and thoughts would never be good enough. Not like the great Hemingway, Twain, Faulkner, and Steinbeck. Then he think of suicide, it was a cowardly way to go but it was an instant answer to his problems, once he is gone then all his problems would be gone too.
Joe ordered a beer and shot when he got to the bar, he’d take the shot first, slam it on the bar, then walk outside to smoke the last few cigarettes he had left and just sit, pull out his little note book, and write down his thoughts. He wrote down how he thought of suicide like it was normal. He would ask himself, which way is the best way out? Pain did not scare him, nor did death, so he wanted the fastest way. He had two ideas in mind, go out the poetic way like Russian poet, Yesenin, who wrote his last poem/suicide note in his own blood before hanging himself or— take a bullet to the head the fast way like novelist, John O’Brien. Getting rope was not a problem, doing the noose knot, looking for a good place to tie the rope, then write a note that would mean absolutely nothing to him because he cared not for who found him or who would miss him, should it be in blood? Or feces?. He began to laugh to himself outside with his cigarette in his hand, alone, how funny it would be to write a note in shit? Would anyone touch it and take it serious? With his body hanging in the corner, he thought. Then the thought of the gun seemed to hard, he’s been committed three times, no way could he buy a pistol at a gun store, unless it was a gun off the street. His friend, Alex, knew people who sold illegal guns, should he get a pistol or get a shotgun and blow his brains out like Papa Hemingway?. He chose the shotgun. It is quick, easy, couple hundred bucks, and he can have a closed casket so no-one would see his dead face covered in make up if who ever wanted to bury him or easier, cremate him.
Three days later, Joe had his notebook with all the pros and cons if he should do it or not. All answers pointed to yes. Things would be easier this way, for himself and everyone else. He called, Alex that morning to meet up at the bar when he was free, Alex told him to meet at Zoe’s Bar down the street at 8pm that night. Hopefully, Alex still had his connect, and he would get to meet up the person. He kept thinking the whole day about how his face would look with a gapping hole.
Joe stayed home most of the day writing short stories about people dying by murder that would involve love triangles, drug deals, and domestic abuse. He even wrote one about love. It was about man who fell for a woman who was on a death trip when the man meet her at a bar, she was always on pills or psychedelics, the man would listen to her saying she saw nothing else after life, even though she was successful, she just wanted to go, every time he listened to her, it felt like listening to a motivational speaker or a philosopher. She was really motivated and convincing, to one day the guy asked her if she’d ever fallen in love and she said no. At the end of the story the guy and woman fell in love and he and her moved and lived together happily ever after. Really good story, Joe had talent, he really did, he was just unmotivated trying to push his writing further. He just felt some of his stuff was too dark for the simple reader or human being. It was the works of a psycho, he’d say.
After four short stories and eighteen poems later just sipping on scotch, Joe remembered he was going to kill himself soon, he wondered if he should destroy all his writings. Do I want people to find these and think I’m crazy? Or should I leave them here for everyone to find? He thought long on hard but he put too much work into them so he decided he didn’t care if they found them or not, next to his body. He had about 200 or more poems about whatever a sick minded person would come up with and 100 or less complex short stories ranging from love, death, loss, drugs, stories from people he’s meet along the way in life and some personal stories he went through and he had two novels he had not finished yet, about love and one about a serial killer. All these he left on his desk where he’d sit and write. It was a pile of papers piled up, he preferred the pen and paper to the type writer, something about the pain in his wrist from hurting so long would push him to keep writing and ignore the pain and enjoy it. He placed them in separate stacks for who ever was crazy enough to read them or even touch them.
Eight o’clock rolled around and he got dressed and made his way to the bar to meet Alex. As he walked he’d look at all the cars passing by and the people walking the streets and sonder. None of these people knew what was on his mind, that he was going to kill himself, will he come out on the news? He thought.
Local man kills with himself with a shotgun to the mouth, letter found at the scene prove the man was mentally ill and he planned his death from 1989 when he wrote his first letter about death. Mental illness is at a sky high and no-one talks about it, come back at the 10 o’clock news night beat where we will have psychiatric professor who will sit with us and talk about mental illness
Joe laughed really hard, he could hear the old news woman’s voice in his head while her turkey neck wobbled left to right. He did not want to have his name in her mouth, it was disgusting to think about. He stopped by the store to buy a carton of cigarettes so he would have enough to the time came and he can enjoy his last one before his brains hit the ceiling and the blood filled the floor with new paint.
He opened the door to the bar and everyone greeted him, he was a regular there, it was right down the street from his house and he like to go there and enjoy his whiskey and write or read outside alone where everyone would approach him and ask him what he was reading or writing, some of these barflies found him strange and down right weird but they all had something in common, drinking late nights to being drunk off their asses.
Alex was sitting at the bar alone talking to, Denise, the bartender. Joe approached him, asked the bartender for two beers and two shots, shook hands with Alex and gave him the bottle and glass and asked him to meet him outside for a smoke. Joe paid for the drinks, tipped Denise $4 for each drink, as he was walking out, he stopped, took out a $20 and gave it to her, told her it was a tip, she exploded with happiness and thanked, Joe. He made his way out and Alex was standing there, sipping his beer, Joe lit his last cigarette from his box with his match. This would be the last time he’d smoke at Zoe’s Bar and drink his last round with a good friend. Joe went straight forward and was blunt and asked him if he had his connect with the guns still.
“Do you still have that connect with the guns?” Joe asked
“I don’t, man.” Alex said
“My buddy killed himself with one of the guns and all the cops confiscated all his guns”
Shit, Joe thought to himself, his heart dropped, he started to think what to do now, Alex was still talking about his friend but Joe was not paying attention, all sound was drowned out, he was just thinking what to do now.
“I gotta go…” Joe said
He swallowed his shot and gulped the beer in eight-seconds. Then walked out through the back door and made his way back to the house to think. He opened the carton of cigarettes he bought, took a box out, peeled off the cellophane and reached for the matches in his pocket to light his cigarette.
At home, Joe, smoked about three boxes already, and finished an eighth of scotch, his mind was racing, he kept thinking if it was a sign to wait or maybe to continue with the plan, but the only thing left was to use a noose or not do it at all, just stay alive, but that thought of staying alive made him mad. He had his mind set already that he was going to do it, why go back? Just because someone told him that someone else killed themselves? Maybe they were on the same road as Joe.
Time passed and it was already 1am, Joe had to make a decision now or never so he left the house to the corner store for some rope. “Fuck it," he said to himself. On his way to the store he went in, bought some rope, the thickest he could find and walked out the store with it after paying. Walked home in the dark with his cigarette in his hand when a woman approached him.
“Can I have a cigarette, please?”, she asked.
“I’ll pay you $1 for it”
“Don’t worry mama, I got you," Joe said and gave her four cigarettes from his box.
“Oh my god, thank you so much, you don’t know the day I’ve had, I really needed one of these, all I have is $1, now I’m gonna just go home and drink myself! Thank you again!”. She continued on her way.
She was a beautiful woman, a little older than Joe but she was pretty, why not ask her if she wants a drink, one last one with a stranger, he thought to himself.
“Hey! Miss!” Joe yelled out
“Yes?”, she walked toward Joe.
“Would you like to have a drink with a complete stranger right now? Meaning myself, I have a carton at home and a gallon of scotch?”
“Really?” She said as her face glowed up.
“Yeah, sure, I’m down on my luck too so, I’m going to just drink at home, smoke, and listen to some blues," he said.
“You live close by?”
“Yeah, just right down the street, I came to the store to buy something.”
“All right sure, why not, I can go for some blues," she said.
“You like Muddy Waters?”, Joe asked.
“Oh, yes! and Bessie Smith!”
“All right, lets go, I’m Joe by the way”
“My name is Cassie, nice to meet you Joe.”
They shook hands and smoked on the way to Joe’s house, walking side by side.
Cassie was a beautiful caucasian woman, with blonde curly hair, slim body with nice long legs, she wore a tan coat and a scarf around her neck to protect herself from the cold wind. It was below 40 that night, Joe had the heater running at his house, he was wondering if she was fat under that coat maybe.
They got inside the house, the door swung open swiftly, the wind made it hard to close the door. He took her coat off for her, took her scarf and placed it on the coat hanger by the door. And there it was, her beautiful body it was just as he imagined it would be, those legs had to match that body, he thought.
“You can go to the living room, I’ll get the bottle, the carton and some records”, Joe said
“All right, I like mine dry, please”
Joe grabbed some glasses, some blue folk records, and the rest of the cigarettes in the carton, along with an ashtray from the kitchen, then made his way to the living room.
“Did you write all these! They are so amazing!”, Cassie yelled.
“DON’T READ THOSE!” Joe yelled, he ran fast to the room, his heart was pumping, he wanted to at least have a drink with someone before freaking them out with his writings and hanging himself.
He got into the room and Cassie was already on her 3rd poem that Joe wrote, he saw her face and she was just reading with glow, enjoyment and a face full of strangeness, as if she could not get enough.
“I’m sorry I yelled, those are some of my writings, I’ve never had anyone read them before, they are private to me”
“Joe… these are really good! Are you a writer? Did you write all these piles of paper on the desk?” She asked
“They are mine, I want to become a writer but, I feel they are scribbling of a mad man, I don’t want to scare you off or anyone who ever reads them”
“I write myself as well, mostly poems and in my diary, it helps me with my anxiety”
“You really like them?”
“Oh yes, Joe, I want to read them all!”
“Fine, go ahead, I’m going to just pour the drinks and listen to music”
“If you want I can stop, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to get into your’er personal belongings, i’ll put them down.” Cassie placed them on the same stack where he had the poems separated.
Joe thought maybe to just let her read them, it’s not like it’s gonna change anything, he’s still going to hang himself after she leaves.
“You can read them, Cassie, I don’t mind”
“Really? Can I ask you a question about this one? What you were thinking or going through?”
“Which one?”, he asked.
“This one” Cassie read it out loud.
I cannot remember her face
For the life of me
But her death
“That one was for my grandmother, she died not to long ago and its hurt me for a long time, still does, I wrote that trying to remember her face in my head and hear her voice but its too hard, all I could think of is her dying, so I wrote that for her, it's a littler dark but it means a lot to me, even though its seventeen words.”
“I really like it Joe, I’m gonna get the whole stack and read them, if you don’t mind”
She got up and got the whole stack of poems. Joe poured two scotches, put on Etta James on the record player, lit a cigarette for himself and Cassie, sat back down and watched Cassie read his most personal belongings in the world. He did not care, she enjoyed them, he wasn’t even surprised, maybe she was as mad as he was.
They sat in silence and let Etta James do all the talking, Joe just enjoyed the nicotine high, as it went from his brain to the bottom of his spine. Good music and a cigarette always gave Joe that euphoric feeling.
“So, how you doing over there?”, Joe asked.
“Im sorry, I’m so into them, I’m already on the 15th one, you have to have hundreds here.”
“200 or more to be exact”, Joe said.
“Here, hand me one, ill read it to you how it sounded in my head during the time I wrote it”
Cassie handed him all of them.
“I want to hear you read all of them, please—“, Cassie asked.
Cassie fell asleep on the couch listening to Joe, she only had four glasses of scotch and twelve cigarettes. He read about forty poems to her, to he noticed she was comfortably asleep, laid up on the couch, with the pillow and the cigarette in her hand still, also a full glass of her 5th scotch. Joe covered her up, it was 6am and the sky was nearly bright blue with the sun almost peeking through the curtains. Otis Redding was playing the record player still. He got up and covered her with a blanket.
His night was not supposed to go on this long, he went to the kitchen with his cigarette and scotch, opened the bag up with the rope and thought if he should do it still. Should he do it while she’s there asleep, he thought. He promised nothing was going to stop him so he finished the scotch, looked around the house where would be the best place that could hold the rope long enough to asphyxiate himself. He didn’t want her to find him so he went to the bedroom, saw the coat hanger in the closet, tested it with his weight, and it was perfect. He tied the noose then tied the rope on the hanger, sat up on his bed one last time, smoked the rest of his cigarette, then went into the closet, closed the door, put the noose around his neck then let his weight loose. It tighten perfectly and he let the rope tighten around his carotid artery. He let his weight hang as his feet touched the ground, he thought nothing but just wishing he had the gun to make it faster. After a couple of minutes he felt his face finally begin to bloat up and go cold. He felt no pain, just the pain of having to wait so long. Then at that very second when he felt his eyes begin to feel like they were going to burst and his vision go black, CLING! THUMP!. The damn coat hanger fell and hit him right in the head and he fell right on his ass on to his back, he gasp for air. “Son of a bitch”, he said, with his voice cracking. The coat hanger had came loose when the wood holding it up broke off. All his cloths had fallen on top of him and covered him him like a blanket. He gained back his composure, got up, lit a cigarette but it was too hard for him to inhale the smoke.
“Joe?”, Cassie opened the door to the bedroom and Joe still had the noose around his neck, she looked at Joe and saw all the cloths in the closet on the floor and the pole that held the cloths on and Joe also.
“Wow, you really tried it, didn’t you?”
“I knew by your writings you had something planned, I could tell last night too when I asked you for a cigarette”
Joe said nothing.
Cassie walked up to Joe, gave him a bottle of Xanax.
“These are enough for both of us to sleep forever, its painless and I heard you get the best high before you sleep”
“Are you sure you want to do this with me?, I didn’t want you to find me, thats why I did it in the closet”
Cassie kissed Joe violently but yet passionately, as if she and him were long time lovers. He kissed her back and held her face and his other hand behind her head with his fingers entwined in her hair. They fell on the bed, Cassie got on top of Joe and undressed herself for him then undressed him, they made love even though they were complete strangers but it was the act of making love with the person you love for so long and so many years.
They laid in bed together naked after, with her head on his shoulder and his arm around her. They had stayed up talking to the afternoon. They were both as miserable with life, not scared of death or pain, felt they both be better off without anyone thinking about them and just wanted to die. She had lost her job that night and felt like a failure, she was going to go home that night, drink the Xanax and die.
“I don’t think I want to die, now that I’ve meet you, Joe, I think we can be together and help each other but if you really want to go, then I’m with you. Your’er a beautiful writer, I want to help you and support you, to get it all out and stop hiding it from everyone”
“I don’t think I have what it takes anymore, I am happy to have meet you but I promised myself I would do this, to kill myself. I feel the same about you, you are the first person to read my writings and like them but, I think I’m better off dead, Cassie”
“Fine, I’m with you Joe, we have enough to sleep forever.”
“Are you sure you want to do this? there is no turning back, Cass”
They shared the pills together and feed them to one another with the rest of the scotch. The whole bottle was gone as they counted them all. They took the same amount of pills, laid back down together under the blankets with her on top of his arm, he lit a cigarette and they shared it together, taking puffs, back to back to they finished it to the filter.
Cassie threw her arm around Joes chest and he held her tight as they laid nude. They closed their eyes as he told her a story on the top of his mind to his voice became faint and she slept on his chest. Joe closed his eyes too and fell asleep with her. He then had a dream. The dream was him in a forest, where the sun was shinning through the tall red trees, he began walking, trying to find out where he was at, to he came to a clear path, he walked along it. The path took him to a giant opening of land with a large boulder in the center, he walked towards it. Once he got to it, he began to climb it but it was difficult without shoes as he was bear footed. He got to the top and his feet, hands, knees, elbows, forearms, chest and, ribs were covered in scratches. He bled very lightly and he started to explore the top to he saw his grandmother standing there with her back towards him, she was in a white gown, she was bare footed as well but unscathed like Joe. He approached her slowly, he could feel the hairs on his neck standing and that same euphoric feeling from his cigarettes. He could feel the bottom of his spine burning. A few inches away, his grandmother turned.
“Why Joe? Why give up that easily? Did I not teach you better than that? You know suicide is a sin, you have lost your way. That clear path you walked to here is yours and you strayed away from it and gotten lost but now you're here, that’s all that matters”
“I don’t know what to do anymore, I lost myself when you died, I’m so lost”
“You are not, now that you have found the path and have seen me, you can continue, you just have to let go, let go of all your fears. You are never alone, I watch you everyday. I have seen the good, sadness, and loneliness you hold on to like a trophy, you have happiness in you but you hide it, don’t.
“I cant find it, I’ve tried to but it's not there. I need you”
“Once you step off this ledge and let go, let go of hope of ever seeing me then you will find it”
Joe looked down the ledge, it seemed like a boulder he climbed but now it was thousand of miles down like a mountain, his heart dropped and his throat felt like his heart was going to burst out his mouth.
“Go, walk off it, and you will see”
“Is this a dream? Or am I in the afterlife? I don’t want to leave you again, grandmother”
“Go, Joe, you have seen me now, just let go and you will find the happiness you hide. This will be the last time I see you, if you stay then you will never see me again either way.”
Joe let one leg over the ledge and closed his eyes, he could feel his stomach dropping, his heart racing, his throat ready to pop.
“No, I’m going to choose my way, I choose death and thats where ill stay”
He turned around and his grandmother was gone. He looked around but saw only the top of the cliff he was on with the clouds floating and the white caps across the trees in the ocean
“Fuck it,” Joe jumped.
He awoke, it was the afternoon of that following day, Cassie was gone. A note laid on the pillow.
If you wake up, call me, 793-6583
A kiss was on the note with a soft pink lip stick. Joe woke up happy for once for the longest time in his life. He would call her right there and then, she then answered after the 2nd ring, they would make plans for coffee downtown which would follow with shared cigarettes, long kisses and hugs.
From then on, most of his poems turned from dark thoughts to love poems about Cass, his love for her, poems about getting over loss, depression, obsessions with death. She helped filter his mind and drained it from its dark place and its pure mad insanity.
Cass helped him publish his work, get his writings out there. Once his writings hit book paper and shelfs, most of his dark writings were a hit than his new found love for life with his new woman. Everyone is in a dark place or has been in a dark place in their life. Everyone loses their way, its either up to you to change that or open up to someone to help you out because we all need a helping hand. He would then reply to all his fan mail with the help of his new wife, Cass. All the young adults, adults, and all who thanked him for help them for getting the words on paper that they could not. Joe would continue with his writing with Case by his side and wrote a novel dedicated to her and his grandmother.