by Remy Dou
On the second day of his three-day suicide attempt, Chris woke up feeling just fine. This frustrated a man of his caliber, who excelled at most things. Chris’ unique mind had propelled him to the highest statuses of the literary world. Millions of people read his poetry; his writings reverberated with the fragile souls most kept hidden in the inner confines of ignorance. He could do that because long ago he embraced the fragility of his own person.
Not one to give up easily on a task, Chris dressed and walked out the front door, grabbing the keys to his car. His reflection in the mirror framed above the key holder caught his attention. Beard stubble soiled his cheeks and jaw line, accentuating the age imposed on him by the bags under his eyes and lines quadrasecting his forehead. As if repulsed, the mirror pushed his alcohol-sodden breath toward him. Without reacting to the smell, Chris left the house.
The “Engine On” button of his coupe lit up. He drove back to the convenience store where he purchased the first bottle of painkillers. His father’s words buzzed quietly in the back of his mind, Don’t start anything you won’t follow through to the end. Swiftly, he pulled into an empty handicap space and walked straight toward the medicine isle.
The clerk smiled a polite smile. She was a cute girl with pretty eyes and auburn hair tied in a ponytail. He smiled back, placing the bottle of extra strength Tylenol on the counter.
“How’s your day going?” he asked.
“Good,” she said, scanning the bottle.
“Do you always wear your hair like that? It looks nice,” he said.
“Oh, thank you,” she said, a little surprised by the compliment. “I keep it like this at work.”
“My mother always wore her hair up. It accentuated her sharp features. She was very pretty like you,” he said.
The girl smiled again and wished him a good day. He did the same.
Walking back to the car, Chris peered across the street toward the liquor store. He made one more stop before returning home, picking up a liter of white rum.
Only a few days had passed since he decided suicide was his most reasonable final step. He came to that conclusion logically, without the sentiments of sadness or despair often expressed by those on the precipice of taking their lives. He had no children that he knew of, family he barely got along with, and only a little money left. He could write another collection of poems, meet a new lover, or take on a hobby, but he didn’t see an end in those things. He had done it all already.
Chris had taken full pleasure in his wealth and fame. As a young man he spent many months, on and off, traveling across Europe, eating the best foods, meeting high society, and making love to young women aspiring to become models or actresses. At the age of thirty-five he moved to south Florida where he married his first and only love. There, they purchased a large home in a quiet, private community. After the relationship’s demise, disillusionment drove Chris closer to the sun’s engrossing heat. So, he traveled to the Dominican Republic where he did nothing but drink with the men that gathered at a family owned café in Puerto Plata, write poetry, and sleep with prostitutes. At the age of fifty, Chris settled back in Florida, this time in Miami, closer to the family he had forgotten about—his father and younger brother.
Only one passion remained in his life: writing. He wrote about his childhood; he wrote about his many love affairs; he wrote about the emptiness he discovered in European nightclubs; some of his writings even flirted with activism, taking stances against the unjust treatment of political prisoners. Chris infused every poem with meaning, symbols, and allusions that transported readers to the streets, bars, and hotel rooms he wrote about. Reading his poetry was like consuming a drug that inoculated a person against apathy.
Yet, even writing lost its purpose. For him, the content of his poetry mattered less than the process of writing, so the day Chris fell out of love with the process he decided to find new ways to enjoy the money he amassed. A tiny part of him hoped the experiences would reinvigorate his passion for brining pen to paper. Instead, he discovered nothing gave him pleasure—not women, or alcohol, or traveling. In falling out of love with writing, he fell out of love with life.
Chris stood the bottle of rum on the coffee table beside the four suicide notes he had written—one for his father, one for his ex-wife, one for his nephew, and one for himself. He pressed down on the top of the Tylenol bottle to disarm the child-safety mechanism, twisted the cap off, and tipped a handful of pills onto his right palm. Trapping the pills in the cusp of his hand, he unscrewed the top of the rum bottle, took a swig, tossed the pills into his mouth, and chased them down with a second mouthful of rum.
Emblazoned with the names of their eventual recipients, the suicide notes clasped his eyes like magnets. He sat on the couch, staring at the letters, half-heartedly remembering their content. The one addressed to his father held a message from a son grateful for a happy childhood. To his ex-wife, he also left a message of gratitude for the years of joy she brought him, daintily glossing over the thorn that split them apart. Although he decided against writing to his brother, he spent some time thinking about whether or not to write a letter to his nephew. His nephew, an aspiring writer, admired him to no end. The final letter, addressed to himself, read like an autobiographical eulogy. It concluded with a recounting of the reasons for his action, as if reaffirming the soundness of his logic--the dignity of his decision.
Sitting back, his consciousness blew past trees of memories firmly planted in his mind. Caught in a gentle eddy of his past, his eyes glazed over for a few moments, his thoughts not quite settling on any particular branch. Slowly regaining awareness, losing sight of the forest, he tipped more pills into his mouth; the rum followed close behind. Three hours later, Chris passed out, an empty bottle in each hand.