I began to commit suicide on a nightly basis. The most convenient time for me was right before bed. Instead of going straight to bed I would kill myself. The next morning I’d awaken, for want of a better term, often in odd areas of my apartment and dressed in strange attire. Once I woke up in the crawl space between my roof and bathroom ceiling garbed in a bathrobe much too large for me. It looked like it came from Kohl’s, off the XXX-large rack. That occurrence marked my twelfth suicide. To put it mildly, I was confused.
After each suicide I felt much the same. That is, fairly well rested, so hungry I could eat the hind leg of a horse, but still disoriented and, above all else, suicidal. I was fully aware, after coming around, that I was going to repeat the whole sordid process again that night. Oh, I don’t mean that I saw my regrettable life recur in every detail while I stood by stunned, a helpless witness. Each day and each suicide was unique. I recalled the details of all my self-slaughters, and endlessly pondered their shortcomings. Why weren’t they more deadly?
Was the .38 Special that I was nightly blowing my brains out with in good working order? It was. I kept testing it at the local gun range and, when the neighbors were away, I took potshots at the idiotic crows in my tree out back. It was a good gun. Yet it left no bits of my skull on the bedroom wall, no blood or powder burns, no holes in me anywhere. This was disheartening.
I decided the thing to do was to kill myself at a different time of day. Perhaps bedtime had something to do with my lack of success. So I began putting a bullet through my right temple after watching the evening news on TV. This occurred a full hour before bedtime, and so was definitely a change. I tried this three times, but it made no dent in my mortality whatever. I awakened, again a farcical term, in my bed the next morning as I always did, rarin’ to go except for a nagging conviction that I’d be better off dead.
I then tried killing myself right after breakfast. There was something about the promise of a new day, accented by a cup of fresh coffee, that suggested to me that this might be the perfect time to blow my brains out. This brought about an odd result. I didn’t die, in the ordinary sense, but began showing up to work fifteen to twenty minutes late each morning, depending on traffic. My boss tolerated this for four days running, then indicated I’d be looking for a new position soon if I couldn’t report to my desk on time. I didn’t tell her I was late because killing myself cramped my mornings. But rather than be fired from a job I’d held for six weeks, I went back to committing suicide at bedtime.
Still, I couldn’t resist meddling with my schedule, and once for two weeks straight I tried shooting myself after lunch. I did so in a secluded parking lot near my office, and this resulted in a sudden and steady weight gain. I put on fifteen pounds blowing my head off surrounded by cars, and I felt terrible about it. I lost pride in my appearance and wore gray sweatpants with tan loafers everywhere except at work and weddings. In desperation, I returned to gunning myself down at bedtime. Those unsightly pounds soon melted away, but I remained hideously alive.
When I told my therapist, Dr. Lollabrigida Kravits, about this, she insisted I must be mistaken. I couldn’t be shooting myself in the head with those results. I challenged her to visit me before I turned in for the night and see for herself what happened when I added a bullet to my gray matter. We argued back and forth, and she agreed to come one day next week at two in the afternoon, if I found that time agreeable. I said no, that killing myself in the afternoon would only lead to an unhealthy weight gain, and she finally acquiesced to coming by at night. Her only reservation, she said, was that meeting so late would make her husband suspicious if he hadn’t died some years ago.
After she arrived punctually, Dr. Lolla handed me a gun that she claimed was trustworthy. It was, and I fired off three rounds in quick succession: to my temple, heart, and so that she couldn’t run off and leave me when I needed her most, to Dr. Lolla’s own foot. Besides, it had been under Dr. Lolla’s care that I had learned to despise myself and turned irrevocably to self-loathing. Thanks to her, I walked around with one leg six inches shorter than the other, metaphorically speaking. Now was my chance to be avenged, and I wasn’t afraid of what her late husband might think. With smugness writ large upon my features, I watched as she limped from my bedroom, first handing me a bill for the house call.
Alone now and still registered to vote, I was desperate to end it all. I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror, and confronted a figure that, like most reflections, lacked both character and depth, though he did have a lot of chest hair. An upper corner of the mirror was steamed over, as if someone had recently taken a hot shower. Was it me? I thought so, since I smelled like sandalwood. I raised the gun to my head once more, but in the mirror I saw only mist. I pulled the trigger and nothing happened. I wiped the glass clear with a towel and tried again. Then
Michael Fowler (he/they) is a playwright and funnyman living in Ohio.