It was sturdy enough. It didn’t look as though it would come down. It wasn’t preventing him from going anywhere he wanted to go. In every way, it was a totally unremarkable ceiling. There was really no reason to pay any attention to it except for the perfect intersection of two cross members with a supporting tie, all within reach above his desk. It was ideal for his plans.
The ceiling belonged to that class of objects that was willing to be taken for granted and consigned to an inconspicuous role until selected for a special purpose. Then, once identified for that purpose, it seemed as though it was designed for it, even though you knew that the designer had no such intention.
The panels of the ceiling, with their acoustic pits and yellowing color, were irrelevant to Larry, worthy only to be popped out and brushed aside to make room for the stout extension cord he had brought from home. The cord also belonged to that extraordinary class of objects. Ostensibly, its purpose seemed to be to power a CD player currently filling the office with the warbling of a Lilith Fair songbird, but secretly, it could be fashioned into a noose.
The CD he had playing was another one of those perfect disregarded objects. It had been left behind by a brittle woman who previously had his shift and lost her taste for empowerment. The songbird’s voice possessed the same peanut butter smoothness of his ex-wife’s before she became crunchy, ideal for putting Larry in the mood for suicide.
Larry pulled the plug on the voice and it died out in the third refrain of complaints. He began to twist the cord into a noose. The very object that gave the voice its power would choke his off forever.
When he finished tying this knot everything would be complete. Nothing in his life had been so perfect since his ex left him some twenty years before, but it was perfect now in his preparations to end it. Perfect both practically and symbolically, although he shouldn’t care about such things moments before stepping off his cluttered desk into the empty abyss.
No, the knot didn’t seem right. He sat down to search the internet for how to tie a noose.
Larry had written no note to leave behind. His body hanging over his desk should say it all. Anyone who knew him and knew the circumstances of his life ought to be able to put two and two together. Moreover, why should he care what people thought of his act after he was dead? If he cared so much, then he should stay alive. Finally, he had seen many suicide notes in his day and felt that what they generally managed to say was redundant. Then, for all their redundancy, none of them ever really answered the questions survivors had, anyway. The loved ones left behind all wanted to know why, why, why; when they ought to be asking, why not?
On the other hand, while leaving a suicide note behind was pointless, writing one for himself made perfect sense. He needed to secure the idea in his mind. Without a document in his hand as he prepared to jump, he might forget why he was doing it and lose his resolve.
So, he typed:
I’m in a dwindling middle age. I live in a mid-sized city that has rotted out in its core. My apartment is a garden apartment with no garden. I have no friends and my family of origin have all fled from where they originated. My ex-wife has likewise fled, and taken my children, not from any violence on my part, but from what I suppose is my lack of magnetism. I spend most of my time silent, for the garden apartment is very quiet, and the TV shows that I watch whenever I’m home, once they are done, at the end of every hour achieve a conclusion and there is nothing more to be said about them.
As my life has gotten smaller, I have gotten larger. My quiet lifestyle and the fact that my only companion when I watch TV is a bag of chips has not done my health any good: for I am morbidly obese. My doctor made such a fuss over it years ago that I stopped going to the doctor. I suspect that my arteries are almost completely plugged and my heart is about to give out, but I am long past caring, for a long life is valued only by those with a life to live, or those who have not paid much attention to it and value life by habit.
I, for my part, have paid attention to the quality of my life, and, not seeing any likelihood of improvement, have resolved to end it and put it out of its misery.
Larry printed out his document, checked the noose, and, with no small effort, hoisted his three hundred and some pounds up on his desk. He brushed aside the panels just as he imagined and performed a clove hitch that he still remembered from his Boy Scout days. With the noose tight around his neck, Larry read through what he had written. He enjoyed the ironic turns of phrase, the image of him with his bag of chips, the poetic use of the word dwindling. It was all good and all right and he was ready to jump, but he stopped short during the second reading when he came to my family of origin have all fled. It should be has; my family of origin has all fled.
Irritated, he yanked open the noose and climbed down to make the correction. A single knock rapped at his office door and the triage nurse stepped in, oblivious to the dangling cord, for her eyes were fixed on the chart in her hand.
“You have a patient. She says she’s suicidal.”
“OK,” he said as he took the chart from the nurse. “Tell her I’ll be right out.”