This is kind of difficult to write about, really. I’m feeling sort of scatterbrained and my heart is beating really quick just thinking about it. Weird.
Back to that morning. Well, okay, first: Like I said I know how to deal with regular dorky depression. But when I woke up the morning after the day I decided to kill somebody, and knew that the resolve to kill someone was gone like every other resolution I ever made, I was pierced by something far beyond my experience.
I swear each and every cell in my body hated being tied to my soul. If you ever imagined that the sunlight coming into your room is revolted when it bounces off your face, and screams as it enters into your head through your pupil, than you have an idea of what I felt. I felt it would have been better if I never existed because then I couldn‘t be blamed for wasting my existence.
If you know what I felt like then you’ve probably tried to off yourself like I did that morning. Or maybe you are just stronger than I am.
People talk a lot about their suffering, but only certain people. The average whining woman on Ricki Lake is not exactly a role model of strength and perseverance. The strong ones don’t talk about it at all, I think, so you never know if what you’re dealing with is common or special.
Maybe you feel like I felt that morning all the time; and you just grit your teeth (until somebody comes by and then you don’t even grit them because you don’t want to show how bad you feel) and bear it. I still don’t know if I’m just weak or if I felt worse than most people ordinarily feel.
Anyway, I was never so bad as that morning. In college I read the Apologia by Plato. It is a story, or a report, about Socrates’ trial for corrupting the youth of Athens. In it Socrates talks about fear of death being useless, because such fear assumes we know what death is when we don’t. I’d forgotten The Apologia so completely that I’d forgotten I’d forgotten it. And then I wake up and after ten minutes I’m thinking:
“Like Socrates said, there is no reason to fear death because you don’t know what it is. Don’t be willfully ignorant and pretend you’re scared when you don’t even know if you should be scared or not. Just kill yourself, dude. It is okay.”
And that made absolutely perfect sense to me. It was kind of like that smoking thing. Given some good motivation you can convince yourself of any damn thing.
But there was the life insurance to think of so I wanted to kill myself in way that could look like an accident. Very important. The very least I could do is help Mom out money wise, you know? Obviously I could have thrown myself in front of a bus since I had imagined doing it so many times.
But what if you don’t die? What if you’re just this paraplegic who can’t even kill himself now? Then my parents would end up taking care of me. They’d have to fly to Seattle and rent hotel rooms and catch cabs to the hospital every morning and pay huge hospital bills. Wouldn’t THAT be great?
And I really didn’t want to make a scene or anything. I mean you’re going to make a scene if you kill yourself, to some extent, no matter what. If you throw yourself out into the ocean a bunch of people are going to be sent out to find your body. If you jump in front of a bus you stop traffic and cause a lot of people to be late for work and some poor bastard has to do something with your carcass. Someone would have to mop you up for God‘s sake. If you’re slick and throw yourself off a cliff into an ocean when no one is looking and you time it right so that your body gets carried out to sea then the very people you don’t want to suffer, your family, suffer the most because they never know for sure if you’re really dead. Even if I secretly mailed my mom a note, she would NOT believe it unless it was pinned to a body, you know? Besides, she would tell the insurance company.
So I figured the best way to kill yourself without inconveniencing others is to hang yourself. But then I wanted it to look like an accident. Finally I decided to set it up so it looked like auto-erotic-asphyxiation. Say it three times quick out loud. I dare you. I dare you to say it three times quick out loud if you’re on a bus!
What gave me the actual idea is I remembered a painting of some guy masturbating while he’s garroted by a halo’d figure with a coat hanger. It is an original painting on the wall of a coffee shop on the Ave. called Tulip’s. I think the painting is supposed to say society and or Christianity uses guilt to make a dude feel guilty for masturbating. I think the garrote is a coat hanger as a mommy dearest reference, like as if to say: The people who are supposed to be supporting and loving us are ruining our good time.
That painting cracks me up.
I don’t have any nudie magazines or auto-erotic equipment and I had a SHITLOAD of journals with no mention of this self strangulation stuff in any of them. So the question was, how do you convince a cop you were stroking and accidentally choking rather than trying to be dying?
Answer? Internet. My first search turned up 200 plus sites dedicated, DEDICATED, to auto-erotic-asphyxiation. I printed out a few pictures from these sites, how-to sort of pictures, and spread them on the floor.
But I didn’t have any rope. Here’s the weirdest part of that entire morning, I think. I had the energy to walk all the way to the Ave. to buy rope. I mean once I decided to kill myself I got out of bed no problem. This time I wasn’t playing a game with myself, I was going to do it, so I didn’t have to keep fighting the depression. The depression was plain gone. I showered, groomed and all, got nicely dressed, and was just about to open the door to go to the store (as opposed to down the hall to shower) when it hit me that I didn’t feel that bad, so maybe I didn’t have to go through with it.
I almost passed out. The fatigue and self-hate hit me so hard that I actually went to my knees in my doorway. I didn’t want anybody to see me so I crawled backwards until I was inside. I managed to shut the door while I was lying on the floor. I lay there for about ten minutes, absorbing the fact that I was really going to die in probably less than an hour. Once I got back up I started, just started, to think about changing my mind again, and I felt it coming again, as real, more real, than a slap in the face.
It would be one more failure on top of all the others, and I’d already passed my limit. There are things worse than death and that feeling was one of them.
At least it was for me. Like I said, maybe you’re one of these super strong people who would just go on with his or her day. Not me, boss. I only wish I was.
Chapter 19. Rope.
I sort of went into a trance on my way to the store to buy rope. When what’s actually happening to you is so weird that you can’t believe it, even as you make it happen, well then you’re probably already in a trance state. If not, then you’ll definitely fall into one. As I walked down the street the world shifted and melted and slithered to move around me. The sidewalk was a long treadmill.
A raven dive bombed me at one point. This has happened to me seven separate times in my life. The six times before I hadn’t realized a bird was bombing me until the shit actually hit my bare head, (twice), face (once and you better believe THAT sucked), shirt (thrice) and shoe (once).
This time, for the first time, I saw the guano coming towards me and I was able to sidestep it. It was surreal in the way the word surreal actually means. Surreal means ‘super real,’ (not ‘weird,’ which is what most people seem to think it means) and I saw everything with wonderful clarity.
The world moved around me in slow motion as the rope found its way to me.
I watched myself as I walked to the Dollar Store nearest my apartment. I was a regular there. Socks, light bulbs, paper, candles, incense, all your hygienic needs, tools, electronics, everything can be found in the dollar store if you just happen to go there while it is in stock. And there is always some kind of rope.
I bought 30 feet of 2000 lb. test ‘trailer hitch’ rope. Total cost- 1 dollar. Sweet deal. The Korean lady who owns the place was familiar enough with me to give me a smile. That was very nice. I’d never noticed that her bottom row of teeth was near perfectly straight across, nor that her canines were unusually sharp. That woman has a way with a toothbrush. Rope in hand, I walked home, wondering how it would feel around my neck.
It was yellow nylon, about as thick as my index finger. It felt rough in my hands and I wasn’t looking forward to feeling it scratch my neck before I died. You wouldn’t think I’d care about that petty little amount of pain but I did. I wanted the last moments to be right. At that point I thought I had it made. With the decision made and rope purchased I assumed I’d be able to stay in trance mode all the way through. I’d watch myself, from my position twenty feet back and ten feet behind, as I dangled and died. But hanging yourself is actually kind of technical.
First of all I’m no sailor nor was I ever a boy scout. It isn’t easy to tie a noose. I spent over an hour on the internet learning how to tie one and practicing until I was able to get one right. It’s one of those things I always wanted to learn anyway. That got me to thinking, for just a minute, about all the other stuff I always wanted to learn. I wanted to learn Italian so I could read Dante the right way. I always wanted to know how to swing dance, too. But I didn’t want to stay alive to learn those things. Thinking about them made me feel more like a failure for not having learned them already, so it actually helped me to want to kill myself. I had to prepare the scene.
I cleaned up a bit, wanting things to be presentable. But I didn’t make things spotless because I didn’t want the place to look prepared. I undressed, feeling very self conscious until I realized I’d be long dead by the time they found my body. I tied one end of the rope to a rafter above my bed, then tossed the rest a few rafters down and tied a noose for myself. I got a chair and stood up and tried the noose on for size, snugged it tight, then took it off and went back to the rafter above my bed. I untied the knot there and took in some slack and retied it and then I went back to the chair and tried the noose on again and found that it was just about right.
I knew from my research that most people who die of autoerotic asphyxiation die from strangulation, but a small percentage die of broken necks from when the furniture they balance themselves on suddenly tips. You only need a few inches of slack and the correct angle to snap your neck. I made the noose tight in the right place behind my neck. I bent my knees, took a very deep breath, jumped up, jerked my knees up to my chest, and then jammed my feet back down onto the chair so fast my neck never even felt the slightest tug.
I very distinctly, carefully enunciated the word:
I took another deep breath and jumped again, pulled my knees up and lost my nerve again and ended up standing on the chair breathing very heavily and again said:
It would have been funny to me if I wasn’t trying so damn hard. There were two more failures to add to my list. I figured if I stood there jumping up and down failing to kill myself enough times I’d eventually get tired and miss the chair anyway. So the third time I jumped I kicked it out of the way and as I fell back my feet had no chair to stand upon and I heard my neck POP and a blinding pain went into my head from the top of my neck.
Then I was on the floor. One hundred cents isn’t a lot to pay for ten yards of rope. It broke. The pop I heard and the pain I felt from my neck were nothing more than the equivalent of when a person cracks their knuckles. It was a toughie.
My neck was sore. It hurt, but not too bad. I was having difficulty breathing and couldn’t figure out why. I didn’t know what to think, or if I should think. I didn’t feel anything, really, except the expectation that something was going to happen. I’m not sure how long I lay there without moving or thinking or feeling. I know it was less than an hour and more than ten minutes but that’s about as near as I can narrow it down.
What got me moving was the idea that I might be dead of a broken neck and not know it. I pinched myself on the nipple, where it hurts the most (I knew because my older sister used to bully me by pinching me there) and it hurt. That was kind of nice so I pinched myself nine or ten more times. I figured out, finally, that it was hard to breathe because the noose was tight across my throat. I yanked the noose over my head. Getting it off was hard. It was damned tight.
I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was going to happen. I still felt exactly as I felt the moment before I jumped up off the chair that last time: that something big was going to happen. It was the same feeling I’d had outside of the museum right before that girl screamed. Just like then, nothing happened. But I couldn’t shake the feeling.
I’d moved just enough to pinch myself and get rid of the noose, but that was it. I was still on the floor, on my side, naked, in a fetal-ish position. I waited for something to happen and nothing did.
In the movie Pulp Fiction, after the kid jumps out of the bathroom and unloads his revolver at Samuel L. Jackson and Vinny Barbarino from less than ten yards away, missing with all six shots, they end up having an argument over whether or not the misses constitute a miracle. (After they kill the kid.) I wondered that about the rope and decided it broke because I’m cheap. I couldn’t think of anything else to think about.
Meditation, once you’re good at it, is supposed to be like what I did. Just having an empty mind. I’d tried to do that a few times before and never could do it. But after I thought about the rope I couldn’t think of anything else so I just lay there and existed without thinking or feeling anything. If anything, I was waiting for something to happen.
I waited for something to happen for about an hour and nothing happened so I got up. I sat on the edge of my bed and realized that I did not want to die and did not want to give up being a poet and that it was either me or somebody else. I was going to have to kill somebody. I decided there were people in this world less worthy to live than me.
I decided that since it was an either/or situation, killing one person, one fucked up, horrible, rotten person, would not be an immoral act. It would be self defense.