Shadows: that is all that comprises this world. Just shadows and echoes…Nothing real; nothing tangible. How can they stand it? They; who pass me on the street, barely chancing a glance in my direction as they make their way towards their respectable homes. They; whose whispers engender a rage within me that is sometimes hard to quell. It takes all of the will within my frail, deteriorating body to keep from lunging towards them with fury, ripping them apart as though they were made of the paper from which they draw their narrow conclusions. It would be easy, would it not? They are so translucent, so meagerly composed, that it seems impossible that they are made of any substance that would impede such an act.
They walk around this city and stare at me as though they are Gods amongst a sub-human. They tell wild stories about how I am a junky; good for nothing, except for the occasional dim-witted remark and the usual plea for money or food. They invent horrible ideas about the reason that I am in this state; a state that, if they only knew of the humiliation and self-resentment it has caused, they would surely abstain from wishing on their worst enemy. I envisage a day when these people will truly know what it feels like to be in despair, filled with depression, and malnourished to boot.
There was a time, of course, when I lived a much different life. I had a family, I had friends, I had a job; I would pass individuals like myself on the street and regard them as dirty, unintelligible people with a lack of ambition. I would assume that most break-ins and robberies were the work of such people, and that they were a large portion of what is wrong with the city. My children would often hear my wife and I discussing these problems; blaming these people for damaging the image of our city… Our city; As if we were more entitled to it than the sub-humans who have been wandering the streets day in and day out for so many years.
The thought of it all is revolting. How self-entitled I was; how narcissistic my children would have grown to be. As much as it pains me to say this, perhaps it is best that they went when they did. Perhaps this world should be happy that it was spared two more individuals that regard other humans as lower life forms. These thoughts begin to fester, and they tug at the sore that is within my heart as a tear slowly rolls down my dirt-speckled face, and I turn east to head towards my destination. Finally, after months of praying to have the strength, I find myself as intrepid as any could be.
As I walk down the familiar street, ablaze with Christmas decorations upon the houses in view, my mind wanders as it has so often in the last six months. The images of my children flood my mind’s eye, bringing forth tears that would surely drain my body of its already minuscule amount of water if allowed to continue. Their faces when I found them, cold and motionless, lying upon the back seat of my old 1996 Mustang. My wife’s emotionless, hollow face in the front seat, tears still visible upon her once rosy cheeks that I have longed to hold within my hands for so long. The pain is nearly too much to bear, and it is with much anticipated elation that I come across 10745 Pennington Way; the house which had been mine for nearly ten years, now lined with police tape and uninhabitable.
As I make my way through the front yard, I notice that I am taking the time to absorb every bit of my surroundings for the first time in what feels like a century. The cool, crisp air coming off of the coast that is so familiar to the inhabitants of Grayerville, North Carolina, is something that I will miss greatly. The shrubs and bushes that line the driveway leading to the two-story, maroon-colored house were now all dead or dying, and the entire scene is, in and of itself, melancholy. It fits perfectly, really, for the scenario that is about to take place.
I peel back the tape that lines the front door, and I find with relief that it is unlocked. As I step into the entrance, a sobering feeling takes hold: It was right in this very spot, nearly six months ago, when I realized that something horrible had happened. It may have been the sound of a motor running, faintly discernible from the entrance, or it may have been the faint smell of gasoline that filled the house. Regardless, it was a moment that will never, ever leave you once you have experienced terror like that.
I walked into the living room that was off to the right, and sat upon the dusty leather sofa that stood in the center of the room. Looking around at the walls, I noticed that the policemen and investigators that tore through this place in search for a non-existent suicide note had very little respect for the once beautifully decorated room. The paint was scratched or chipped nearly everywhere, and the paintings that had once brightened the room were now hanging by a thread or else strewn carelessly about the floor. It is with great pleasure that this will be over long before the pain can affect me.
Reaching for my waistband, I remove the old pistol from its holster. It was given to me by my father before he passed away, as an heirloom, to be given to my son when the time was right. It served my great Grandfather in the war, and it is with the greatest remorse that it should be used for something of this nature. Taking a deep breath, and savoring a fleeting feeling of panic that has been my only source of raw emotion in months, I cocked the weapon, aimed at my left temple, and pulled the trigger. Death, at least, is merciful to those who are kept prisoner within their own mind.
I wrote this story to try and relate an important idea to anyone who reads this: every human being, regardless of social class or ethnicity, has something to share with the world. People who are in a rough spot and need to beg for food or money to survive are no lower than any of you, who are sitting at home and reading this blog from the comfort of your bedroom. You never truly know anyone’s story until they tell you, and it just might be your comforting words or kind heart that makes someone open up to the world about the struggles that they are facing before it is too late.