Yes, it's true: I killed myself last night. I’d put it off for months, hoping against hope that things would get better, hoping that my life would change and I’d stop getting the messages, the pleadings, the gentle threats, the chorus of doom that plagued me every day.
But it didn’t get better, and finally, in a desperate act of self-preservation, I just… killed myself. I went to the cupboard and took out the implement I’d put away so long ago, hoping I'd never have to use it again. I put it on the table and took out the stack of mail that had jeered at me from the top of the refrigerator for months. I took the sharp letter opener from the drawer and held it in my hand a long time, then sat down and began my final correspondence.
It all started innocently enough. I’d gotten an appeal from one nonprofit agency or another, and I thought, Well, why not? And I sent them a check – not a big check, hardly a donation at all really, especially when you consider how much they subsequently spent trying to get me to donate more money. It could have been any of them – the ACLU, the NRDC, the Nature Conservancy, the ASPCA, the Sierra Club, KQED, Amnesty International, The Hiking Club, et al – but we’ll never know which of them sold my name to the wicked slippery devils who propagate thousands of labels bearing our names, disseminating them to every dog&pony show and claptrap manufacturer in the western world (and a few in India & China too).
It could have been any of them that started the avalanche too, and I can’t remember which it was that started the whole painful ordeal, but I wrote that fateful – and last night I laughed grimly as I thought that it was, in the end, fatal – check. The check that would change my life, the check that finally would end my life. But all this suicide business was in the future then, and I was blissfully ignorant of the desperation that would finally drive me to take my own life, over and over and over again.
I opened each piece of mail, separating the ‘valuable gifts’ from the dross. Let me say this: I have enough return address labels to last me the rest of my life. Well, the rest of my life if I were to live to be 125 years old. Which I won’t. I made neat stacks, the intensity of my task matching my determination to end the pain, once and for all, to feel the release from this continuing punishment.
When the stacks were made – one deep pile of opened envelopes and pleading letters on the floor beside my chair, one stack of envelopes and receipt/vouchers bearing my name and address on the table before me – I picked up that deadly implement and prepared to redden it. Red, the color of lust and passion. Red, the color of warning and accusation. Red, the color of danger and peril. The color of blood.
It’s funny: when I had played this deadly game before, the color was purple. But this time, I knew it would be red, and splayed across the receipt/vouchers before me, the blood-red sign of my final defiance would spell out my doom. I picked up the implement and hit it on the pad twice, three times. Then I touched it to the first receipt/voucher.
‘DECEASED’ was proclaimed in ornate capitals, inside an ornamental border, quite deliberately intended to resemble a funerary card. I stamped the receipt/voucher, right over my name, signaling plainly to the nice caring folks at the Nature Conservancy that they should stop sending me pleas to save the whales, or the polar bears, or the artic fox, or the Canadian wolf. Because I was presumably beyond saving myself. Thump!
Oh, it’s not that I don’t care about those endangered species, or that I think that they deserve to starve to death or die in slow increments from the encroachment of ‘mankind’ (or, as e e cummings had it, “pity this busy monster, manunkind, not”). No, no, no. I completely support the work that all those agencies do, from building homes for the poor and feeding the homeless, to trying to close Guantanamo and freeing Chinese prisoners who build our cheap tools in slave-camps.
But I can’t stand the mail. I can’t stand the two-a-month (or three- or four-a-month) distress calls, each with a warning that is more dire than the last. I can’t stand the thought that I initially spent a meager ten bucks on some ‘good cause’ and they bought stamps with that money to hound me into giving more. In the old days, I’d even put a nickel stamp on them, to guarantee that they’d get the message that I was dead by having to pay the postage due.
And in this batch, almost a dozen dire pleas from the Nature Conservancy alone… what gives? I continued stamping: Thump! Well, when they receive them all at once, each bearing their shocking news in blood-red letters, maybe they’ll get the message – they’ll be sorry then, and they’ll wish I were still alive, that they’d treated me better. I’d show them, once and for all.
In some ways, these charities are worse than vampires – because vampires will at least finish off a victim once in a while. But charities will keep after you til you’re dead. And I knew that only too well… That’s why I was killing myself.
And so I ended it. I continued stamping the blood-red message on about seven dozen receipt/vouchers: Thump! Thump thump! ‘DECEASED’ over and over and over, each time thinking of my actual death and how I’d miss it because – well, that’s what death is, missing things. My arm grew tired from all the stamping, once on the pad and then swinging over to the receipt/voucher and then once more. Yet I felt nary a twinge about killing myself off, because I knew that I might live a better life, that I might actually have some quality in my life – or at least that short part of my life where I put the key in the mailbox and extracted the communications to me from the outside world.
Well, ok, I felt a twinge. One or two. Tiny ones. After all, these people were doing good work when they weren’t hounding me for money, sending me nickels glued to cards and ‘valuable gifts’ – all in hopes of triggering my guilt over my privileged status in the world. I sloughed off the guilt, but I did put aside the petitions and letters to my representatives in our democratic government, and I will (once resurrected in the morning, after a nice long sleep) put them into envelopes and send them off. But for now, I’m dead to the world – or at least to the world that wants something from me in the form of donations. And believe me, I intend to rest in peace.
© 2011 Hakim - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: use without profit allowed only with author’s express written permission. Please don't wake up my attorney. Please.