A Chapter by Tom Cook



                I was fourteen years old when I first tried to kill myself voluntarily. I heard that in the past my family earned their honor through acts of courage. Wars and the like, but as the times changed with new laws and technology, we found there was other ways to help society. It started with the first case, if I remember, Hansborough v. State of West Virginia. I read about on the internet when I was young and wrote my senior thesis in college about it. Arthus Hansborough was a politician and a winner who one day had an affair. His wife went off with the kids leaving the poor b*****d in a depressed state. He wanted to kill himself legally, so he visited a suicide clinic who found that his health was far too good and that only sick and dying people were allowed--at the time, he would end up changing all that--to commit suicide. Man up. That's what they said. Not so bluntly, but rather discreetly. What had happened to his life was a work of his own doing.

                So Arthus Hansborough has a vision. His autobiography was interesting, it said something along the lines of a vision. A dream. It was a manifest destiny. He lobbied that doctor assisted suicide should be open to anyone in the public. It was odd how people conceived it, but after awhile it made sense. People wanted to die. It took a few years, but mom said it was around the time I was born that he was able to pass the law in West Virginia. After awhile it passed everywhere else. There were catches, of course. Medical coverage and money, have to be sick and dying. But it got different quickly.

                The Great Frontier War crippled the national economy and left most people without sufficient money and homes in some cases. The government believed in social welfare for all, no matter how poor or sick. The war didn't strike everyone but the effects did. While the West Coast still burned under sulfur and ash the rest of the nation had to provide for those millions of souls. It was bad. Dad, at the time, had a military job, he was safe, mom lost her restaurant and now manages a small business in town. We make good, but not great. There's a lot of others who are worse off.

                Then came the Tradition and Honor Act that Hansborough passed in Congress that allows a family member to grant passage to a relative on a couple of issues. If a family member chooses to sacrifice themselves, the U.S. government would cover a siblings college expenses, a mortgage payment, car payment, the likes basically. There was even an addition of no taxes or increased tax cuts. There were catches of course. The lamb, as they called it, had to be in good health and educated, or served a certain many years in the military. Money, it seemed, was never the issue here but rather traits and personality. The Christians compared it to Jesus, and then rioted burning down suicide clinics across the states. There were organizations formed and protests held. National Guards were called in to tear-gas riots, and there was even a shooting up in Fort Bend called "The Death March Massacre." The times were odd and changing.

* * *

                When I was fourteen I tried to shoot myself behind the barn near a rockwalled fence that crawled along a small dried pasture like a course of veins. I had taken my father's pistol, the one he got in service in the Great Frontier War, from his war chest that he buried in the closet along with his war medals and memories of the dead. He was surprised when I returned the gun to him, because he never spoke of the war or that chest. He asked what I was doing with it, and I said I wanted to shoot critters of the sort. Squirrel, rabbit, bobcats. The like, I told him. I wanted to believe he knew why I was out there. Maybe he saw me squatting behind that rusty brick coated barn, his pistol in my hand. Seeing me try to figure out how to do it. The side of the head? Under the chin? Through the mouth? It was a large caliber gun, I remembered, and I thought of the mess it would make. Brains and pieces of skull. Blood of course, as well as a bickering memory to my parents when they passed by that spot on the barn. Just a mess all around. A damned mess.

                But I stopped because I was young and made a deal with myself that I could always do it when I got older. There was a law now. I remember Mara said it was okay to have those feelings, and I thought it meant it was okay to deal with them in whatever manner possible. Not sure how else to deal with them, I thought. Talk is cheap, especially small talk. My father never asked me how I felt, and mother was too caught up in the next task at hand with her steakhouse. The menus, a delivery of steak and chicken and shrimp, a thieving waiter. There was something, always something. Then Carissa carried on about how mom and dad believed she was the favorite. Youngest child, she said, always got the most love. The oldest, she often reminded me of, is the one that parents are most tough on.

                I wanted to believe that it were these reasons that made me want to kill myself at fourteen. Permissive parents and a rotten sibling. Maybe so and maybe not. When I got older I believed I was just a sad person in general. No fun. That's what I felt. No fun in high school, in sports, in classes, in general there was no fun. Friends and girlfriends, the same way. I faked it well. Smiled at teachers and classmates, laughed at jokes. I made the grades, won scholarships, got hummers from my girlfriends after baseball games. I went to college and met Mara and we dated until graduation. I felt happy with her, the times were fun and well and the sex was good. We connected, were attracted to each other--and I still feel we are--and often made the other laugh. But I was still sad with her, and never knew why. She was outgoing on many levels and seemed happy in her world. I always wondered if the girl was ever sad, if something could pierce through the smiles and laughter and bring her down. I never hurt her, or so I thought, and never tried. There were times I'm sure I could have said or done something, but sometimes seeing her happy made me think that I could be happy. Contagious, like a cold. Sick and contagious. Easy to spread, I thought, especially if I'm around it long enough. Maybe, I thought, I could be happy for once in my life.

                No fun, Mara would tease me, sometimes you're no fun to be around. No fun? I would say. Yeah. Always no fun.

© 2012 Tom Cook

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Added on July 17, 2012
Last Updated on July 17, 2012
Tags: suicide, room, fate, death, jack, kevorkian, violence, dystopia


Tom Cook
Tom Cook

Cape Girardeau, MO

My fiction has been published in the World of Myth, my body in Play-girl. I'm an editor for Wednesday Night Writes, please send me your stories, flash fiction, and poetry, I want you to know the wa.. more..

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