I smoothly hooked my bag with my arm and turned to the cabinet by the front door. My keys would be there. They would always be there because that is their designated place to be. They would be there because I am methodical and precise. They would be there because I am organized and accurate. My keys would always be there because I am a Taurus… and indeed they were right there.
I took the keys and passed through the front door without locking it behind me; my paternal responsibility to protect my family had vanished. I contemplated my neighborhood, pondering the best place to die. Parks came to my mind; there were several in the vicinity. They would all certainly be closed, as the hour approached midnight. The winner of the honor of hosting my final demise was Lone Mountain Park. It was the farthest away, and boasted large empty parking lots and near total darkness.
There I drove and backed my truck into my usual parking spot. I had been habitually parking there in that same spot for months after dropping my son off at school. I parked there to wait out my ex-wife who would still be in the house getting ready for work. I waited there for 30 minutes each morning before returning home. That would ensure that she would be gone from the house. I loathed the prospect of being alone in the house with her for any reason.
In retrospect I am amused by the fact that I “combat parked” my truck; that is, backed into the parking spot, which is a typical maneuver for those who wish to get away quickly when it comes time to go. My time to go would leave my truck all by itself. I surrendered to the notion that my body was responding to muscle memory and reflex. That was responsible for my final combat park.
I covered my windshield with its sunshield. Without a thought or pause I recovered the pills from my pocket. I opened my bag and extracted the two cans of liquid ass kick. Down the hatch! I swallowed the entire bottle of Ambien in three gulps, coaxing them down each time with the rage of the most powerful beer on the market.
I laid the cans on the floor of the truck on the passenger’s side carefully so they would not fall over and dribble their remnants onto the truck’s carpet. My truck had always been good to me, I would leave it for the last time respectfully, its just what I do.
“Until Valhalla George!” “Until Valhalla, my brothers!” Those had been our parting words as we set off on each mission for my last ten years in the Unit.
How could my peers who died in battle accept my self-inflicted passage to the homeland? It would not matter how I got there; it only mattered what I did to get there… but as with concern for my own children, people’s judgment of me was something I was no longer putting up with.
I sat with my hands on the steering wheel, as if driving to Anaheim city for a long weekend of Disney fun, as we had done so often in the past. My wife snoozing, my kids with their chuckling heads buried in their Sponge Bob-playing DVD players. Me at the wheel trying to drive and shoot scares at the same time. Life had been good.
Someone tapped me on the right shoulder. I twisted around and saw what I thought was a faint dial face of a grandfather clock… but certainly only darkness. I tilted my seat back into the supine position. Again something tapped me on the shoulder. My interest was drained.
Oblivion slowly crept toward me with a smiling face and shook my hand warmly, awkwardly stroking my forehead and chin bidding me sleep. Sure, I’ll sleep; be happy to. Nothing could possibly be easier at the moment.
I was a man alone again. No wife, no children. They were behind me, and I had my foot solidly jammed in the door to the after life. I didn’t feel sorrow for the loved ones I was leaving behind; they no longer existed. I didn’t for a nano second subscribe to the notion that I was weak and a coward. I was in fact pulverized to within and inch of my emotional life and teetering. My ex-wife lifted a willing finger and gently poked me ever so slightly, just enough to tip me beyond that last millimeter.
There was no tunnel, no light, no beckon to ‘move to the light’. There was only dark, peaceful dark.
I was a boxer, a boxer beaten so badly that he couldn’t even raise his arms one more time to protect his face, but the punches kept coming. A white towel flew in and hit the canvas. The fight was over and the punches stopped.
I was a soldier who was surrounded by assailants, out of ammunition, my bayonet was broken, my arms and legs were shredded by bullets. Then the last bullet came screaming toward me boiling the water vapor in the air behind it as it headed straight for my forehead… and then it struck.
AT LAST! Man, that was easy. I mean really that wasn’t hard at all. And then I got my answer… I was drifting to the shores of Valhalla in a clean white canoe. All of my fallen brothers would be there. Matt, Chief, Sam, James, Chuck, and Guy Cutino would all be there.
And finally I arrived. Valhalla was clean and bright, with its population swarming about in clean white garments. I strained to recognize any faces of the many many brothers I knew that left before me. I saw them all there. They carried charts and instruments. They greeted each other or they did not greet each other as they passed. All were busy. My boat in Valhalla turned out actually to be a bed with clean white sheets.
There was a bed next to me in which lay another fallen warrior. Which battle did he die in I wondered? I did not yet know, but would as soon as he awoke.
Valhalla smelled of isopropyl alcohol, of disinfectant and hospital carbolic. There were a tubes in my arms, wires stuck to my chest and rib cage, and many instruments around me beeping, belching tones, squeals, and sirens.
What had gone wrong?
How had my escape from my domestic plight been diverted? Who had cheated me out of my departure from the anguish of mortality. In fact an unidentified woman for an unknown reason happened by my truck in the abandoned parking lot of the closed park at midnight and spied my body reclined back in the drivers seat. She summoned authorities and I was taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital.
She cheated me out of my ultimate reward. She subjected me once again to the abject misery of a life on Earth. This “savior” woman put me back in the realm of my ex-wife. I hated and despised the savior, though I did not know her. What had I ever done to her to deserve her Goddamned meddling? I would certainly kill her if I could find her.
I remained in the hospital for several days. I declined all my meals and accepted no offers for assistance. I requested Adovan as often as they would give it to me to sleep. I had endured a stout stomach purge. I’m glad I was dead when it happened. I have no recollection of it. I arrived at the hospital days earlier already completely flat-lined.
My x-wife visited one day. She appeared suddenly just standing there with her arms folded as she had done an infinite number of times in our house in the past. She stood there glaring at me with a previously unequalled hate and disdain. She communicated that I was a failure, and had failed yet again.
I was served a Temporary Restraining Order (TPO) forbidding me contact with my two young children for the next calendar year. I am still under those constraints at the time of this writing. I sank deeper into my abyss. The solitary saving grace of having been robbed of my demise was my children, and now they had just been stripped from me.
I was held in the hospital against my will by the State of Nevada as a suicide risk. All told I was hospitalized for 16 days.
In life my wife and I stayed together because we loved our children more than we hated each other. Corny as it sound. Eventually we hated each other more that we loved our children, and for that one of us would pay dearly.
We pinky shook on our resolve to not engage in a legal war of roses. I bore both of our burdens from that deal on my back, because bearing burdens is what I did well. I wasn’t a very smart man, but I could lift heavy things, and keep them off the ground all day, day after day.
Loss is like a tide though, karma controls its flow. It ebbs until it can ebb no longer, and then it floods back toward you. The tides goes around and then comes around. One day karma will reside on the side of the defendant, and testify in my behalf. The judge will call upon the plaintiff’s witness, and none shall answer.
And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said, Here am I; send me. (Isiah 6:8)