Not a Pretty Death


I box my pain and put it away for later. It's the blood that worries me right now. There's too much of it and more keeps coming all the time. If they don't get here soon it'll reach the door and then go into the hallway beyond. They'll never get the stains out of the carpet.

I never thought it would hurt this much. Guess I kinda thought it would be like a film where the shaking hand makes a jagged tear and then everything fades away and some sad music plays in the background. But I've been here quite a while and there's no music. Soon I might have to scream a bit.

If they find me too soon on the other hand they might be able to save me and that wouldn't do at all. After all the whole point is that I make a grand gesture. An ultimate gesture. It would just have been nice if it could also have been quicker and cleaner. I blame the birds.

It was a warm afternoon and I'd had everything planned out. No one else home, such tools as needed ready and plenty of motivation. Then I realise that I'm real tired. Surely there's time for a nap, I think. Lying in my flat mates hammock 36 minutes later and the damn birds are still dogging my sleep. I drift so close hoping I might dream of the better places I could be going. Or at least the looks of horror on the faces that I'll leave behind.

But every time I doze my drifting thoughts include a chorus of harshly screaming kids or nagging school ma'ams. Or other less pleasant and less identifiable sources of mental self torture. Forty-three minutes and I know sleep is not going to happen. The flock of songless but far from voiceless birds in the trees is going to keep up their barrage until dark when the bats will obligingly take over. If I could have slept for the last 4 months things might have been very different now. Now, when I shall soon sleep forever.

The tools had been easy to get. I work at a hospital where they were literally just lying around. The hardest part was deciding which blade should be the one. It was kind of exciting in a way, window-shopping for the damned. Anything below a 21 was out straight away because no matter what they say size counts and this was to be butchery not surgery.

The 21 itself was nice but the cutting area itself was angled, too easy to wimp out and only succeed in adding more scars to the collection. The 22 and 23 frankly lacked style, too business like, something a doctor might use on themselves after one too many visits from Mrs. Parsons and her fungal foot infection. The 24 however caught my eye. It was in the shape of a tiny machete. The kind of machete an anally tidy Victorian explorer might have used. I felt an instant bond.

It was a fickle friend even back then. The blades are disposable and, coming in boxes of a hundred, are easy to grab. I took the handle from the wash plate after surgery, ironically enough an appendectomy, and in my excitement I forgot about the post-op instrument count. The nurses kept coming up a scalpel handle short and you could see the fear in the surgeons eyes as everyone started looking at the oh so neatly stitched wound.

In the end I had to play it off legit. During one last recount I pretended to notice something under the trolley and came up with the object of desire. Possibly for the only, and definitely for the last time. After, there was the kind of bitching that kept me from my nap this afternoon. I suppose that now the handle is sterilised and all the blood is my own so there can be no confusion.

And there is a lot of blood. The other things I grabbed from the stores one quiet lunch were meant to help with that. I had rolls of gauze. Surgical soak pads, even some of that nifty green sheeting through which the surgeons see only the diseased and deformed parts of their comatose patients. If they tried to fix me only my hairy left nipple would be visible. Shaking slightly with each beat of the heart beneath.

First I arranged a comfortable seat next to the kitchen counter. Then I went into pre-op mode and covered it with the green sheeting, putting rolls of gauze and piles of Surgi-soak around the edge. Inside this dam wall of sterile whiteness I arranged my memories.

A card, a ring, a necklace and a crumpled letter. Seeing all these things together moved me more than I had imagined they would, stirring me into a more frantic level of action. Finally I had laid out all the sharp things I could find, even the grater and peeler. All those metal edges, their sharpness defined as the lines where something solid narrowed to the point where it simply wasn't there any more. The number 24 blade on the size 11 handle centered and shining in the light of the afternoon sun.

I admit it. I didn't follow the plan I just grabbed and slashed. But I slashed well. Deep and up the arm, just how we are taught not to. At first there was no pain and no blood, just cold certainty that there was no way back. Then both came rushing out and I dropped my blade. For some reason I was convinced I had to do the other side as well and I reached down for the blade at my feet.

The handle was slippery with blood but I must have also cut a tendon or whatever because I couldn't close my hand properly either. Eventually I did manage a small gouge but the pain was immediate this time and I didn't go very deep. I realised I must have passed out for a bit when I woke up on the floor. I tried to remember the last thing I had thought before fainting, thoughts that could have been my last if I hadn't woken up. But there was nothing there, no memory for me. Later, soon, there won't be any memory of me either.

Everything is shades of gray. The lovely deep red pool in front of me has reached the door and turned charcoal. Also, there's not as much of the world as there used to be. Everything seems squeezed down into a tunnel. I get an idea that I should paint a smiley face on the wall and let the social workers deconstruct that! Like all my great ideas I am unable to follow it through. Like all my gestures it would probably be misinterpreted anyway - poor old, sad old, messed up old - well let them misinterpret my cooling body, hah!

There is banging at the door now. A querulous voice shouting my name. A deeper voice clearing the way. Wood shudders, once. Twice. Then someone tries the handle and the door opens. They are close to me but I am far too far away to catch and getting further every second, until I am...

An obese middle-aged man and a very thin older woman stand in the stairwell of an apartment building. Shocked expressions. Uncertain postures. The woman shakes her head and quietly says, "They'll never get the stains out of that carpet you know."


(c) skabo 2000 scribble