by Chris Hlad…
I tried killing myself, but to no avail.
Why it didn’t work, I have no idea. I’d read about lots of ways to leave this earth, and the one that appealed to me the most was hanging. It would be quick – just a snap of the neck and you’re done. Unless, of course, your neck doesn’t snap, and then you die a slow, suffocating death. I wasn’t worried about that, because I’d tested out my method, and there’s no reason it should fail.
I’ve been thinking about it for a long time now. Suicide, that is. In retrospect, I should have just done it when the thought first came to me because trust me, when a thought that dark arises, it doesn’t just go away.
No, some thoughts stick with you forever, and, for better or worse, they’re the extreme thoughts.
Think about it. Recall some memory since I’m putting you on the spot, and I’ll bet my life (which isn’t saying a whole hell of a lot since I just tried to end it) that it’s one of either extreme happiness or extreme distress. And no, it can’t be something short term like ‘I remember getting coffee this morning’ or ‘I remember getting drunk last night’. I’m talking about real memories – the one’s that you go back to; the one’s that won’t leave the old Rolodex that is the mind.
But back to me for now. I never thought about it, but when it comes right down to it, I’m one selfish son of a bitch. I don’t know why this hasn’t dawned on me before, considering I tired to do what is allegedly the most selfish thing a human being can do.
Me, me, me.
I first got the thought in my head some time ago on my long commute home. There is this part of the drive where I go through a canyon and on top of one of the hills is a lone tree. For whatever reason, some day I started referring to that tree as ‘The Hanging Tree’. I guess that’s when the dark thought first entered my head, but I didn’t realize it.
No, it wasn’t until a few months later that the actual idea of suicide entered my mind, and like I said, I researched the hell out of it. There were lot’s of tempting ways – the strongest being a drug overdose – but I’ve never done drugs and was sure to fuck that up (not like my hanging idea was any better) and end up in a wheel chair being fed and having my ass wiped by my parents.
That would not be a good thing.
The hanging just made sense, especially when I remembered that I already had my place picked out. It would be beautiful, too. Before my last exit, I’d have a beautiful view of the Valley to the north and Westwood and Santa Monica to the south. In that nano-second before the chain did it’s job, I’d be able to see the places that I had made so many memories in.
And yes, I said ‘chain’.
Sure, most people go the rope route, but I’ve heard too many stories of rope breaking. No, a chain was the safer bet.
I even tested it.
One night (I had to go at night because I think MY TREE is on PRIVATE PROPERTY), I went there with my chain and ladder and rigged a noose around a few sacks of concrete that replicated my weight. I walked up the ladder with them, raised them to the height of my neck and let em’ go.
The tree didn’t even shake. It was a fine Hanging Tree.
So I left my ladder and chain there, and moved the bags of concrete off to the side brush. I didn’t want to litter, but it was a bitch carrying those things up the hill and the last thing I wanted to do was carry them down.
Lazy and Suicidal. Great combo.
Well, the next morning I took a laxative and spent most of the morning and early afternoon on the toilet. Why the laxative? Because it’s a fact that when a person is hung, their bowels open up and empty into the hanging persons trousers.
I wanted to die with some dignity.
Once I was sure my stomach was empty, I drove to the street nearest the tree. I couldn’t drive up; the terrain was much too steep and not cut out for my Mustang and I had to walk it.
When I got to the tree, I was glad to see that nobody had taken my ladder or chain. I hadn’t even thought of that until I got there. Talk about a lame ending if they’d been stolen.
Before I climbed the ladder, I looked to the Valley and to the south. So many memories! I tried to recollect where things had gone so dark, and had no idea; it just happened.
There was all the time in the world to think about it, but I wanted to get the deed done. I knew I wouldn’t chicken out, but I couldn’t see the point in postponing the inevitable, you know?
So I climbed the ladder and put the chain around my neck. For a second I wondered if anybody on the freeway could see me. I hoped not. When it comes down to it, suicide is an entirely personal choice and decision, and I didn’t want an audience.
Too late now.
The chain was warm from the afternoon sun, but not hot. It was still tied in the noose from the previous days testing, and I adjusted it to fit around my neck. And then, without any hesitation, I kicked the ladder, free falling for the briefest time before feeling the chain go taught.
The next thing I knew, I was on the ground with a large branch. What the hell? My only thought was that I shouldn’t have tested it yesterday; it obviously put too much stress on the tree.
My next thought was I can’t do anything right. And then, I really want a cigarette, which was odd since I hadn’t smoked in two years.
Well, I left the chain and ladder under the Hanging Tree, and decided I’d explore different options that night.
There was a 7-11 not far from where I parked, so I went there and asked for a pack of Marlboro Reds and some matches. The cashier acted like he didn’t even see me! Talk about a shitty day.
I went to the gas station, and the same thing happened. Liquor store? No different.
Huh. I drove back to the Hanging Tree, frustrated, and figured I’d give it another shot. When I got there, I saw the most peculiar sight: my body was there hanging, and despite my laxative efforts, I had indeed crapped in my pants.
And I realize now that I’m not the epic failure I thought I was. I also realized that I had created my own kind of hell. I was dead but still walking the earth but nobody could see me.
Do you have any idea how difficult that is for someone like me? Like I said, I’m one selfish son of a bitch, and to be ignored? I’d rather die, but I don’t think you can die twice.
And as for this story? I thought I’d leave it out at the library I’m sitting in right now as a cautionary tale. Unfortunately, the dead can’t write either as all I have in front of me is a blank sheet of paper.