Tales From The Bookery: A Different Kind Of Suicide
August 23, 2009 in Tales From The Bookery
Think of it as a tropical Overlook hotel. No snow, but still plenty of phantoms and murderous impulses. The sky is always red or orange, and the intricately designed flora is always ablaze, night, day, whenever.
A letter was slipped under my door this morning. It singed my fingertips as I opened it, but I could not stop.
It was address to one Poor Sucker In The Not Too Distant Future, return address, Somewhere You Remember Not So Fondly. It’s written on hotel stationary.
I will quote it here, verbatim.
Dear me, dear you, dear us…
This is complicated, obviously.
Two years ago you were me, or rather, two years from now I’ll be you, depending on when you date this later, either at it’s time of writing or time of reading. Reading, obviously, since you are reading it. You did write it, too, however. I digress. Again.
What was that? Sorry. Thought I heard something. Let’s continue.
You might recall who you were two years ago, or, rather, the person you ran away from after running away from everything else only to find when everything else was crumbling around you you finally discovered what was under the surface which turned out to be nothing, or, rather, nothing you liked, because what was there was indeed something and that something turned out to be something you loathed, or, rather, something worth running away from.
Obviously. Clearly. “Kill him… Let him die…” What was that? Did you hear that? It sounded like a whisper. Silence. Sorry. Moving on.
That person, or, rather, I, am writing to you now to tell you that I’m back, that I’m seeping slowly into your subconscious. You’ve been thinking a lot about me, this writer, as you write about me, and you’ll find, or, rather, are finding it rather difficult to get away from me. I’m here. I was there, but you’ve brought me back from the dead, from that place, perhaps to give me a proper burial, along with all the other guilty bystanders who dragged you down with them and you dragged down with you. It was certainly a lose, lose, even though, in some perspective, you did emerge victorious, even though the victory came over a year later. But the battle wages on, and you’ve enlisted.
I don’t recall writing this. Is it a scam? “Suffocate him before he strangles you…” Again with the whispers. Looking around the room, there’s nothing. Always nothing.
I feel like I don’t know who you are, and I resent how much you loathe me. I am you. I was you. We are us and so on and such. You would not be me if I weren’t you. Am I making myself clear?
I’ve got to hand it to you. 10,000 words about me, inside me, in a very short period was a lot to let out. You can’t stop now. You’ve brought me here to die. You brought me back from the dead, to expose me, to indict me and all the others, but mostly you. I don’t know how to feel about that, and I’m guessing you don’t either, or, rather, don’t know what it is you feel about that. Forget the how. You’ve seemed to master the how. I’m jealous of that.
Was that a knock? Two blocks of shadow under the doorway. The peep hole’s been inverted. Is that him? Lock the door. Back to the letter.
It would seem my fate is no longer in my hands. I let you decide. I needed that. I needed someone to finally take the reins, to take control. I can’t help but speculate, had you been there, had the me I am now, or the you I would become had been the one in my place, would things have turned out the way they had? Would there have been so much blood shed? I must thank you for delving into that dark place to write that history of my potential future. I need to know. You need to know. You and only you can know, because it’s you and only you who now has the clarity of mind and wherewithal to return to that forefront of this war. Unarmed? Ill prepared? What kind of man walks on to a battlefield without so much as a grenade?
I still have the pin. “He will stay until you finish, and you will not be the better man until. You must be the murderer…” The pen is mightier, I suppose. The shadow blocks move away. The thermostat’s not working.
One thing is clear, even to me, even in my drunken stupor. I know, and so you know, that I will haunt you until you let me have my last words, until you write them for me. I can’t do it for ourself. I don’t have the power or knowhow, or, rather, I just don’t have the will or wherewithal to implement the power and knowhow I possess. But you know that, or knew that, rather. I’ve only done what I’ve been told, gone where I’ve been instructed, and now I am over your shoulder and in your ear, I am in your mind and you cannot shake me. You will not shake me. My death is now your driving force, and I will not be leaving the hotel, nor will you be able to check out until my dead body has been put up for display. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and call the concierge.
I don’t recall making this reservation two years in advance. The phone rings. “You will be forgiven for your crimes, but only if you expose them. Check out time is whenever you drag the body of your former self into lobby, and we will accept only a signature in his blood.” “Hello?” “You heard me, sir. Is there anything else I can do for you, something you and you alone should be doing for yourself?” The phone disconnects before I can answer. The letter.
I never expected to come back here. I think you had an inkling, so you can only blame yourself. You know what to do. You know what’s getting in your way. You know better than anyone, even me, how you let small things stand between point A and point B, and what you need to do to bridge that gap and how to handle that long list of distractions you’ve tattooed all over your body and the value of a break to prevent the burnout. You know you need to kill me, but you also know you can’t do it all at once, all in one continuous burst of energy that doesn’t stop until you’re too weak to keep stabbing. Is that progress? Is straining and paining and pushing and subjecting yourself to so much pressure that you hit a wall full speed and need nearly two weeks to regenerate that creative energy better than small and slow yet strategic bursts? Do you have a better idea now? I, or you, rather, do, or should.
I open the drapes. It’s bright outside.
If all work and no play make Jack a dull boy, then all play and no work make jack a lost and forgotten soul. Where is the middle ground? Can you find it? Can you help this ghost of yourself find it’s final resting place, a place where peace is not obscene nor something to fear? Will I follow me, or you, rather? Or will you be the one to do the following? Can you find this middle ground? Can I find the middle ground? Words. Words, words, words. The more you let out, the more I consume your very being. The more you expose of this ghost, the more this ghost manifests itself in you.
It’s time. It’s been time. It’ll take time. You know that. But there’s more to life than mourning the death of your once potential future. You let it go once. You’ll let it go again. Don’t let it drag you down the way you let it do once before. And this coming from me, of all people. I don’t know any of this, not by myself. You know it. Does that mean you knew it? I think so. You, or I, rather, just had too many things clouding your vision.
The view from here is a brick wall, and each brick has written on it, in white chalk, a distraction, whether it be important or trivial. They need to come down. They will come down. The wall will fall, and I will rebuild, picking out each brick carefully, putting back the things I wish to stay to create a frame of the picture in front of me. The big picture.
This frame is where I will hang the corpse. The letter concludes.
Make me proud. Bring me to justice. But don’t take me too seriously. You’re supposed to be the death of me. Remember. Not the other way around. Get a cup of coffee. Start fresh in the morning. Not to condescend, but you can do it. I know that, or knew that, rather. Or I will know it. Either way.
The letter is signed, You and yours, truly, sincerely, whatever.
I stand, staring out the window, my fingers twitching, the writing desk ever present in my periphery.
Image via kevindooley.
Video via Everything’s Better With Yakety Sax.