A fictitious suicide letter I wrote in the summer of 2012 on my long bus rides to work.
I sort of remember that day as if it had only happened in the week past. My mother and I were on the bus, on the morning commute as everyone was; we were lucky enough to get a joint part time job at Wendy’s where we would work on weekends. The pay wasn’t much, at all, but I liked it because I got to spend time with her.
It was a darker day than they usually come; I guess God, or whoever, was saving the brighter ones for a special day. Who knows. The trees weren’t swaying in the dew-filled morning winds, they weren’t as green as they usually were. The streets were aimless zombies; dead with no purpose. The skies were so grey, as if the clouds had won the grueling, aching war of a battle against the sun that morning. My mother was rocking back and forth as the bus passed bumps and bumps aggressively. She was half asleep still.
We got to our stop and proceeded to walk out into the streets. My mother was so short that she had to get off the bus in a quick jumping motion as if she were getting ready to dive into a pool. We walked for about two minutes in somber strides before we got to the restaurant. We passed the shrubs, grass, and various flora that were planted in front of the restaurant. They squealed at us not to step on them. Unknowingly, we didn’t heed their call.
We walked around the perimeter of the restaurant before getting to the sliding doors, at which point we made a left to enter. The doors were such smooth ones; they didn’t creak or whine in metallic pain as they opened. I liked that. As soon as we entered we saw the usual 5:30 AM scene – my boss was mopping the floors with a satisfied look on his face. The floors were almost completely dry though, letting us know he had been here for a while already. The blindingly white lights from the ceiling bounced off the grey, speckled floors like children furiously playing tag. It was obviously empty but it felt more desolate that day, or at least that’s how I remember it.
My boss looked up from his ill-fitted task and gave us a smile with a firm hand wave. We said hi back, my mother being too modestly courteous as she always was, smiling in an almost apologetic manner. We retreated to the back kitchens. We had our morning routine down pat. She would enter the doors to the freezer room to get out the frozen slabs of meat and pre-made fries. I made my way to the cash register and started filling up the adjacent racks with cups. I was the cashier, so I stayed at that position essentially the entire day. With each stack of 4 or 5 cups emblazoned with the company logo that I put in the racks I tried to envision how satiated the person receiving them and subsequently filling them with iced refreshments would feel. They would feel amazing. The family coming in for an early morning breakfast, the man on his lunch break from working overtime, and the late night homeless man who was sure to stop by; I’d hand them all cups and feel as if I had accomplished some sort of monumental achievement. It was kind of stupid to feel that way, but it was my juvenile stupidity that kept me going in those times.
As I was placing the cups in the racks, I saw the double sliding doors start to open, and from them emerged one of my coworkers. My mother and I were always the first ones there, besides my boss, so we got to greet every one of them as they gradually arrived in the morning. On that day, Brenda. Brenda was a pudgy girl, fat and plump. She was Hispanic, and had terrible teeth. Surprisingly she was only 20, not too far from my age at the time. Her hair was always messily slicked back. She left pieces in the front to stick out freely because I guess she thought it looked nice or something. I thought it looked Medusa-esque or something. She wore a white collar shirt, part of the uniform, that was two sizes too small. Her brown skin contrasted with the piercing white in such a way that you could see her from perhaps three, four blocks away. She smiled at me as she entered through the doors, simultaneously fixing her frizzy hair and tight clothes. I smiled back and said hi, not pausing from my almost religious task. My boss was mopping still, although it definitely was overkill, and he waved back at her in his firm manner. She walked to the back where my mother was and closed the door. I could hear them chattering, yet about what a 50 year old could have in common with a 20 year old was past me.
With each cup that fell so neatly into the rack, my mind started to eventually doze off, and I started to think about things. I thought about what I was going to do that summer. I didn’t want to do anything outrageous like go on a road trip or really anything like that. I didn’t want to stay home though. I wanted to explore. I wanted to meet new people and do a lot of exciting things, however horribly cliche that may sound. That day after work I was planning on heading over to a group interview for a job opening at a bookstore that I’d been visiting since I was 15 years old. I knew I didn’t have much of a chance to get the position but it was a possibility at best. Besides, I didn’t really like working at Wendy’s. Well regardless, I thought to myself, I would probably go since I didn’t want to give up so easily.
These were the things that were going on in my mind before it happened. That horrible thing.
Imagine that you are riding on a bus, or a car, or a train or even a plane. You are absorbed into a book that you’ve been reading for a week, and you are almost at the climax point. Your head is bent in a crow-like fashion into the organs of the literary work and your hands are almost sweating from excitement. Suddenly, your vehicular locomotive experiences a bump in the ground, or air. Turbulence. Gruntled and disturbed you look up at whoever is operating the vehicle, almost, so closely, screaming your lungs out at them for disturbing or scaring your calmly intriguing activity. With a mundanely passive normalcy they wave their hand as if to say “yeah yeah sorry.”
This is how I felt when the robber entered the store. I was so caught up in my book, and the vehicle that I was on didn’t just experience a tiny bump in the road; it crashed. Crashed, and spontaneously combusted, slowly disintegrating into nothing more than metallic road kill.
He walked with such cool fervor toward the counter, where I was filling the racks with cups. He wore nothing more than a blue hoodie and black jeans. They were so oversized that you could barely see his shoes. I doubt scum like him had even worn shoes that day, or ever as a matter of fact. Over his face he wore a red bandana. My mother kept a red bandana in the kitchen to cover her face whenever she would clean, since she used heavily harsh chemicals. My stomach cringed. It self emolated itself. I couldn’t feel my stomach.
I didn’t know what to say or how to even feel. This had never happened to me. This had never happened to anyone I knew. I felt that it shouldn’t have been happening to me. I mean, why would it be? I stopped thinking all of these baselessly hopeful things as soon as he showed me the gun though. It all happened so quickly, but at that particular instant, when he drew the gun to my face, time slowed down. It virtually stopped. All the special relativity stuff Einstein had been talking about was happening then. Time was viscous quicksand.
He reached into his pocket and proceeded to grab the black, brilliantly shiny killing utensil. I was sure to observe his every movement. He was kind of a novice at getting things out of his pocket to be honest. I didn’t know what he had in his left one; all I do know is that that particular pocket was the pocket the gun was in. It seemed like such a mundane task. That’s what made it disgusting to me. It seemed as if someone had ordered a large drink and was merely reaching into their saggy denim mass to retrieve two dollars. It seemed so normal. But to my avail it was anything but. I wish it had been.
Soon enough the man looked back up from his chore, if it may even be called that. He looked over to me in such a swift manner, almost hitting my face with his naively adamant demeanor. His bandana only concealed the bottom of half of his face, and I could see his eyes. You know how some people say that you can tell everything about a person from their eyes? The window to the soul. What malarkey. I couldn’t tell any one thing about this person that I had barely met. “Met.” What a proclamation.
My boss was in the background for the entirety of the robbing, not daring to make a move. It was weird though, that he didn’t. All the time I worked there he seemed to be such a rugged, tough man. People change in the face of danger I guess. With the mop still in hand, he looked over to the cash register scene with a broken face. I could hear my mother in the back still chattering away to Brenda, dumb towards reality. It was so stupid.
Brandishing the weapon in my face, the crook told me to empty the contents of the cash register in a bag he had so politely given me. I could smell the death protruding from it. I could smell the ghastly rust coming off of it so strongly, like the smell of a freshly baked cake pervasively filling the warm contents of your house. It wasn’t as pleasing as a cake though. If there were an antonymous item for how a gun smells, it would be cake. That’s the best I can describe it.
The entire time I moved so mechanically. Three times. That’s how many arm motions I had to accomplish in order to fill his bag of greed with the previous day’s money. My emotions were shot. They were diseased, and tainted. I felt nothing and I could imagine that on the security footage of that day, I looked fine, as though normally getting change out of the cash register for a customer. My god.
The rest is jumbled into my memory. How the robber managed to get away so quickly and safely, I honestly don’t know. How my mother reacted when she came out and found what had happened, I’m not sure. How my boss reacted after the robber left, I no longer know. I haven’t seen any of these people for years. I promptly moved out after the incident to an insane asylum. My mother begged me not to leave but I couldn’t stand living there any more. The Center, as it was euphemistically called, was a horrible place though.
I’ve run away from there now too.
In a way I’m sad that I’ve repressed these thoughts for so long, ten years to be exact. I no longer know any of these things because I have worked long and hard bludgeoning my memories. Far too long and much too hard. I’m tired of it all. That’s why I’m writing this letter. As I sit here, at the edge of an abandoned lake, legs crossed like a child with a crayon and notebook in hand, I can’t help but ask why it happened to me. I can’t help it. To who I’m asking, I don’t know.
I guess we’ll find out. We’ll all find out sooner or later.
Suicide letter of Thomas Lance