"'No. I can't. I'm not strong enough." Those are his last words before the bullet explodes from the barrel, bore through his skull and bundle of tissue that controls all vital functions in the body, and comes out again trailing blood and bits of the life- sustaining tissue. The bullet continues its pin straight flight while the crimson splash of gore falls- spatters, rather- onto the soft, damp earth and into the light aquamarine water. I stand numb, disbelieving, heavy hearted. Everything is warping, twisting, hazy. Questions race though my mind a mile a second [forget a minute!]: Did I do or say something wrong? Do I do too much? Too little? What? Why?
I open my eyes to a completely white scene. White, how typical, I thought. Just like in one of those near death experience things you see in movies and on TV. How ironic that I'm thinking this. While I may be merely leaning over the cliff of life, that guy has already plunged down into that black, bottomless chasm. "Oh! You're awake!" I turn my head towards the owner of the voice. It is a kindly looking nurse, petite, brown, almost black eyes, and raven hair flowing to her waist. "Where am I?" I inquire. "You are at Longroad Hospital. A passerby heard a gunshot, found you in shock and on your knees, a man lying on the ground bleeding, and a gun and called 911." "How is he? Is he alright?" Stupid question, of course not. The nurse merely shakes her head. "No, he was already deceased when the ambulance arrived. Can you tell me what happened?" What happened today. It'll never leave my mind. Images of that occurrence flood my mind, leaving me dazed. He was a stranger to me up until today, I start to explain. Why is everything so blurry? Without fate or whatever brought about our meeting, I probably would have never known him or even lay eyes upon him. I had been on my way to the quaint lake I often went to whenever I needed to clear my mind, be alone, or just chill. That was where I encountered him.
His large, muscular back is to me, and a hand the size of a shovelhead is curled around a gun- it looks like a pistol of some sort. That hand, trembling like the surface of water trembles whenever a small drop landed on it, rises to a head held up by a slouching neck. A finger on the tremulous hand is on the trigger and is about to squeeze it when. "Stop! Please!" I shout. Startled, the man jumps and turns at the same time. He shoots me a look that is slightly astounded and more than slightly vexed at my call breaking his train of thought. Good, because that train is not a good one to be on. I should know. "Leave. This is none of your business." "It's none of my business, huh? That means I can't be concerned about a fellow human being?" "Fuck off! You don't know me, so just fuck off!" "I may not know you, and I may not know what's happening in your life, but I've felt the agony of hopelessness, the sense that life is too much to endure. But it gets better! It always does!" The man lets out a cynical snort. "What would you know?" "A lot actually." Another cynical snort. "Tell me about it." "I will. Imagine being 11 years old and wanting to die. Having stones of derision cast at you daily just because of who you are. Daily threats to your safety and life. Planning to kill yourself after school instead of planning to hang out with your friends. Just think about it." The man stares at me with an indiscernible, but not malicious, countenance for a moment before inquiring, "Does this 11 year old really exist?" "Yes, as a matter of fact." "Where is this child now?" "Right in front of you," is my reply. His reply is eyes and mouth formed into Os as a result of shock so intense that his shovel- like hand almost straightens enough to drop the gun. Almost. But not quite. After a few tense moments of silence like this: "No shit?" "None as far as I know. Listen, I'm 16 now. If I could survive that torment at 11 years of age and basically go on with my life, then surely you can. You seem older than me. How old are you?" "Thirty." "There you go. Now, while we're swapping life stories here, how 'bout telling me yours?" "Who said that we were swapping life stories? Anyway, I come home after a long, exhausting day at work and find my wife in bed, nude, bouncing on top of some bastard as dressed as she was and young enough to be her son. She's six years older than me, you know." You don't say, I thought with a casual surprised tone. But I commiserate with him. I know how it is, thinking that the one you like- I am reluctant to use the word love - reciprocates, only to spit in your face, literally and figuratively. "Naturally, I was shocked and pissed, to say the very least. When she heard the bedroom door open, she just smirked and said, 'Oh, you're home early' in this sickening smug tone of voice. 'I've found someone better, you worthless piece of shit- no, you're lower than shit.' That made me think, look who's talking. I'm not the one convincing people that they love them and then stabbing them in the back out of the blue. No, worse than stabbing: Entering their hearts, mutilating it, then ripping it out and stomping on it." I nod empathetically. "I feel you. After all, I've been in that same position: being abandoned, feeling alone, like you don't matter, that you are expendable. But one thing that kept me going was that if I was to give in to them, just lay down and give up, than they would win. They wouldn't care if I happen to be lying in a pine box. They would probably relish the fact that they were powerful enough to get someone to kill themselves. And I was, and am, not about to let that happen. You shouldn't either." The man looks deep in thought, his hand lowering slightly, and hope slithers towards my heart that I've convinced him to get away from that narrow brim between life and death. That hope is squashed when, to my horror and frustration, the gun rises again. His eyes plainly betray his resignation and a glint of gratitude. Sounds escape from between his lips and reach my numb, distraught ears.