Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Suicide String - The Ballad of Al

"You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its flavor, with what will it be salted? It is then good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men."

With fevered hands he clumsily slipped the looped string around his wrist and tightened it. The wind was harsher and gustier than usual, adding to the sense of chaos and panic. Of course, it’s always somewhat windy when you're on a rooftop thirty floors up. As he reached the edge he hesitated, paused by the thought of the certain pain to come. But the soberness was drowned by waves of inner darkness, pressing him onward. This much he knew: he must have hope.

With pounding heart and sickened stomach, Al the Apoplectic teetered on the edge wall of the high rise building. It was nighttime and he was an unseen man. With nothing to live for – and everything to die for – he jumped. The string – as always – snapped sharply on his arm causing him to wince. But at least that way he knew was alive. Dangling 300 feet in the air exhilarated him and choked him. Al was a man who needed a way out and in this nether world between life and death he found sanctuary. If the string snapped, all problems were solved…

It had all started with the Election Won But Lost. Al had gotten the votes to justify his life but the results had been rigged against him. He never got passed the stinging bitterness. For his future for now, he saw nothing. For Al had been seduced by politics: the idea you can make the world a better place without becoming a better person yourself. With the strings of power ripped from his hands, he was left with only himself. And once there, Al found nothing…

Given enough time hanging, the spark of life resumed, cutting through the darkness. Terror had put him over the edge and terror pulled him back up. With a starry night above him, Al’s heaving chest looked down to where his precious life had literally hung by a thread. With shaking hands he gratefully pulled off the suicide string. But as he moved back from the edge and into safe haven, twinges of regret already started gnawing on him.

“Damn, it didn’t break!” greeted Tim the Tormented upon Al’s return. “The drama queen has arrived,” he dryly remarked.

“You know,” demurred Al, “your life isn’t so great, either. Maybe you should think about ways of improving yourself instead of always criticizing others.”

The stinging words failed to remove Tim’s smile. He knew Al’s reply before it came. Tim had to manipulate everything – even if it meant his own discomfort. He just hoped the other two – Façade Fred and Debby Do-Gooder didn’t join in. Tim’s tormented soul wasn’t sure it could handle all of that. But his gamble crapped out.

“Yeah, leave him alone,” joined in Fred, happy to return the torment to one who had so many times poked holes in his façade. “I bet ol’ Al over there has a heckuva better life than you.”

“It’s really not a nice thing to do,” weighed in do-gooding Debby. Rarely did she have the courage to raise an inclement word but she felt the wind at her back this time. “You would do much better to find ways to be positive.”

Tim’s burning soul lashed back at both. “Yeah, well, you’d do a lot better to keep your mouth shut like it should be. What kind of moron is positive about bullshit! And Fred-head thinks loser Al has such a great life then how the fuck do you explain him using the suicide string?”

No answers were to be found.

Sitting amidst so much blood, even Tim felt obligated to end on a few words of healing. “We’re all fucking janitors and our lives all fucking suck.” The words were directed at no one and to them all, helping to fill the painful vacuum of silence. Each returned to his rolling trash barrel in funereal solemnity. No one saw a way out. Where was hope?

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