(How about 1000 words, instead of 500?)
Suicide no. 11: Toy
–by Derek Alan Wilkinson
Bald tires barely gripped rain-drenched pavement on I-97, while a dashboard clock flashed 1:37AM. The vehicle slid, which was not noticeable to him at all in his drunken haze. All the while he only thought to himself: “Why call anyone? Nobody needs to know I’m out here.”
Yet, there he was, now hours away from home in Cincinnati and about an hour outside of the outskirts of Baltimore. Just driving. He didn’t have a goal or a purpose, anyone to see or visit. He didn’t even have a plan for when or where he’d sleep that night. What he did have was now a half-gone bottle of Kentucky bourbon, an excuse for any highway patrol officer to drag him out of the Jeep and beat him senseless, and a good enough reason as any for one to do so while issuing a DUI.
But he drove, and skidded, and listened to everything from The Beatles to Stevie Nicks—only having to stop for gas and pay a riddled cashier two times, in fistfuls of quarters, nickels, and dimes that he’d taken from his sister’s coin bottle. Why, of all the soundtracks in the world, did he dig through his parents‘ CD collections? He shoved one disk after the other from the stolen desk drawer. When he was done listening to as much as he could stand, he simply pulled each one out of the truck’s audio system and tossed it carelessly out the window when he was done—to prove a point, at least to himself: that he wasn’t going to be the next them.
Each droll, green-and-white sign highlighted the next town, and the next sign. His speedometer registered well over the speed limits about two-thirds of the time. He didn’t know the roads, recognize the names of the cities, or care—for that matter. He didn’t know the weather forecasts for the storm, either. He just drove through it—drenched, and propelling himself forward in the way that most of us do through life: without a single thought, but a whole head full of emotion, and, at least in his case: whiskey.
Foreign places often become our new homes and new starts, he thought.
The usually Native American names of places gave way to Dutch-colonized townships. Each time he’d pass a marker that reminded him of something from his past, he’d thrust his already-bloodstained fist deep into the Jeep’s dash—unable to accept or change the circumstances that led him on the drive in the first place. He just had to get away: from them, from her—Hayley. His ex-girlfriend. The one who drove him to drinking and driving that night. The one who always took more than she gave, and yet, insisted that she loved him—wanted to have “his children.” All that stupid shit.
She was seventeen. What did she know? Hell, what did he know? He was only barely twenty-one. The world, even before he got in the truck, went by quick and in a blur. All these childhood things gave way to grown-up things in a way that never made any sense: like the things that used to matter no longer do, and the world is a different place now that you have to live in it, and work.
And work, he did. Mostly odd jobs, even as early as fifteen. Now, he’d been in the Union for two years. He made more than his thirty-two-year-old cousin who worked in accounting with his degree—almost twice as much. Yes, the world was a strange place, and it had its rules; almost an endless line of red tape, and an ever-growing strip-malled-sprawl, the world won’t stand for letting go of its precious, pointless god-damned rules.
And he wanted to break them all—to watch something go wrong. Why? Because what went right never made him feel “right” at all. Why should he drop out of school just to make more money than someone who always made straight A’s—someone who “played the game?” Why did his parents scold him so hard for not giving a fuck, when it wasn’t worth giving a fuck about to begin with?
And why did they even act like they still were “in love?” he thought.
Those two idiots couldn’t muster up “romance” if their entire, pathetic lives depended on it. Yet, that’s all they talked about: like their whole lives hinged upon the idea that it was “built upon their love.” He’d wondered if their entire concept of “love” collapsed, if they’d even want to go forward with something as insane as a divorce? Yet, they’d bicker endlessly about the smallest things—which was the easy part. The hard part was listening to them scream at each other for at least two wretched hours three times a week—on a good week.
But that was their fantasy. And maybe that was it—fantasy. He’d remembered how he spent his time as a child: wrapped up in video games. That was his toy, back then—his escape from reality. He’d build armies, or cities, or whatever the computer would let him—until he got bored building in his head, and decided to start building something in real life. Then, he started working—and never stopped, since: driving himself forward.
Things were so much easier when you had ambition: when you could build without borders, or reason, or rules. Or girlfriends, and their own insatiable desire to create something: life. He imagined how much child support would cost him, weekly. He calculated it. Luckily, he never got her pregnant. At least, that’s how he thought of it: luckily. As if life were such a bad thing to build: to repeat.
And this thought he couldn’t escape, nor the rain.
With that thought in his alcohol-drenched, stubborn brain, he drove faster and faster. His tires failed, his skill undermined by the storm.
And he’d slam his foot on the gas, and keep going until himself, his life, and the Jeep were just another tragedy among the halo wreaths placed among endless mile markers by people like Hayley.
Inspired by the Daily Post: