Suicide no. 21: Fast Forward, Rewind, Play, and Eject
–by Derek Alan Wilkinson
The VHS player did what it needed to before Edward Hodge could bring the video back….
He needed to fill up on gasoline. That business trip was poorly planned around an oil embargo that made every filling station a watch point for police officers.
But he had to keep moving. The company would’ve paid for his hotel for another week, but his son was still in Omaha, and people already raided the grocery store for whatever they could find. That’s what people do in these situations. It’s what Eddy was going to do. His family needed provisions, and he was a provider in those days.
Wendy was waiting for him, too. Wendy was “the One,” or so he thought in his young naivety. Wendy didn’t have the means to leave home without Eddy; he was the only one with the vehicle. She was his high school sweetheart made into his stay-at-home wife.
After four hours of driving, fighting, and waiting, Eddy finally did make it home: with steaks, milk, bread, canned foods, and gallons of water. He always pulled through—no matter whether the world was going to Hell or not. Eddy Junior was excited to see his dad. Wendy had a look in her eyes that Eddy Senior didn’t like.
“We need to talk.” And those eyes went cold.
That was the day when the idea of divorce first crept in. That unforgettable evening, followed by a year-and-a-half long battle to keep his family intact—a battle that ended with the failure of a marriage.
Eddy sat in a musty-smelling apartment, littered with empty beer cans that kept drawing in more and more gnats. He thought about calling Eddy Junior, but the two hadn’t talked in two years. He thought about maybe reaching out to Wendy—who had already remarried and moved to Virginia.
No, those parts of his life were over.
Maybe he could call his aunt, who only lived a few blocks up the street from the apartment. He was out of words, though. With no real way of warning the world, and no real reason to, Eddy just sat with his last can of beer, scrawling out only the words “I’m sorry” on a crumpled up piece of paper he’d decided to sign—as if his signature made the note more legitimate.
And then, there was his pistol—loaded with but one bullet.
With his remote control, Eddy sat back in his recliner and pushed play on the VCR:
“Smile for the camcorder, Eddy!” There sat his son, in a high chair, covered in birthday cake. It’s funny the things we laugh at. Of course he’s going to be covered in it—he’d just turned a year old. That whole scene would’ve been stereotypically stupid if that little boy was anyone other than Eddy’s only son. The video always played up until the one part, the one that made Eddy ball up inside, and die.
“I love you, Daddy.”
Eddy used to sit and watch the video, rewind it, and watch the same part over and over—trying to remember what it felt like to be who he was. This time, he let the video play through. It skipped to different moments. Eddy Junior swung on the swing set, begging Wendy to push him higher. Then, there was Junior at age six, holding up a piece of construction paper adorned with his hand-painted stick family.
Several other memories surfaced on that old VHS tape that forced Eddy to recollect better, happier times.
But then, the tape skipped to something Eddy hadn’t sat there long enough to see before.
“We shouldn’t be doing this, Johnny.”
“What, you scared he’s going to find it?” And the camcorder sat on the edge of the nightstand in this take, while Wendy—scantily adorning lingerie, sat and awaited to make her sex tape with who would later become her new husband.
That’s what happened, then. After all these years, Eddy finally discovered, through watching home movies that used to make him fill nostalgic, that his wife had been having an affair on him, and that he was fortunate—if you could call it that—to have made away with the evidence during the divorce.
That’s also the moment he realized he was going to need to fill the rest of the chamber on his revolver, and take a several-hour-long drive to Virginia before he did what he’d planned on doing all along.
After all, this week wasn’t just going to end itself with suicide: it was going to finish up with murder, too.
Inspired by the Daily Prompt: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/daily-prompt-forward/