Suicide no. 69: Change
–by Derek Alan Wilkinson
One tuna sandwich. A bottled water. A new tooth brush. He swiped his debit card through the self-checkout machine. Six dollars and seventy-nine cents later, whatever replaced the old dot matrix printers of times past spat out a receipt that he’d discard: along with dot matrix printers, the bag he put his purchases in, and whatever dreams he’d had of himself as a child.
Half an hour for lunch. Then, back to the grind: the muddy groundwork for what would one day become–once the construction was finished–the new St. Paul’s Hospital Cancer Treatment Center.
“If they ever cure it, this building will be a waste” he thought, as he shoved what tasted like a rotted-out article of clothing that washed up on the riverbanks of the Mississipi river: the one he and his now-deceased father used to fish out of.
He finished his cardboard excuse for a sandwich, dangling his legs off of the back of his ’88 Ford pickup’s tailgate, and jumped down to force back its rusted, muddy hinges. Just when he reached into his toolbox to grab his belt, something caught the corner of his tired eye:
“Yaaaaay!” screamed a wonderlust-driven five-year-old girl, as she sprinted across the steamy pavement in front of the supermarket where he was parked.
Which was right at the time an SUV with an unnecessarily bass-driven stereo came whirring around the corner of the overcrowded lot–marked off by its array of worn but bright yellow paint and pointlessly placed, blown over orange cones–trying to beat some poor old timer, barely able to see over the wheel of his luxury sedan, into a parking spot that would’ve only saved either driver about fifteen feet of walking.
“Shelly, stop!” The mother’s scream deafened everyone in the plaza.
Just ten feet away from what he saw was going to happen, he just acted out of some instinct–something that came from some unknown place and from an uncertain time in his childhood. His mind became an exploding transformer on the telephone pole of everything he knew to be illogical and irrational. And yet, in the end, the decision he made put everything that had happened in his life into place, if only for a moment.
In a matter of less than three seconds, he dropped his toolbelt, he ran, and he dove–shoving the little girl safely back into the sidewalk governing the entrance to the store. While the child was frightened, and crying from the scrapes on her knees, the construction worker was pinned and broken in two–underneath three or so tons of a gas guzzling monster: one that was now at a dead halt, and with its front axle straddle over top of him.
While passerbys surrounded him, muttering, awing, and asking him questions he couldn’t comprehend, his final breath could only resound part of what his dying thoughts were:
“Thank…God…. This…changes everything.”