Suicide no. 5: The Repeater
—by Derek Alan Wilkinson
Unlock the office door, with its cylindrical, Abloy-style, cylindrical-keyed entry. Push 1-6-3-8-9, then #, then -ENTER- to disengage the alarm. Do this within sixty seconds of unbolting the front door, else the siren goes off and the police show up in the plaza. And he embarrasses himself in front of the cute fast food girl that works next door, again—which he won’t let happen.
This matters to him, even though she’s about sixteen and he just turned forty-two.
The computers need booted next. He starts with cubicle number sixty, and works his way back through all five rows. Number sixty is connected to a shoddy power strip that will kick off and reboot the first five computers—all of row three—unless number sixty is turned on first. This causes the IT crew some inconvenience, and Tom’s already pissed off enough at his cheating wife as it is.
Next, he needs to log himself in to the manager’s console. He does this thirty to forty-five minutes before his eighteen to twenty-something-aged crew arrives, just in case anything goes wrong. No sense in wasting time after eight-thirty: those minutes are precious company time. Inbound calls come in at that hour, and the crew needs to be ready for them.
Following suit is almost exactly four hours of routine escalation, basic training Q and A, and tracking and monitoring lunch breaks and absenteeism—typical employee auditing. He keeps all of his ducks in a row. The dominoes fall. Then, lunch: which is always followed by the same training session in room 401A.
He’s given that same lecture to the newcomers in the call center for the past four years.
All changes follow the proper channels. Someone in HR gets a fax. Copies are made and dispersed to mid-management—and are implemented accordingly. If someone has an issue following through, or a question, see Jeanine.
During the evenings, he takes the A-49 bus home. Sometimes, Doug boards the bus—usually if he has his twin daughters—Ada and Francine—with him. Doug only gets them on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and every other weekend.
When he gets home, three or four whiskey sours usually put him to sleep, only to awake to board the A-15 inbound.
But not tonight.
Tonight, a nine millimeter Ruger will be loaded with but one hollow point round.
Tonight, he will dream of the life he wanted with Melissa. He will dream of the girl who left him in college to marry, have children, repeat her own cycle. Tonight, he will finally call his mother, and try to make amends.
Tonight, he will throw darts again, as usual. But he will hand write a note to Dotty: the next door neighbor who has committed herself to small talk in a dimly lit hallway for years—secretly hoping he’d join her for dinner. He will leave that note on the door to his one bedroom apartment, for her to find.
And she will be the first to respond to the gunshot.