Calling Shots.

In 1987, a man drops an eight ball in the corner pocket, and goes home with a drunk girl impressed by this feat. Thirty years later, their son wonders if his life would’ve been better if his mother had made better choices.



Suicide no. 76: A Place for Roses

Suicide no. 76: A Place for Roses

–by Derek Alan Wilkinson

This will hurt me worse than you he thought, before he buried himself inside. Bloodstained bedsheets became the tell-tale signs of youth and tender virginity lost. The razor scars that carved her abdomen must’ve cringed her eyebrows as much as the pain that now penetrated her hymen—a temporary hurt, becoming the sort of blissful ecstasy that only firsts can ever know. Or will ever know again.

He felt the sting, sore in his gut, before he even knew her name. Now, six months later, they held each others’ sweaty hands—their hearts full of fear, wonder and lust.

“I have to leave” she said.

Nausea filled an empty hollow inside of everything he ever wanted to be. Her rose lips had grown thorns, enveloping his insides. He needed to feel their soft petals, to smell their perfume. To feel her inside of him—no matter how much it hurt, he couldn’t live without knowing her garden.

Her vacancy filled a dingy toilet with his undigested dinner.

Even if she only went home to her curious parents, she took everything that meant home to him with her. All he could think about deep into his sleepless night was wanting to become a part of her womb—an attempt at trying to get something back that he’d lost so long ago that he couldn’t remember when it was, or why. Or who he was becoming.

Not long after, warm petals gave way to the sort of winter that came as naturally as her need to move on. No matter how much she loved him, he could never replace cavalier freedom of youth. He’d wander empty school hallways, full of non-conversations between adolescent peers, until he knew he’d pass her and wave. When she stopped waving back, he knew everything was over.

To regret ever having been in love to begin with seemed begrudgingly ungrateful. Then again, he knew he’d turn into his dull and listless parents if he kept going as long as they did—aging and dying with each passing day of their lives.

With cold steel buried deep in his throat, he knew that he could only paint such need in a grotesque portrait—

A colorful array of reds and the grays of disillusionment that would stain the white and otherwise empty walls behind his skull, drawn recklessly by pulling the trigger in his mouth—

If only to preserve that garden forever.

Suicide no. 75: When the World Stopped Turning

Suicide no. 75: When the World Stopped Turning

–by Derek Alan Wilkinson

Police sirens spun as they wailed their own noise-symphony dirge. An antique of a Cadillac with tires and rims entirely too large to bear any resemblance of class that the vehicle manufacturers had in mind screeched to a halt—partly in order to avoid puncturing its over-sized tires on the blood-stained glass that now littered a what-was-once busy street, and in part only to observe a desperate man on the twelfth story of an abnormally large skyscraper plead for the narcissistic attention that came with choosing to climb on its ledge.

The police bullhorns went from echoing threats to bargains to pleas as the mid-forties, balding male clung—shaking his head no in every attempt to get him to come down, peacefully.

Strangers watched in fearful silence. A mother to a five-year-old girl kept trying to keep her daughter’s head buried into her thick, overpriced winter coat, but couldn’t help but wonder how things would turn out. Taxi drivers bitched with patrons walking out—some headed in the direction they were going to start with, others gathering with the rest to witness the spectacle. Some stood and watched in awe, some in disgust, and some didn’t stand at all—prefering to kneel in prayer, thinking that they could turn this whole scenario into a story that they’d tell in church to praise the power of God Almighty.

News crews set up cameras, and anchors pouted pretty, young lips—taunting them with delicate touches of lipstick to tell the whole city the outcome: whatever it wound up being. Other reporters questioned the crowd—trying to find out who stood ready to fall. Questions only led to other questions. No one knew the guy. His family was not among those held captive in that otherwise enthralled audience; no doubt, somebody he knew, somewhere, would wind up watching the desperation unfold on whatever local network decided to air the story.

Where was I when the world stopped turning?

The moment that the everlasting spin began to slow down, I was watching my wife walk across our lawn with our two children for the last time.

That was a month ago, to date.

Now? The fire department had unfolded a rubber solution for me—a platform for me to safely land on when I did decide to jump. The crowd started out begging me not to do the thing that they were now intent on getting me to do: “Jump!”

I might survive the fall, albeit with a couple broken bones and all. I probably would have—if I hadn’t already slashed open both of my wrists with shards of that shattered window. What most people couldn’t see—couldn’t realize—is that I was going to bleed to death before I even began my decent.

As I watch the sun set in the distance—perfect and pink and yellow—I feel myself becoming lighter and lighter. My head is as thin as paper, and I’m about to loose my grip, my posture, what’s left of my sanity, and my life.

And then, that’s where I’ll be when the world finally stops dead in its tracks, and swallows me away into…







Suicide no. 71: In Protest

Suicide no. 71: In Protest

–by Derek Alan Wilkinson

Riots and tear gas flooded the rain-dampened streets of a small town—so pointlessly innocuous that its cartography imitated graffiti on any map that bothered putting it in print. It doesn’t need a name, even though I’m from that place. Before that night, I figured it would turn out a ghost town in less than forty years, anyway.

That is, until I smelled that awful stench. Is that burning flesh??

Whatever it was, it started in Ferguson, and the movement would shift toward and wind up in big, so-called-important places where people pay too much money to live—cities like New York and Los Angeles—and work its way down the ladder to this hole in the wall. People were angry, desperate, and hurt that the Civil Rights Movement was still happening, in this era. WASPs thought that it was all over, but most everybody else knew better. I wondered that night, and still do, if it ever will be? It was the American Civil War all over again, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: remade and digitally remastered by angry people of color standing alongside bearded hipsters—some donning a protest-anything-for-the-sake-of-anarchy Guy Fawke’s mask, screaming their textbook politics into megaphones and scribbling them into nearly nonsensical signs.

Standing five-foot-five, and barely over a hundred pounds, I got jostled around like a pinball that night in the crowd. Regardless, I had to be a part of it. I believe in the kind of change that works its way from the ground up—grassroots and all—and I’ll be damned if I give birth to children that I couldn’t at least tell stories to: “I was there when it all happened!” I was surrounded by friends: some headstrong enough to believe that they really could have an impact, some who just wanted something to bitch about, and the rest were just sea-strung daydreamers shipwrecked by the hurricane of a certain kind of hurt that getting deeply involved with politics of any sort always left you with: dissatisfied, but wanting more change faster than the world would ever have it. Yet, all was well in that moment.

Until that stench clung to my nostrils.

Petroleum! It hit me just like I was pouring it into some soccer mom’s SUV, and had somehow gotten it all over myself. Then came the warmth; what I thought were the fires of some riot act happening too close for comfort turned out to be something else entirely. About fifteen feet away, and just out of range for anyone to stop the whole thing, I saw something that looked like an old and familiar Pulitzer Prize-winning photo: the year 1963 truly repeating itself. But this time, it wasn’t 1963 America: it was 1963 Saigon.

There he sat, motionless, cross-legged, and without a sound—the kind of monk who, instead of being bald and dressed in some orange habit, was clothed like he just stepped right off of Wall Street. From what I could tell, he was mid-thirties and white. He had a briefcase—something that, in this day and age, seemed outdated altogether.

And it was there, among about five-hundred tightly-packed onlookers, that a now-gone-silent crowd watched a man set himself on fire, and burn to skeletal remains before anyone with anything resembling a fire extinguisher could put him out.

And, even after they did, the fire just kept on burning.

It never did go out.






Suicide no. 69: Change


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.”

Inspired by: