Boy on The Edge.
The gun felt strangely heavy in my hand. I turned it over and over, absorbing the chill of the pitted gun metal into my left hand. Twenty year's worth of uncleaned fingerprints had left an even, almost beautiful, blurry patina over most of the pistol. I’d just plucked the small firearm from the dank depths of balled up, snot-encrusted tissues and empty, squeezed out tubes of Poli-Grip denture adhesive underneath my father's creaky double bed. I sat there, dazed, numb and not really comprehending, just staring out into the dusty Carolina heat, panting like some dog that had been too long without water.
The throbbing, bloodied fist that had just moments before crashed through the thin sheet of glass in the backdoor of my father's house, barely made itself known as I raised the pistol to my mouth, kissing it almost as intimately as any lover I'd ever had. Licking the teary taste of my own blood from my lips, I lowered the gun and aimed at my heart.
"Gotta hurry this up, not much time left," I urged myself. The Reverend Howard Sampson (dad) would be home from delivering his usual short Wednesday night prayer-meeting sermon in another half hour. The wind suddenly picked up, flinging sand into the confused face of a mangy brown poodle crossing the road in search of scraps or perhaps just a good fuck from the neighbor's Doberman.
I shivered, my eyes blurring the scene before me as I looking inward.” Almost home and almost over, Brett.” I mumbled, distracted by a sudden thought. Hadn't I read somewhere that you shit your pants when you die violently? No, I saw it on that Forensic Files show on the Discovery Channel. Yeah, that was it. God damn creepy show!
“Not exactly a glamorous exit, huh, Brett ol’ boy?” I questioned myself and continued on in a TV announcer's voice, “Mr. Brett Sampson was found today in his father's north Davidson cottage, bullet hole in chest and sporting the droopiest, shit-filled pair of thrift store boxers this reporter has ever had the misfortune to see!" I chuckled sarcastically, trying to keep the delirious edge out my voice, "That'll be a pretty fuckin' sight, Brett!" I murmured.
I pushed the ugly image from my head and laid the gun back into my lap to consider again just how much I really wanted to die; to go through every mental file, in case I missed something. Surely, I’d find some reason, more matter how small, to give me hope and the courage to face the sun in the East tomorrow morning. Hell, to just be able to go on... Minutes go by and absolutely nothing comes to mind. I squeezed my eyes shut to stop the last few bitter, disappointed tears from escaping.
"You're already dead, Brett." I whispered to the barely discernible reflection in the dirty window glass. "See-already, you're fading, paper rose."
I bowed my head and cried harshly without ceasing for several minutes, but had to stop when I started hiccupping, "Don't do this now, you pussy!" I warned myself.
“ It's too...fuckin' late to be crying for...hic, hic... little Bretty, anyhow!”
A small part of me felt that I didn't really need this gun to die, that if I truly wanted it bad enough I literally could just lie down in the woods behind my dad's house and will myself to die. You know, me, semi-ethereal glow in place, lying on a bed of poison ivy and brambles, waiting for God to take my cold, trembling hand.
Don't believe the stories you hear after I'm gone. I didn't go crazy, I wasn't on drugs, nor was I a member of a satanic cult (My father will swear to the latter). Why now? Why the fuck not? I'm tired, tired as shit and I can't go on anymore. Simply put, my oft-complemented fount of optimism finally ran dry. Even I, dreamer that I've always been, have to face the cold, hard-core facts sooner or later:
*A goodlooking prince is not coming to rescue me anytime soon. I'm hardly a "good catch" anymore.
*I can no longer afford the medications that sustain my health. The state tells me it may be a year or longer before a slot opens up in one of their drug-assistance programs.
*I've had no home since David passed away, nine months ago. More often than not I can be found at the homeless shelter or sleeping under some bridge with my posse, a group of young crack heads and a few assorted winos. My family doesn't want me and crack heads don't ask personal questions. After much urging from a well-meaning social worker, the state has finally offered to let me room with a spotted, 86 year old man in one of the local urine-soaked rest homes.
*That offer of a well paid, rewarding job (with benefits) is not just around the corner.
*My health is steadily getting worse and I seriously doubt that I could work a 9-5/40 hour work week anyhow.
* My T-cells have dropped from the high 400’s to 71 at last count.
*I hardly recognize the harsh, lined face staring back at me from the mirror anymore. Could this be the cute, gay boy that used to model for the glossy department store Sunday flyers only ten years ago?
*I don't have two pennies to rub together. The state keeps telling me that I'm not sick enough to receive disability/social security benefits yet.
Perhaps, God only gives up so many blessings, so many chances to make something good out of life and if these opportunities are used up or squandered, his face is hid from us and we are very much alone. I try praying almost daily to rekindle some bond, some sense of the love I used to have for God, but I feel nothing, just emptiness. Whether I want to admit it or not, life has jaded me. Somewhere along the line, I stopped being the wide-eyed innocent little boy many years ago, I just never noticed until now.
It isn't true what they say, you know; that it happens so fast, you don't have time to feel anything. What a fuckin’ lie! I felt plenty. I felt the white hot flash of heat from the muzzle, stopping all eternity for me in that instant. I felt the impact briefly before I was thrown backward against the wall in a red, hot orgasm of blood. I heard the thick, wet sound of my body sliding down the wall into a sitting position briefly before I fell face first into the ancient, burnt amber carpeting. My heartbeat thundered in my ears as a cool, velvety darkness began to wrap me in its embrace. I felt myself falling, headfirst into this silent darkness, my heart slowing to it's final gentle thud. Its odd; now that it was here, I wasn't afraid; just relieved, very. I reached out for this darkness, willing myself into it. I was ready for it to be over, this business of dying... And no, my life didn't flash before my eyes, either. It was only my grandmother that came to me in those moments before I died. She gently stroked the back of my head with her long, knobby arthritic fingers, crying quietly, trying to wipe the blood from my eyes with a rank spit-soaked hanky. Oh man, how I’d had hated the numerous spit baths I suffered repeatedly as a child, but now it seemed almost cleansing as if she where preparing me to meet God.
“Gott im Himmel! Why James? Mein Gott, why?” Somewhere inside, I laughed. God, it had been so long since anyone called me James. I think I was smiling when I reached out for her cheap cotton housedress, trying to steady myself and struggled to roll myself over. I needed to look into her kind face one more time. But she disappeared as soon I lifted my head and I was more.
I wrote this the summer after I tested poz. I was distressed to say the least.