by Matt Bender
The frailty in man is thinking that you can give your heart, your hard-earned life, to a woman and she will know how to take care of it. You were a victim of this, too, friend, when your woman left and you went home to hang yourself. When you told me this, perhaps the last thing you would ever say to anyone, I recognized my Jon Cheever moment: the moment in which I would drive out and rescue you from drowning, get there just in time, find you drunk on the beach and take you home. The trouble with this was that you were right there in front of me and so determined.
This was all in Florida, years ago, me having pulled up stakes at a young age and South Florida being so far out of the way of everywhere else in America: 54,000 mi. of flat highways, scruff pines and the piggy-eyed locals who bejewel the parking lots. I got you liquored up and picked you off the barroom floor. I put food in your stomach because you hadn’t eaten in three days. You told me how you had already thought the whole thing out, “researched” it. What kind of research, friend: the strength of the rafters, the weight-bearing ratios of clothesline?
There would be a flash unlike lightning as the rope took hold, your eyes ogling the chair where no note was left, five minutes of your tongue turning black and kicking, quiet, unceremonious other than the low glow of the soap slick wound that the officials would later reveal as the rope uncoiled and her thinking, Another burden, another bad memory.
That’s why, sitting at the all-night diner, I told you that dying slowly is more fun and that killing yourself for a woman is unoriginal. Your reply, no it’s not and the crash of your head falling forward onto the table (they never did find your glasses) and the waitress refilling my coffee, lying her dovelike hand on my shoulder and asking me if you were going to be okay, if there were anything she could do to help.