- An explosive weapon detonated by impact, proximity to an object, a timing mechanism, or other predetermined means.
- A dismal failure or complete fiasco.
One: July 2nd 2013
“So, do I talk directly into the microphone?”
It was the first thing I remember saying that night, which seemed odd. The hairs in my nose told me that I was in the basement of a Chinese restaurant or something. Somebody must have ordered beef and broccoli in an industrial cleaning sauce: It smelled like beef with bleach. I know most of the restaurants in the area but I wasn’t sure how long I was in that van so pinpointing if this was Fong’s or Chong’s or Mow Wow Wow’s was an impossibility at that point.
I sat there with a throbbing black eye and blood oozing out of my mouth, a tooth dangled by a nerve, it tickled the inside of my bottom lip and I say, “So, do I talk directly into the microphone?”
I didn’t ask how I got there. I didn’t ask what was happening. I didn’t ask why I was duct taped to a chair underneath a spastic flickering light bulb, a moth banging its’ head against it, in the filthy bowels of a Chinese restaurant.
Maybe I did ask those questions. I don’t remember.
“Yes. Try not to yell. Even if it hurts,” that’s what the little guy in the suit said. He wasn’t little but in relation to the massive brick wall of a man standing in the corner, he was a tad on the smaller side. The typical generic black suit with a black shirt and tie.
He said, “…not to yell. Even if it hurts.”
That’s when I started yelling. And I don’t remember if I stopped.
I woke up and my face felt hot on my cheeks, like I had been slapped with a Pepperoni Hot Pocket. The little gorilla in the suit was making a drink in the corner. They had a really nice bar set up. A great fifties era ice bucket, round stainless steel, with little insect shaped novelty ice cubes. High Ball glasses with triangles embossed on them. Lots of dark alcohols. Weird how I remember all that, huh? Maybe I didn’t really see it.
“And I just tell you how I got here?” I asked.
I remember thinking how hard it is to talk when your mouth is overflowing with blood. Blood is so much thicker than saliva. Easy to choke, if one is so inclined.
He wanted to know something. Something he was wasn’t telling me. I had no idea how I got there. I had no idea where there was. I had no idea how to answer him.
“Yes. Tell me how you got here,” he said.
“What’s your name?”
I hoped he would tell me but I had seen enough movies to know that it usually doesn’t work that way.
“What’s the big guy’s name?” That’s what I asked him.
“What big guy?” he said.
Shit. There was no one else in the room with us. I laughed a little at this fact, which prompted, surprisingly, a laugh back from my new friend Karl.
“I’ve always liked you. So, just speak directly into the microphone. Start with your name and tell us why you are here. Tell me about July 1st.” He was getting impatient. He had a club in his hand.
I have no clue what this guy is talking about.
“You picked me up. I don’t know why I am here. You tell me!” I said.
I have a death wish. I actually do. Have a death wish, I mean
He high-stepped over to where I sat in the chair, well, I wasn’t so much sitting as I was attached to the chair. He put his face directly in front of mine. His blue eye looked right through me; the brown eye looked like it was dead. I was told not to trust people with this condition, the weird eye thing, but there was something about Karl that made me want to trust him. Maybe it was the loving way he had threatened to kill me earlier.
“Mr. Kent, you are exactly right. I picked you up. I brought you here. I tied you up to this chair, using the duct tape that you had with you. I know all of this. The most important thing is that I need to hear you tell me why you called us?”
That last part is where I lost my shit.
“I called you?”
“Just speak directly into the microphone. Start with your name.”
He had a really nice voice.
Two: June 11th 2013 Attempt 3238
“My name is Ferris Kent. June 11th 2013. Suicide attempt 3238. Unsuccessful. On the bright side, I can continue to wake up every day and try again.”
I have this little tape recorder. One of those hand-held things. I keep it in a black box under my bed. That’s where everyone keeps their dirty little secrets, right? Look under anybody’s bed and I bet you’ll find boxes filled with Barbie doll heads and Albino porno magazines shoved deep down behind loaded rifles, emptied bottles of mouthwash now filled with vodka and green food coloring.
My box is filled with failures.
Maybe three… maybe four times a week, usually in the mornings, I take that box out from under the bed and bring it into the can. I sit on the toilet and I just look at it, sort of like the way you look at a boil right before you decide that you have to lance it. With a mixture of dread and excitement—it will all be over soon.
My bathroom is exactly what you’d expect. Rust ring in the sink and shower from the dirty pipes and the contaminated water that pumps through the veins of this city, wherever we are. The mold on the tiles resembles my fantasy of what an x-ray of a cancer patient looks like. The paint peels around the edges of the walls, falling into little mountains on the floor in the same way my eczema- infected armpit skin piles up next to the sink. My sink drips. Only at night when I am trying to sleep, which isn’t really the easiest thing for me to do.
My shower curtain lining, the plastic part, smells like a litter box. The toilet has a brown tint that wraps around the bowl and seat. I think it might be blood stains. It’s not what you think. I’m not sure why, but there is a mirror right across from the john, so I have to watch myself every time I’m in there. A constant reminder of what I look like when I am doing all sorts of activities.
My left eye, it droops a little. Maybe because I drink too much. Maybe not. I got punched in the eye at a bar after I cried on some dude’s shoulder. I started to black out and got really excited about it. I thought I was close to dying, which would have been awesome.
Maybe three… maybe four times a week, usually in the mornings , I find myself sitting on that toilet, box on my lap, looking in my soap scum smeared mirror, left eye drooping, with my underwear off. When you die, you shit a little. It is a biological and clinical fact. So, I take them off before I kill myself. This way, if and when I’m found, no one will think that I messed myself on purpose. That would be a terrible asterisk to have in the legend of your tragic death. Could you imagine it? At the viewing, your aunt would say to your cousin, both of them you haven’t seen in years, “He died so tragically. I had no idea he was in that mental state. You know he shit himself before he died, right?” Then your cousin would look at his phone and then walk away because he never liked you to begin with.
So again, I found myself sitting on that toilet ready to cut my wrists and bleed out on the floor. Ready to drift away into nothing. I take a straight razor out of my medicine cabinet. It’s so hard to find one of those these days, a straight razor. Okay, maybe it’s not hard but it’s annoying to try and go out and buy a straight razor. It’s not like you can go to Target or CVS to get one. Maybe you can, I don’t know. Everything is so hard.
The straight razor, it sits next to a bottle of Ambien that I got prescribed from my first doctor. There’s a hypodermic needle and some Robitussin DM in there too. I also have dental floss. I take the recorder out of the box and press record. I do this…maybe three… maybe four times a week, usually in the mornings. I say,
“My name is Ferris Kent. June 11th 2013. Suicide attempt 3238. The straight razor.”
Taking that final look in the mirror is always a little unsettling. What if it doesn’t work? What then?
I pick up the razor and press it against my wrists. The slightest puncture, like a mosquito bite. A singular drop of blood, so small that it almost evaporates in the air, plops down into the rusty base of the sink and quickly slides down into the maze of hair-lined plumbing pipes. There is the tiniest speck of a wound on my wrist. I have always had a problem whenever I see blood…especially my own. This speck of blood, I see it and then I pass out, hitting my head on the toilet paper holder on the way down. This happens… maybe three… maybe four times a week, usually in the mornings. After a lot of blank tape, I usually pick up the recorder, and say,
“My name is Ferris Kent. June 11th 2013. Suicide attempt 3238. Unsuccessful. On the bright side, at least I can continue to wake up every day and try again.”
Three: July 2nd 2013
The gorilla in the suit, my new best friend Karl, was surprisingly gentle for a man of his size. He smiled and patted me on the shoulder, like a grandmother does when she wants to give you a Velamint or a Mentos candy after church. His hands were smooth and slightly feminine. I had hoped that he would’ve stroked my hair for a moment but the most I got from him was a pat on the shoulder. And not even any candy.
I guess I never fully realized how lonely I am.
“That was a good story but uh… not quite what I was looking for. We’ll try again,” that’s what he said to me. “You said you wanted a latte right?”
“With soy milk.” That’s what I said to him.
“You know, Ferris, I don’t do cow’s milk either. What kind of animals are we that we drink from the breast of another species? Name another creature that does that?” he said.
“Fish,” I said. “Maybe worms. Alligators.”
I was trying to get this over with as quickly as possible.
He didn’t react. He just walked over and sat down next to me—in a chair that I hadn’t even noticed. I hadn’t noticed a lot of things. Like the camera that had been filming me the entire time. I hadn’t noticed that Karl was eating a plate of Chow Mein Noodles and Trout covered with a Sweet & Sour Ammonia sauce.
“I think we need to get re-acquainted. Obviously some things have changed. Why don’t you tell me a little about yourself? Let’s start with some basics. Match.com sort of stuff. Tell me your name and tell me about where you live,” Karl said.
“My name is Ferris Kent and I live in an efficiency apartment with a full bathroom. I already told you about the bathroom, earlier. Other than that there is nothing. I don’t have a washer and dryer in my apartment. The building where I live has one washer and dryer but it is usually occupied by residents having sex on top of them with prostitutes. For the record, there are both male and female prostitutes working in my building. We are a very liberal building. How was that?”
“Excellent. Do you recall what happened on July 1st?”
“Don’t know. Did I drink bleach?” I said.
“No. Well…you may have…I don’t know,” he said. “Tell me your name and tell me about where you work.”
Either the light was buzzing or my brain was suffocating but I heard this low hum that sounded like it was coming from inside the walls. That time I stuck a fork in an electrical socket while soaking in a salt water bath, sounded the same way. It sounded like disappointment.
“My name is Ferris Kent. I work in an office building, somewhere in a city, wherever this is. An enormous dong of an office building that makes me feel inadequate every day. When nerds are teased in the gym showers, they build ugly dick-shaped buildings,” I said.
“What happened there on July 1st?” Karl said.
Maybe Karl was autistic. He was stuck on that July 1st thing. One of my therapists, number three I think, thought I might be autistic. Due to my fixation on suicide. I told her that I’m not fixated on suicide. I’m just not any good at it. I’m a disappointment. Everything is a disappointment.
“I don’t know what happened on July 1st?” I said.
“What do you do all day…at work?” he said.
“I stand in front of a copy machine all day watching replicas of facsimiles stack themselves into a tower of boredom.” That’s what I said to him.
“What did you do at work on July 1st?” he said.
The rumble in the walls was getting closer. It was probably rhinos or hippos outside about to smash through the door and rip our arms and legs from the sockets. Either that or dinner service was underway. I could smell Fish Eye Soup in mop water broth simmering in hot pots.
“How do you get along with your co-workers?” he said.
“Like one would expect me to if I was a character in a movie,” I said.
“Explain. Give me three examples.”
“Okay. This one day, a female co-worker that smelled like blue berries and Irish Spring soap walked up to the door of my room and saw me talking to the copy machine. It was jammed up so I was rubbing the side and saying nice things to it. She said, ‘What are doing?’
So I say, ‘I was just stroking it. It’s acting up.’
Her response was classic, ‘You smell like feces.’ That’s what she said to me.
So I said, “It is feces, thank you very much.’
Some other fresh eyed bobble-head walked by and he asked me, ‘So what do you make copies of?’ I looked back at him, slobber trailing from the machine to my lips and said, ‘Anti-work propaganda and cries for help.’
This girl from accounting said, ‘What do you in here all day?’ I said, ‘Sob uncontrollably,’”
That’s what I said to Karl and then I started crying and couldn’t stop.
“Good job Ferris.” Karl said.
No one had told me ‘good job’ in so long that I had forgotten what it meant.
“Now that we’ve gotten all the extra junk out of your brain, I need you to really think. I don’t need to know anything else about you. The only thing I care about is what happened on July 1st? You need to see this from our point of view. To say we were surprised to hear from you again is a bit of an understatement. We cannot have any loose ends here. Mr. Tingler made that very clear. Maybe tell me the last thing you remember.”
As soon as he said the name Tingler, I felt like I had been struck by lightning. The last thing I could remember was wondering where was my dad. Weird huh? That’s the last thing I remember.
Four: May 8th 1980 The Black Sow
The first time I was struck by lightning was when I was six years old. I was riding my bike in a field behind my house. Over the ridge were these rolling hills, like you see in a dime store postcard. My friends and I would ride down them and pretend we were in a motorcycle gang called the Falcons.
There was a rumble in the trees and out of nowhere this big black sow charged over the ridge, snorting and frothing at the mouth, headed straight for me. I was riding as fast as I could to get back to the house. My little feet in my grocery store-bought sneakers peddled so fast that one of my shoes flew off and shot back hitting that big black pig in the face. That pig swallowed the whole shoe and kept on charging at me, hungry for that other shoe, I bet. I split through the fence and the sow followed after me and then all sudden like she flipped, rolled ten times down the hill squealing the whole time. Then, I heard a snap like a stick of beef jerky. Broke her neck clean.
I did what any six year old boy would’ve done…I went back to look at that dead pig.
When I saw it, I started to cry. Pig’s tongue hanging out of the side of its mouth, all blue and swollen. Its left eye drooping down. I thought about its babies. Those babies got nowhere to get milk from now, I thought. I wanted to run home but I couldn’t. I was stuck there like that mosquito I saw in an IHOP syrup jar that time we were on vacation in Florida.
I took one step past the sow and the echo of a loud cracking sound swelled up around me and then I felt my feet come up off the ground. I hovered in the air, still–like the way you sit in a funeral home. Not moving. Just hovering. That dead sow underneath me. Everything was quiet. I listened the wind whistle through my arm hair, which stood straight up. In that moment, so silent, I saw my six years, three months, four days, nine hours and fifteen seconds pass right before me. Then I saw all the years of disappointment that were heading my way. I didn’t understand but all sorts of people that I knew were there. I saw my father, but his face looked like a scratched-out picture and he was talking to someone else that had a big shiny cross for a head. My mother was just standing behind him looking off into space, playing an organ. They didn’t even know I was there. There was a man in a business suit just reading me the riot act, but looking straight through me. My great grandfather was there, mowing the grass right up next to that sow. He used to scare the crap out me because he didn’t have an eye. He was wearing long sleeve flannel shirt. He had two big beautiful blue eyes and was spitting chewing tobacco in the yard.
I saw a blinding beam of light, and then a red shot of fire. I heard a choir hitting high notes and then a train barreling down the highway, screaming and snorting like that dead sow was just a few minutes before.
Next thing I remember my feet had bees crawling inside them and my legs buckled on the hard ground. The only odor was sulfur. No flowers. No fresh cut grass. No dogs in heat. There was a burning patch of my hair on the top of my head. No sound except a deep flat humming sound. I looked up and my mom was over top of my face. She was screaming but nothing was coming out. She looked like she was fakin’ it. She scooped me up and put me into our station wagon with wood paneling on the side. She said I kept saying something about a microphone.
That was my first taste of near-death. And all I kept wondering was where was my dad?
Five: July 2nd 2013
At first, I thought that Karl might’ve been an elementary school teacher in his spare time. You know, when he wasn’t working as someone’s muscle. Somebody’s strong arm. He was really good with me. He had a patient and sweet demeanor. I felt like that right up to the point when he walked up to me and hit me hard in the head with his billy club.
Everything went black. Just like it does in the movies.
It started on the outside of my eyes. In the top and in the corners. You know how when you flush your toilet with your head in it? The way the water rushes around the top of your head and then it flows into the corners of your mouth? Well, that was what this was like. The darkness swept over my eyes like a pot of black coffee inside of a flushed toilet.
Everything was in slow motion. Just like it is in the movies. Just like when you drink a bottle of codeine cough medicine.
That moth kept banging its head against that flickering light bulb. Only real slow. The tiny flecks of bug skin floating through the air after it made contact with the bulb, floated through the air like snowflakes. The filament vibrated each time it got hit. The same way my head pounded, my eyes throbbed. My chest and back. My arms and legs. My feet. My balls and my butthole. Everything hurt. I thought I was dying, which had been a lifelong dream of mine but I was just passing out. Once I realized this I got real disappointed.
Everything sounded like a tape recorder that needed new batteries. All the sounds in the world must have been struggling to come out because they seemed to take forever to enter my ears. But they were there, alright. I could tell. I could feel all those words and letters and emotions pressing down hard around me.
That moth hit that light bulb and his skull clinked against the thin glass. He groaned a little but then he’d do it again. The pieces of grey dust bunnies falling out of the vents landed in the mop water with a splash. They fell into a bucket of brown, milky slush and drowned in that muck and I got jealous. Then there’s Karl, talking really slow. He was on a phone, pacing back and forth across the room like a cat that’s waiting for you to be done changing its litter box. They get real nervous when you do that. I heard him say a few words that sounded like they were coated in syrup when they came out of his mouth. He said, “Ball bearings…glass…definitely happened…impossible to recognize…burns…”
He walked over, put his hand over the mouth piece and said, “What happened on July 1st, Ferris?”
I tried to answer, even though I had no idea what happened on July 1st. If I played my cards right he might hit me again. Maybe water board me.
“Did I try to swallow a rusty screw again? On July 1st? I did that one time you know. A whole bunch of them. I have a horrible gag reflex,” that’s what I said.
The room, the walls, everything looked like it was colored with a fuzzy crayon. This big blob moved towards me. It was Karl and he was getting bigger and bigger and bigger till he was right in my face breathing on me. His breath smelled like Pork Fried Rice and Pine-Sol.
“We can’t keep dancing around like this. What happened on July 1st? You should not be here right now. Ferris?”
Karl slapped me in the face with the back of his hand. Is he wearing a frozen steak glove on his hand? That’s what I thought. I’m not even sure if that is a thing…a frozen steak glove. Maybe it is? I don’t know. It’s so hard to keep up with everything.
I realized that I wasn’t paying attention to anything he said.
“Actually, I swallowed the screws back in June. June 17th ,I think, it was. I threw them up right away. Suicide attempt 3240, I think. My second therapist said I probably have such a bad gag reflex because my mother had unusually long nipples or maybe because she couldn’t produce milk and I probably would suckle too hard and choke,” I said.
I saw that dead sow sitting on the floor next to me. My dad was nowhere to be found.
Karl dumped that bucket of chocolate milk mop water on me. Seemed like as soon as he did that everything sped up to normal speed, just like in the movies. He went to the back of the room, floated back there like a bat would’ve. He sounded like he was a thousand miles away, sitting inside of a big tin can.
“I want you to think about something specific. All these other things that you have told me are great. It’s one of the reasons why we agreed to work with you. You needed us and we needed you. But we do not need this. I need to know what happened to you. How is your stomach feeling?”
“That’s really sweet of you. To be so concerned and all,” I said.
“Ferris. I’m not fucking around. I will hurt you. Do you understand?”
“Are you trying to seduce me, Mr. Robinson?” I said.
I told you I have a death wish. I hoped he’d say another blow to the head or possibly that he would set me on fire. Instead, he told me something that made me want to puke.
He said, “If you don’t cooperate with me, I’ll have to call Mr. Tingler…”
It’s weird how certain things will trigger you. Whenever I smell bleach and fried chicken, I throw up. One time I vomited in the back of my grandma’s car after I ate a bunch of fried chicken that I got from a gas station. She drove with two feet. My dad cleaned up the backseat with bleach. When Karl said the name Tingler all I could smell was bleach and fried chicken.
“Tell me about the…”
“I’ll tell you what you want to know,” I said.
Six: March 9th 1982 That’s Incredible
I was struck by lightning for a second time when I was 8 years old in 1982.
I was on a trampoline at my friend, Bruce Tiddy’s, house. Let’s just get it out of the way, his last name was Tiddy. I’m in the yard on the trampoline and I get double bounced by Julie Tiddy, his sister and my elementary school crush. My legs buckled when I hit and my knee bounced up and knocked me in the mouth and sent a tooth right through my bottom lip. That tooth was stuck there, looked like when your grandpa has a chewed up piece of white bread stuck on his lip and won’t come off. I hopped off the trampoline, blood shooting out of my mouth straight into the air, like a busted can of spray-paint, and just stood there crying.
Dark clouds started to roll in, all mean looking across the sky. All the other Tiddy kids, I think there were four of them at the time, went running towards the house. I didn’t run. I looked up at those nasty clouds, shaped like a herd of angry black sows, charging right down on us and I stayed still. I reached my hand over to the trampoline and wrapped my tiny fingers around one the metal springs that surrounded the mat. I held on tight when I heard that thunder rumble in the distance…sounded like Jesus was coming home. That first crack of lightning hit right in front of me…missed me by about two, maybe three feet. I could see Mrs. Tiddy running out of her house right towards me, screaming and waving her arms at me. I took my other hand and grabbed another one of those springs and held on as tight as I could. The thunder came back around the corner shaking the ground with a loud BOOM! And not a split second later…CRACK! POP! I got hot in the head and I hit the ground.
I lay there on the ground, staring up at sweet baby blue sky. A choir of voices sang some church song that I had heard before but couldn’t quite place since I was usually looking up dirty Bible verses during song service. There was a gentle rattle, like a baby shaking a snake, next to my ear. A low hum moving in and out of my head. I felt the soft tingle of electricity nuzzling against my face and neck, like a fur hat covering over my face. I felt the coarse scratch of sand paper on my cheek. My little cat Fluffy, all white with dirty paws and crusty sleep boogers in the corners of his eyes snuggled right up next to me on the ground.
I had done it on purpose. Stood there. Hoping I’d get popped. I had liked the way it felt; especially the way everyone treated me. My parents and everybody had been really concerned after the first time. My dad stayed home from the church with me. We played backgammon. Then things went right back to normal. Someone else had a bigger crisis. No electricity. No backgammon.
I just wanted to feel that way again.
Then, like that, it was done. I looked over at sweet little Fluffy and saw her laying there next to me in pieces, mangled and chewed up like hamburger meat. I started crying once I realized that little Fluffy wasn’t really there. She had been sliced up by the fan belt in my Mom’s Town Car two years earlier. I guess I had never really let her go.
I opened my eyes and saw Mr. Tiddy mumbling prayers over me, his wife crying on the phone. I heard my Dad’s name and thought how much trouble I was going to be in when he got there.
The local paper, which usually only had the sale of a prize Sow or Calf to report about, now had a truly bizarre story on their hands. The headline, in some fancy font was something like: Small town boy hit by lightning…Twice. In fact, I think that the next big headline, aside from me being on TV, came a year later when I was bit by that brown recluse spider.
In 1982, ‘That’s Incredible’ was a TV show on ABC that I used to watch with my Dad. The show featured people performing stunts and reenactments of allegedly paranormal events. I guess they scoured local papers looking at weird small towns where weird stuff happened. Well, apparently, in our small town, I was the weird stuff. The show was co-hosted by John Davidson, Fran Tarkenton and Cathy Lee Crosby. I wanted to meet her cause I liked the way she looked and she was really smart too. She seemed like a nice lady. Next thing I know I am in my best church suit, not the funeral one but the one I wore to weddings and revivals. I’m on stage talking to Cathy Lee about lightning, the dead sow and the Tiddy’s bouncing trampoline. As soon as I started talking about seeing my dead cat and my one-eyed great grandfather, the whole studio audience gasped and then started laughing. My Mom was so embarrassed that she spanked me after the show. She thought I was joking around.
Many years later, right before she passed, I asked her if she saw anyone besides me with us in the room. She told me she saw that dead sow standing next to her. I asked her if dad was there with us, but she never answered.
Seven: July 2nd 2013
“Leave the needle with me and get out of the room,” that’s what I heard a voice that didn’t sound like Karl say.
“He keeps telling us all the same shit he told before. I can only be so gentle,” Karl said.
“You’re doing fine Karl. I’ll deal with it now.”
Karl had put duct tape over my eyes so I couldn’t see what the head looked like that had this voice attached to it. I did know that in this voice there was a familiar noise that sounded like something that I had heard before. Whatever that noise was, it made me feel nervous and relaxed at the same time.
I heard a phone ring and then I heard Karl say “Go. Yes. Stay where you are.”
Then the other voice said, “Go get him. Don’t take him home. Bring him back to me.”
Karl’s heavy footsteps got farther and farther and farther away. Then the door clicked open and then nothing. I never heard it shut. It just stayed open.
“I’m going to give you something. I heard you are having trouble. I can’t afford trouble Ferris. This is going to burn.”
That’s what he said. He said, “This is going to burn.”
This new guy, his voice sounded like a cello playing the deep notes. It washed over me like warm milk from out of a shower head. Sprayed me. Made me feel clean. There was something deliberate in the words he said that made me think he had spent a lot of time working on them. Like he knew ahead of time that they were coming out so he had time to plan for them. And he was not joking. Whatever was in that needle certainly did burn. Like the time I drank gasoline.
“How do you know my name? Are you from my cable company?” I said.
His hands glanced a soft touch across my face. He tore the duct tape off my eyes, not carefully, but instead like he was ripping open a package. That spastic flickering light bulb became as big as the sun. Everything in the room was colored with that yellowish tint and those tiny black specs that float around. Tiny black ghosts. The glue from the duct tape made my eyelashes stick together.
This guy sat down in front of me. He looked really comfortable in his skin, which was like milk. Not milk out of a jar but milk out of cereal bowl. He was tall but not too tall where he looked weird. Just tall enough to have to look up at him. Look up and the light will envelope him. His hair was blonde, almost white. His eyes seemed to be clear but when you stared at them they were blue. The next minute they were green. He smoked cigarettes, which contrary to popular belief these days, still looks cool…on the right person. Even his shadow looked cool. I noticed that he had made a drink in one of those glasses with the triangles on the side. I wanted one of those so badly.
I had seen his face before. Seen it in everything. In everyone I’d ever seen before.
“Don’t you want to know what I gave you?” he asked.
“Do you think it could kill me?”
“No,” he said.
“Bummer,” I said. He liked that. He laughed.
“Ferris. Do you recall our first meeting?”
I’ve never met this guy in my life I thought.
“I’ve never met you,” I said.
“I’m going to have to disagree with you. In fact, you and I spoke just yesterday. July 1st. Right before the event at your work. We met for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Do you recall?”
That hum grew louder. There were hooves that scraped across the floor, somewhere behind the walls. Men’s voices that sounded like wolves yelled about coffee creamer and women’s voices that sounded like gorillas discussed stock market crashes. All these voices mingled together into a singular resonant vibration.
“Are you my dad?” I said.
Whatever was going to happen, I wanted it to happen quickly. All the Egg Foo Young and Soft Scrub dipping sauce was making me hungry.
“No. I’m not your dad, but I know that you carry around disappointment like a yoke around the neck of a mule because of your father. You told me that. You also told me that every man is consumed with his father; whether it is to be like him or to be the opposite of him, there is no way to escape it. Fathers will always hang around their children’s neck like an albatross. Do you recall telling me that as well?” he said.
I’ve been punched in the face on more than one occasion. What he said felt like that.
“Yes,” I said.
“What I gave you is about to take effect. Things are going to come back very quickly. You may not be able to keep track of everything but it is important that you be honest with me. There are people in the other room who will be helping me in the same way that you did but I need to know why you called us to come and get you after you were finished. I need to know this before I go any further with those people. Do you understand that? ” he said.
The phone rang again.
He said, “Excuse me,” and he got up and he walked to the door. He didn’t even answer the phone. It rang once and that was it. Then Karl comes in with this other man, he looked homeless, but then I looked again and he was covered in blood and was missing his arm. He was crying and he smelled like he had shit himself. The guy that was talking to me, leaned into the bloody one armed stump guy and said something real quiet like in his ear and then Karl put his hands around the guy’s head…holding his ears or something. Karl snapped his hands real quick, like a twitch. The man fell to the ground. Crumbled like an empty grocery bag. Karl grabbed him by the legs and dragged him out the door. This time it closed behind him.
That moth was still banging its’ head on that light bulb. Just keep looking at the light bulb, that’s what I thought. Look at the light bulb. Don’t let on. Everything is going to be good. I didn’t want that man that was talking to me to notice. Not that I was scared. But because I was hard. I had a full hard one. They are going to kill you, I thought. My heart was pittering and pattering. Beating like a little squirrels’ heart. I could smell Generals Tso’s Clams and Comet cleanser.
“Sorry about that,” he said. “I’m going to need you to tell me about what happened the day that you called us. Do you remember that day?”
Whatever was in the needle took care of my hard on. Then my head got really heavy. My eyeballs fell on the floor. Every hair and spec of dirt and all the tiny little creatures that were running around the floor of this Chinese restaurant basement were making my eyes slide back and forth. I watched them…or… they watched me…I’m not sure. Then, my eyes jumped up from the floor and then hopped right back into their sockets.
I shook my head or it just bobbed up and down involuntarily. I’m not sure.
“Karl is going to put a plastic bag over your head, but I still want you to tell me the story, ok? Tell me everything. Alright?”
“Sounds great,” I said.
Karl came back in through the door and made a bee-line right toward me. He slammed the plastic bag down on my head and wrapped the tape around the bottom, making an airtight seal. I didn’t panic. In fact, I was relieved. I knew this was it. If they went through my tapes, they would find suicide attempt number 212, garbage bag over head. Failure due to claustrophobia. I heard the heater click on and then breathe a sigh of relief.
“Tell me about the first time you called us. About what happened at work. Tell me about that dickhead Ted from the temp agency,” he said.
Eight: June 21st 2013 Attempt 3245 part four
“My name is Ferris Kent. June 21st 2013. Suicide attempt 3245 part four.”
That dickhead Ted from the temp agency came into the bathroom when I was putting bullets in the chamber. He stumbled in and stood right next to me. He looked me square in the eyes and then vomited in the sink. Was Ted a bleach drinker too?
Red and blue. That’s what color his throw up was.
Little wet balls that looked like Q-Tip heads.
He sprayed all over the counter and the bowl. I knew right then and there that Rosalita, the cleaning lady, was going to hate us even more.
There was this one time, after failed suicide attempt 2956, huffing computer cleaner, when I came into work and I thought I was from another planet. I marched into the kitchen at the office. I think my pants were on backwards. Right there, next to the snack machine, I poured a cup of coffee and proceeded to empty container after container after container of non-dairy creamer onto the countertop. My nose bled all over the counter and swirled into the creamer. Made me think of Strawberry Quik, the powder not the liquid. Rosalita came in and stared at me and said something in Spanish that I still to this day have not been able to find a translation for.
Until she said something, I had no idea she was even standing right next to me.
I felt bad for Rosalita. Having to deal with all of the shit that we don’t want to deal with. It must’ve been hard. Especially after the mess that I was about to make in that bathroom.
Ted didn’t see the gun. He didn’t see me loading the bullets. I had never held a gun before. I actually held this gun for the first time at the Wal-Mart where I picked it up on my way to work. It was really easy. I just walked in and picked it out and then paid for it. I wished Ted would have at least noticed the gun. I wanted to tell him about the lady that helped me at the check-out counter. How she had a giant mole on the side of her face with a hair sticking out of it. He would have loved that. He was a jerk.
As I slid each bullet into the chamber, I felt validated. I bought a gun with the help of the system and it was going to help me do what I had been trying to do for so long. I had on my best suit. The one with no stains, like you wear to a funeral. I actually brushed my hair, and teeth. Not one or the other. I did both. I stared in that bathroom mirror and thought to myself, why didn’t you think of this sooner?
I stood there and listened to Ted dump his stomach bucket into the sink, streams of his sludge spilling over onto the floor. I looked down at him and thought about those twenty minutes when I was sixteen. I set my little black box on the counter, opened it up and took out the tape recorder. Just like at home. I clicked record and said,
“My name is Ferris Kent. June 21st 2013. Suicide attempt 3245 part four.”
I put the barrel of the gun in my mouth. I smiled and pulled the trigger.
Nine: July 2nd 2013
“Karl. I want you to untie our friend here and pour him a cocktail. Get him a more comfortable chair. Take the bag off of his head,” the voice that did not sound like Karl said.
Karl ripped open the bag as gently as he had put it over my head…not at all. I didn’t gasp for breath. I didn’t cough. I didn’t do anything. It was as though nothing had happened. The story started with me taking a gun to work and after that I couldn’t say. Something about a bus and a door and a baby that lost its’ legs in a fire.
“I’ll have something dark in a glass with triangles embossed on them. And put a cube of novelty ice in it,” I said.
“Ferris you are doing great but I do need more from you. I still need to know what happened on July 1st but I’m more interested in you telling me more about that day at work. With Ted in the bathroom. What happened after?”
“Are you going to kill me or not?” I said.
“How about you tell me the rest of the story and then we’ll see if we can work something out,” he said.
“How about you tell me your name?” I said.
“You know my name. Now speak directly into the microphone and tell me why you called us.”
Ten: June 21st 2013
I pulled that trigger six times.
I fired six bullets.
I watched my brains splatter against the back wall six times.
I felt my legs turn to rubber bands when I hit the ground six times and popped back up six times.
Maybe it didn’t happen that way. I don’t know.
Next thing, I’m standing in the middle of the street next to a lady in a pink suit, like something one would wear to church or a funeral or both. She had a big hat on that had a really nice flower on it. She had tinfoil on her earlobes. We walked really quietly together for a bit. I asked her, “Hey lady. Are you an angel?” She pointed to a name tag that she was wearing. It said ANGELA.
She said, “It’s my birthday.”
I said, “Happy Birthday.”
She said, “Thanks. Do you like peaches?”
She didn’t even let me answer.
“What about bananas?” That’s what she said next.
I replied, “I do.”
She said, “Let’s go eat ramen noodles at your place.”
I replied, “I love ramen noodles.”
Then she’s standing at the front door of my apartment. I don’t how we got there from where we were. I don’t know how I’ve ended up most places that I ended up in my life. One minute you are where you think you should be and the next minute you have no idea where you are or what you did or didn’t do to get there.
She liked where I lived, especially the laundry room where people have sex. At my place, I set the table with napkins and spoons and forks. My table was really small but she and I fit nicely. We ate the ramen noodles and drank warm beers.
She spun the noodles around on her spoon, looked at me and said, “You probably should just admit that what you are looking for isn’t there. Don’t let batteries run out on Radio Shack toys before you have a chance to use them.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” I said. I wasn’t accusing her of saying the wrong thing. I just didn’t understand what she was trying to say.
“It means that your batteries will wither and die whether you do anything with them or not. It’s better to do something with them,” she said.
She slurped her noodles. It was gross, but endearing at the same time.
“I’m really confused. What is the life lesson here?” I said.
“Exactly. Now, eat bananas. Be positive in your actions and celebrate your birthday.”
She took the tinfoil off of her ears and placed them on the table, thanked me and closed the door behind her.
I got up right away and followed her out the door but I could barely fit through the jamb. My tiny matchbox size apartment, with its paranoid wallpaper and depressed linoleum had closed in on me. I stepped outside the shrinking door and then… I was standing in a bar that I’ve never been to that had a little bar set up with a great fifties era ice bucket, round stainless steel, with little insect shaped novelty ice cubes and high ball glasses with triangles embossed on them…bottles of dark alcohols. Weird how I remember that, huh?
The bartender in the black suit asked me what I wanted and I told him that, “I wanted to blow my brains out today or in the very least give a doctor good reason to pull the plug.”
He smiled and then slid a tray of drinks in front of me in tiny glasses and then… you… sat down next to me and handed me your business card and…
Eleven: July 2nd 2013
“And I told you my name was Tingler and that I could help you. It was right there on the business card,” Tingler said.
“You told me I was on a road to nowhere and that nowhere led to you,” I said. “The card said, Submit. 347-2787. It was in bold letters. I still have it.”
“What happened after that?” Tingler said.
“I took the card and then I told you I had to pee and I stumbled to the bathroom and I pissed on the floor next to the urinal. I lost my balance because I was laughing at an advertisement for a gentlemen’s club called Spearmint Rhino. I thought it was a stupid name for anything, much less a booby bar. Then I saw an ad for a dancing teacher and for a gentle massage. It was one advert. Not two. A dancing teacher and a massage. I think that they offer both services.”
“Ferris, I told you that night that I could help you and now it seems that I may have been wrong about that,” Tingler said.
This is the part where I lost my shit.
“How hard is it to do this?! People die every day! And some of them don’t actually want to!” I said.
“Did you believe me a few nights ago?” He said. He swished around a few ice cubes in his mouth, which, if you ask me, seemed like an ineffective way of driving his point home.
“Of course I believed you. That’s why I agreed to do it.” I said.
“So you do remember what happened on July 1st. You’ve been lying to me Ferris. Did I lie to you?” He said.
He lit a cigarette and made a dramatic exit from the chair to the bar in the back. This was a MUCH more effective way of making his point, if you ask me.
“I haven’t been lying so much as not telling you the full story,” I said.
“You’ve done your research on death, right?” He said. I nodded back at him with a YES. “You can’t die from a broken arm, right?” Again, I nodded back, this time with a NO. “Karl.”
Karl walked over to me, took the drink out of my hand and grabbed my left arm, the way that your mother might grab you when you get caught acting up in the supermarket. You know, when you are in the lady stuff aisle and you make jokes about lady stuff. Only Karl grabbed me like he was my father. He grabbed me hard on the arm and whispered in my ear, “I’m really disappointed in you Ferris.”
Then I heard a crack…
…and I saw my bone sticking out of the side of my arm where my elbow used to be.
“Ferris. Let’s wrap this up. I think you know what happened on July 1st. In fact, I know you know, but you don’t want to say because if you recognize it then you give credence to it. You will have purpose…just like I told you that you would on that night. You and I have a very special opportunity here,” he said.
“Do you promise to help me? If I tell you?” I said.
“If things are like I think they are, then I can give you that thing that you chase over and over and over. As long as we don’t have to do this every time. Understood?” Tingler said.
As soon as he said what he needed to say, he looked at me. His eyes glazed over and then looked all frosted like. Then they turned into ominous clouds. I saw that dead sow running at me, her head all limp, flopping around. My dad just stood off in the background with that look that said that Jesus was mad. You know that look your dad gives you. Tingler’s eyes blinked and then turned into lightning bolts.
Twelve: June 21st 2013
I drank a bunch of warm beers that were lying on the floor of my apartment. I’m not even sure how I got back there after I left the bar. Maybe I ate two bowls of ramen noodles. I’ve done it before. I picked up the phone and I dialed that number from the card. After a usually large number of rings, about 25 I think, someone picked up and immediately I was put on hold.
While I waited, I turned on the TV. There was a program about a serial killer named Willie Lee Hawking and how the surviving victims identified with him as a person and understood why he did what he did to them. They seemed to be okay with the fact that he cut out their tongues and tried to dismember the rest of their bodies and put them in freezer bags. I didn’t get to the part where they escaped because I found myself getting really angry. Do you know how many nights I have slept with my door unlocked hoping that his serial killer homing signal would find its way to me?
I changed the channel to a movie on AMC, “The Yearling” which was made in 1946 and stars Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman. I was still on hold and I cried like a baby when the little boy shot his pet deer. I waited on hold for so long because I had nothing else to lose.
The voice said, “Thank you for calling the SUBMIT program…” I interrupted her, like I usually do when I get too excited, “Yeah, uh, I want to radically change…” I realized that she was repeating the same shit over and over. I was now in another perpetual loop. “Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line until someone is able to assist you…”
Two hours later, I heard a knock on the door. I opened it and was greeted by a ham-hock of a hand that shoved a dirty rag in my face. For me, it was love at first sight. I heard that music that you hear in the movies or when you are really close to blacking out. You know, someone playing the xylophone and the drums and a lady singing about waiting for love but the record is all warped so it sounds like a witch conjuring up a demon lover.
Then I’m in a room that smelled like Orange Sesame Chicken and a side of Scrubbing Bubbles. I’m tied to a chair and I’m sitting underneath a light bulb. Karl told me to speak directly into the microphone. He said, “Say your name and tell me why you called us.”
I said, “My name is Ferris Kent and I don’t want to live anymore because I’m tired of being disappointed all the time.”
Then you came in the room. You entered through a small door in the back of the room, next to a rack filled with pots and pans and rat hotels. When you came in, you left the door open and I could see that there were a bunch of other guys in another room. There were a few girls and I think one teenager, either that or he was a really small man, the type that would get eaten alive in the wild, possibly by his own mother. None of them were tied up, so I started to think that you liked me the best. You sat down in front of me in a chair that I hadn’t even noticed was there. I hadn’t noticed a lot of things I guess.
“Ferris. It’s good to see you. I’m glad that you decided to come over. Sorry about Karl. Hopefully he wasn’t too rough,” you said.
“Can never be too rough. That’s the way accidents happen, you know what I mean?” I said.
“That’s true. So. We’re going to bring you in the other room and join the rest of the group. I just want you to tell your story and then listen to what we have to say. If you like what we are selling then you can buy in. If not, I’ll have Karl take you home and you’ll get what we promised you.”
I must have nodded yes because you took my hand and we floated into the other room through the tiniest of doors, like little mice headed out to dinner in a Chinese restaurant. We ended up in what looked like the basement of another Chinese Restaurant or the basement of the same Chinese restaurant. It’s hard to tell, they all look the same. I sat down next to a fat man who smoked cigarette after cigarette, lighting the new one off of the last one. His hair was pubic hair curly and had a bit of grey mixed in with black. His head looked like the floor of a men’s locker room.
Karl tapped me on the shoulder and I stood up and told my story. And then Tingler told us why we were all there.
Thirteen: April 19th 1990
The first time I tried to kill myself, I was zero. I wrapped my umbilical cord around my throat while I was inside of my mother. I came out blue from the waist down. Had I stayed in one more day, I wouldn’t have come out at all. I’ve traced my lifetime of failure back to that point.
In 1990, sixteen years later, I was hit by a train. No one is sure how it happened. Except for me. I got out of my bed and walked to the train tracks and I waited. When I saw one coming, I jumped in front of it. This was the first time that I really understood what I was doing. I knew what was going to happen when that train came by and rolled over top of me. I knew that I’d probably get a closed casket. People that die in explosions get a closed casket and getting hit by a train is like exploding.
I see the big light coming around the corner as bright as the moon. I had taken my underwear off because if the bottom half of me was left intact, I didn’t want to be caught with a bag full of mush. The train is barreling down the tracks getting closer to me. I’m standing off on the side in the weeds and my slippers are now soaked with water and mud. I left my pajamas on so if I got caught I could pretend like I was sleep walking. If my dad or the cops came looking for me, I could say dumb stuff like, “Where’s the beef?” Or “Change the channel, wrestling is on.”
The ground started to shift and vibrate. All these black birds flew out of the trees like they knew something was about to happen that they didn’t want to see. The train yelled out and then screamed like Mrs. Tiddy did the day I almost drowned at her house. At just the right moment, I jumped out toward the train as it approached. Just like I had practiced.
With my soaked heavy slippers and the thick mud against me, I jumped like the uncoordinated scrawny kid that I was and didn’t even get close enough to the train to get hit head on. Instead, my pant leg got caught on a screw on the train and I went for a ride getting drug alongside this train like Coke cans on a station wagon with Just Married on the rear windshield.
I was carried for three miles. My arms were ripped out of the socket. My left eye was drooping. My ear was ripped off of my head and hung on by a sliver of cartilage. My face was smashed on little pebbles and rocks and rusty nails. All of my teeth up top were knocked out and my ribs burst and punctured my lungs. That black sow stood next to me the whole time and asked me if I wanted to go to the movies.
I blacked out and died for twenty minutes on the table in the ER.
Those twenty minutes, when I was sixteen, were the best minutes I have ever felt in my entire life, even though I was dead. I had nothing to worry about and had no reason to worry about anyone else. There were no disappointments anymore. There were no times where I was alone, wondering where everyone was. There was no reason to be sad.
I watched as the doctors worked on me. I stood over everyone. I touched my dad on the shoulder with arms that were longer than they should be. He was in the waiting room watching the news story about Willie Lee Hawking’s first victim. I brushed my finger against my mom’s cheek while she drank a cup of black coffee and cried.
From there, I’m on this yellow bus. I’m going past huge buildings and monuments, shaped like big dongs. Empty fields with grass and giant beetles and big black sows. The sky rushed up at me. We drove the bus upwards, sideways and then backwards. I listened to music on a cassette player and did crossword puzzles while I waited to get where I was supposed to go even though I didn’t know where I was going to end up. I just wanted to go there. I knew I did. I ate my favorite meal of mashed potatoes. I wasn’t thinking about anything other than being nothing. My surroundings were inconsequential. My thoughts were blank. I only knew of ecstasy. I felt like I was on fire but the feeling made me feel good. At that moment I understood everything.
I spent a lifetime of moments on that bus, just riding. Just being. I had no concept of how long it was. It just was. I didn’t want anything because I had it already.
Then the bus stopped.
A man in a black suit with red tie got on the bus and called “Ferris Kent.”
I got up from the seat, which wasn’t so much a seat as it was a space and I walked to meet him at the front of the bus. I noticed all of these other people on the bus that had been riding with me.
That’s when I knew that I was going back.
The walk back was horrible. I didn’t want to get off of that bus. I ripped my nails out from under my fingers trying to stay on that bus. I couldn’t control my feet. A group of school kids had had holes in their heads and chests. There was blood everywhere. A woman was shouting about “a son of a bitch!” and she was “going to do it!” She kept saying it over and over. There was a baby that had lost its’ legs in a fire. It was just crawling back and forth on the floor of the bus. It kept hitting my feet.
An older man was having a heart attack. A man in an oxygen mask kept whispering about his son and nudity on some stupid TV show. He would struggle for breath, flat-line and then wake up again. People kept crying out to not go back.
I walked down a long hallway that smelled like urine. I heard the clack clack of the heels of the man in black’s shoes. I remembered how I had been hit by that train and my body started to ache like a bruise, but all over. I gasped for air while being repeatedly struck by lightning. I was so thirsty. The hallway kept getting longer. That bus was right behind me. I made a decision to turn and run back towards it and pound on the door and beg the driver to let me back on. I took a step toward the bus and I hit face first into a black door with a very small handle. The bus was gone.
The man in the black suit told me to speak into the microphone.
I woke up with a sheet over my face and I coughed up blood.
I started to count.
An orderly came back in the room to take my body down to the morgue. I was not only breathing, but I was sitting up on the edge of the table. I asked him if I could have some mashed potatoes and if he knew how to get to the bus station.
The first thing I remember was thinking, I wonder where my dad was in all of that.
Fourteen: July 2nd 2013
“Ferris. Do you remember all those people that night in that room?” Tingler said.
“Yeah. There was a guy wearing panty hose under his pants. I could hear it when he walked,” I said.
“They’re all dead.”
“Lucky,” I said.
I hate being so jealous all the time.
“But you’re not.”
“Well, it’s not for lack of trying,” I said.
“You all went to the same place at the same time. So what does this mean?” Tingler said.
“It means that we have similar likes and dislikes and would be a perfect fit on an on-line dating site.” That’s what I said to him.
I was still hoping for a bullet to the back of the skull even though I was almost certain that I could never have been that fortunate.
That stupid moth was back and he was banging his stupid head against that light bulb again. I bet once he realizes what he is doing, he’s gonna feel even more dumb. Doing them same thing over and over. Never getting anywhere. My name is Ferris Kent and I know the feeling.
Karl brought out a black box. One that looked exactly like the one that I keep under my bed. I wondered what dark things Karl kept in his box. Ears, men’s bikinis, a picture of a girl that no longer exists. He set the box down in front of me. It reminded me of a moment that I had felt three…maybe four times a week for the last several years. A moment that reminded me of a Linda Ronstadt song. When you heard it, you remembered how much you liked it but before that moment you didn’t even recall the song existed. So because you had forgotten about it, the moment wasn’t all that important to begin with. Or maybe it was. I don’t know. It’s so hard to figure out what’s important.
Karl opened the box and took out a small tape recorder, one of those hand-held things, just like the one that I have. He handed it to Tingler and went back to the bar to make a drink. Hopefully he was making it for me.
“Ferris, the first night we met I told you why I do what I do. Why I go to the lengths that I go to in order to make things in this world right. I told you that were like a moth. You have spent day upon day upon day, hour upon hour upon hour slamming yourself into wall after wall after wall. Eventually the moth will hit itself so many times that it will either give up and move onto the next light bulb or will suffer irreparable damage and not be able to follow the basic laws of nature thus wandering around aimlessly through life never able to fulfill its’ intent.”
The room smelled like Palmolive Moth Stew.
“Weird that this place is a haven for moths. Don’t you think?” I said.
“I told you about my father. You said that he reminded you of a Linda Ronstadt song…your father did. I explained that I found you the same way I found my father… lost…although he had his head split open from a shotgun blast and was in the bathroom of a bar. The same bar where I met you. When I found him, there was a man taking a shit in the bathroom stall. That day I learned about humanity. As I dug my way through his bills and collection notices and past due debts, I understood that my father was like that moth too. He had been banging his head against the same desk over and over and over, ultimately getting nowhere.”
I was having difficulty breathing and my fingers were ice cold. Fat little frozen sausage fingers. I kept smelling lavender and there was a song playing in my head. It sounded like The Carpenters’ song, Sing. For a minute, I saw my dad in the corner. The floor was electrified and a Tingler’s voice rang out like a foghorn pulling me back in to land from the ocean at night. I was drowning but someone was trying to save me and I was still fighting it.
Tingler continued, “When I found out the company that he worked for, all those years…giving his life to, was taking a death benefit on him based on his length of service, I finally was introduced to the real world. His death was in vain. There was no saving him. He knew that he was going to put that shotgun in his mouth and put a shell right through the back of his skull,” Tingler said.
Don’t you hate when someone gives you a better way of doing things but it’s ultimately too late? A shotgun. Why didn’t I think of that?
“Ferris, if my father would have turned that rage outward and targeted the ones that drove him to that bathroom and dropped him off in the valley of the shadow…if he would have just focused that sadness then maybe…just maybe…he would have had some sort of legacy. Instead, he was just some drunk in a bar bathroom with his brains splattered next to a stall full of shit and a guy singing Kid Rock songs. Is that how you want to be remembered?” Tingler said.
No one had ever spoken to me that way.
He grabbed the recorder, set it down on the side table and sat back in his chair. Karl brought us all drinks on a little tray. Karl was very considerate and would make someone, man or woman very happy one day. Of course, I was speculating that he was single. I mean I would expected him to have been snatched up right away. Especially the way he roughs you up. Some people are into that sort of thing.
“Ferris just listen to yourself,” he said as he hit play on the recorder.
I heard the plastic rolls grabbing the tape in the machine. Each rush of static introduced me. I remembered all of these songs before I even heard a single note. My voice played the same note over and over and over.
“My name is Ferris Kent. Suicide attempt 3056. Swallow a rusty screw. I failed miserably at…Therapist number two deduced that I have such a bad gag reflex because my mother had unusually long nipples…June 18, 2010. My name is Ferris Kent. Suicide attempt 3057. Hanging. I have a horrible fear of snakes…Therapist one said that the fear of snakes is probably related to my self-worth and asked if I had been mocked in the showers in high school… My name is Ferris Kent. Suicide attempt 3059. Jump out of window…June 20, 2010. My name is Ferris Kent. Suicide attempt 3060. Drowning in bathtub. June 20, 2010. My name is Ferris Kent. Suicide attempt 3061. Head in the oven…This is ridiculous…”
Apparently drinking bleach or gasoline or washer fluid or Drain-O was one of the most popular beverages since I heard the tape say that they were attempt 3119, 3126, 3147 and 3239.
“My name is Ferris Kent. June 14, 2013. Suicide attempt 3239. Drinking Bleach. I filled my coffee thermos with bleach and tried to drink it. I usually only do this one or two times a week…maybe three. My Dad drank bleach once, when I was a kid…”
There it was again. All of life’s problems eventually circle the drain around ones’ parents.
Tingler stopped the recorder and said, “I know what happened on July 1st. Tell me what happened. Listen to what has been happening to you. Ask yourself, am I still here for a reason. Once you do that, I’ll kill you again and again and again.”
Fifteen: July 1st 2013, How To Make a Bomb
Before we left my apartment, Karl gave me a fortune cookie. He had a couple of them in his pocket. I cracked mine open and it read:
Your luck has completely changed today.
I wondered what his said.
He also asked me to swallow a bunch of ball bearings and screws and sharp pieces of metal and glass. He coated them in Pepto Bismol so they would be easier to swallow, what with my gag reflex and all. In the car he put on talk radio, which I hate, just to get me prepared for what I was going to do. I remember the first time I did this I was nervous. I was worried that it wouldn’t work or that something would stop it. But now, once I decided to give up control and let someone else take the wheel…I knew that whatever was stopping me before would not be a factor.
Next thing I know, we were in the bowels of my work building. Karl shoved this really heavy vest around me and connected a bunch of wires and put a bunch of gum or play-doh or something on the wires. Then he strapped me to a very uncomfortable chair with a ridiculous amount of duct tape wrapped around my ankles and wrists and around my legs and chest and face. I had this cell phone stuck in my mouth and then secured with duct tape as well.
So Karl said…and this is how it works…he said, “After 2 or so minutes this phone is going to ring and the number will read: 347-2782,”
What’s weird is that number, on the keypad, almost spells the word DISASTER
Then he said, “You won’t answer the phone, that’s why I have you secured to the chair so you can’t run or answer the phone. It will vibrate and then go to voice mail where a message will say:
‘Hello. My name… Don’t bother leaving a message because I am saying goodbye today.’ Then a very large explosion will occur.”
He said, “A very large explosion will occur.”
Not just today but also tomorrow and then the next day and then the next day. All in all about thirty or forty, maybe fifty locations in the city. And in other cities and other cities.
It was only a matter of time, right? For people to get mad enough? With everyone’s fathers and mothers feeling disappointed by them. With everything that has been going on? All the lies and FaceBook posts and protests and twitters feuds and shows about rich kids on yachts and shows about poor people with a few teeth missing who live in the mountains. The only way to get ahead anymore is to embarrass yourself or hurt someone’s feelings.
You fuck people over long enough…well…eventually…it’s all gonna be over.
Maybe they’ll make a movie directed by Oliver Stone, just to piss everyone off and some failure like Kurt Russell or Zero Mostel or Eric Roberts will play me.
My instructions in the envelope, just like everyone else, was to find a way to the basement of an office building or a bank or an insurance company. A tabloid head quarters. A TV station where they produce the news. Maybe put something in the gas tank of a very expensive piece of shit American car. Anywhere like that. Find a way in. Just do it
I found a way in. Rosalita told me where they keep the spare key to the janitor’s office in the basement. She told me there was a black and white TV and I could watch the news. I told her to tell all of her co-workers to stay home that day.
Karl strapped me to this chair, set up the detonator and programmed the phone. He shoved it in my mouth and wrapped duct tape around my face so the phone couldn’t go anywhere even if I tried to get away. He didn’t say a word. He just left.
I waited and watched the little black and white TV. That really stinks that illegal immigrants in this country only get to watch black and white television. They caught Willie Lee Hawkins last night. He had three people with their tongues cut out tied up in his basement. It was all over the news. Too bad his victims will have to share this memory. Their moment will be like a Linda Ronstadt song. People will forget about it. This would be a bigger news story anyway. Garnered bigger ratings and that is what is important, right?
The phone vibrated twice. My tape recorder finally stopped. Third time goes to voice mail.
“Hello. My name is… Don’t bother leaving a message because I am saying goodbye today.”