He was wearing neat black trousers. They looked like the trousers to a suit, a new look for him; no jacket, just a shirt, white. The scene was in black and white.
We met outside what appeared to be the main entrance to a university. — there were stone steps going up. The mood was awkward, somewhat uncomfortable for both us. We hadn’t seen each other for a long time.
I can’t remember what was said initially, how we dealt with the uneasiness, but at some point — fairly soon if I remember — I asked him how he felt about the new pope. He had been a Catholic in his early teenage years.
He didn’t say anything immediately and I said I thought the new pope was a cool guy — the whole Francis of Assisi thing, the fact that he had lived in a small apartment in Buenos Aires and took the bus to work, that he read Dostoevsky and Jorge Luis Borges, a fellow Argentinian.
I think I said, Viva il papa! I was gesticulating with my hands and when I extended the palm of my right hand to stress a point, he took my hand in his as though it had been extended for a handshake. It was an impetuous, slightly embarrassing poignant moment.
Then I said, Your mother must like the new pope — his mother being a devout Catholic. He said he wouldn’t know, that he hadn’t seen her or talked to her for years.
He started walking toward the entrance of the building, up those stairs. He said he didn’t want to miss the lecture. We exchanged some quick farewells and I asked him if we could meet again after the lecture, that I had taken the day off from work, and he said, I’ll meet you here at three o’clock — I specifically remember the time.
I said, I’ll be here. Then he said the lecture had already begun and he had to go and he climbed the steps and went inside the building.
The scene was unusual and unexpected because he had been dead for several years. He had taken enough barbiturates to kill himself three times over.
He died on Friday, November 2 — All Souls‘ Day — at three o’clock in the afternoon. He didn’t want any slip ups the second time around. After the first attempt, six months earlier, he had woken up in a hospital.
When I came to the hospital to see him I held his hand and said, I hope you don’t try this again, man, because I don’t know if I can survive another one and I’m into survival. His sparse response was: It’s good you know that about yourself.
The second suicide did work and I did survive, and now I wait for him. I make a note of the time — 2:20. I feel sleep coming on. The phone on the bedside table rings. I look at the clock next to it — 2:35. Don’t answer it.
The ringing stops. I am falling asleep. Someone is knocking on the door. I look at the clock — 2:56. Go away! The knocking becomes a banging. I pay no attention.
Now someone is trying to force open the bedroom window. I look at the clock — 2:59. Go away! Please go away!