What do you expect, being born on Friday the 13th? That was my fate without me knowing it and the madness that followed, followed the madness that followed the madness.
The shrinks had their own name for it but I called it a babbling hell of diabolical voices. I didn’t know what the hell was going on. They put me on Chlorpromazine and a bunch of other mindbuckers, but I had the last laugh. I took enough Amobarbital and Secobarbital to kill myself three times over.
The first time hadn’t worked and I wanted to be sure the next time. I was “determined that there should be as little imprecision as possible,” as my dad’s favorite writer William Saroyan wrote in ‘The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze.’
I hated doing it to my crazy father, and I wondered as I spun off into oblivion what would happen to him. I didn’t know if my death would do him in or not, but I suspected he would survive. He told me when he visited me in Ward 3C after my first suicide attempt, “I hope you don’t try this again, Will, because I don’t know if I can survive another one — and I’m into survival.”
My sparse response at the time was, “It’s good that you know that about yourself.”
After some rocky years when I was a kid when my dad and my mother got divorced, we had a pretty good relationship at the end. Eccentric was the shrink’s word for it. Fragile was another. But despite our past differences and difficulties, we made contact on several occasions in the last couple of years. Times when we really understood one another and wrote many letters back and forth signed with the big L.
I kept all of the letters he wrote to me, and now he has them again, and I know he kept mine, although I don’t know if he can bring himself to read them. He’s a very emotional guy.
There were many times when we would drive each other crazy, but finally, now, in retrospect, I loved him and I know he loved me.
My suicide was a shock to all concerned, even though I tried it once before when I was diagnosed with this goddamned mental illness.
At the end I gave everyone a false sense of security, to throw them off the track, to prevent them from stopping me. I had just one thought and that was to take those barbiturates I had bought on the street with my last hundred bucks and to get the hell out of this world. I was on “the wrong earth,” to quote Saroyan again.
You know what I’d love to do? I’d love to be able to tap into the Internet or into the phone lines or whatever and call my dad. As in life, I’d have to make it a collect call.
I know it can’t be done, but man, I’d love to do that. I’d tell him I’m sorry for hurting him by killing myself but I could see no other way to escape the voices, and I’d tell him that I’m at peace now and that I’ll love him through all eternity.
Even if I could figure out a way to do that, I couldn’t really do it. I mean, when he picked up the phone and heard my voice, he’d think he had gone mad. Who wouldn’t in a similar situation?