Crisis Intervention

by welcome to lost island

The self loathing and loneliness, the aggravation, the sorrow, regrets and the desperate need for empathy combine and boil in my mind like water in a tea kettle until the viscous solution thickens like gelatin and forms in the subconscious and before you know it the answer is solid but more opaque than clear.

There is no point to going on.

I don’t want to feel this anymore and I’m sure that no one cares.

I just want to end this.

I don’t want to live like this anymore beyond this day, this night…

This perpetual agony of existence has been eating away at me for as long as I can remember and it’s so overwhelmingly total that I cannot find a memory when I was free from these feelings.

The thought is selfish, yes, it is self serving and self gratifying and if given form and proportion in relative comparison to the problems of someone else as they are fighting for their lives in some military campaign, struggling for survival in some third world shit-hole or dodging bullets in a ghetto struggle, my problems are minute. This I realize but the realization is part of the problem because I can see that my whole life has been minute. Now the thin threads of glue to give my paper thin existence its connection to the world are being dissolved by my tears.

I found myself wandering in a daze of depression towards nowhere. By finding myself I mean that I became aware of what I was doing after it had already began. I was already several bars in and had been riding the rails for the better part of an entire day before my conscious mind turned off the auto pilot and took some sort of control again. I just got on the train and wandered and kept on wandering. Ignoring the constant vibration of my phone in my jacket pocket as it called out pleading like a neglected child.

Fuck your needs; I can turn you off like that. Like this, I deny my connection to it and to whoever seeks to connect with me through it. The relationship is illegitimate, a bastard born from someone I used to be before I broke.

They think they can fix it all with words but words are the last thing I want to hear. I’m done listening to the whining pleas concerning the feelings of other people as though they concern me and hold some sort of substance or weight in my reality. There are holes in my mind now and it holds no water like a mental colander. Inside my head all of my concern for people comes raining down strained from my reality by the weight of heavier thoughts.

Apologies are bullshit and even as the words” I’m sorry,” slip from lying lips the liars themselves know that they are not repentant. They do not regret what they did to you from stepping on your toe to turning your world upside down because they never had the courage to tell you that they never loved you and at best sometimes you were someone to pass time with or use for money, for compassion, something warm and capable of comfort on cold nights when a queen sized bed is far to desolate to venture into alone. I’m sorry translates to better you than I and the concept of apologies would not exist were it not for some bullshit social structure that mandates the rule that the only acceptable way to fuck someone over is to say you didn’t mean to do it in the first place.

As though the words “I’m sorry,” when said in the proper tone over a cellular phone will magically erase any and all responsibility from what was done.

In the back of my mind I know that what is will be but I shut out the images trying to force their way into my mind so that I don’t have to face the cold serpentine coils of horror right away.

“Not yet.”

I this say to myself in what I thought was inner thought or at the most a whisper but an old woman in young woman’s clothing and open toes shoes looks over at me with the same sort of insulting disdain I usually give the kids with Down syndrome during their Wal-Mart field trips. It’s a brief reaction but getting any real reaction from any passenger on an LIRR train is a feat unto itself. So I say it again to confirm for this bitch that yes, the crazy man standing next to you is talking to himself.

“Not yet…”

I let the words linger on my tongue, singing them as they slip through my lips stinking of bourbon.

I’m a sight, I know this because I can feel the contrast between the bright white florescent lit car and the grimy gray and black spot that is me and my drunken self standing in the doorway staring at my refection in the window glass, the dirty, translucent ghost of me in the tinted glass, modestly obscured by the bright yellow sticker depicting a stick figure falling. It’s a comical representation of what can happen to you if you do not take the auditory advice of the celebrity speaker’s PSA announcement to heart.

“Hi, I’m;”

(Insert celebrity ordered to lend pop-culture credibility as part of their community service sentence.)

“Chuck Palahniuk”

“Tom Waits”

“Billy Bob Thornton”

“Please watch the gap before entering and exiting your train. If you are traveling with small children hold their hands while getting both on and off of the platform.”

Or else.

Or suffer the same fate as the stick figure man on the sticker centered on the space shuttle door. Watch the gap or be swallowed by the yawning four inch maw of doom between the train and the platform. The car rocks hard back and forth as the rusty rails, invisible and Stygian in the winter darkness curve sharply. The sound of screaming steel and grinding wheels is muted behind the Plexiglas windows and under the mechanical monotone of the MTA announcement coming over the PA.

“This is the train to: Ron-kon-koma. The next stop is: Cen-tral Is-lip.”

The steel snake slithers on for another few minutes. The old lady purses and puckers her lipstick caked lips and looks down at her bright orange toe nails and suddenly I wish it would snow. I wish I was a little meaner so I could stomp down and crush her fucking toes with impunity but I’m not and looking at my ghost in the window and seeing how my chest frames the yellow falling stick man so perfectly perhaps I’m a super hero. My dingy thrift store trench coat hangs wrinkled and non-dramatic from hunched shoulders.

I am watch-the-gap man. Take a picture and let me record the PSA.

Watch the gap man, gap man, watch the fucking gap man? Watch the gap motherfucker. That’s me; I’m your motherfucker…

The breaks grab hold of the rails and the train slows to a jerking creep as we decelerate and I try to no avail to keep my heroic pose. I stumble slightly and I know that even though she’s behind me now the old bitch has just cracked a know it all smile as she says to herself,

“Lousy Drunk.”

The sound of the cross guard alert pings on insistently as amber streetlights steal my mirror away. I look on at the headlights waiting behind the gate at the red light and the glowing neon signs smiling from the windows of store fronts down Carlton Ave. The platform rushes into view as the train creeps to a stop.

“This station is: Cen-tral Is-lip… The next stop is: Ron-kon-koma.”

“As you leave the train please step over the gap between the train and the platform”

The doors opens with a rush of ice cold air as a handful of commuters exit and make their way along the platform to waiting cabs and the parking lot beyond. I figured this stop was as good as any so I stepped out just as the doors were closing. No sense going back to Ronkonkoma, I’ve been there so many times in recent days I’ve lost count. I stood there for a moment as the train pulled away trying to light a cigarette in the wind, shaking the Zippo furiously as punishment for letting me down yet again. This time, lucky number 6 or 13, the flint sparks the wick and the warm glow washes over me like the caress of some departing lover. From the first drag my mouth is filled with the stale, nasty reminder that I don’t smoke anymore or at least not for about four months prior to this night. It’s a good kind of nasty though and by the second drag I realized just how much I missed it. I walk down the platform to the trestle and climb the steel stairs that shake and amplify the sounds of each footfall. Across the bridge that feels uneven and unsteady. From the top there’s a perfect view of nothing, static trees and the cold empty concrete and asphalt world of mostly vacant streets and parking lots. Everything is drowned in the amber glow of the streetlamps. Ever since I was a child the color these lights cast has seemed wrong. There’s something so unnatural, so artificial about the shadows cast behind the leaves, painted in ink wash across the dead houses making them seem more menacing.

I make my way over to the waiting room down the platform but the door is locked as I expected. I take a look at my ghost in this window and take stock of the situation. My hair is a mess along with my face. I haven’t showered in days and shaving is out of the question when you just keep riding the train to Penn station and back to the last stop on the island over and over and over, back and forth.

Delays mean nothing when you have no place to be.

Express trains are less impressive when you don’t have any appointments or a clock to punch.

Time clocks?

I can’t even remember if I quit my job yet or not, doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things anyway. I didn’t have a position that mattered anyway and my recent absence will probably go unnoticed. I wash my face at each bar that I stop in but that’s just to take some of the red out of my eyes and temporarily strip away the oily sheen that comes from drinking too much and eating nothing but fast food for three days. Bartenders tend to be a little nicer when you at least attempt to make yourself look a little less fucked up than you are or were when you left the last place. My clothes are wrinkled and dirty from sleeping on the floor of Penn Station and the cold steel benches in the waiting areas from Jamaica to Babylon. I tried to sleep in Central Park the first night because I assumed that’s what people did when they suddenly found themselves homeless. The cop informed me that it was now a “Non Smoking Park” and kicked me out. I should have stayed in the city. Plenty of subways to ride but I don’t know where any of them go so it’s LIRR for me. Though I don’t really notice it I know I must stink like an alcoholic. That smell of skunk beer, whiskey, smoke and sweat and the mystery ingredient that can possibly be vomit or regrettable sex. Naming the independent elements makes it seem much worst than it is because the alcohol coming out of your pores mutes a lot of the other stink. It’s a subtle bouquet of aromas. Unfortunately the booze does little to satisfy the ache now. It just keeps my stomach warm and acidic and for whatever reason, even though my guts are twisting and gurgling, I find it comforting. So comforting that I’ve subconsciously freed the flask bottle of Jack from my inside coat pocket. I watch the ghost looking back at me from the waiting room window as he unscrews the cap and puts the bottle to his lips.

This is the last of it. I’m out of money. Out of stuff to sell or pawn and there will be no lending or brother can you spare a dime shit from me. The last thing I sold was the ring though it should have been the first. A pawn broker in Patchogue gave me $150 for it and I didn’t complain because you can easily swallow an $800 loss when you have a buck fifty worth of booze to wash it down. My coat pockets are lined with losing quick pick tickets sometimes when I search for my lighter a couple will fall out or one will be stuck in my sleeve. People look down at me for this because in their minds I am what’s wrong with society.

The plague of American substance abuse, addiction and indulgence…

I know they look down on me now because I used to look down on people like me as well.

Maybe I still am.

I just stood there watching myself with the bottle to my lips for so long I didn’t notice when the next west bound train come in behind me, nor did I respond to the last of the commuters rushing past me or the multiple cab drivers that approached me like prostitutes trying to solicit me to take them somewhere, some place I alone could provide them with directions too. Somewhere that is anywhere but here. I barely noticed that the parking lot had emptied and or that those cab drivers had abandoned this post in search of other fares. I was alone when they were here and I’m alone now that they’re gone, save for the scraps of paper, dead leaves and other garbage blowing across the platform.

The wind kicks up again and pulls at worn paper bag I’ve been reusing to cover my elixirs all day.

Go ahead Lost Island. Take it. You’ve already taken everything else.

There is nothing left here but the trash no one wants but we are the only company we ever really need.

At about that moment, standing there against the wind and drinking cold whiskey as I stared into my own hollow eyes, everything I was trying to keep out came rushing in like a flood of aching sorrow. Wave after wave crashing against the rocks on the coast of island me.

I began to walk the platform. Back and forth, slow cautious steps that gave me the feeling of walking in slow motion. I guess it’s sort of comparable to the pee pee dance little kids do when there is no bathroom and the dam is about to break. It was “The” thought. The self annihilating thought coursing through my subconscious and saturating through like warm piss down the legs of corduroy pants. The one thought I had been avoiding since my world turned itself inside out and the guts of my soul spilled out on the street. It had been with me when I confronted June and Eric, it was what I really wanted the next day when I think I quit my job and it was what my subconscious mind toasted every shot to when I raised my glass and say,

Happy birthday! Congratulations! Welcome home! Here’s to you… Here’s to you… here is-

Here’s to suicide baby!

Here’s to fuck you, I’m done and there’s nothing that you can do about it.

Here’s to peace of mind and the pathetic end of a pathetic man that wouldn’t be suffering still if he had gone through with it on any one of 9 other attempts.

The first time it happened was not too far from here during the summer of my freshman year at Central Islip Senior High School. My friends and I had found a secret route by following the train tracks from this very station to get into one of the local town parks after nightfall. We packed our gear and headed out one Saturday evening and hiked through the woods behind my friend’s house to get to the tracks. I don’t know if it was the depression that made me do it or for that matter if suicide was even a thought back then. We all had problems at home, abusive alcoholic parents or none around at all. We were outcasts at school and we got into a lot of fights as a result of it but not one of us had at that point ever expressed any desire to just stop living.

Then again I guess my problems were more severe back then. The man I inherited these alcoholic traits from had a vicious mean streak and I was constantly being called out sick from school or forced to wear long sleeves in the summer to hide the bruises. Most commonly I was banished either to my room or outside the house when he was home. My friends had similar tales but theirs were far less frequent than mine. Then again maybe none of us actually had a death wish that day, maybe it was simply because we saw ourselves as somewhat invincible back then or perhaps we’d seen Stand by Me to many times but we made up our minds to play chicken with that train. There were no terms to this challenge, there was a look shared between all of us started by our default leader David. He had sinister sort of smile that usually preceded the random acts of mischief he would lead us into. The smile crept across his pock marked face and we knew it was on. He tossed his backpack into the brush below as an announcement just in case we missed the invitation. We never discussed how you won this game or even if he was serious or why we should bother doing something so fucking stupid. We all just stopped and tossed our gear off to the side, not just to make it easier to get out of the way but to insure we had something at the bottom of the gravel mound to break our fall should we have to jump for it. We took our stances and watched as the tiny light in the distance grew brighter and nearer. The horn was growing louder and you could feel it echoing in your chest. I remember thinking about Jurassic Park. Do you remember that movie? More appropriately I should ask if you were a child when you first saw it? I was a dinosaur fanatic back then, I used to blow out my birthday candles and wish that the dinosaurs would come back so that movie meant a lot to me when I was a kid, it was almost as if my wish was granted. I remember sitting in the fifth row alongside all the other preteen dino junkies looking up at a real T-Rex a hundred feet tall on the big screen. When the Tyrannosaurus roared it was so loud that it made everyone jump, kids would spill soda and popcorn and scream. I wondered what it would be like to be standing right there in the mud with Sam Neil and Jeff Goldblum. My guess would be that it’s a lot like standing with your friends in front a speeding train. Its roar wasn’t summoned from the prehistoric lungs of the tyrant lizard but it was unnerving and terrifying all the same. The ground shook in the trains wake and we stood fixed in defiance. Screaming war cries and pounding our little boney chests to summon our courage and test our “Balls.”

It was all about your balls back then. We assumed in our naive understanding of how the world worked, that all great things that men do come directly from your testicles and the size of your testicles was a distinct indicator of how great you could be. We were also under the impression that doing crazy shit not only made your balls grow but these exercises in “manning up,” were necessary in order to prevent the loss of your balls. Meaning that by chickening out or being a pussy could result in you losing your balls completely and winding up a woman of something sad and pathetic like a castrated attack dog. These activities pretty much included anything we could insist of each other by saying “man up!” or “Nut check!” like daring each other to jump off from high places, shoplift, vandalize property, talk shit to bullies at school that had already beaten us up just for fun on occasion or in this case though the words were not uttered we knew that finding out how fearless we could be or pretend to be in the face of an oncoming train was definitely nut check time. The train was bearing down and we did what we could not to let each other know that we had each scoped and planned our combat rolls down the rock pile and onto the mound of back packs and sleeping bags at the base. David stood perfectly still and straight holding up a middle finger as we were bathed in the light of the cycloptic monster barreling towards us at Godspeed. Kenny crouched with his arms spread for balance like a surfer waiting for the cue to dive while Vaughn Did air guitar to hide the fact that he was closing his eyes. Gabe channeled his fear into a mantra of C’mon Motherfucker and Me? I did nothing. I was standing in the middle of us watching the reactions of the others. I was so intent on figuring out who would be the last to jump that I didn’t notice everyone had jumped but me. First was Vaughn, then Gabe, Kenny and the last was David. I remember looking up at the train just in time to realize that I was going to die. The desperate hands of Vaughn, Kenny and Gabe snatched me into the darkness as tons of steel and ferocious momentum rushed past. At the bottom no one was concerned about my mental condition. If anything I had just proven, (On accident) that I was the most fearless kid in our crew, at least for that night. My friends all elated, “Hey Joe, how do you walk straight with balls that big?” I just smiled and said, “It’s not easy, but your mom makes em feel nice whenever I stop by.” That was only the first time we played that game. We played it safe most times after that but a year later David tried to beat my record. He along with Vaughn and Kenny were struck by a train and killed on a night when I was grounded at home because my dad had caught me smoking. I never forgave myself for not being there. As far as I am concerned I was supposed to die with them that night and I missed my chance.

I snap back to clarity or rather partial clarity as another train stops on track two across the platform. I hear the call of invisible cabbies cawing out for fares and the train leaves. The platform is mine again so I just keep pacing, take another sip and light another smoke. I often think back to my times with those friends as the only truly happy times I’ve had. There was nothing to look forward to after they were gone. Gabe and I would still hang out but it was all too real. The magic was gone because we knew we were now made mortal by the tragedy and Never land would never accept us again.

The other 8 or so attempts were semi serious. I say semi because after all was said and done I regretted my decision and felt even worst that I’d put people I cared for in such a terrible position.

When my mother died I ate a bottle of sleeping pills.

When my first real girlfriend dumped me I started my car in the garage, listened to Pearl Jam and drank until I passed out.

I did a stint in South Oaks for that.

There were a couple of over doses in college for similar reasons and instead of going to my sister’s wedding I had my stomach pumped for Demerol.

I tried to hang myself in my apartment after I got laid off from Computer Associates only to realize that the emergency sprinkler in my living room was a fake and I took a nasty fall that split my nose in half.

The doctors have diagnosed me as manic depressive and I’m supposed to be on a drug regimen. June is probably thinking about that now because all of those pills are sitting on the nightstand next to the same bed I caught her fucking my best friend in.

The problem is that I just never had the balls my childhood friends believed I did. That’s why these things keep happening the way they do. I know that in most cases whatever we experience in life is 99% our own doing. I have tried to apply this to my own thought patterns and see my life in a different light but I can’t help but notice that for the most part my negative experiences have nothing to do with my own actions. With June I had set out to be the best possible mate. I had a good job working as IT for the Sachem school district. I was making enough money for to move into a decent house in Bayshore.

I moved June in. She seemed happy, comfortable and hell, it was her idea to move in.

I thought I kept up with all the things I felt that I lacked in over the years with other girls. I was attentive, I always put her first and I made every attempt to actually do things with her when we both had time to spare. Not just movies and franchise restaurant dinners but we went on vacations, hit Atlantic City just for the hell of it on the weekends and went to baseball games whenever I could get tickets.

I quit smoking for her, quit drinking, or at least cut it down to us having a few glasses of wine when we went out. She never knew about the drugs really because after I met her I had all but put that in my past and that past was not talked about. We had real conversations about real things and we had a healthy sex life. As a matter of fact we had sex almost every night if she was game for it.

I had proposed to her last year and she had said yes…

The trouble is that I was trying to fix something too far gone. It is not supposed to work out for me. I am expired, a disposable man that has been used beyond his frail plastic shelf life and should be discarded and replaced. My life was never the same after my friends died. Every new friend, girlfriend and substitute family that has been forced to accept me because I was fucking their daughter has always ended on a sour note. I’ve been trying ever since to make a connection with anyone and become as close as I was with them but time after time I get let down. With every new relationship comes more pain. Everyone I meet is an abuser and all the rest are all users.

To me they’re all bitter backstabbing betrayers that twist the knife just to bleed you. Not just these new people but all people. I have a few friends left from high school but we’ve all drifted apart now. They’re all living real lives with husbands and wives and kids. One of my oldest friends and really the best one I’ve had is the other survivor of the tracks Gabe. He never felt the loss the way I did. We stayed tight most of the time but since he took on this new career path, he ditched everyone as soon as he went away to med school. We used to hang still, however infrequent but those times were few and far in between. I tried calling him when all of this went down because that’s just what you do. He said he was busy and I know he is with his brand new life and his successful new friends that aren’t all drunken, drug using suicidal fucking losers like me.

Maybe I should have told him that the man that betrayed me and fucked my fiancé in my own bed was a Gabe substitute because he was never around and I like the illusion of having friends.

Maybe I should have told him that this would be the last chance he had to play catch up and shoot the shit. I guess I’m more of a burden you bare as a cross than a friend these days. Perhaps it’s just because I can’t get past that loss and this lingering regret subconsciously sabotages and poisons all of my relationships or maybe that’s all bullshit and my reality revolves around using a childhood tragedy as an excuse to be an irresponsible piece of shit in my adult life. I don’t know and I can’t say for sure I just know how I feel and what I think about when things get bad like this. I just can’t shake the voice in the back of my mind that keeps reminding me time and time again that this is all happening because I should have died with them. I had a date with this same train a long, long time ago…

So here we are again.

Looking back on how it started I’m thinking maybe this time I’m really done. Maybe this will be the last time I try and pretend like I’m actually alive.

It was Friday and I got a call from a coworker. He said he had METS tickets that he couldn’t use due to a family emergency that called him back to Denver. I left work early and scooped them up, came home to tell June the good news and…

I saw them together and I left right after that…

I think…

No, no no no no…

I’m sugar coating this. I have to deal with it. I can’t shut it out forever.

I heard them when I came in the house. I knew damn well what I was walking into but it’s like a horrible car wreck, you have to see. You know they’re all dead inside but you have to slowly creep up to the scene and gave upon the gruesome aftermath.

Eric got up, they were both naked.

June turned away from me and curled into a ball at the end of the bed. Eric didn’t know what he was saying but the adrenaline rush of getting caught and the feelings of shame and regret makes people speak in tongues because it seems like the right thing to do. It’s like getting mugged by an apologetic thug that explains that he is victimizing you because he’s a product of his environment.

“Joe, I know how this looks but just hold on a minute.”

I focused on the tattoo on his shoulder and bicep, a big flaming phoenix with all of this gaudy red tribal shit around it. It makes me sick to my stomach because I was there when he got it and used to think that his tattoos made him look bad ass. Eric came toward me with his hands out and his cock swinging. The condom was hanging half off him as he rose from the tangle of sheets. Eric’s pelvis was slick and wet from their lovemaking…

I think that’s what set me off.

I could have lied to myself about what I saw for a couple minutes or maybe an hour until I could get a grip and think straight. I could have taken it in slowly, gradually until I was ready to accept the pain, but to see the gross realism of betrayal glistening off Eric’s dick made it to real to shut down. I could see the beads of sweat glistening on his shoulders and chest. I could smell the sex in the air… it was so infuriating I can’t remember what I did exactly but I know I hurt him and it wasn’t over quickly. I can see bits and pieces of it vividly as though I watched it on television but other spots are dark like when the screen fades to black.

Maybe I had my eyes closed then.

I know I bit through my lower lip and tasted blood while I was doing it.

It was time to man up.

Eric had tested my manhood.

He had tested my balls.

I blasted Eric so hard that I remember looking at my hand to see if I had broken it. June was crying and screaming at the same time from some part of the room where I couldn’t see her. I remember looking down; Eric’s mouth was busted open, blood running down his chin and sweaty chest. The one thing about it that I can’t shake and I will always remember is look on his face at that moment. It made me hate him even more. Something in his eyes said that what was happening was immature on my end and this beating was undeserved. His eyes said in condescending things to me,

You’re a pathetic child. This is how you react?

Violence doesn’t change the fact that she doesn’t love you…

That I don’t love you…

That no one loves you.

You’re pathetic and it was only a matter of time before she saw it in you.

You’re a loser and this changes nothing.

You still have no one.

And you never will.

I know I straddled him because the stink of their sex flooded my senses and I closed my eyes as hot tears rolled down my face.

And…

I think I…

I want to say that I just kept hitting him.

There was no sound because the world was on mute. No senses whatsoever so I don’t know how long the exchange lasted. Shock sets in when your body is overwhelmed by pain and quickly dumps payloads of adrenalin and endorphins into the blood stream to compensate. This is no different when your heart shatters inside you and the world falls away.

I was numb.

I don’t know where I hit him or how badly I hurt him or even if at all. For all I know maybe I just sat there and pinned him down or choked him to death for that matter. Maybe I gouged his eyes out with my thumbs and tore off his testicles with the serving fork in the kitchen drawer.

Maybe I killed June as well, stuffing the severed testis down her throat with the same fork until she asphyxiated…

Shut up. If she was dead she wouldn’t be calling me every two fucking minutes.

What happened? Think Joe, what the fuck happened back there?

June came to me…

She tried to pull me away.

She tried to defend him!

I don’t remember hitting her…

But she fell back on the bed and continued to weep. I got up and looked at my hands again; all the flesh was gone off of my knuckles. Both hands were swollen, raw, pink and bleeding. I didn’t look at Eric I just turned and walked away.

Now I remember! I did quit my job…

I called in my resignation in the cab on the way to the train station. I gave the cabbie another $20 to let me stop at 711 to take out money from the ATM. When I got to the train station he looked at me in total disgust. This man who spent full days stewing in his own ass sweat, that stank of greasy egg sandwiches and the cigarette clips that he keep in the crushed pack in his shirt pocket…

I remember this part clearly, the look on his face when I extended my bloodied hand to pay him.

This is the shame you are forced to endure when you should have died a long time ago.

The only reason the battery on my phone has lasted as long as it has is because I keep turning it off. June has called everyone we know and emailed the rest as to where I may be and those people are also calling and texting along with her incessant “I’m sorry,” voice mails and text messages are just annoying at this point.

I don’t care! Or at least I don’t want to anymore.

I wish she would just stop with all of her false concern and self serving remorse. I just want to let it all go away. I don’t want to face this. I don’t want the conversation that must take place in order to continue or move on.

Fuck your closure and fuck your apologies.

I just want piece of peace and that peace is constantly denied to me because I always start to think optimistically after I get comfortably close to death. It’s as though it somehow rejuvenates me or that I have died just not totally and everything I hated about myself was gone as a result.

The old me is gone and this new one will be better, like a phoenix rising from the ashes as depicted on Eric’s arm.

Like a fresh start for a cat with nine lives.

Yes sir, the old me died with the last OD and now I’m brand new, again. I’m someone fresh that can handle this world and live a meaningful life.

I think maybe I’ve lied to myself enough now. Maybe now it’s go time and all I have to do is wait for the next train and catch it. Catch it face first and stop all of this crying and fucking waiting around for something to change when I know it never will.

June and Eric are not worthy of the glory they’ll receive as the arbitrators of my demise. It’s true that I invested a lot in them and this situation has been the catalyst but there was another catalyst last time and the time before that and so on. I just can’t bring myself to do it again. I’m tired of building these castles of mud and shit in the sun because when it rains the walls always come tumbling down on top of me.

It’s stifling, suffocating.

I exhale smoke and it feels like my left arm is dead. Cramped in this unnatural position as I walk the platform. I can’t figure out why I’ve positioned myself this way.

“I understand how you must feel.”

The voice comes as a shock. So much so that I almost drop the phone when it comes though. I didn’t realize I was talking to someone. I didn’t even realize I was holding the fucking phone.

But who?

Fuck, it’s June!

When you turned on your phone you accidentally picked up the call.

Shit! Shit, shit shit!

Now this is happening and I’m not nearly as drunk as I should be to do this.

“Hello?”

It’s not June’s voice on the line. This one is huskier, smoky and calm.

The frustration mounts for seconds that seem like hours but then I see the billboard across the platform under one of the amber lights. It’s a black and white photo of the train tracks and across the top in bold white letters it read,

SUICIDE IS A PERMANENT SOLUTION TO TEMPORARY PROBLEMS.

Oh shit. Did I really just do what I think I just did?

At the bottom of the sign was a glossy bar of white like a bumper sticker with a phone number. I must have dialed it while I was pacing.

I did dial it while I was pacing. The poster made me think of a rap group I used to follow, The Gravediggaz. They did a song called 1800SUICIDE and I was chuckling and trying to remember the words when I keyed the numbers in my phone.

“Back to the function, riding the caboose to hell BZZT! Touched the third rail…”

For an instant I think to hang up and turn the phone off but I stop to listen as the voice comes through again.

“It sounds to me like your problem is over, no matter how painful it is to be betrayed it’s done now. Over. You can make a clean break from June, disregard Eric and move on with your life. Eventually someone who deserves your love and friendship will come along.”

The girl on the other end has a raspy voice. Not a smoker’s wheeze but a low sort of seductive tone like a jazz singer or a phone sex operator. For whatever the reason I decide not to hang up. At the very least she is someone to talk to and maybe that’s really what I need right now. It doesn’t really matter who she is. All suicides talk. That’s how we get thwarted so easily most times. Every week some poor cop gets stuck talking a jumper down. I’m sure that probably goes from every week to everyday around this time so close to the holidays and all. Useless talk comforts the bad voices in the suicide’s head telling them to just step off. They gain some perspective and get shipped to a nice place where they make you take your pills and play UNO all fucking day.

Then again, I guess those people want to be saved. I don’t want to be saved because salvation is a fucking trap. I’ve saved myself, savior-self, not because I’m that strong willed or righteous but because I’m the exact opposite. So cowardly and weak willed I just can’t get past the set up. There’s always a backup plan. It’s always times so that someone walks in, so that someone finds me or calls the cops. If there is a definition of gutless coward my picture is surely adjacent.

“If it was just this one isolated personal catastrophe I’d agree with you. If that was the only negative experience I’d had that has mounted to this point then I’d just be drunk not drunk and suicidal. I certainly wouldn’t be talking to you right now. You gotta understand this is just one more notch on my belt.

I have no one, no real friends and no family. I have no job, I quit when I broke down a few days ago. I got no place to go and nothing to look forward to. I don’t even have the money to keep drinking.

Everyone I love goes away or they’ve already gone. Either dead and gone or gone so long they may as well be dead and there is nothing holding me here anymore… Maybe there never really was anything holding me here in the first place.”

There’s a brief pause. I take morose pride in stunning a crisis intervention worker. In my drunken fantasy a crew of men in white shirts and horn rimmed glasses look up from the head phones and recording equipment and shrug their shoulders as the pretty crisis operator pleads for help in desperate pantomime.

“So you have no parents or siblings?”

“Parents are both dead. My sister could give a fuck. We haven’t spoken since Mom’s funeral 3 years ago.”

“No kids?”

“Nope.”

“Well perhaps you’re right with part of your statement.”

Even as I take a sip of whiskey that comment didn’t add up. Reinforced negativity? You’re supposed to try and save me bitch, that’s how we play this game. Crisis operators are never supposed to tell you that killing yourself is the answer no matter how annoying and whiny you get. I swallowed hard and replied.

“So now you’re saying suicide is the best option? Not for nothing lady but I think you need to go back to whatever psych class is forcing you to volunteer for this. Maybe they’ll let you work with animals instead.”

“I’m not saying that you should kill yourself Mr…”

:”Joe, just call me Joe.”

“I’m not saying that you should kill yourself Joe. What I mean is maybe there is nothing left for you here. Perhaps it would be in your best interest to leave Lost Island behind and start over fresh? You could sell your house, rent an apartment in the city or fly out to California. This place… Lost Island is a haunted place Joe. There is so much misery and disappointment here that it can weigh a person down. Why not move? Why not distance yourself from all the bad memories you have here and make new happy ones someplace else?”

What she said made sense but I was in no mood to hear the silver lining part. I just wanted to let someone know that this is why I did it. In a sick way this is better than any note I could ever write. It’s more personal. An intimate encounter with death that may change this poor girl’s life forever. This is why that guy jumped in front of a train and fucked up the morning commute for everyone, someone, anyone.

This girl is way too sharp to be just a volunteer. She’s probably a psyche major. They do these fucked up little jobs as internships or for credit towards their grade. She’s been waiting for something like this to happen. That’s what she’s training for. For me she’s just someone, anyone to talk to, she counts as anyone I guess.

“Well Ms…”

“Sadie.”

“Well Ms. Sadie, I’ve always been a firm believer of where ever you go, there you are. Leaving this place isn’t going to change anything or solve all of my problems. The problem is me! I just shouldn’t be alive anymore.”

Sadie continues her psych voodoo by turning my own words against me, pushing the needles in.

“You just explained to me that there’s nothing holding you here anymore. No family, no relationships, no job, you have nothing here and I know how miserable that can be but at the same time, do you realize how much freedom you have in this moment? You can go anywhere, do anything, and answer to no one. People in your position don’t kill themselves Joe but people would kill to be in your shoes.”

The wind kicks up and it cuts through me like razors dipped in ice water. I take another pull from my cigarette and another sip from the bottle. Sadie comes back to me as though she were waiting for the wind to pass.

“Aside from your relationship, or I’m sorry- relationships… Why do you want to die?”

I started to answer her but when I opened my mouth the words got stuck. I started thinking but I couldn’t put my finger on just one thing. What I finally came to was,

“It’s always been this feeling you know? I have this set in my mind that no matter what I do and no matter how hard I try I’m always going to be a fucking loser. Nothing I have ever done has been worthwhile. Nothing I ever do will be. I mean nothing to anyone and aside from the people who are probably better off without me than with me no one will really notice that I’ve gone because I have no impact. I had a doctor once that told me that we are incapable of loving anyone or anything until we can love ourselves… I hate myself.”

“Well, Joe, what is it that you hate so much?”

Perhaps it’s the booze talking but I blurt it out to Sadie even though I’ve never even admitted it to anyone, not Gabe, not June, not even myself.

“I’m always so afraid. Success or failure it doesn’t matter. I’m afraid to live, to be anything or nothing.”

“Afraid?”

“Yes. You know that feeling you get when you really want something? Material or an achievement or even just something stupid so you can say you did it? Well I never get past the initial thought because I’m too afraid of reality to do anything about it. Shit, the only reason I quit my job was because I felt bad that they might be stuck without an IT guy next week if I were to go through with this. What’s really sad about that statement is that I hate that fucking job. I used to fantasize about burning it to the fucking ground! I’ve hated it for years but I kept going in everyday because I’m too damned scared to quit and do anything for myself. Even this…

I finally think I’ve hit bottom, that I’m so far down now that I can finally make it real, like I can really do this and I go and fuck it up by getting you to talk me out of it.

I have a fear of being, Sadie. You can’t fix it, the doctors couldn’t fix it and I sure as hell can’t do anything about it. That’s why I want this. I just want to go and not have to be afraid anymore.”

I’m tearing up and trying to hold the sobs back and a strange sound comes over the speaker of the phone nestled in my ear. A static disruption similar to someone finishing a drink through a straw.

“How do you like your coffee Joe?”

“The fuck does that have to do with anything?”

“I’m going to come see you. It’s cold out and I could do with another cup of coffee and so could you.”

Immediately the thought of police and ambulances and news reporters flashes in my mind. These crisis centers are usually government funded. She had probably called the cops to my location already.

“What do you me-”

“I mean that I think it’s really easy for you to be there by yourself and say these things to a voice over the phone. I also think that I can be a better help if we were to meet in person. I just want to talk Joe. I’m not calling the cops on you or bringing a team of guys in white with Thorazine injections and strait jackets. Just a talk. At the end of that talk if you want me to go I’ll go.”

“This seems highly unorthodox to me maybe I should just go…”

“Joe? Coffee?”

“Listen I appreciate the help and all but this just doesn’t seem right.”

“Joe, if I wanted to call the cops on you I could have done that earlier in our conversation when I assessed that you are a high risk suicide candidate. They don’t even need to trace the call because if you called this number chances are that you are at the Central Islip train station looking at the crisis center billboard.”

It bothers me that I was looking over at the sign as she said that. It feels like I’m being forced into this meeting. She’s dangling a 911 call over my head and making me beg for compassion I don’t even want anymore.

“Why didn’t you? If your protocol says you call cops on guys like me then why the fuck didn’t you? How does it make any sense in your mind to break the rules and leave your nice warm office to come down to a deserted train station to talk to a violent, drunken, suicidal madman?”

“Because I think I can help you Joe. Also, because the system fails everyone it is supposed to help. I am not the system Joe. I just want to help you through this.”

I’m speechless for the first time in our conversation. In the back of my mind I hear my mother say

She seems like such a nice girl Joey, give her a chance!

I can’t think of anything this woman can say or do to stop me from going through with this so what the hell? At the very least she can listen to my final words and recant them To Whom It May Concern. I didn’t even think to leave a note this time.

“Joe?”

“I’m still here.”

“I know. Now I’m only going to ask one more time, how do you like your coffee?”

After I hung up with Sadie I stopped pacing the platform and sat by the stairs of the trestle. My phone had been long ignored except for the awkward conversation with 1-800-SUICIDE. The missed messages confirmed by the stupid little envelope and the red X’s on my screen mean that maybe I do actually mean something to some people even if that something just meant that they didn’t want me to kill myself and really could give two shits otherwise.

The messages from Junie hurt the most. She said that she didn’t mean to hurt me but she felt stifled in our relationship and was looking for a way out. She told me that she wasn’t ready to settle down and she didn’t know if she loved me or not. She didn’t think that the price of her way out meant the humiliating spectacle and the implosion of our relationship she just thought that for whatever reason being with someone else either would confirm that she only wanted me or spur her on to end the relationship and move on. She figured that Eric was an option because he always had it for her and stood to lose just as much as she did. It didn’t help anything that she said these things to my voice mail but there was a certain satisfaction in the audible strain of her words. The truth of who you are and what you’re really like when the facade fades away is painful to accept. I know brutal honesty when I see it, when it’s made audible by a voice raw and congested from crying. Her other messages were vague; she wanted to talk about things and make sure I was alright. She kept on with the “L” word and she didn’t say a damn thing other than she was worried and that she was sorry.

All apologies are bullshit.

This was the cold sloppy cunt of reality looking back at me from the touch screen of an I-phone.

Fuck you Junie. May your heart be broken a thousand times.

It was getting cold on the platform. I finished the Jack before I got off of the phone with Sadie and now its warm intestinal hug is dissipating. That was almost a half hour ago since we spoke and Sadie said she was on the way with coffee. Maybe she thought twice about confronting a suicidal crazy man and witnessing his demise at the wheels of the 1:57 am express to Penn. For a brief moment I imagine that she actually does show up and we fall in love over coffee, move in together and get married. At our parties I’d say,

“Funny thing is my wife saved my life once…”

I’d tell the story of how June, the heartless whore shattered my heart into a million pieces and Sadie came and put them all back together. Stupid daydream, but when I finish deleting my messages a woman in a petty coat is approaching me on the platform with two steaming paper ups held out in front of her. She wears knee high combat style boots as is fashionable these days, a pair of gray leggings and a black skirt. An Avenged Sevenfold hoodie peeks out from under her coat. She’s a platinum blonde, wears a round silver stud under her lower lip dead center as though the piercer measured the exact proportions of her head to place it just so. She’s pale; I can see the drastic contrast between her skin tone and the heavy black smoky eye makeup. She carries herself well. Strong, direct and confident. She’s also at least 10 years my junior.

Great.

I’m going to get a lecture from a kid who probably has never even been in a committed relationship or experienced life in any real way. But the coffee is hot and I am freezing. Also for someone that calls a crisis line because they didn’t have another soul in the world they could confide in I guess having a pretty young thing like this coming to save you in the wee hours of the morning really isn’t another step towards humility.

“Hey!”

She marches up the short steps to the platform and hands me a steaming cup.

“I’m Sadie, Sadie West and you must be… Joe? Otherwise I just gave you Joe’s coffee and you’ll have to give it back.”

She’s nervous, excited. This is probably the closest she’s come to field work as a psych major but she comes off like a lonely nerdy girl on a blind date. Awkward and pathetic just like me. I can’t help but smile.

“Yeah I’m Joe.”

I take a sip from the cup but it’s volcanic.

“Venti, raspberry white mocha, extra hot with a quad shot. Kind of a girlie drink there eh Joe?”

“Suits me just fine.”

She sits down next to me and I can feel her. She tries to downplay her excitement by slowly blowing on her coffee through the tiny opening and brushing white threads of hair away from her face. Inside she’s like a little ball of energy she’s practically vibrating.

“I see at least one of us is excited.”

It’s an off handed remark, I know but now that she’s here and did indeed come like she said she would I guess that makes her the closest I have to a real friend. So I will treat her like one. My last friend ever and I’m making fun of her self righteous pursuit of trying to saving my “Sorry” life. She takes a sip of her coffee and stares at me, studying me like a specimen. Her face is pale but her lips are full and red with some sort of designer make up that doesn’t come off on the lid of her coffee cup. Her energy settles down for the moment and she tries her hardest to be professional.

“Joe if you could change one thing about your life today doesn’t matter what… Like a wish. If I could grant you that one wish what would it be?”

Now this is bullshit. I thought for a second that humoring this girl would at least prove entertaining but if this is her idea of what psycho babble bullshit is supposed to sound like I could have done without the coffee.

“Fuck this.”

Sadie rolls her eyes at me. That little bitch had the nerve to roll her eyes at me because I didn’t want to play Girl Scout saves the day.

“Look, Sadie… what is it you’re after here? This is not some after school special you’re dealing with. I think you’re in over your head and I also think that it’s my fault for saying yes to you coming down here.”

Sadie nods her head and I’m almost dumb enough not to realize that she’s humoring me and allowing me to vent my frustration. It’s just the fact that this is me at my breaking point, naked and freezing and vulnerable and this girl though she has good intentions reminds me of everything I never was at her age and I hate it. I don’t want her sympathy or her fucking help. I just want her to…

“Go home Sadie.”

She puts down her coffee and lights a cigarette.

“You know smoking has become a form of suicide for a lot of people? I mean with all the information out there as to what these things do to your insides continuing to smoke really is a form of suicide. That’s how I do it now. It never leaves you. You know? Once you have a suicidal thought it never leaves you. It’s always there in the back of your mind waiting to resurface when the next boom happens.

This is your next boom Joe.”

I want to just walk away but this is my time. If I walk away from this now I’ll just wind up back here again. Over a future failure, another girl…

“They say that creative people like me always have to do this dance with subconscious suicide in order to achieve balance. Creativity and destruction. The problem is that the balance leans to the wrong side sometimes and you go over or even worst is that you wake up one day and realize what you’re doing… Plath, Hendrix, Morrison, Cobain?

Just humor me Joe,

Look at this for what it is all the artists and writers that indulged in debauchery and self destructive behavior. Rock stars and drugs, athletes and steroids, every painter that drank more to find inspiration, every free thinking smoker with a head full of ideas trying to save the world. We all do it.”

I’m tired of listening and at this point I’d rather lay on the tracks and wait than hear another word.

“Sadie. I’m not going to buy into this. I don’t want your help. You tried, you failed now do what you promised and walk away. Leave me be.”

She stands and walks over to me.

“Do you have any idea why I came out here to see you tonight Joe?”

Looking away from her to the inside of my coat I light another cigarette. The flame from the Zippo dances against the shadows and blackness of me, bringing slight warmth like the invisible child pressing a face in my chest. I savor it and take a long drag, blowing the smoke in Sadie’s face and I hope she’s offended. I hope it makes her angry, mad enough to fucking scream at me and march her boots right back to the crisis center. It doesn’t. She holds my stare and although she’s five foot nothing in boots that give her a couple inches she is, much to my shame, slightly intimidating without the clinical bullshit smile…

“Walk with me Joe.”

She intentionally hits me with her shoulder as she walks past me along the platform towards the end facing Suffolk Ave. I don’t know why I listened and followed her, for some reason I needed the time to reassert myself or maybe I just wanted to be led to something, someplace else. I don’t know but I followed her and she kicked the chain off of the railing of the rusted metal service steps and we came down to the ground walking slowly through the rocks and broken glass and cigarette butts, across the deserted Lowell Ave intersection and beyond through the gravel along the rails.

“Where are we going Sadie?”

She turns and walks backward allowing me to catch up to her. Her breath surrounds her face in vapor and the unearthly amber back lighting turns her platinum blonde hair into something strange like the halo of a fallen angel or the aura of a bright, shinning annoying little bitch with delusions of saving those that do not want to be saved. Then again don’t I want to be saved? Isn’t that why I called her, so she could save me with her words of faux compassion?

“Show me where it happened. Your friends- you said that they died on these tracks right?”

“Yeah I did.”

“So lets go for a walk like you and your friends used to. We can talk awhile, go to the spot where it happened and visit. Take me there.”

I guess her idea was just morbid enough to register with me because I just naturally took the lead. It had been ages since I walked the rails and something about it was comforting still. It felt like I was doing something I always did but fresh and new at the same time. My mind would start to go back to the long summer nights spent out here in the dark. My memories follow me as ghosts that run alongside me and vanish just ahead. David lights a cigarette and passes it to me-

You gonna inhale this time pussy?

“I used to be just like you Joe. I don’t mean that in the way it’s scripted for us at the center. We are trained to make that attempt at common ground so every operator you talk to says that they’ve tried or had thoughts. Most have mind you but there are some that just perpetrate. That’s why I’m here. I used to be just like you and I would take these walks and wind up just where you are now and think the same fucking thoughts as you do-”

I’m barely paying any attention now. The way the stones spark together as we kick through them and the heavy white thickness of the cigarette smoke and vapor we send billowing into the darkness is strangely comforting. I can see the ghosts of my old friends running alongside us, on their way to Lakeland Park to set fires and drink the booze one of us swiped from our dads. Swiped from their secret stashes in the basement or the garage.

“I’d smoke the same cigarettes as you do, drink the same whiskey and do you know what Joe? Nothing ever happened for me either. I never went through with it. I never went through with anything because I was too goddamned scared to do it. To do anything! We’re very similar Joe. If I believed I’d say it was fate that brought us together”

We walk in silence for what seems like hours. The quiet gives me the chance to go back into the sacred spots of magic memory. In my mind, David is next to me wearing his favorite, bleach faded Beavis & Butthead T-shirt. He used to think that letting a cigarette dangle from his lip was cool but in all actuality it made him look semi retarded. Vaughn slaps it out of his mouth and it explodes into tobacco dust. David punches Vaughn hard in the back and turns to me-

Let me get another bogie man-

David becomes the smoke and vapor on my breath as Sadie dashes directly in front of me so close our noses almost touch. She walks backwards as I try to look through her. My mind stays loose and liquid following the ghosts of my childhood to no place, anywhere.

“Wait! You know what Joe? I’m going to be perfectly honest with you-

To be honest I was more of a junkie than a drunk. I used to like to get high, come home and…

I’d take my father’s gun. He was a cop so there was always a gun. I’d take it out of his bag, his closet, the box under the sink or off the magnetic plate behind the toilet. Then I’d strip down, put it to my head and just stare at my reflection in the mirror. I’d wait there and stare into my own eyes until the muzzle of that gun was warm from being pressed to my temple so long. Do you ever do that Joe just look at your reflection and think about how much you hate living?”

She holds her fingers to her temple to imitate a gun closing her eyes tight and bracing herself for an imaginary bullet. I can’t take it anymore so I walk past her. She follows on my heels like a barking dog.

“I found a way out Joe! So can you but you have to want it! There was someone I met on one of those nights that showed me a way out of it. I want to be that person for you Joe!”

I stop at those words they are the words of every doctor every so called friend that has ever wanted me to continue suffering so they could say they saved me.

“Listen bitch, I don’t need your fucking help! You can’t save me. No one ever saves anyone.”

In the distance I hear the blare of the Train horn. The Tyrannosaurus I faced as a boy was coming for me now. Up ahead a single cycloptic eye blinks at me as it charges forward.

I say this without turning around. The train is coming up fast and I have a feeling that if I look away before it’s time I’ll be the coward I always am and I’ll let it go past again.

The wind kicks up again, cutting straight through me. Sadie comes up behind me. I expected there to be desperation in her voice, a different type of nervousness unlike the excitement she arrived with. I feel power in my stance facing my doom out here, far from the platform not more than a few feet in either direction from where they all died years ago. In my mind she pleads with me and tries desperately to pull me away but I push her down and away from me… I’ll smile and say “Shh, it’s OK now,” and she’ll look away as the train takes me with blackened tears rolling down those pale cheeks…

But Sadie is calm. Her cool, smoky voice coos into my ear as she puts a hand on my shoulder and speaks to me so closely that it sends chills up my spine as I feel her lips moving and the percussion of her breath.

“Joe how can you be so sure that you want to die? You don’t know what comes next. None of us do.”

I laugh at her. I set my bloodshot eyes cold and defiant. I hope this scars you for life you little bitch. I hope you give up on psych and become a stripper because of this, because of me. Fuck your life. I want to say that but for some strange reason even in my most glorious moments my compassion still exists.

“It can’t be worst than it is here. Save someone else Sadie. I was lost before I ever met you. Be a good girl and go now and leave. Let me do what I have to do.”

She turns away but stops. She speaks over her shoulder at me. Her tone has changed from cool to cold.

“You won’t do it.”

“This time is different. I’m ready to go.”

“That doesn’t change anything Joe. You’re still a fucking coward. That’s what stopped you in the past. That’s what’s going to stop you now.”

“Sadie, just get off the tracks and walk away. Let me do this. It’s for the best.”

“Joe, you really don’t have any family?”

“No. everyone is either dead or just dead to me.”

“No children or anyone that relies on you? Fucking pets, anyone? Are you sure? Isn’t there someone you will be leaving worst off by dying right here, right now?”

The train signal pings ahead in the darkness as the eye of the steel serpent opens wide and I can see the cruel light getting closer. I take a deep breath, stand tall and spread my arms wide.

“Go Home Sadie.”

I’m ready now, I’m going to stand here and accept this fate like I should have years ago… Now it’s here, now it’s finally time…

The train is seconds away. The wheels grind on the rails and the metal screams like a hundred falling angels and I am frozen stiff with the same fear that grips everything I do. Sadie steps behind me to pull me back. She hugs me. A tight embrace, I can feel her warmth pressed against me, I can see in my mind the outline of cheek, neck, breasts and belly.

Sadie ducks under my arm and smiles at me. The same bright energetic face that I met on the platform a cup of coffee ago.

“I told you…”

She says as the horn blares and I feel the ground shake. The tyrant lizard is here and it’s hungry.

“I was like you once Joe. I couldn’t bring myself to do what I knew I wanted to do. I’ve been in love with death for so long I can’t remember when it hit me… I think about it all the time Joe. Every stranger that looks me up and down, every time I find myself behind someone vulnerable and unsuspecting… I wanted it so bad but I couldn’t get past the possibility of getting caught. People like me have to be careful who we select to play these games Joe. That’s why I had to make sure with you that this is what you wanted. That you’ve tried this before and most importantly that something terrible just happened to you and sent you spiraling out of control. I’ve been helping people like you for a while now. I’m going to help you too Joe.”

I wish I had lit another cigarette.

I feel my heart jump in my chest but look into her eyes and they are warm and full with compassion. Like the eyes of a live spectator on a talk show. Her eyes, beautiful ice blue say so many things as the trains light turns both of us into silhouettes. They say that she understands, they say that I can trust her, that everything is going to be alright. I want to trust her and I do as I feel the blade pierce my back and slip between the vertebras. Everything goes cold I can feel nothing but the buzzing static numbness spreading through my limbs like sugar dissolving in hot water.

“Remember when we first met? When I asked you if I could grant you one wish? I hope this is really what you wanted because it’s all I have to give. I am the angel of mercy Joe, this is my gift to you. I will cherish you…

Always.”

With that she Kisses me softly and steps away. The light from the train engulfs me and I’m thankful that its glare hides the engineer’s face from me. I fall to my knees with uncontrolled reverence as the paralysis spreads and the train is almost on top of me. Slow motion and fast forward at once as I look around in those final seconds and see Sadie West blow me a kiss. She smiles a kitten’s smile and watches the train take me from the tree line alongside her, standing in the shadows in dirty converse sneakers and Doc Martin boots are David, Kenny and Vaughn cheering me on. I smile back. I call out to them in a muted scream drowned out by the blaring horn and the violent rush of machinery.

The world goes brilliant white with tiny fragments of recognizable things, gravel, cross ties a flash of muted silver that must be a star.