The asteroid might hit one day and wipe us all out. Capitalism might collapse, and cities fall. The majority might take back what is rightfully theirs, whether by force or by natural process. Anything is possible. Certainties, though? The only real certainty is death. Maybe work, too. Death and work. They're always there for most of us. Always waiting.
Sib and Bill come over for a beer and a smoke. When the beer's all gone, Bill take out a bottle of wine he's brought. It's not a good move, the mixture like that. It changes the mood. But by then we're too wrecked to care.
So Sib starts in on the subject.
“How’d you reckon’s the best way to do it? I mean, if you were going to do it?”
He blows smoke through drunken lips.
"You know. If you were going to finish it, I mean. Check yourself out for the final time."
Sib takes a good mouthful of wine down. “Come on, guys. Don't say you never think about it.”
"Only when you’re around," says Bill.
Sib's face changes, like he's confused by something.
“I don’t... I don't mean it like that. I mean, the people who do it. How do they decide? How do they pick on the way for them?”
Bill passes me the roach. “You really want an answer to that?”
I take a suck on that little weinie. This is how I’d go if I tried it again. Head full of smoke and juice. Float off.
“I knew a guy once. Jumped off a building. Seventy storeys. All that way to think about what was coming at the end. To see it coming.”
“Jesus!” Bill takes it back.
“That’s what I’m talking about,” says Sib. “If you’re going to do it, why do it like that?”
“At least you know it’ll succeed.”
“Fuck that,” says Bill. “I’d have to be unconscious first.”
Sib takes it from Bill. “So why not do it some other way? Some way less… you know... nasty. Less dangerous.”
“Less dangerous? ”
“Oh, Christ… you know. Something easier. Tablets, maybe. Cyanide.”
The weed’s doing its thing. It’s good.
“Where'd you get cyanide from, anyhow?” says Bill.
“Search me. A pharmacy?”
“Why would a pharmacy keep cyanide?”
The wine's almost gone. Bill takes out another bottle.
“How does cyanide work so quick? Does anyone know?”
I fill our glasses again.
How does booze work so quick? How does it go so quick?
Sib’s face is starting to move involuntarily.
“What would make you do it, Bill?”
“Nothing,” says Bill. “Even if you cut my dong off, there’s always something to live for. Even if it’s just life.”
Sib’s making me think, which I don’t want to do. His wife’s left him and he’s got some issues. He lives alone.
“Bill’s right. There’s always something. Nothing’s worth that.”
The last time I tried to do it was six years back. I went up on a freeway bridge with a bottle of whiskey. Once I’d downed that sucker, I waited for the world to slit-scan around me. Then I climbed over the rail and let go. I felt myself land and I blacked out. Next thing, I was looking up at this woman in a nurse’s uniform. She had a body I’ve never forgotten. I thought 'Welcome to heaven, baby!'
“You were very lucky, sir,” she said.
I’d landed on top of a freight truck that was slowing for the turn off. I’d only fallen about seven feet. Two broken fingers. Bruises. Mild concussion.
I looked at that nurse. It was all I needed to do. How could I die when there were women alive like that?
“Why are you so interested, Sib?”
His eyes are twitching. It’s as much as he can do to keep his head up.
“I just wondered. How desperate do you have to be?”
“I don’t know,” I say. “I don’t know. And I don’t even want to think about it.”
“Me either,” says Bill. “There’s enough shit to worry about.”
The last bottle’s empty.
“Who wants a coffee?”
“I just wanna get my head down,” says Bill.
Sib’s already there.
“I’ll get some blankets and pillows, guys.”
Sib looks up. “I should be going.”
“It’s okay. You can stay where you are.”
“Sure you don’t mind?” Bill asks.
“I’ll get the stuff.”
Bill lives alone, too.
When I’m clocking in one day, a couple of weeks later, Bill comes up.
“Did you hear?”
“What about him?”
“Gone. Didn’t turn up for shift last night. The office rang and got his landlady. Said he’d moved out. Just vanished, overnight.”
“Any idea where?”
“Nope. Just gone. No notes, no forwarding, nothing.”
We walk over to the lockers.
“You think he’ll do anything stupid?” says Bill.
We both look at Sib’s locker door. At the lock hanging there. What’s in there’s probably his work overalls, his boots, a comb, a mug. Maybe a photo of someone.
We turn our heads and look at each other for a long few seconds.
Then we unlock our own lockers. We put on our overalls and boots. We take out our mugs. We pocket our combs.
We go through to the shop.
Once again, this