* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we absolutely support a person's right to self-terminate. As long as they get it right. Read Shannon Brown's cautionary tale and tremble!

I Tried To Kill Myself Ten Months Ago And I’m Still Stuck Under The Bridge Please Someone Cut Me Down

By: Shannon Brown

No companion, no job, not enough credits to graduate community college. At 33 I was lost, sad, and desperate. I felt utterly alone; so one night, I went to an overpass to end it all. I tried to hang myself, but somehow my noose got all jammed up, causing a very safe and stable suspension rig from which my chubby, sad body hung — semi-comfortably.

Now known as Suicide Gary, I’ve been literally “hanging” out under this highway for the past ten months. It’s been pretty embarrassing for people to see me in my funeral clothes with my suicide note (which happened to contain a beautiful haiku) pinned to me. Originally, people just thought I was an old Halloween decoration, so they either didn’t bother with me or they thought I was one of those motion sensor decorations that moves and makes noise when you walk by. I guess it didn’t help that I would start talking and moving once they got closer to me, but having a poorly formed noose loosely supporting your weight under an overpass makes for a sore throat. In trying to save my voice and energy, I chased away people who could have helped me. Well, except for these two girls and some old guy who were trying to do it under this very overpass. They didn’t care one bit about my presence. They were very, very high and I totally saw them do it. That was neat.

Nine months ago, a few folks took up this action committee, but it was mostly about how they were affected by what I did. Four months ago, some kids stole my shoes and egged my back, which really hasn’t helped my efforts to have someone help me get down. Last week some dude threw some pizza to me. That was cool of him.

Anyhoo, I’ve become accustomed to this life, but wish I were able to access the stipend from that action committee for being a suicide prevention landmark for all of the kids in the surrounding school districts. As of today, ‘ol Suicide Gary has seen about 43 young, impressionable kids, and I’ve shown them there are better ways to deal with their problems. Since my botched attempt, suicide rates in our town have dropped nearly 26%. If I were able to get to my money, I’d surely hire someone to come get me down, but then Briana, from the committee, said something about using it for shirts and candles.

I also have this suspicion that the committee is only keeping me around for their own personal gain. Leah, Briana’s friend from the committee, put a sheet over me and projected a Windows desktop background onto the sheet to hide me from the police once. Jean, Leah’s friend, told the guys they had the wrong botched suicide scene and they believed her and left. I’m still here and they’re still getting a ton of attention for being older ladies who are upset about something, but they’re kind of my only friends right now. Unless you count those two girls and one guy, and that other one guy with the pizza, like I do.

I’ve dropped like 40 pounds, so I have that going for me, but the only time I really eat is when a slow, fat bird comes just within my reach. Sometimes, if it’s raining, I’m lucky enough to get some runoff from the highway, which has actually really improved the quality of my hair. Usually, the town bullies come by to throw garbage at me, but what those waspy jerks don’t know is that their half eaten hoagies, semi-spoiled milk, and empty Chipotle wrappers are keeping me going. They like to call me “Rat” since I eat their garbage and live outside, but those kids don’t know that this rat is the Rat King, and this Rat King is going to show them how cool he is when he gets down. Also, they call me Rat because once they caught me eating a rat, but I really think they blew that out of proportion.

Am I happy? Sure, I guess you could say that. I’ve found a purpose for my life; to shed light on mental illness and give hope to those who feel lost, and to give strangers a thing to feel strongly about while standing under my dangling body. Parts of me look the best they ever have and I’m feeling much better after all of these weeks given over to reflection and deep thought, though most of my thoughts initially were about figuring out how to get someone to come help me get down.

Though I’m thankful for this experience and the insight I have now, all I truly wish for is that someone would get me down from here. On my birthday, last Christmas, every time I see a shooting star, and whenever I think it’s 11:11, I beg to be let down, but I can’t fight this feeling that I’d also be letting down Briana, and all those people in the committee. I guess you could say that if I got myself down from this hanging, I would be leaving my new friends hanging.

And that just isn’t what a friend does.

So I’ll do what every other adult does and I’ll hang on. I’ll hang on for the committee. I’ll hang on for those kids contemplating suicide. I’ll hang on for that sweet dude who tossed me a slice. I’ll hang on for me. Mostly because I stand to make more money by hanging around here, thanks to the committee, than I ever could at an entry-level job. Mostly, I’ll hang on for money and pizza.

Oh — oh jeez. Hey! Knock it off, you little jerks! Quit it! Well, I guess the joke’s on you! I actually LIKE being hit with bottles and old shoes! That’s right, Rat King likes your abuse and terrible behavior! Come on guys, that one nailed me right in the temple. I swear, once I get down from here…that’s weird, I haven’t felt dizzy since the first three days I started hanging.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are usually willing to take a commonplace saying and follow it to its logical but insane conclusion. This week our guide is John Merriman, who is apparently in the employ of the U.S. Apple Association.

Diary Of A Person Keeping The Doctor Away With Apples

By: John Merriman


Dr. Bernstein stopped by the house around noon today, which was kind of odd since he normally only sees patients at his office. I also don’t remember saying he could just randomly show up at my house unannounced. Anyway, I told him I was going to eat an apple for dessert — I’ve been on a health kick lately — at which point he smiled, apologized, and left.



Dr. Bernstein came back, this time as I was getting ready for work. When I opened the door, his eyes were bloodshot, his face pale, and he appeared to be sweating. He was having trouble forming complete sentences. I ran to the kitchen, grabbed a Red Delicious, and took a bite right in front of him. He kept staring at me, so I kept eating. When I nearly got down to the core, he abruptly walked away, but not without stealing several wild-eyes glances back at me.



Slept for about two hours last night because I kept having nightmares involving Dr. Bernstein strangling me with a stethoscope. Called in sick and spent the whole day driving to every grocery store and farmer’s market in town just buying bushels of apples. Honeycrisp, Gala, Fuji — you name it, I bought it. When I came back, I spotted a shirtless Bernstein lurking around my front yard, so I threw a Granny Smith at him. He didn’t put up much of a fight and ran away screaming.



This morning, as a precautionary measure, I started eating an apple every five minutes. No sign of the doctor today so far, but I know he’s watching me, waiting for me to slip up somehow. If he shows up again I may have to start eating the cores, seeds and all. I have no idea if that’ll even work. All I know is, I once had a life, and now that life has been replaced by whatever you call being too scared to leave your own house while contemplating eating apple cores. I might be going completely, utterly insane.



So apparently all that apple-a-day stuff is a complete load of bull. Now fully nude and foaming at the mouth, Bernstein woke me up at three in the morning trying to break in through the back door. Instead of eating more godforsaken apples, I finally did what a normal person would’ve done days ago and called the police. They arrested him on the spot. Now I have a ridiculous amount of apples in the house for no reason at all. Also, I keep hearing voices coming from their direction, but that’s silly because everyone knows apples can’t talk. I’ve been repeating that to myself while I rock back and forth in a fetal position on the floor, and so far that seems to be working.



Guess who paid me a visit today by trying to climb down the chimney? Hint: it wasn’t Santa, and bail was involved. Well, this time I was ready. I went outside, taunted him into coming out of the chimney and off the roof, and when he was close enough, I knocked him unconscious by throwing an entire case of Mountain Dew at his head. No apples involved at all! Now he’s tied to a chair in my basement. Oh, and I was wrong about the apples — apparently they can channel their thoughts directly into my brain! I hear their voices constantly now, and I have to find a way to get rid of them all. So many voices. So many crisp and juicy voices.



Just came up with a new expression today: “A doctor a day keeps the apples away.” Can’t wait to see if it works!


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we may not know how to define pornography, but we sure know it when we see it. So does Abby Byrd in her first piece for us.

Passive-Aggressive Erotica

By: Abby Byrd

He dug and dug, clearing the way for a new gate. With each thrust of the shovel into the soft dirt, he cursed her. How dare she launch that tirade against him? Just who did she think she was? That gate I’ve been asking you to fix for weeks has completely broken, she’d said, and the dogs got into the garden! He continued thrusting and began to sweat, remembering the irresistible way she’d admonished and belittled him. God, her voice was piercing. He could feel it all the way down in his gonads. And her tone dripped with condescension; he could imagine catching it on his tongue as he knelt down to supplicate himself before her ample bosom and psychopathic mood swings. He focused on the memory of her spiteful little mouth: If those asshole dogs dig up my garden, I am going to lose my shit! She needed to be taught a lesson, he thought. A dirty, sweaty lesson.

She returned a few hours later, in a swimsuit and still damp from the children’s pool party she took the child to alone, which was totally fine. Even though the child yelled something that sounded remarkably like “Bullshit!” while careening down the slip ‘n’ slide and then ran into a thicket of poison ivy. It was totally fine. When she saw the repaired gate, she threw her arms around him. She could feel his muscles through his t-shirt. She caressed them and began to moan softly, moans that said, “Thank you for finally fixing the damn gate, you irresponsible cockmonkey.” She ran her hand down the front of his body and gently cupped the bulge that apparently rendered him incapable of cleaning the inside of a toilet. As he began to nibble her neck, she felt a stirring in her bitch parts. Suddenly, she wanted nothing else than to be repeatedly and rhythmically penetrated by someone who insisted on loading the dishwasher in the most illogical way imaginable.

She wrapped her pale, veiny legs around him and he carried her to the kitchen, pressing against her doughy midsection. Hopefully he could keep her attention before it strayed to the freezer and she devoured another pint of ice cream that she claimed she’d bought “for him” — but it was never for him, was it? He sat her fat ass on the nearest surface, the kitchen counter, and knocked over the sugar jar — because after getting his last cup of coffee he’d left it sitting right in the middle of the counter instead of pushing it six inches back, out of the way. Of course.

She seemed uncomfortable. Perhaps he was supposed to know what she wanted, like when she suddenly spoke aloud in the middle of a thought with absolutely no context whatsoever and then expected him to know what the hell she was talking about. He paused to look into her eyes. They were two endless pools of mystery from which he longed to drink as he plunged his manly tumescence into her sadly ordinary but adequately elastic vagina. He wondered if he should carry her to the bedroom and deposit her on the bed that he was sure was still unmade, despite repeated requests for her to take two seconds and just pull up the fucking bedspread.

Alas, there was no time. The child was yelling from the hall bathroom that he needed a butt wipe.

She guessed she’d be the butt wiper. Again.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where the only thing we are practical about is practical jokes. Hearken to the expert advice of our good friend Michael Fowler. Again, we urge you to click on the links to his books, "A Happy Death" and "The Created Couple," in our blogroll.

The Golden Age Of Practical Jokes

By: Michael Fowler

Me and some guys working highway construction were having our lunch in a field one time. Bob hawked a loogie into his thermos, like he always did, so no one would drink out of it when he wasn’t looking. What he didn’t realize was that, while he unwrapped his sandwich, I put a blackbird in his car. When he drove off at the end of the day he had to fight this crazed bird that kept flapping against the inside of his windshield and pecking at his eyes. This was back in the day when people weren’t sensitive about every single one of their rights and didn’t haul you into court over any little infraction of the law. I call it the golden age of practical jokes. Bob would call it that too except this past year he lost his power of speech in a terrible medical tragedy.

The morning after the bird joke Bob told us guys that somehow this insane blackbird had got into his Fairlane, causing him to drive into a ravine. Now he had a motorcycle. I never confessed I was the one who put the bird in his car, but maybe he figured it out from my laughing so hard. Anyway a few days later I looked down to light a cigarette and just then someone slipped a young coyote down my shirt. This was back in the day when a lot of us guys smoked. I owned a blue butane lighter that I was fond of and hated the day I lost it. I had a strong suspicion Bob handled the coyote, to get even, but if so he never let on, and I didn’t really see him do it. My wife, after she heard about a coyote, wouldn’t even put that shirt in the laundry. She just threw it out.

Another time on a bridge project I was leaning off the top of the bridge and dangling a plumb bob, when someone in a small boat on the river reached out and cut off the bob. I never did see who did it, but I could put two and two together. It was Bob. It made me laugh harder than the time Bob and I were relaxing in a storm drain and he pushed me into a rushing torrent. My shoes didn’t get all the way dry until the next day. I got even by putting a hornet’s nest in Bob’s motorcycle helmet. This was back in the day you didn’t have to wear a helmet, but I was glad Bob wore one. I watched him put on his helmet at the end of the day and roar off, only to swerve to the side of the road, pull off his helmet, and start slapping himself all over the face and neck. The next day his face was red and swollen, but he hadn’t gone to the doctor even though he was allergic to insect venom and fell into a coma that lasted through the night. Back in those days you didn’t go to the doctor for every little ache and pain. Bob once set his own broken leg using a shovel for a splint, and passed a kidney stone while operating a jackhammer. I once sweated out Lyme disease while operating a Bobcat. It was a manlier age.

Bob must have figured out that I had something to do with the hornets in his helmet, because a few days later I drove off after work and discovered two raccoons in my car, one injured and bleeding and the other rabid. There was quite a tussle in the front seat of my Monte Carlo, but I finally got shut of those animals without too much damage to me or the car. My jacket was shredded and I had some deep scratches on my arms, but nothing serious enough to complain about, let alone see a doctor over. And I didn’t want to lose face in front of the guys, especially Bob, by acting delicate. We were tough back then. Anyway I scored again when I spread half a pound of deer feces on the door handle of our portable toilet right before Bob had to go real bad. Watching him react was great. He got me back by heating up the doorknob of our work trailer with a blowtorch when I wasn’t looking, then asking me to get the door for him. That really blistered me, but it was great too.

One time I tricked Bob into feeding a doughnut to a wild horse. The horse bit him on the chest and wouldn’t let go until Bob punched it in the nose half a dozen times. The skin wasn’t broken, but Bob got a bruise as wide as his ribcage. But he didn’t go to the doctor, since he wasn’t delicate. We joked that it would have been worse if he’d been a woman, and he just laughed at that comment. Women are more delicate and exposed to danger in the chest area than men, you have to admit.

I confess Bob did a good number on me soon after the horse joke. I was eating my lunch in a meadow, enjoying my sandwich and the view while sitting against the biggest cow carcass I’d ever seen. Well, Bob came rushing up and kicked that carcass a good one with his work boot, and didn’t a dozen angry possums come running out of that hollow belly, just fussing and hissing at me for ruining their peaceful meal. The expression on my face must have been something when I saw those angry devils surrounding me, because Bob spit the bite of egg salad sandwich in his mouth about fifty feet. After seeing how far that egg salad traveled, we both let out a hoot.

After work me and Bob used to sit out on the grass by an elementary school and shoot pennies out of each other’s fingers with our .22 rifles. This was back in the day when gun laws weren’t as strict as they are now. We got good enough that we could hit the penny, held steady between thumb and forefinger, at fifty yards. One time Bob decided to have some fun. He shot off the tip of my right forefinger, missing the penny completely. Of course I didn’t go to the doctor. Back in those days a missing finger or toe wasn’t even considered disfigurement. It certainly was nothing to get upset about. Bob said I required less nourishment now, being not so substantial, and from then on helped himself to my lunch Twinkie. That was pretty funny, and made a certain sense. To even the score I shot him in the buttocks with my rifle. He carried the slug on his right hip to remind us of the laughs we had until the day a stroke silenced him. If you think he went to the doctor over a thing like that, you’re wrong. I mean the bullet, not the stroke. He’s in a nursing home because of the stroke, and I don’t see him coming out.