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.