How is it that you’re so lonely while the rest of the world has someone? You deserve someone to be with too. I can be there for you.
I… I don’t know. My family…
Your family is gone. They went out to party and drink and laugh and fuck. It’s just you and I here. I’ll be here with you. There’s only two hours left. You can allow it all to end in sorrow but with hope for the future. We can start together.
December 31st, 1999: Isaac sat alone on the family couch. Dad and mom left to drink their way into the new millennium. They didn’t care what Isaac was doing.
He was their burden. If it hadn’t been for him they wouldn’t have had to worry so much about bills. They didn’t want to have to worry about extra food, school clothes, supplies, or what kind of shit they would be in if he’d gotten himself in trouble. They didn’t figure he’d even had a shot at college. The only attempt at parental bonding was the time they tried to get him to drink with them.
He didn’t like it. He didn’t want to be like them. So Isaac’s father hit him for wasting a perfectly good beer after he had opened it for Isaac. Once Isaac was hurt and afraid enough, his father drank the beer anyway and went back to watching TV.
I’ll never leave you. I’ll never hit you. I’ll never wish you’d hadn’t come to be with me.
I don’t even know your name.
I have a lot of names. You can call me Sam.
Isaac did not want to follow in the footsteps, or even down the same trail or direction, as his parents. He refrained from all alcohol, all drugs. He didn’t even like Tylenol, afraid he might take it too far and become like some of the kids in his class.
He was not allowed out. Not that he had many friends. Any time he attempted to spend time with someone, male or female, his parents would begin badmouthing their family. Either examples of how bad that family’s drug use was or how a certain member of that family was corrupt or how “that whole family thinks they’re too good.” All coping mechanisms designed to allow themselves to feel a little better about what huge pieces of shit they were.
If the parents of Isaac’s friends found out his family name then they would also not allow their child to spend any time with Isaac. “The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree” was a worry uttered more than a few times.
Why do you hang on?
I want things to be better in my life. I want to prove I can be better than my parents.
They don’t care what becomes of you Isaac. You could swallow all the pills in the medicine cabinet. You could fill your clothes with rocks and jump off of the bridge. You could open your wrists and watch the blood flow. In the end, you would be just another hassle for them to bury.
The only person Isaac felt was remotely like a friend to him didn’t really know it. They were in the same grade. They had the same taste in music, the only thing Isaac really cherished. He was into Nu-Metal and Grunge. He associated with the anger, frustration, hate and angst.
Isaac’s parents refused to let him get a job. They would not let their 17 year old son be more successful than they were. Without money, Isaac could not afford to buy the music he loved so much. On his last visit to his grandmother she gave him an outdated stereo with a radio and cassette player. Isaac tuned into KCCF every night and recorded his favorite songs with the tape player.
Come with me.
Why are you always at the window? Why don’t you come inside?
I thought you’d never ask.
Isaac’s teachers saw potential. They also occasionally saw the bruises. They saw that his shoes and clothes were a little too old and a little too tight. They saw him force smiles when they asked how he was doing. They saw the abuse and knew that even going through all the right channels there was nothing they could do for him.
When Isaac mentioned a teacher had talked to him about college or the military his father lost it. The next morning at school, still drunk from the night before, Isaac’s father showed up at the school and threatened the teacher for “filling his head with bullshit.” The idea that Isaac should become something more than either of his parents was obscene.
From that day forward Isaac’s favorite teacher could not look him in the eye.
There’s one hour left.
Stop. Being. Afraid.
Sitting in his attic room, Isaac was listing out loud the tasks of cleaning his room as he performed them. Slowly, and without his noticing, his own words became conversation with himself. The words he spoke out loud became thoughts in a two-sided conversation. Soon, only one side of the conversation was his own.
He would think a statement and it would be answered by a mental voice not his own. He would ask a question and a response would come in a way that he would not have worded it. The new voice in his head knew things Isaac did not. It told him reassuring things Isaac would never have thought on his own.
In time, and again without realizing it, the mental voice became an actual voice from outside his window.
Why do you think I’m here? I’m here to fucking help you.
Why do you sound so angry?
Because I’m here to help you, you stupid sorry sack of shit! I’ve spent so much time listening to you blubber and wail and cry and I am fucking trying to insure that you no longer feel the pain of rejection, of sorrow, of hate, or scorn!
NIGHT AFTER NIGHT I TRY TO BRING YOU WITH ME SO THAT YOU WILL NO LONGER HAVE TO DEAL WITH ANY OF IT AND ALL I FUCKING HEAR IS YOU CLINGING TO LIFE LIKE AN INFANT CLINGING TO THE INSIDE OF THE WOMB. I AM BRINGING YOU FREEDOM. FREEDOM FROM LIFE.
DEATH IS THE ONLY WAY OUT.
DEATH IS THE ANSWER.
DEATH IS THE ONLY ESCAPE FROM THIS SORRY EXISTENCE AND THIS IS YOUR LAST AND ONLY CHANCE FOR YOU. IF YOU CHOOSE TO STAY, IF YOU CHOOSE TO BE A MOTHERFUCKING COWARD, I WILL REJECT YOU JUST LIKE YOUR PIECE OF SHIT PARENTS. YOU WILL LIVE A SHORT SAD LIFE FULL OF ALCOHOLISM AND ONE DAY A DOCTOR WILL PRESCRIBE YOU ANTI-DEPRESSANTS. AND YOU WILL BE FORCED TO TAKE THEM. AND YOU WILL LOVE IT. YOU WILL SPEND THE REST OF YOUR SHORT DAYS SWALLOWING THOSE PILLS UNTIL ONE DAY YOU DECIDE THAT ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. YOU WILL STEAL A GUN. YOU WILL PUT THAT GUN TO YOUR HEAD AND YOU WILL PULL THE FUCKING TRIGGER AND THAT WILL BE THE END OF YOU. YOU WILL DIE BEFORE YOUR TWENTY SECOND BIRTHDAY WITH YOUR BRAIN AND SKULL SPLATTERED INSIDE THE STALL OF A GAS STATION BATHROOM WITH SHIT IN YOUR PANTS AND TEARS ON YOUR CHIN.
DO IT NOW.
DO IT NOW.
In sadness and fear, Isaac ran to the basement. No escape from life. No escape from death.
He found the noose already tied to the rafters. A chair stood under it.
As Isaac’s tears rolled down his cheeks, he saw someone under the basement stairs. As Isaac’s face slowly changed colors through lack of oxygen, he saw the someone step out from under the stairs into the moonlight floating through the basement window. Incredibly tall, eight or nine feet, he hunched over to clear the ceiling. In the softest white light, Isaac saw his ill-fitting black duster coat and fedora. The sleeves of the coat came to the top of his forearms and his arms dangled to his calves.
Mentally hoping, praying, begging for assurance, Isaac still raised his arms to the noose to loosen it. He could not. He still tried to cry out.
“Sam…” Isaac scarcely more than mouthed the words.
Sam slowly turned his head to Isaac. His face was not really a face. There was a jumble of smooth white facial features, like someone had made a clay sculpture and twisted it with a single violent jerk of their hand.
Through the slow suffocating agony, Isaac watched Sam pull his arm from his side and reach out to him. Still searching for any sort of comfort, he tried to put it out of his head, tried not to be terrified, to realize that Sam had not moved from his spot after stepping out from the stairs but was still wrapping his ice cold, pencil-thin, fingers around his throat from fifteen feet away.
Isaac’s vision was fading. His heart slowed.
Are you ready to come with me?
Is Heaven beautiful?
Suicides don’t go to Heaven, Isaac. We were never going there.
It was one of those moments people remember for the rest of their lives.
“Where were you when Kennedy was shot?”
“Do you remember what you were doing when the Challenger went down?”
“What were you doing when 9/11 happened?”
December 31st, 1999 became January 1st, 2000 in the blink of an eye.
In a small house in a small town on an Indian reservation in North Dakota, a boy named Isaac blinked and found that he would forever hang in the house he feared and hated.
It’s almost time. Are you ready?
5… 4… 3… 2…