A short story written by Christian Tanner
Traveling along a smooth highway in the passenger’s seat while staring at the Dallas skyline will give you a sense of enlightenment. Take a deep breath – hold it in – this is a ride of your life.
In Dallas, there’s a skyscraper outlined with neon green lights that can be seen from miles across numerous lakes and hills. Imagine a cheerful house around Christmas time, where the family outlines the roof and corners with lights. That’s what this building looks like, but on ecstasy. Not that the lights flash or anything, no, but they were as bright as a green sun. When you drive along I-75, if you’re lucky enough to catch the right angle, you’ll see flickers of a body blocking the green lights from someone falling to their death. I’m Andy, by the way, and reset.
Without looking down, the tips of my short blonde hair would barely blow in the wind. However, when I look down at the tiny moving dots, gusts of heavy winds would try their best to pull me down to the bottom as if the reaper himself were helping. Tempt me, devil, fucking tempt me. I don’t think I am in a position to explain the adrenaline hype to such a normal human being, like yourself, but I don’t give a flying fuck. For example, imagine the adrenaline rush you get from talking shit to a complete stranger in a bar. Walk up to someone, poke their chest, and tell them that their parents died to get away from their child’s shitty life. Your hands will begin to shake and you may catch yourself saying horrible insults. You debate with yourself, wondering if you’re going to hit the stranger or if you’re going to walk away. To you, it can be an uncomfortable situation, but you’ll usually walk away.
When you’re on the verge of suicide, and you’re on top of a skyscraper, the decision is as easy as a bar fight and I’ve been in plenty of them.
Most people who hold the sharp edge of a knife to their wrist will wait for you to walk through the door before they split their skin. People who are on the edge of buildings will wait for the police to show up. Suicide wannabes who are about to take half a bottle of Xanax will call or text you before they take them. Normally, they’ll only take four or five of them –depending on their strength – and then they will wait for the pills to kick in, call you and lie, saying they took them all. Suiciders will tell you anything because for a moment you’ll finally listen to them. I’m the wanna-be on top of a building and I’m waiting for the cops to get here, so let me tell you how I got here.
One time, at my family reunion, this mother fucker had the audacity to ask me for a loan to start some shitty guacamole company called, “GuacaHolyMoley.” Really, coming from a husband of a second cousin that I haven’t talked to in years. I didn’t even know the guy, he told me that my cousin said I would loan him the money. He barely introduced himself, too.
Anyway, I was at my family reunion, dressed to the nines, while I sat in the corner and observed my family point at me and tell someone who I am. They would tell them about my investments and my clothing line, and then they would introduce them to me. Brag about me, you assholes, you didn’t give a shit about me until I had money, but that’s the way it works in the States. When my family looks at me, they see a big dollar sign. I can’t blame them, though, when I look deep enough into their eyes, I can see my reflection. It’s a big ass mother fucking dollar sign, bitch.
While I hung back in the corner, a man walked through the heavy door of the church building we were in. When the door slammed shut behind him, everyone stopped and stared. He wore a nice heavy blue suit. He looked at me, pointed and winked, and then he left. Everyone went back, doing what they were doing, but I couldn’t help but think about what a strange sight it was. I shook it off, acting like nothing happened, and I went to sit next to my cousin Molly that I used to live next to.
As I sat down, I said to her, “What a shitty reunion. Don’t you think?”
She threw me off, saying, “What? Who are you?”
“Molly, it’s me. Andy. The fuck’s wrong with you.”
“Well, Andy, I don’t know who the fuck you think you are talking to me that way.”
And just like that, I realized I was caught in the middle of some shitty Christmas movie like It’s a Wonderful Life, but I don’t have any bullshit angel to help guide me.
I said, “Molly, quit fuckin’ with me,” while I slapped my face, “You’re being ridiculous, it’s me.” I barely pushed her on the shoulder – ok, maybe it was a little more than a push – she yelled while she raised her hand to slap me. Just before she hit me, my cousin Roger pulled me away.
“Ok, buddy, it might be time for you to go.” He said as he blocked me from Molly. Everyone was watching while Roger kept telling me to leave.
I looked around the room, my arms eagle spread, I said, “Everyone! It’s me, Andy. You people beg me for money. You people ask me for help. Don’t act like you don’t know me. Like you don’t know me! You people want my money.”
Everyone fell silent.
“Fine. I’m fucking out. Don’t think for a second that I’m going to help any of you assholes.” And then I left.
I hopped into my freshly waxed Lexus, and I drove off in a scurry of screeches while my engine roared. I cruised to my bank to check my account. Sometimes when I’m really pissed off, I’ll look at my bank account balance and it will cheer me right up. Who can be pissed off when their bank account reads six figures?
This time was different. No money. Right then, the real problem had begun. I pulled my debit card out of the machine’s slot, and tried again. Nope. Nothing. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I sped off to my house.
I pulled into my normal spot in my driveway, removed the keys from the ignition, and I walked inside my two story home. It’s just me, but I love having a big ass house. I walked inside, heading towards my office. When I walked through my living room, someone said, “Andy!” In a raspy voice, “It’s you.” He nearly scared me to death. I shuffled to my T.V. and pulled out my Dessert Eagle from behind the armoire. I fired three rounds into his chest, watching blood seep through his suit. His nice heavy blue suit.
He lifted his head up and said, “Andy,” he laughed, “You can’t kill me, son. They call me the reaper for a reason, not you.”
“Who the fuck are you?” I demanded to know.
“Ha. . .”
“You were at my family reunion.”
He pointed at me and said, “Bingo.”
“What the fuck are you doing? And what did you do to my bank account?”
“Andy,” Jesus, his raspy voice, “Have you ever heard the term ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?’”
“Yeah,” I snapped.
“Well, Andy, those words fucking kill you. To an extremist, like yourself, those words mean a lot more to you than the average Joe, but you’re not the average Joe, are you, Andy?”
“Fuck you. Where’s my money?”
“There you go again. You’re reason isn’t inside your fucking bank account. Wake up! You’ve been dreaming, Andy. You’ve been dreaming! You’re stuck in a nightmare, and you have no escape. You have nothing. Even with your bank account, you’re nothing.”
I wiped my eyes while my allergies kicked in. I cleared my throat and shouted, “Get the fuck out.”
“Andy, you’ll never learn. I swear to god, you’ll never learn. Remember when your uncle had his way with you? Remember that, Andy? Remember when your dad beat the shit out of you for saying you wanted to be a professional basketball player? You lost yourself.”
My face turned cherry red from embarrassment. I turned the Dessert Eagle to my head and threatened myself to pull the trigger. Sweat quickly broke my pores.
“Andy, you know you won’t do that. You’ll be stuck with me for eternity.”
“Fuck you.” I almost pulled the trigger.
“Do you remember the last time you passed a wreck on the highway? When you saw a Calvary of ambulances and squad cars? You remember seeing wrecks, seeing the cars; rarely do you see the people who were in the wrecks, because sometimes it’s you. You drive by as slow as you can while you try to guess what happened, ‘he must’ve hit the median.’ ‘He was probably drunk,’ you’ll come up with a number of scenarios about what could have happened, but you’ll never know. Sometimes, that’s life giving you a second chance. That’s you driving past your own wreck.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
“Sometimes, even life gives you second chances.”
I couldn’t take it anymore, I ran out the door and hopped into my Lexus.
I’m driving down I-75 in Dallas. I glance to my left and admire the Dallas skyline. The building with green lights catches my eye. I see flickers of lights running down, and then I take a deep breath and realize how lucky I am to be alive.