Born for a Noose – Stephen J. Golds

I was 8 years old the first time I tried to hang myself. Disorientated and manic. My toys wouldn’t fit inside the large toy box in my bedroom. The lid wouldn’t close and sat agape like a grinning mouth. A monster I’d seen on an old black and white movie once. I took a belt. Made of beads. North American Indian. My father had bought it from a roadside stand when he was in Canada with the military. I wrapped it around my throat and attached the end to a hook on the side of my cabin bed. Dangled there. Not sad. Angry that my toys wouldn’t go where they were supposed to. Shapes and images out of order. Symmetry misaligned. Disarrayed like the things inside my head. Black crayon scribbled on crumpled white paper. The hook snapped. I slumped on the floor gasping like the goldfish in the pond in my grandfather’s back yard I’d poured the can of gasoline into. Sniveling. My fingertips clawing at cheap, stained carpeting. After a while I crawled out of the room and downstairs to eat a ketchup sandwich.

34 years old, I tried again. My ex-girlfriend had just had an abortion she blamed on me. My wife had divorced me and I’d lost my job. I was a piece of shit. Spreading my mental illness to those I loved like a sexually transmitted disease. Chlamydia mind. Syphilitic heart. A man born to hang. I went to a bar, and got myself good and drunk. Waiting on a barstool for a deus ex machina that never came until the barman apprehensively and politely asked me to leave because I’d ignored the wiping off of tables and empty eyed glances.

I stumbled out onto the street and vomited on a hydrant. Took a taxi to my ex-girlfriend’s place. It was raining hard and I was happy for that because it seemed fitting. Romantic. Fucking Hollywood-esque. Her apartment lights were on. Bright yellow at 4am. I wondered what she was doing up so late on a work night. I rang her doorbell for a long time before she answered and told me through the cold blankness to go away. I told her I loved her. It was the final card left to play. Maybe I loved her or maybe I didn’t. To this day I still don’t know If what we had was love or just a sickness we’d both shared for three years. A fever. A fugue state. 

I heard a man’s voice mumbling behind hers. The rain hitting the concrete and finally understanding the punch line to a joke I’d been told a month before. She said she was calling the cops and I wrote the words ‘FUCK YOU’ in the dust and dirt on the front panel of the door. 

Stumbling down the street I tried to pick a fight with a couple of kids passing a joint between themselves on a bus stop bench. They laughed and walked away. I wished I had friends. I staggered home cursing the empty morning air as though it were a priest listening compassionately, nodding and telling me that Jesus loved me. When I knew love was as meaningless as the dissipating memories of all the lips I’d heard it spoken from. 

Almost daylight. The deep blue of being in between things. At home I vomited twice more into the toilet. Pulled the cord from a pair of jogging bottoms my ex-girlfriend used to wear as pajama pants and knotted it around my neck. I dialed numbers on my cellphone, erratic, screaming at unanswered calls. Tied the end of the cord to the bathroom door handle, cellphone still useless in my hand. On my knees like a child in church. Red in face, bashful, ashamed. Leaning forward, weeping from the pain and my own tragic demise. A fade out to grey, red and cut to black. 
        The phone rang out into the vacant atmosphere of everything.