Friday, July 15, 2005
Suicide For Beginners
Rodney Ginter had been drinking peach schnapps for three straight days when he decided to commit suicide. His life was a rotten stew of pathetic experiences coagulated in a stryrofoam bowl. The recipe included teeth broken in bar fights, an ugly ex-girlfriend's hateful spittle, overalls stained by potato chip vomit, a mostly blank birth certificate, and hair shed during an early twenties receding hairline. Rodney was a lonely, ugly, dirty man, and he'd just lost his job.
For eleven years Rodney's life smelled like ripe diapers. He'd gotten evicted from his rented trailer three years ago due to spending all his income on alcohol, cigarettes, and fast food. Desperate for shelter, he snuck a key from the rack behind the counter at the local Motel 6. Ambrose, the deaf old codger who manned the counter, frequently needed to hobble off to the can to urge out dry little turds from his skinny ass. He'd leave the lobby unattended while working his bowels. On his second night homeless, Rodney tiptoed inside and snagged the key for room eight.
Ambrose never rented out room eight. A whore had been murdered in there ten years past. Her body had not been discovered for two weeks, and despite a halfhearted cleaning effort by the staff, stains and stink still permeated the walls. The furniture was all gone, and the maid no longer opened the door every morning to refresh the sheets and scrub the toilet. The room was forgotten, mostly.
It became Rodney's home. From work he scavenged the entire contents of his modest abode: On the floor lay an air mattress and a pillow. Atop a rickety card table sat a little lamp and an ashtray. The only other objects Rodney owned were a small television, an alarm clock radio, a can opener, a large garbage can, and a rusty bicycle leaning against the wall. He hung loose cardboard behind the curtains to prevent any telltale light from escaping. The room was shabby and dirty, but it was his.
Since the room was at the far end of the motel from the lobby, Rodney had little trouble sneaking out each morning to head for work. He'd mount his ten speed and pedal a mile each morning to the shoreline landfill. He'd worked there for eleven years compressing loose trash into managable cubes. It hadn't taken any fancy credentials to get accepted there. In fact, he was the only native citizen under the dump's employ.
Years of stench and monotony passed. Day after day Rodney raked the discarded flotsam from other people's happier lives into massive metal bins. Once full, he'd yank a lever and listen to the rumble of heavy motors. He grew accustomed to the song of piercing screeching when metal from car parts and rusty swingsets would twist and collapse under pressure from the mash plates. He got used to the tickling at his nose from the sweet fruity odor of decomposing food. He became apathetic towards the thick clouds of hungry insects that would flee the foul mounds of garbage during the compacting process. Rodney became numb to a life that stunk.
At the end of his shift one hot summer day, Rodney was threading his way through the garbage mounds towards the dump's office. Like every other day, he intended to take his cash pay to the bar, where he'd drown reality and his own sick odor under heavy splashes of whiskey and country music. As he approached the landfill office, a voice called out to him.
"Hey! Homes! Ju wanna play a game wit us?"
Three immigrant dump workers stood in a clearing amidst fresh arrivals of green trash bags, refrigerators, water heaters, and ruptured tires. One was holding a broken off toilet seat of the U-shaped variety.
"We playin shoes. Ten dollars a game, yo. Three pegs wins."
Rodney considered this for a moment. Ten yards beyond the Mexicans he saw a signpost driven into the dirt. On the ground next to the horseshoe players lay a pile of extra toilet seats.
"Sure, I s'pose."
Rodney lost thirty dollars flinging encrusted ass gaskets before he nearly won a round. When his third seat circled the post, it boomeranged off and fell to the ground, the tips of the front of the seat just inches from the signpost.
"I win! Haha-haa!"
"No way man, ju gotta keep it on the stick."
"Fuck you man, that fucking counts and you know it! Pay up!"
"No way, ju no get the shoe. Eet come off. Ees my turn now."
Rodney, flushed and enraged, charged Jesus and wrung his fists.
"Pay me or I'll break your goddamned face."
Jesus's pals, Hector and Jorge, quickly stepped forward and stood beside their threatened amigo.
"Three to one, homes, three to one. What ju gonna do, huh?"
Rodney wasn't just ugly, he was stupid, too. He lunged for Jesus, punching him dead center in the nose. Jesus fell, clutching his face as blood ran down his chin. Hector and Jorge jumped Rodney, quickly removing him from his feet. As Rodney lay on the ground covering his head and face with his arms, the standing assailants kicked him repeatedly in the ribs, cracking several. After a while they tired. They collected Jesus and went to the dump office to lodge a complaint.
Rodney was still curled up next to the pile of toilet seats when his supervisor walked to up him, expression stormy, posture stern, finger wagging.
"You drunk fuckin degenerate, I knew you was a sad case when you still worked here after five years, but I didn't know you was a violent mean son of a bitch, too. What in the blue fuck are you thinking tryin ta take on three spics all by yaself? You deserve every last bit a poundin they gave ya. Get yer dirty ass outta here, you sad fuckin sack. I pay 'em less'n half what I pay you. Get fucked, dumbshit. Yer fired Ginter!"
With that, Rodney Ginter hauled himself to his feet. He collected the scattered cash his former boss had flung at him in disgust. His final day's pay. Rodney moped away. After a quick visit to the liquor store, where he bought all the five dollar bottles of schnapps he could afford, he snuck into his Motel 6 home and set himself to serious drinking.
Three days later, drunk and soaked in vomit and urine, he rode his bike back to the landfill. His mind was made up: Suicide. He cleared a lane up to the center of a compactor. After he started the machine, he sat on his bicycle, waiting. The timing had to be just right. Rodney didn't want to crash into the compactor and lay there dazed, waiting to be crushed. He wanted to barely fit between the plates, his death immediate.
When the moment was perfect, he began peddling furiously. Crying and laughing, he plunged into the shrinking metal compartment. One minute later, Rodney and his bicycle were wet, red, and flat. 7:00 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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