Moodswing - Suicidal tendencies

Keep passing the open windows

Lary has offered to shoot me again, and not like the last time, either. This time, he says, he’ll actually put some effort into aiming the gun — at my head, even — and probably not miss. “At the worst, you’ll end up a vegetable,” he says, “but it’s not like you’ll have to be aware of it.”

I’ve stopped bothering to remind him I don’t want to die. I don’t ever really remember wanting to die, but Lary insists I once called him completely suicidal, years ago. I remember the incident and, needless to say, our recollections differ. First, it was he who called me, and this is exactly how the conversation went:

Him: “What’s up?”

Me (typically frustrated and hyperbolic): “Goddamit. I’m totally on the ledge, ready to jump.”

Him: “Well, what’s stoppin’ ya?”

See? I was speaking figuratively, and my window didn’t even have a ledge, as I was living on the first floor of a renovated telephone factory. Still, Lary insists he saved my life that day, but now he has moments when he’s convinced suicide would have been the better option. Hence the residual offers to shoot me ever since. But I think he’s secretly glad I decline, because who else would he find to feed his fleabag cat while he’s away?

Not our friend Grant, that’s for sure. Grant doesn’t do cats, not since he babysat mine overnight one time and wouldn’t let her sleep on his head. Grant has a head like a nest of autumn leaves, cobwebs and all, and you can’t blame cats for wanting to sleep on it. But Grant says he was traumatized by waking up in the middle of the night with a cat on his head, and all I can say to that is, “yeah right,” because Grant has awakened to a lot worse, believe me. Sometimes I wonder if he is in some kind of personal contest to see what nightmare can be next to him when he opens his eyes in the morning. When he lived in Mexico, Grant even developed the habit of sleeping with his hand in a fist so as to hinder his watch from being slipped off his wrist in the night. It didn’t work, so now he wears a cheap watch from Target and sleeps with his hands relaxed. Actually sleeps.

“I wonder why I’m alive,” Grant says with a smile.

See? I keep telling Lary. Grant is the one he should be worried about, not me, given Grant’s alarming lack of concern over his survival in dangerous situations. For example, I don’t think it’s exactly safe to be traipsing off into the woods with a trio of Mexican military cadets. But that is Grant, and he likes to hit on hetero men, another dangerous endeavor.

Sometimes I think the only reason Grant has hetero male friends at all is because he’s hoping to one day hone in on a weak moment and turn them to his side. He has already told me he sincerely thinks all men are gay except my husband Chris, but I know Grant is just saying that because Chris gets his hair cut for $5 at a place on Metropolitan Parkway with a sign out front that advertises “Fades and Braids.” No gay guy alive would appear in public with haircuts that bad. Even Grant, with his cobwebs, keeps his curls in methodically gelled disarray every day. So I really do think it’s just the bad haircut that keeps my husband from being open game as far as Grant is concerned, and it’s a good thing, too, because Chris would probably kill him.

So, yes, if you ask me, it’s Grant who is suicidal. He is always offering it as an alternative, anyway, whenever I go to him with a question. Like the other day, when I called to tell him the wallpaper in my bathroom left there by the previous owner was a mess of miserable Laura Ashley flowers.

“What do I do?” I implored.

“Suicide,” he said.

Obviously, Grant needs help. If I were to pinpoint when he started acting like this, I’d place it at a few years back, when he was living in a former crack house in Peoplestown and a wizened, crazy old neighborhood addict, affectionately nicknamed Papa Smurf, started coming around. “Is you a saint?” Papa Smurf once asked Grant. “No, I am not,” Grant replied.

Nevertheless, Papa Smurf took to confessing to Grant on a regular basis. “God has given me the affliction of addiction,” he would say, and then he’d totter off to his apartment across the street above a neighborhood market. A few weeks later, he died there. It was the smell that alerted the neighborhood. They found him near the door, on his knees. “He’d been dead four days,” remembers Grant, “in 90-degree heat.” From his porch, Grant watched the coroner carry a shovel up the stairs to remove the body.

Ever since then Grant has been acting all fearless. “Roach food is all we are,” he keeps saying, with a big huge smile. I thought it would pass, but it just gets worse. The other day, I called him to see what he was doing. “Nothing,” he said, “I got no dreams, no goals, no aspirations ... I’m the happiest man alive,” he finished. See what I mean? My God, somebody step in before it’s too late.