We stood around. We stared at all the pieces – his remains. We stared, but with each other we did not make eye contact.
This clown, he had tried to cut his wrists at first. He’d used a pocket knife. He’d failed. Fumbled it.
Then he’d moved on to a belt. He’d wrapped his clown-belt around his clown-neck. He’d closed the ends of the belt in the closet door. Over the top. This proved to be more effective than the pocket knife. He’d succeeded, and now the clown was dead.
After we stared at his pieces for a time, someone – I think it might have been Wolf – broke the silence. He sniffed. He said, “Isn’t that alcohol? I think I smell booze.”
He said, “This clown was a drunk, right?”
We said, “All clowns are drunks.”
Then we were silent again. Then we stared some more.
Someone said, “I have heard rumblings about money problems. All clowns have money problems.”
Someone said, “He was a liberal and all liberals are unhappy!”
Still we stood there staring; something still seemed off. Something did not seem quite right.
Finally, from the back of the crowd that had gathered came a voice. The clown’s wife. Up until that moment, we had not known the clown’s wife was there. She said, “This clown had a clown-disease in his clown-body. He had the shakes and everyone knows the shakes only get worse.”
Everyone looked relieved. We exhaled. We made eye contact with each other again.
It all made perfect sense: The pocket knife. The belt. The pieces. On this, we all agreed.
We walked out of the tent and we announced, “The clown is dead! He had the shakes!” and then everyone went home. Everyone went back to doing the things they had been doing before they learned the clown was dead.
But I did not go back to doing what I’d been doing before I learned the clown was dead. I went home and I dug through the closet in the hall. The one with all the suitcases and the boxes with the question marks drawn on the side.
I dug through the closet. I was looking for the suicide diaries of my father.
* * * * *
My father, he had tried to hang himself at first. He’d used a rope. He’d wrapped his father-rope around his father-neck. He’d closed the ends of the rope in the closet door. Over the top. He’d failed. Fumbled it.
Then he’d moved on to a gun. He’d held the gun up to his mouth and he’d pulled the trigger. This proved to be more effective than the rope. He’d succeeded, and then the father was dead.
The cops and the family, they stood around staring. They looked at all the pieces.
Someone said, “Smell that? That is definitely alcohol.”
Someone said, “And that is a bong. And that is cocaine. And that is a can of gasoline.”
Someone said, “His ex-wife died in March.”
Everyone looked relieved. They exhaled. They made eye contact with each other again. It all made perfect sense: The drugs. The gun. The pieces. On this, they all agreed.
They walked out of the apartment and they announced, “The father is dead! He was an addict!” and then everyone went home. Everyone went back to doing the things they had been doing before they learned the father was dead.
None of them read his suicide diaries.
I read his suicide diaries.
* * * * *
My father kept his suicide diaries trapped inside of big black notebooks. Three-ring binders thick as your neck. There were six of them by the end, written in extremely tiny print on the front and on the back of every page.
My father wrote his suicide diaries over fifteen years, from when he was thirteen until when he was twenty-eight. That was when he shot the gun into his mouth.
The suicide diaries, they cannot be read in their entirety: Their print is too tiny, there is too much of it, and you would kill yourself before you got half the way through.
But the suicide diaries are simple. In them, my father approaches one basic question in many different ways, like how a housefly will come at your lunch from every conceivable direction even when you keep swishing it away.
He asks: Is Life better than Death?
He asks: Is Life just a virus?
He asks: Is consciousness only a curse?
And his thoughts are rational and they are persuasive and his words are never sad.
He says, “When you find me, you will say that I was broken. You will say only broken things choose death over life, and I chose death over life, ergo, I was broken. You will tell yourself this and you will tell it to each other.
“After you find me, you will go back home to your anti-depressant pills and your anti-anxiety pills and you will keep your mind busy by collecting stamps and by thinking about religion and celebrity sex.
“You will do all of this so you can keep trying to pretend you don’t see the secret that you all already know: Life is not better than Death. Life is a virus. Consciousness is a curse.”
Throughout his suicide diaries, my father says, well, he says something like that. I am paraphrasing him. I cannot quote him directly.
After all, I do not know where his diaries have gone.
I looked for them in the suitcases, but they were not there. They were not in the boxes with the question marks drawn on the side. They were nowhere in the closet in the hall.
The suicide diaries are on the lam, out where anyone might find them!
The suicide diaries are out in the world, and they are rational and they are persuasive and they are never sad. And what if they’re correct?
I sure hope that that clown did not find them.