Friday, August 9, 2013


     The video starts playing.  A man sits down in front of the camera he has just turned on and looks squarely at the viewer.
     “Hello” He begins, “my name is Brian Cole.  I am making this short video to explain my actions to any people that I leave behind so that they understand why I am doing this.”
     He seems scared, clearly agitated as he sits in his bedroom, uncomfortable even in the midst of all his possessions, things meant to bring him comfort.
     “ I want it known that I am doing this for the better good, so no more have to suffer because of  my pettiness and lazy attitude towards life.  So you will see the tragedy I have caused on a whim, the pain and suffering I have inflicted on people for the tiniest of desires.”
     He looks as if he might cry for a moment, and he stops to compose himself.  He takes a deep breath, exhales loudly and continues.
     “I didn’t realize what damage I was causing until recently.  Thinking back now, the evidence was all there, I just didn’t see the big picture until now.  The first incident I can think of was in third grade.  Anthony Buscianno was a bully that started picking on me when the school year began.  He picked on several kids, but I seemed to get the worst of it.  Two or three times a week he would embarrass me in front of the other kids, take my lunch money, give me wedgies or just tease me mercilessly.”
     “This went on for months, and I hated him.  School was becoming a nightmare, my grades were suffering, and I was starting to fake illnesses just to get out of going.  I would lie in bed at night, wishing Anthony would move, or get sick or just die already.  I felt it was wrong to wish those things on someone, but I couldn’t help it, he was making my life that miserable.”
     “I was thankful for Christmas vacation that year, more relieved that I wouldn’t have to see Anthony for almost two weeks than excited to get presents.  When vacation was over and I returned to school I was happy to see that Anthony was not there, out sick with some illness he caught over the holidays.  A couple of days later school was cancelled for three days, and it turned out it was because it was discovered that Anthony had contracted meningitis.  School resumed when it was determined that there was no danger to any of the other children, but Anthony never recovered and he died in his hospital bed.  I felt guilty, not because I thought it was my fault, but because I was so happy he was dead!”
      “When I think back on my life as I was growing up there were plenty of other times things just like that had occurred.  My sister broke her leg after I had been so mad that she would get to go skiing with her friends and I couldn’t go.  My aunt dying soon after my cousin got a mini-bike and I wished something bad would happen in his life.  Coincidences, I assumed.”
      At this point in the video he stops talking and puts both hands on his face and runs his fingers up through his hair, then rubs his eyes with the heels of his palms.  He moves his hands to the back of his neck, laces his fingers together, and sits that way, his elbows framing his face, pointing towards the camera.  He keeps them there as the narrative continues:
     “Then there was my girlfriend Susan while I was in college.  Things hadn’t been going well after 6 months and I really wanted to break up with her, but I didn’t have the courage.  I would find myself wishing that there was any other way to move on without having to deal with the hassle of ending the relationship, without being the bad guy and breaking her heart.”  His hands now drop back down to his sides, out of the frame.  “Any way to avoid that uncomfortable feeling I would have to endure.”
     “Then, while she was home visiting her parents she died.  The bathroom in her parent’s house was situated over the garage and they had some kind of heater that malfunctioned and produced carbon monoxide fumes that filled the bathroom and killed her.  Just like that.  Tragedy for her and her family; but an easy way out for me.”
      “There were many other times that my unspoken wishes caused people hardships and misery.  Many times, I simply didn’t want to go somewhere or do something and occurrences would come up to alter plans and get me out of it.  Rain ruining an outdoor event I wanted to get out of, someone’s car broke down and they couldn’t make it, a sickness or death in someone’s family that cancelled plans for something I didn’t feel like doing.  Sometimes big, sometimes trivial but they would happen, and I would get out of fulfilling my social obligations due to unhappiness inflicted on a person I cared about after I wished for something to get free of my obligations.”
     “And then there was yesterday.  Last week my boss informed me that I would have to fire one of our workers.  Joe was not a great employee, he seemed to do the minimum amount of work possible, and what work he did manage to get done would always be done in the most inefficient manner.  He was a decent guy though, and I was not looking forward to firing him.  I had never had to let anyone go before.”
     He was looking very distressed now, as if he might start crying any minute.
     “I mean, the guy had a wife and kids …” Now he was crying.  “So of course the night before I lay awake in my bed just wishing I wouldn’t have to do it, that there was some way I didn’t have to call him into my office and fire him.”  He paused to blow his nose and wipe the tears off his face.
     “So when I get to work yesterday, no Joe.  So what, he’s frequently late, another reason he needed to be fired.  Two hours later the news comes to me that Joe died in a car accident on the way to work.  It suddenly dawns on me that it was my fault, just like it has been my fault my entire life.  So many times I wanted to get out of something the easy way, and so many times other innocent people had to suffer.”
     He takes a very deep breath.
     “So I have decided to end it.  I can’t go on causing all this pain and suffering on others.  I can’t live with the pain and suffering I’ve already caused.  I just wanted you all to know why I am doing this.”
     With that, he gets up, exits the frame to the left and you hear the gunshot that kills him.
     That was my best friend, Brian Cole.  He killed himself needlessly, just for a string of occurrences that he had no control over, but he assumed it was all his fault.  It was not his fault, of course, that would be ridiculous.
     You see, Brian and I were supposed to go to a concert the night after he committed suicide.  I really didn’t want to go, and I wished that something would come up so we could skip the concert.  Now Brian is dead.
     I now see that everything that happened in Brian’s life was a complex machination to arrive at the point where he would kill himself the day before a concert that I wished I could get out of seeing.  I killed Brian, and all the people for whom he thought he bore the responsibility. 
     I cannot live with this knowledge, please forgive me.

     I found this note with the body of a suicide that I responded to the other night.  My name is Jerry Haring, and I am a police officer here in Los Angeles.  Everyone knew about the Brian Cole suicide, he posted the damn video on Youtube.  Now here was his best friend, hanging from a rope.  Tragically, he was also dead for something that was out of his control, something that he was not responsible for but his confused mind told him he was.  It’s so very sad.
     You see, like many other people in L.A., I am an aspiring screenwriter, and for so many years I have been struggling to come up with a story idea good enough that I could sell to a movie studio. I have spent the last year hoping and praying that I would get a call to a murder or accident that I could turn into a screenplay, a screenplay that would make me famous.
     I know realize that I am the one responsible for this man’s death, as well as Brian and all the people he left dead or maimed in his wake.  All of it was leading up to giving me a great story for a movie script.  So many people dead because of me!
     To my family, and especially my loving wife Cindy, I am sorry, but I cannot live with this any more than the other two could.  Goodbye.

   I found these papers along with my husband Jerry’s body when I got home today.  He shot himself with his service revolver.  He was a good man, and like the others, he died needlessly, for some delusional idea that he was somehow responsible for the death and suffering of so many.
     Jerry was a good man, and a good cop and he deserved so much better.  You see, I have been having an affair for six months now.  We had our troubles in our marriage, but I won’t go into that here.  Last week I started to catch myself thinking that if Jerry died, got shot on the job or something it would make everything so much easier.
     So you see, I am the reason al these good people are dead.  My selfish, petty thoughts killed so many, and now I will join them.  Goodbye.

 A white Persian cat, Snowball, sits looking at his owners bodies.  Jerry, who he had watched shoot himself in the head a few hours ago, and now Cindy, bled out from the cuts on her wrists, laying next to him on the floor.
     In his small but acute feline mind, he remembered how they got home late the other night, two hours after his feeding time.  They cooed and apologized to him, and gave him extra treats with his regular food, but he still wished they were dead.  And now they were.
       Snowball assumes it was all his fault, all of it, even the deaths and pain he doesn’t know about. 
      “Oh well,” he thinks as he goes back to licking his own ass. “I wonder which one I’ll eat first.”

© 2013 David Ferraris