Tyrone Bates jumped off the 10th St. Bridge and slammed into the macadam below. This kind of thing had happened before. The 10th St. Bridge was a favorite for people who didn’t feel like living anymore. However, when the paramedics came to scrape up his body and load it onto the gurney, a funny thing happened: Tyrone whistled through what was left of his lips, “I’m in a pickle now, aren’t I?”
Things like this happen all the time, do they not? There are miracles every day. Tyrone didn’t think it was a miracle, however; he wanted death, not eternal life. To this day, Tyrone Bates remains at 12th St. Hospital, in a jar by the window; and to this day, not a soul in Evansburg has crossed over to the other side. It was as if everyone’s secret wish for eternal life had been granted. Well, everyone except Tyrone Bates, of course.
I gave you the beginning of the story, but I’m not much of a story teller, so I’m going to fast forward a little bit. Now the story gets a bit more personal. Now we’re going to talk about me.
I was walking home from the book store that I owned and ran by myself late one August night. The air had a crispness to it that was very unusual for that time of year. I remember being a bit on the cold side. The leaves on the trees were starting to change already, and people were talking about a long winter ahead of us. Up ahead of me, I saw what appeared to be a person lying motionless on the sidewalk. I quickened my pace, hoping in vain that it was just some vagrant, sleeping it off.
I reached the crumpled body, and bent down to gently turn it over. I say “it” because the body was so bundled up that I still wasn’t sure that it even was a human being. When my fingers made contact with the fabric of the bundle, I saw a flash of light, and a bolt of white-hot pain seared through my body. Then, everything went black: I had been shot.
To get to the point, I had been mugged. Except, the robber had decided to have some fun as well, because, it’s not like he could kill me. The last thing I remember hearing was the man’s snickering as he rummaged through my pockets, looking for whatever valuables I happened to be carrying. The joke was on him, though, for I had nothing on me. Not a cent; everything was either at my store or at my home. I had learned a long time before to never carry anything with me. That’s when I felt the knife go in: over and over; I lost count after 56.
I woke up later in a dark room. There was no sound, and it was eerily quiet. I tried to call out for someone, anyone, but I couldn’t utter a sound. It took me awhile to realize just how severe things were with my situation, and I really only figured it out after I felt hands on my body that weren’t my own, gently lifting me and turning me over to my other side. They felt like the hands of a woman; they were too gentle to be the hands of a man. A wave of terror enveloped me, and I am sure that I cried out. What good would that do me anyway? I was now an invalid; I could not see; I could not hear; I could not move on my own power. All I could do was exist. Forever.
I know that they have tried to end my suffering. I also know, obviously, that each attempt has failed. Sometimes I think about the ways that they haven’t tried yet; for instance, why haven’t they tried cremation? Surely a body could not survive that. Then, I remember that Suzie Wilkins did survive that; well, at least she survived a house fire that had burned her beyond recognition. Suzie had been reduced to bare bones, really, and she was seen patrolling the streets years after her ordeal. Have you ever seen a walking, talking skeleton? Well, I shouldn’t say talking, because her vocal chords had been burned away in the fire, so she was never much up for conversation after that.
OK, so burning is out. Maybe they could just flatten me? No, you could jump off a bridge and still survive; that was proven long ago. I tried holding my breath a few times. I was able to last 604,800 seconds before I gave it all up for hopeless. You couldn’t even count on renal failure anymore; you didn’t even need a heart to be beating. You just kept on keeping on.
Maybe I was in some sort of purgatory. Maybe if I atoned for my sins and accepted Jesus Christ into my life that would be the ticket out of here. Well, I must have prayed for months on end, but there was no reply. There was no great white light, no tunnel to walk through. St. Peter was a fucking fraud, and if I ever saw him he better stay the hell away from me. Do you get the use of your limbs back in the afterlife?
I am not going to bore you with further details of my life. A long time ago I developed a way to tell time; it is a crude method, mind you, but it gives me something to do. I can safely say that most of my body has rotted away by now, because I lost the sense of any kind of touch long ago. As a matter of fact, for all I know I could be buried in the ground, or scattered among the trees. As of this morning, I believe the year to be 2166. Don’t ask me what month.