This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
By Bradley Burdick
1 He did not usually take this path home, and he could only remember one occasion that he had ever gone for a walk there. And yet today he was driven to do so; maybe it was the looming thunderheads that drove him to take a shortcut home, or the want to escape the crowds on the street, but regardless he wanted to take a walk in the park. It was an oddly placed park that seemed to jut from the surrounding forest causing a bend in the city. Because he lived on one side and worked on the other, his semidiurnal commute forced a circumlocution of the park. This was something that normally didn’t matter, as he didn’t particularly care for the fresh air and the greenery, and did love the smog and the traffic. The path through the middle of it made a perfect line between his home and his work, and yet on a normal day he’d rather take the long way. There across the street from his office was a large rot iron gate. He slipped through it feeling as though he was slipping away from society. Within the park he felt the city melt away into the grass, he felt the bustle of the streets muffled by the trees, and he felt the presence of humanity wiped away by solitude. He let himself relax, unbuttoned his coat; he let his mind wander as he wandered beneath the trees. He slouched his shoulders; he slackened his step. Now, he had no idea why he used to take to the streets where he would be prim, crisp, and uncomfortable. His path took him through a forest and by a pond before the wall on the other side became visible. In the distance the woods went from natural to fabricated regularity. It also grew sparser, and the natural feeling from before began to escape him as he felt man’s hand in the cultivation of the park. Just as he had buttoned his jacket and was fixing his aim on the gate opposite him he saw a lone man positioned on a bench far from the path. It was people that he was trying to avoid, but the fact that this man was here alone made him feel kindred to him. Not for companionship or compassion or camaraderie, but for curiosity he went to the man. He stopped a few yards from where the man was seated, “looks like rain.”
” he was going to do his best. I’m never alone there. I own a little flat tucked away.” “What’s that?” “Reading. there is one thing. and really can’t be replicated.” “Me too. we needed the space. I hate all the green.” “Everyday I go home to a full house. “I don’t mean to trouble you. I’m never alone.” “But you’re right.” He did not know how to respond to that.” “I’m alone?” The man looked directly at him. “Well you’re alone now. Like everyone is observing me. I just want to be alone. one has to work. I have a small library in my study.” “That’s funny so do I.2 “I’m going to kill myself. people. “Tonight.” “Well. I didn’t even mean to tell you. A day like this can’t last. something that gives you pleasure. its wonderful. “When?” He sat down. Whether it’s the wife. you can’t. the kid. I love to read. “we’ve already unlocked the key to your melancholy. go ahead. What about the park?” “No. I have a private office with a view of the park. “I came here for my last day because I realized… I realized that’s why I want to kill myself. I work alone. nobody understands. “Well.” “I’m single. or the baby. He took it all in. You can’t spend your life on a park bench.” He decided he’d talk to the man.” The view from the bench was serene. and they’re always full. Finally the man spoke again. reach out and help someone. how many volumes do you have?” “None. and I can leave. it faced away from the wall towards the forest. and the money.” “But I agree. .” “You have to have something to live for. it overlooks the park as well. I am going to kill myself. I came here to be alone because those were the words I was thinking because that’s what I’m going to do.” “I can never relax.” Was the response he got from the man. Come to think of it. but the focal point was a depression in the earth. the wife sold them. If I’m not at work with a coworker I’m being supervised by a superior. you don’t have to die.” “And I hate work.” No response.” “Okay. The sky was filled with storm clouds. he was going to. you were alone. if it weren’t for the solitude I wouldn’t be here. “give me until the rain comes to convince you to live.” “I’m sure there’s something you want to live for. Three rooms. You don’t understand.” “But if you could?” “If I could.” “That sounds horrible. its like I’m practically on a park bench. it had been two minutes. for the first time in his life.” “No. I probably would. I feel like I’m on display 24/7.
” “No.” He had to think of what would change this man’s mind. and she’ll soon remarry. You could look forward to that.” “What?” “Your wife and children.” “How is she pregnant then?” “My thoughts exactly. I want to cherish this day a little longer. she’s seven years younger than I. would kill myself. you’ll get promoted to management and have a private office. “what about the consequences?” “Consequences of what?” “Killing yourself. with the kids and only three rooms. no diversions. I understand completely that you want to be alone.” He nudged the man.” “Well if your family can live without you. and that was the only reasoned I ever married. I could kill her. and faced the man. “It’s been a pleasure. well. don’t do that.” “The wives pregnant again.” Silence. hot.” “I’ll then be legally bound to give her money.” “Hmm. and my wife. plus my wife is.” “It is.” “Besides that. “What about your future. and you feel death is the only way to escape them.” “And you don’t have anything else to counteract the sorrow. maybe your wife will die.” He offered his hand.” He had no idea why this man should go on living.” “No. hmm?” “She’s with my wife’s lover now. that is a pickle. “Not much time. “Yes.” “Yeah I guess.” He felt a change in the air. thunder clapped in the distance. I would if it ever happened. it seems to me that you might find consolation in getting to… spend time with her. and. “And no books.” “I die.” “Where do you live?” “47 Main. why not just divorce her.” “You said your wife is hot.” “I’ve cheated too. The children will grow up and leave home.” “She’s cheating?” “Yeah. They shook. are they not dependent to you?” “I have good life insurance. and he ran off to get out of the rain. .” “Then you can divorce her. but wait until nightfall. “I guess… I guess I.” “Oh. if I were you. I don’t have the credentials to become management. too. “Can I tell your wife? Tell her why you did it. no hobbies.” “No. we can’t ever be alone.” It sprinkled now. but at least you have a mistress. oh yes.” He felt a raindrop. and will therefore still not be free.” He stood up.people.
He persisted even after the rain came full on. “How strange is it that I happened upon this man at this moment in his life. The man had remained on the bench waiting for dark. and thought about the man. He spent that hour thinking what he would say to the man’s wife and watching the rain on the bar’s windows. He sat there and thought about the other man. He just wished he could trade lives with him. and yet he realized he would live a better life than he. and he was out of the park. It was seeing someone else like him that had changed his mind. so the man could be happy. and yet he realized the man would ultimately find his peace. His clothes were soaked through. and yet he realized it would then be the other man who would want to die. “How strange that he should happen upon me in this moment of my life. “I shall never married. . and was out in the rain. and went to the nearest pub to wait for dark. The hour passed quickly.” There was but an hour before night. Darkness. The rain was coming on full now. “I shall not kill myself. He just wished he could trade lives with the man. He felt kindred to him. He paid his tab. so he could be happy.3 He found the address. the clouds brought it on quick. He felt for him. He sat there. The man spent that hour thinking what he would say to his wife and the other man. He found the bottom of his drink.” declared he to himself. the clouds brought it on quick.” he declared to himself.” There was but an hour before night. and yet he realized it would be himself who would want to die.
He rang.” “No.” “But I know your husband. He let himself out leaving the family huddled in the doorway.” “Ma’am.” She collapsed.” . and a breathtakingly beautiful woman with babe at breast. I left him to it after I tried to stop him. you see he felt trapped here. the family I mean. And it was his job. but could never leave the children to fend for themselves.” “But its just nightfall now!” “It is. and I couldn’t disagree with his decision.” “Thank you ma’am. you could have told me. “If its any consolation I would do the same in his situation. and waited till now to tell me!” “Well he said he wasn’t going to do it until night fall.” “I could have stopped him.” “I am here to tell you that he is dead. “Well. “Yes. She had assumed it was her affair that drove her husband to suicide. and he forgot everything he planned to say. neither knowing what to do. She knew she could not provide for the children. She didn’t know him.” They stood there for a moment. He was weeping with his mother. “I’m sorry.4 He crossed the street to number 47.” but she was gone. Beyond the door was even less room then he imagined.” “You’ve known for an hour. “you’ll catch a death of the cold. ma’am.” “No.” she said as they lay dying. Next she took care of her son.. He hopped he had put her mind at ease.” “Tried!? How could you try to stop him? Weren’t you strong enough to prevent him?” She heaved in sorrow. “Why did he say he did it?” “Well. He could see how small it was. “Come in. and he told me that he was killing himself. “Uh.” “What?” She didn’t believe him. he said it was you. and finally herself. and he had comprehended the meaning. and knew she couldn’t stand to live anyways.” But she didn’t hear the last bit as she erupted into wails. She hated herself for it.” “Do you. you don’t know me.” “You left him to it? When was that?” “About an hour. “Kill himself.” Utterly destroyed the woman made her way to the kitchen.” The elder child had walked in at some moment.” “Well I tried. he told me his situation.” She motioned as she looked at the sky.” “What?” She believed him now. ma’am.” “And I don’t know you. I met him today in the park. I wasn’t there when it happened. “didn’t you stop him. She took a knife from the drawer and slit the baby’s throat.
It was his own weakness that led to their deaths. He was so shaken by what he found that he knew he could never live with himself. he just never wanted to see her again. “Oh happy dagger.” he said thrusting it into his heart as he collapsed unto his family. . he never wished her harm. He imagined his wife being so moved by his death.The man stumbled home shortly after dark.
He passed over the story with a sigh. he didn’t recognize it. a police investigation into a family found dead. and three had a similar mode of operation. From fingerprints on the weapon and differing times of death they conjectured that the wife had slit her two children throats before slitting her own and that the husband then stabbed himself. They also noted that the wife was pregnant. They gave the family name.” . The deaths all shared a common weapon.5 He read that weekend a small story in the paper. “is that what the world is coming to.
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