Anzzia Magazine Summer 2019 Volume #31 - Page 41


over the living room. Sobs trickled around the house as Jim showed me around.

Jim told me about the day. He woke up and smelled gas. Concerned, he decided to put off the morning cigarette. He went downstairs to check the furnace.

Jim led me down the stairs and asked if I'd ever seen Dave's room. It was a tiny, concrete-block room off the main area of the basement. A compact stereo system sat on wooden shelves with books scattered about it. A poster from a Dracula movie was on one wall. I recalled Dave's part in the school play. I was distracted by a sound....I looked around and saw it came from the turntable on Dave's system. The record was swimming around, the needle hanging above....I touched the lever to let the tone arm glide down and it was the second movement of Beethoven's 7th with Casals LP I had given him. I began to feel claustrophobic and left the cell.

As I walked up to the main floor, they were playing a cassette I made for him. The second movement of Tchaikovsky's violin concerto. One of those "god must hate me" moments.

It began as a manipulated detention after school. Dave paced along the back of the room, ranting about the banality of school, other students, life. I asked him about his talk of suicide with other students. His blue eyes studied me for a moment, then he sat down. These sessions went on after school and into the evenings in the family room of my ranch house. He talked about his

parents' fights, talks of divorce, how he hated the slow movements in concertos, how he'd gone after his brother with a kitchen knife one day, frustrations playing the violin, pressures of debate and grades. When he'd talk about death, his voice would lower just a bit.

After securing the promise that Dave wouldn't know, I asked his father to come over one evening. I told Jim about my concerns. Jim talked about his marriage, pressures of the job, pressures of trying to raise three kids. I watched the clock for twenty minutes before I jumped up.

"What the hell are you talking about?!" I yelled, "You think I called you to come over here, have a beer and listen to your chit-chat? Your son is going to kill himself unless something is done. Let's talk about that!"

Jim sat down, subdued and asked me if I thought Dave was serious or just trying to get attention. I shook my head and told him what I knew. Jim couldn't answer my questions. After an hour, he thanked me for my concern and asked me to keep him posted. He promised to keep an eye on Dave at home. I became a surrogate father. Dave would come over and talk. I would then call the school psychologist. Frank told me to keep talking with Dave and things would be okay.

One day, on his way out of debate class, Dave tossed a wad of paper in the trash. I'd noticed him doodling and so got it out. In his tiny, cramped style, Dave had filled every inch of both sides with, "I hate this." Over and over and over all the paper.