Anzzia Magazine Summer 2019 Volume #31 - Page 42

The next day I walked with Dave down the hall. As we came to the school psychologist's office, I opened the door and 'escorted' Dave into the room and into a seat.

"Dave, Frank...Frank, Dave." I shut the door and went back to class.

Later I asked Frank what had happened.

"Well," he said, "Dave sat there for two hours and stared at the floor. I couldn't get him to talk."

I wanted to say, 'Get him to talk?! What are you, an interrogator or psychologist?' Instead I listened to him tell me to keep up the good work. After the role as Dracula in the school play things seemed to get worse. One morning before school, I found him sitting on the floor outside my room. I sat down next to him. He talked about his sister, fiddling with his school ring, muttering.

"Stumpf?" there were tears in his blue eyes, "she's the only one I like in the family. What am I going to do?" He told me that he'd discovered his sister had been writing a 'pen-pal' in prison. She was only in eighth grade and had begun the correspondence in reply to a letter in the newspaper. Dave had intercepted some of the mail and found some lewd suggestions. "Have you talked to your parents about this?" I regretted the question as soon as it left my mouth.

Dave was in a rage. I talked, tried to comfort, apologized for the stupidity, told him not to worry, asked questions, tried to swim out of this verbal whirlpool. At last, Dave snorted, got up and walked away. I had to go into the hospital to have a damned pilonidal cyst removed for the second time.

I was there for about a week. Dave would call or drop by. He'd tell me how rotten Christmas was, how he hated holidays, how he'd decided to dump his girlfriend, promised not to kill himself. He'd leave. I'd call Frank and Jim. They'd tell me to keep talking. I felt lost.

Some time during the night Dave had taken a wrench and removed the plug to the gas line into the house.

"The damned fool could've blown us all up," Dave's father said as he related the details I didn't want.

Dave had then taken the hose from a canister vacuum cleaner and, using packing tape, secured it so it ran from the gas line into a plastic bag. He then laid on the floor, pulled the bag over his head, and secured it with a necktie. A note on the body simply said, "I thought the tie was a nice touch."

Somehow we'd gotten back upstairs and into the kitchen. Dave's mother sat at the kitchen table, chain smoking, her voice and hands shaking.

"I don't understand," she said staring towards me, “he sat here last night and did all his homework before we went to bed..."

There was a long silence as I wondered if I was supposed to say anything.

"I keep wondering," she filled the silence, "what if he changed his mind at the last minute, but it was too late?"

The unanswered question.

"He left a note," Jim interrupted.

"A note?" I asked. "Yeah, nine pages. Want to see it?"

"I've got to be going." I lied.

As I left, I heard a priest in the other