A man’s Story
Breaking news: A man in his mid thirties has committed suicide by hanging early this evening, more details to follow.
The rope, hempen roughness, ticklish bristles on soft palms, slides amiably into a hangman’s knot, a loop wide enough for a head, a brain filled with despair, a face stained with countless tears, a mouth silent in the search for help. The loop tightens around a thin neck, hard cord in soft skin, a final discomfort. High from his podium, in uncommon elegance he speaks his farewell soliloquy, the room as silent and despairing as the world he sees. Then one final step. Rope taut, loop closes in, bones snap. All gone. Save the body, legs and arms twitching, the puppeteer gone, comical. Bowels and bladder empty, a final humiliation.
Breaking news: The man’s wife has been informed and taken to see and identify the body. By all reports she is inconsolable.
She sees him, she sees him dead, skin pale grey save for a bruise around the neck, head at an unnatural angle. It’s him even so, she nods, the white sheet reclaims its ghostly form. One word fills her thoughts, betrayal. Why? Why now? There’s bills. Life comes with a price-tag. Money makes the world go round, without it you might have to get off. Without him she will have to provide. Get a job, get some welfare, get cash, however you can. Sell the china, sell the house, sell yourself. That last thought jarring. A tear comes loose followed by a torrent of siblings. A comforting hand on her shoulder. She nods in thanks. Nobody’s the wiser.
Breaking news: The man’s six year old son is reported to have been away at the time. Sources have it that arrangements are being made for his care as his mother is unable to cope.
Daddy’s gone, Mommy is unwell, too final for young ears to hear. Daddy’s gone, the man, the sweets brought home on Fridays, the sneaky coke on a Sunday shopping trip. Slowly sinking into a past not yet consigned to memory. Mommy’s situation frustrates in lack of remedy. Where hugs heal and kisses take away pain the smiling clerks and those who declare to care only frustrate a noble naiveté. Tears well, anger ferments, the seeds of social disfunction takes root in fertile ground.
Breaking news: The man’s funeral mass is to be held on Saturday next. Family flowers only please.
Priestly vestments hide old, decrepit body. Sonorous psalms boom out from the alter. Beautiful blessed but bland beatitudes. Prayers a plenty for the preservation of the poor penitent. The those who know him know the priest knows nothing. Generally generic are the words used in the sermon, platitudes wrenched from forty times ten funerals ‘fore this one. Two themes of consolation,
The practical: Death as loss, to be dealt with. Lean on us for support.
The hopeful: Death’s not the end, rebirth through the Lord. Follow to be saved.
Hundreds pack the pews. Black the dominant colour, on clothes and on moods. Scattered sniffs denote those still reeling. Relatives, long unnoticed, sit at the front. The widow, surrounded by so many, is alone.
The prayers spoken, the rites fulfilled, he takes his wooden conveyance on his last journey.
Breaking news: The man is to be buried in a local ceremony with the bodies of his deceased parents and baby sister. Be advised of possible road closures in the area.
Two grave diggers, hard and sweaty, suck on fragrant cigarette fumes as they await the deceased. Some of the resting places around them are prim and tended, others disheveled and forgotten. The body arrives, held on the backs of six men, It is lowered six feet down. There are final words, the mourners leave and final job of filling in the trench is begun.
Ashes but not ashes, dust but not dust, more a mulch, a horrific foulness of decay and corruption. Food for worms and germs until only the complex simplicity of fertiliser remains, set to become new life, the circle of life waiting for one more turn.
The gravediggers are the last to go. Some who were there return in time, keeping him alive in memory. Many will not. Soon memory, like the body, will fade and decay and he will rest, in his place in the ground, for all eternity.