a young man finds himself depressed, alone, and little bit afraid of himself.
I lay stiffly absorbed in the daily struggle of a life of bitterness borne by one who has been abandoned. I seethed with resentment at a smile or a laugh. A happy child bothered me to distraction. I was so alone and so wanted not to be. My pets shrank away from me as though my presence sucked away life itself.
By the time I finally saw the only conclusion for me, I really had nothing left. I stood practically naked in front of the darkened building, shivering to my core. The white shirt I wore hung tightly to my chest as the rain soaked through to my underwear and into my shoes. My suit coat hung waterlogged over my head. If I had had any sanity left, I would have allowed nature to take her course and drown me in pneumonia of my own making. Instead, I reached up and rang the doorbell. It took all the remaining strength I had to remain standing while waiting for a sign from God; an answer to my prayers or another sign of indifference.
My arm was sliding down the wall and I was just turning to leave when I heard the lock unclick. I slowly turned and tried to smile, but I only lost consciousness. Even unto death, I'm dramatic.
I awoke to dry clothes, a warm bed, and the most beautiful set of dark brown eyes I had ever seen. It had been weeks, no months, since I had noticed anything beautiful. It scared me and I tried to turn away, but could not. He was beautiful and I was such a pitiful nut-job. Even I knew a pathetic person was not attractive, so I did what I had to do, I suppressed myself.
He just sat at my bedside staring at me with this endearing look of concern. I just started to cry. I wanted so to be held but felt so repulsive at the same time. That only made me cry more. I was offered a tissue and through the sharp retroscopic lens of embarrassment I blew my snotty nose. Once you're ugly, you stay ugly.
I was asked if I had any thoughts of harming myself or anyone else. I knew what the answer had to be if I wanted to stay, and a side of me thought to lie. But the side of me that wanted to live prevailed and I admitted I was not only suicidal, but I had a plan. I explained that the plausibility of the plan is what drove me to get help. I had means and opportunity to really do myself in. I also had a deep desire or so I thought.
He explained that seeking help was a good sign that maybe I wasn't as lethal as I thought. I begged to differ and entered a litany of reasons to the contrary. I explained that when my father was asked if he raised me, he merely uttered that I grew older as he grew older, in his house. My life was downhill from there. In the process of telling, I betrayed my sexuality and the person who I felt drove me to the brink of destruction. He asked me how long the affair had lasted and I was embarrassed to tell him it had only lasted three months and had never been consummated. Now I was going to be labeled histrionic. I started crying again and snatched up some more tissues. I was really ugly now. He only crossed his legs and let out a silent sigh. I asked him to leave. He, of course, obliged.
I stared at the walls for a few minutes, daring them to be padded, then I felt the sedatives kicking in and I drifted off to the sleep of the dead.
I had been there a few weeks when I first felt the veils of darkness lifting. I had been seeing this woman therapist, attending innumerable groups, and asking myself if anyone had noticed I was gone. I hadn't seen the psychiatrist from the night of my admission and had begun to convince myself I had imagined him. It wasn't as though I could ask anyone if he existed. Suppose he didn't. Wouldn't that prove I was not only suicidal, but sometimes existed in a land of make-believe? Suicidal, I could handle, but being seriously crazy could delete your dating files. Look at that! I made a funny.
After six weeks and no razorblade mishaps, even while unsupervised, I was discharged. I went back to work and it was just as I thought, no one really missed me. There was something to be said for being the owner's son. They thought I had taken an impromptu vacation. Someone even mentioned they thought I was depressed, but didn't see any wrist scars. I laughed as I simply walked back into my office, closed the shades, picked up some papers, read some emails from my over-stuffed inbox and whiled away the day. I also took my antidepressant and scheduled a follow-up visit with a therapist recommended in the community.
I saw this therapist for another six weeks when she eventually asked me why I kept returning. I had not conceived of being through with therapy and in no way felt fixed. She felt otherwise, so I was on my own again. Interestingly, I wasn't scared this time. I guess I'd learned a few things from life on the edge. The main lesson was not to go to the edge.
The feeling I was being watched slowly crept up on me over the next few months. I'd go to buy groceries and I could swear I was being observed as I felt up the tomatoes or thumped the cantaloupes. But when I turned to see who could possibly be interested in me, there was no one there. As I precariously lugged my laundry to the cleaners one day, I knew I dropped one of my favorite green socks, but when I went back to retrieve it, I couldn't find it. I was fully prepared to conceive a conspiracy, thought better of it, and imagined my sock fell in the gutter. Stay away from the edge.
A couple days later when I went to pick up my clothes, I told the clerk my cell phone number, as I searched my pockets in vain for my ticket. I must have left it on the kitchen counter the way I sometimes did. He told me my clothes had been picked up already. I knew that wasn't true and asked for the manager to recheck the computer. She did, pointed out my receipt stamped 'received', smiled, and then winked at me. I must have stared back bewildered because she dismissed the clerk and whispered that the "brown-eyed guy" had picked up everything. She winked again. Needless to say, I walked away somewhat confused. What "brown-eyed" guy? My dad had brown eyes, but he had never picked up anything of mine in my entire life.
When I got back to my building, the super motioned me over and handed me my laundry; all nicely folded and wrapped. Denial is an amazing thing and I decided to be amazed. My clothes had been picked up for me by some brown-eyed guy and I was simply not going to panic about it. I thanked the super, asked him no questions, and frozenly smiled my way to the elevator. A drink was all I needed, but a drink didn't need me, and besides, there was none in the apartment. Still blithely ignoring reality, I tore the wrapping off my laundry and there, sitting on top, my paired green socks. I decided to go to a bar for that drink.
My shrink told me that if I picked up dates in bars, I would get drunken dates, and I did. My brief unrequited love was a drunk; hence the unrequited part. My shrink also said if I thought I had a problem with alcohol that I probably did, therefore I no longer drank. So when I got to the door of the bar, I paused and decided better of it. My sudden pause caused me to be harpooned in the butt, unfortunately not by anyone a sane person would choose. He was drunk and it was a soft harpoon; nothing to get upset about. I laughed. It was enough to short-circuit the sharp angle of my downward descent. I turned to go home.
It was then that I saw him. He was staring at me until he realized I saw him and then he looked embarrassed. I was intrigued, but more than a little off my game. After all, had he entered my apartment to gather a laundry receipt? The nelly in me wanted to run screaming down the street and flag down the cops, but it was too late for that, he was walking towards me. So, the scream stayed suppressed and I stayed still.
My eyes must have been the size of saucers because he immediately began to explain himself. He admitted to stalking me. Since I'd fired him at the hospital I freed him to become human, and he began to look at me as human, not as a patient. Even if I hadn't fired him, he would have had to fire me. He couldn't be objective and wasn't sure he could help me since all he could do was stare at me.
I could feel and hear blood rushing to my head, so I asked if we could go and have coffee at the corner coffee shop. He agreed and looked relieved. Besides, if he turned out to be psycho; a gorgeous brown-eyed psycho, I wanted to have some light around. These bars were dark for a reason; so you'd have no witnesses to the mistakes you dragged out of them.
He admitted he hadn't been in a bar in years and was wrestling with following me in when I turned around and saw him. He'd been working up the courage for days; hence my stalking sense. Someone had entered my realm. He also said that for ethical reasons, he felt compelled to let six months pass before approaching me, even as a friend. If only he knew, friends knew a lot more about me than he did.
I just needed the answer to one question; my laundry? He explained, when I went to the hospital, they had taken my clothes and had them cleaned. I had given them my laundry's name. That was how he had found me. He had staked out the cleaners and saw me drop my laundry receipt with my name, address, and phone number on it. He had tried calling me to explain the clothes; it was to be his introduction. As he stood out front tonight working up the nerve to call, he'd seen me leaving the building. I had a hard time imagining I intimidated anyone. What a turn-on!
We'd just started on our second cup of coffee; the first had grown cold, when he told me about his stalking experience. He ultimately had to confront the woman, yes woman, at work and demand that she stop 'just showing up' wherever he was. He wouldn't give out any names, at least, not until he knew me better. But lately, he had to admit, even while he was contemplating stalking me, he felt like he was being watched.
It was at that moment that I caught the headlights that should have turned, but didn't, and were aimed directly for us. I couldn't say anything. I couldn't move. I didn't even see him jump up, grab me, and drag me across the floor with him. We were missed by inches. There was glass everywhere. I told him that if he wanted to get on top of me we could arrange it a little later, and in a more private venue. Even this close to death, I had to make a funny. Being almost killed is one thing, but getting almost killed while sporting a boner was mortifying; a completely different thing.
By the time the police arrived, we had helped her out of the car. Aside from a little razor-burn on her face from the airbag deployment, she was fine. The ambulance attendants came up and took her away. I was about to joke about the razor-burn when I saw his face. He was so seriously in thought that I had to become serious, so I asked.
"You don't think she just showed up, do you?" He turned back to me. "I don't think the stern talking-to amounted to much." I stood with my mouth open.
"I just have one more question; the sock?" I queried.
"What sock?" he said.