Sunday, July 08, 2007


I was sunburned the day my brother shot himself. The beach where we had been playing football and smear the queer was relatively free of debris: seaweed, jellyfish, and vagrants. I remember every aspect of the day with Waterford clarity. The images remain vivid because it was this morning.

He didn’t do it like in the movies.

The troubled character sweats profusely and weeps. His hands shake as he raises the firearm (generally a revolver) and struggles over potential target area—trying the temple, the jaw, and usually settling on the barrel upturned in the open mouth. Finally, with his friends shouting that he is indeed loved and that this is not, is never, the answer, he gags out some heap of indecipherable gibberish pertaining to his reasons for the dramatic and awe-inspiring exit—his job, girlfriend, or guilt over some perceived wrong.

This is not how my brother did it. Not at all. He sat in the dark and shot himself in the stomach. They told us he bled for hours. He spread his journals around him in concentric spirals and covered the pages in bloody hieroglyphs. The symbols were written neatly, and with great care. Some of the pages had been enumerated specifically for order. Assorted pieces had been given new titles. The title page, with associated table of contents, identified as such by the carefully scripted “Title Page, with Associated Table of Contents” was found later, by an emt, folded precisely inside the gunshot wound. According to the examiners, that page was only one of many. My brother had literally filled himself with papers.

I can feel my skin tightening. Aloe hasn’t really affected the skin since I am so recently burned. If I arch my back too far, I am sure I’ll split. Molting is not a great concern of mine, but perhaps it should be. Maybe I’ll try some of that cooling gel. The commercials assure me that it’s 120% more effective than aloe-vera for the relief of sunburn pain and the dryness that accompanies careless overexposure to the “sun’s harmful rays.” First I have to shower. The water hurts, regardless of the pressure or temperature.

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