Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sunburn 2

I had to the pay the Medical Examiner $100 to let me have the papers from my brother’s belly. I snapped up the journals right after I called the ambulance. No need to give the emts anything to worry about while they tried to loosen his limbs and get him onto the stretcher. The notes from the stomach made little sense, however, to the examiner. I don’t know why I expected them to, but those guys are trained, so connections should have been made. No trained professional should fail to connect fairly prominent dots and conclude something. For example, if I had found the notes, my conclusion would have been:

Excerpt from autopsy report (audio):

The victim’s life’s work, 30 odd years of epistolary detritus reaching outward in two Archimedean spirals from the breach in the abdominal wall. The entry wound is obscured by what appears to be paper. A slight peeling away of the wound surface reveals a series of wadded papers…wait, folded papers. The first is a tightly wound cylinder with a swelling towards the outer end. It is a plug, in both form and function. Gunshot may then be work of origamist of league quality or better with penchant for .38’s and a Dutch-boy fixation. My best guess is the victim, in his dying hours (of which there were several), attempted to reconstruct the circumstances of his attack using the items within easy reach—notebooks, paper swans, assorted visceral elements and virtually all of his blood.

Reconsidered: It may be unfair to expect this level of deduction from the post-mortem investigators since they did not have access to the notebooks. When I found my brother, I bundled up all the papers and bits of wood, metal and paint that comprised his journals and hid them. When the cops and emergency folk got there, all they saw was a dead guy with two holes in him (one in, one out) and enough blood to satiate any manner of large animal with a desire to consume blood, provided the animal’s size didn’t necessitate an unreasonable amount. The papers from the wound itself are in my room, and I am almost ready to move the furniture back in. The cleaning crew left about an hour ago and forgot to do it. They were thorough in every regard, save one. The room is spotless but bare. Ammonia and bleach (dangerous together) may be used in small quantities to remove dark stains of almost any description, even those left by standing blood. The smell is making me dizzy.

This isn’t the first time I have felt like this. I got badly sunburned once before, and my father told me a story to make me feel better, or at least put my pain in perspective. I couldn’t go back to the beach until I was healed, so I sat by myself in the rented house and varied my schedule by alternating my shifts of moaning, reapplying lotion, watching TV, and staring plaintively at my family as they pranced about on the beach, unconcerned and forgetful of their son who lay, alternately moaning, reapplying lotion and watching TV.

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.