I woke up on the floor in a large puddle of blood. I would have been alarmed – but I wasn’t, because I was the one who’d put myself there.
I recalled the butcher knife, collected from the wooden block in the kitchen, gripped tight in my fist.
I was still breathing. How long would I breathe? It seemed as if it would go on forever.
My white T-shirt was covered in blood, but I realized that I wasn’t wearing any pants. I couldn’t recall taking them off, but really, that was neither here nor there.
I looked down at my wrists, both of which I had sliced thoroughly, deep vertical cuts that still bled. But it seemed that they weren’t deep enough, considering the fact that I was still alive.
I glanced at the blood-stained knife lying a few feet away. It glinted dully under the light from a nearby lamp.
I was freezing, and I was shaking horribly. The pain was intense.
I tried to rise to my feet, but I slipped a little in the blood, and it took me a few tries. And then, when I was finally standing, I was left wondering why I’d bothered. Because frankly, I had no idea what I was supposed to do with myself.
It was hard to make my legs move, but eventually I propelled myself into a slow amble, shuffling forward into the kitchen. I could feel the blood dripping down my fingertips and rolling off them, but it seemed strangely cold to me. Perhaps what flowed through my veins had chilled to the same frigid temperature as my clammy skin.
I listened to the sound of my bare feet against the linoleum. It was like a strange, eerie melody, quiet and foreboding. I reached for the fifth of whiskey, nearly full, on the kitchen counter. My wounds made it difficult to twist off the cap, but I was determined, and eventually I achieved my goal.
I swigged from the bottle for a few long moments, then set it down and opened one of the drawers beneath the counter. There was some junk in there, things I couldn’t even remember placing there, along with a few pill bottles. Allergy medicine, my antidepressants and antipsychotics, ibuprofen, and a bottle of oxycodone that my friend Joe had given me. He’d broken his leg a few months ago, and this was his last refill of oxys. He hadn’t needed them anymore, so I asked if I could have them, and he complied.
I picked up the bottle of oxys and messed with the cap, having even more difficulty than I’d had with the whiskey. It took me half a dozen attempts to remove it. When I’d finally succeeded, I shook a couple pills into my palm, then popped them in my mouth and downed them with a little whiskey.
With this task completed, I just stood there for a few minutes, swaying on my feet. I was getting sick of the feeling of blood running down my arms. I was sick of being . . . wet.
With both the whiskey and the oxy bottle gripped securely in my fingers, I walked tentatively across the apartment to my bedroom. I sat on the edge of the bed and stood the open pill bottle on the table beside me. I just sat there, sipping whiskey and contemplating the nothingness of existence. The past was not very vivid to me, but I was blinded by the present, as if a set of fluorescent headlights were shining in my eyes.
I’d had that experience before. Headlights in my eyes. It was only on one occasion, but it was a momentous occasion at that: my most prominent memory amidst a jumble of disorganized thoughts. Seeing her face behind the wheel of her Toyota, staring at me with a stone-cold expression. Her cheeks were perfectly dry. The only tears to be seen were my own.
I glanced at the pill bottle. I could hear low whispers that seemed to emanate from its depths. There must have been some sort of tunnel beneath it, leading somewhere deeper than a four-inch orange vial.
I couldn’t quite make out what the voices said, but they were persistent, and they invaded my senses to overwhelm my already exacerbated thoughts. Their verbiage was a mystery to me, hidden behind a veil of blackness and secrecy, but their meaning was clear as the daylight that wouldn’t come for hours more.
I picked up the bottle with shaking fingers, propping the whiskey on the mattress between my knees. I shook the pills out into my palm, two and three at a time, and I swallowed them as quickly as I could. Which wasn’t very quickly at all, seeing as my throat felt as if it were closing.
It took me a few minutes to take all of the pills. I tried to count them, but my head was swimming, so the result was nothing but a rough estimate. Sixty, maybe seventy-five. I tried to look at the label on the bottle, but my vision was blurring, and I couldn’t make out the words.
My hands began to grow numb, and the whiskey fell to the floor. I fell back onto the mattress, my arms spread wide. I had a sudden vision of Christ on a cross. I couldn’t say with any reasonable certainty whether or not I believed, but still, the image was very clear to me, as if it had been seared into the tissue of my brain with a red-hot brand.
My eyelids twitched, and my breathing was erratic. I felt too full of pills and alcohol, as if I’d overeaten at dinner. I seemed to grow colder as the minutes passed.
Or were they minutes? It was possible they were only seconds. My eyelids were weighted with impossible anchors, and I couldn’t have opened them for anything in the world.
I didn’t register the moment I lost consciousness, in the same way that one never marks the precise moment one falls asleep. But even through the sudden darkness of oblivion, there seemed to be a cogent, tangible thought that hung as if by the silk of a spider’s web.
There would be no waking from this slumber.