A young man’s life is over. All that’s left is an empty shell where a soul once dwelled.
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‘They say you can’t get into heaven if you commit suicide’ he told me. ‘Hell, I think it’s practically a prerequisite.’
‘How so?’ I replied, curious to understand his unique mind. It was often the case that he would change the direction of our conversation every few minutes. You never knew what he would say next. If anything, our chats were never dull.
‘Well, it’s like this,’ he continued, ‘look at all the great musicians who’ve killed themselves: Jim Morrison, Hendrix, that guy from Thin Lizzy…’
‘I don’t think they meant to kill themselves. That was just a happy accident. Kurt Cobain, on the other hand…’
‘Whatever,’ he interrupted. He could be quite blunt sometimes. Rude, even. ‘The point is, that means there’s way better music in Hell anyway. Who the fuck would want to spend eternity in Heaven with Cliff Richards?’
‘He’s not dead yet…’
‘You’re missing the point’.
‘So explain it to me what the point of this is. Suicide is ok?’
‘No. Suicide’s cool!’
‘You don’t know what you’re talking about!’ I admit I was a little flustered at the worryingly dark tone of this conversation. Was he trying to tell me something in a roundabout way? There was only one way to find out for sure. ‘Seriously? You think suicide is cool?’
He looked uncomfortable, just for a moment. I thought maybe, just maybe, he might…but no, he wouldn’t. He quickly recovered his composure and the moment passed.
‘No. I’m just pointing out the flaw in the basic Christian argument against suicide.’
‘Using rock stars as an example? Nice!’
He laughed. He laughed quite a lot. Jolly people aren’t sad, are they? People who laugh a lot aren’t dying inside, right? I had my suspicions but I kept them to myself.
‘Catch you later, dude’, he said, strolling off. ‘Got things and people to do y’know?’
‘Like I say,’ I called after him. ‘Nice’.
He turned, smiled and waved at me, perhaps a little sadly I thought. I then went on my way.
Two days later, my friend was washed ashore. They told me he walked into the sea that very night, maybe half an hour after I left him. I was the last person to see him alive.
So, not only did I have the shock of his death to contend with, I also had the trauma of a grilling by the police. Had I done something to upset him? Had I noticed anything strange or different about him? And worse, where was I when he died?
It became clear to me that they were not sure of how he died. There was an impact of a large blow on his head. This could have been made by the body being swept against rocks at sea, or it could have been an attacker.
Was I a suspect? Was it not enough for me to feel the weight of not helping him? I could have saved him. I could have walked him home. He was a little tipsy, but not drunk. Perhaps the alcohol gave him the courage to take the final step.
In the end, I was cleared and the death was judged to be a suicide. Common or garden. Number 15 that year, slightly down on the previous year happily enough.
Some people still blame me for not doing more. Guess he was more popular than he thought.