He was just a young dude, worked at the liquor store that I swing by every night after the gig. He was only there for a few months.
Couldn’t have been over thirty. Had long, black hair and cool tattoos. In fact, he had this really cool portrait of “The Toxic Avenger” on his forearm, which became the catylist for our nightly conversations about our favorite horror films from the 1980’s. Even though he wasn’t around for the 80’s, he knew all my favorite movies. He was just a cool dude.
The old guy at the liquor store once told me the young dude was a badass bass player, or guitar player, or something like that. Had played in a few local bands. The old guy even said he once went on world tour with a big, famous rock band, but I don’t remember which one it was.
He was a good-looking kid with a sweet smile. If he had personal issues, you couldn’t see them on his face. I knew he had his demons, though. They were sitting on his shoulder every time he paid a visit to the sample cart, which could be anywhere from two to three times in the space of five minutes.
I enjoyed my nightly conversations with him. We even talked a couple of times about hanging out some night, when we were both off from work. Again, he was just a cool dude.
And then, one day, he was no longer there. I don’t know if he quit, stopped coming in, or was let go because of the sample cart thing. I’ve been hitting this one liquor store for five years, and I’ve seen a few employees come and go. I don’t think much of it. That’s retail.
Went in two nights ago, and the old guy didn’t look so good. I asked him what was wrong.
“You remember that young dude who worked here a few months ago?”
“Yeah, with the cool tattoos?”
“Yes. He killed himself last night.”
The world stops.
And then, the numbness.
We talked about him for a few minutes, but I don’t remember what we said. “What can I get you?” the old guy asked, even though he already knows what I want. Same thing I get every night.
“Um, four shots of pineapple vodka and the Chelada.”
And then I took my sack and walked out. Drove home. Sat on the patio, drank the shots.
Kept seeing that young dude’s face in my mind. Kept seeing that damn tattoo. What a waste of good ink.
I tried to write a poem for him, but I couldn’t. Maybe it was the bottle of wine I chugged after the shots. Or maybe it’s because I didn’t even know his name, and I felt like an asshole for it. Or maybe I’m just getting sick and tired of writing more suicide poems than poems about falling in love or driving in my car.
I wish I had something deep and spritual and uplifting to say, but I don’t.
I just feel empty.
I have a theory that when any human takes their own life, the whole human race feels the loss of it, somewhere, in our collective consciousness. I could be wrong about that, though. What the hell do I know?
I didn’t even know his goddamned name.
It sucks. It just sucks. He was such a cool dude.
Stay alive, folks. Just keep living.