How deep run the chasms of despair?
He hadn't the courage to do it alone, so he drank until he felt brave. Soon enough he was too drunk to taste it anymore, or at least too drunk to care, his tongue numbed to its vitriols. He swigged easily from the bottle then, whereas he forced it down in the early hours of his rampage against the self, every swallow sharing company with a cough, a wheeze, and a wince. These are the mating calls of the degenerate and the diseased, Deai-kun thought, and he thought it fitting too that he fit in both categories.
His tongue reeked of bile when not of whisky. The third quarter of the bottle had clawed up his throat, fuming and bubbling all the way, which gave him gratitude for the other two he managed to keep down, the half which dulled the harsh bite of the whisky and lumpy stomach acids foxtrotting along his ragged esophagus. Thinking back on it, he would later regard this incident, too, as a moment of inspiration: deciding that it was not the last flavor he wanted to taste, that pungent flavor of his stomach rotting his teeth out. He tripped his way toward the kitchen, washing the acids down with milk two days past expiration; and because this task wore at his lethargic muscles, he took a moment's rest, basking in the cold mists cascading down from the open refrigerator door. His head knocked against a jar of supermarket kimchi
, but he found a comfortable place for it between the egg carton and plastic condiment bottles. His vision spun and splashed and swam like a summer child visiting the coast.
After nearly falling asleep there, he decided to crawl back into the other room, and mustered the motivation for this task, at which point the odor struck him, and he decided to clean the mess, too, so that just as it would not be the last offense inflicted upon tongue, neither would his nose suffer his own purged contents. Back to the kitchen he crawled, feeling quite baby-like now, on his hands and knees and dripping from the lips with his own stenches. Having grabbed a rag from the stovetop, he managed to mop most of it up from the corner, although its rancid color had seeped into the carpet, so he apologized preemptively to the landlord who was not present in the room, throwing the rag over the drying puddle as if it were the loyal carpet's death-shroud.
Glancing over at the noose and chair, he wondered if he should dress in something nicer, so as not to shame his mother any further; finding his body not just hanging from a flickering light fixture with a dying fly buzzing around inside its dome, but also dressed in stained socks (stale), stained boxers (stale), stained tank-top (fresh and wet), would not do well by her heart made feeble with age. But Deai-kun remembered reading somewhere that when the body died, it lost control of its sphincters, and that he would probably shit himself posthumously. Knowing that, he decided he was not in a great position to argue with himself on the finer points of dignity.
He was running out of excuses, reasons to postpone. It seemed he didn't want to die after all, not really, not if even hard liquor was powerless to stop him from coming to his senses. Still, he scanned the length of the rope up and down repeatedly, convincing himself that although, yes, perhaps he was a coward after all, in truth he was probably just acting with caution and care. After all, if he managed to fail even at a task such as this, what dream had he the right to chase? What love did he deserve, what respect, what pride, what sympathies? So he obsessed over the structural integrity of the rope awhile, searching it for frays and loose ends which would spell failure for his expedition. Despite, or maybe because of, the blurred focuslessness in his eyes, no faults found him.
Finally he pulled himself up and away from the puddle and rag (which he very nearly made his pillow, in the same manner as the eggs and soy sauce), holding his arms away from his sides for balance. Uncle Doug still clung by the glue of his label to the empty bottle of Very Old which bore his namesake, though he'd been tossed abusively toward the window, perhaps so Yasushi could see which of the two would break, which between them was weaker. This is it, then? the man still living and the man who regretted that fact but who didn't really want to kill himself, the man who wanted to just vanish conveniently so he had no choice in the matter and wouldn't feel any pain or panic in the process, the man who never got his likeness or his name onto a bottle of whisky just for being so damned distinguished in the facial features, asked to himself. It's finally time to nut up, then, and do what I set out to do? He wasn't really a man, though; a man-shaped object, like a gun that doesn't fire, or a knife too dull to cut the meringue on top of a pie.
Fine, then, let's do it, he said, and then he began the long and arduous process of mounting the summit of the little armchair, his ankles quivering all the while, either with weakness or with all the built-up adrenaline masked underneath the fog which the drink had thrown over his mind. So he knew in his slouching, swaying way that when he threw his head through the loop he would need to be ready to die, truly ready, because once he was inside the contraption, his legs would give out any moment afterward just from the sheer laziness and weakness which the whisky imbued in him. It was like his nervous system had been half-severed, so all his signals were sent out with a fraction of their previous strength, so he needed to put twice the effort into staying alive, but really, why did he bother climbing onto the chair then if he was going to try to save himself anyway? Yasushi peered through the loop and although he expected to see some sort of hope, a beacon, a light at the end of the tunnel, a sign that he was destined for greater things if he would just stop and reconsider, instead he saw the hole in the wall where he'd been too careless with a ball shot (regulation size, weight, and density). Where the wood was splintered and the paint had begun to chip downward, the bareness spreading over the wall's face like leprosy. That does it, he said, and he tightened the rope around his thick, sinewy neck.
Having neared, by yet another monumental step, the freedom he sought, yet again he tried to pause, to contemplate, to decide whether he'd regret this, but his head spinning and his knees buckling only added urgency to the matter. He remembered survivor testimonies he'd seen, where people who jumped off bridges and in front of trains spoke passionately in front of audiences full of middle-aged moms about how they regretted it the moment they let go of the railing, how their bodies panicked, how they realized in their last seconds that they didn't want to die, not at all, literary prizes and standing ovations and cries of "you're such an inspiration" and all the rest. And just as Yasushi began to wonder whether he'd meet a God wherever he ended up, and whether where he was going would actually be more miserable than his time spent here on earth, he took pause to notice he could not breathe.
He saw the chair, but because he was drunk, and frantic, and maybe plain stupid, as he tried to kick his feet back up onto the seat of it, his blurred and sluggish vision saw him kicking the chair away instead. It was out of reach now, and he knew for a moment, morbidly futile as it was, that he was to die. Suddenly he remembered he had arms, but pulling on the rope was a worthless endeavor too, for in addition to making him stupid, the whisky made him feeble and tired, and he could not keep up his strength, certainly not in one arm while the other tried to work at the knot which would loosen the loop around his neck. He began to flail and writhe then, with no thought whatsoever for how pathetic he looked, like a fish wrested from water or an earthworm drowning in a rain puddle as it scrambled for daylight. He tried to scream for help, knowing that the neighbor to his apartment's immediate left was quite young and good of hearing, and quite lonely too, so he'd be nearby and he'd hear Yasushi's cries for help when they bounced through the thin walls. But the sound emerging from Yasushi's strangled throat sounded like a hoarse croak instead because in his frenzied state he'd forgotten altogether that he was being strangled, not stabbed or shot or injected with venom, and in the end it did no good at all.
In the moments he had left he pondered how he couldn't believe his raw imbecility. Until these moments he had forgotten so many things he wanted to say, the places he wanted to sightsee, the foods he wanted to eat, the women he wanted to love, the sons and dogs he wanted to rear up from fat babies and naked pink puppies. Instead he had chosen whisky, whisky and death and despair and inertia
. He had refused to leave this dreadful apartment when he was able, and now that he could not, he wanted more than anything to smile stupidly at the sunshine and say "It's such a wonderful day, isn't it?" like every other damned idiot on the street. His limbs weakened and went slack. The pain in his lungs grew exponentially until he wished they would explode so the carbon dioxide would just stop poisoning
His vision darkened too, but as he swiveled from the tensile whimsies of the rope, he could have sworn that he saw a figure in the doorway. Lean and jagged and angular, like some kind of monster, but that must have been his brain starving for oxygen, really. He hoped it was his mother, come to cut him loose and push his mouth to her nipple one last time. But he doubted it. Whoever this stranger was, he seemed to smile at the irony of it all. It was Death, then, or Yasushi's personified idea
of Death, dredged up from the darkest recesses of his desperate mind.