Bandwagon Jumpers

Chapter 1

Nate Benjamin sat on the side of the bed, shoulders hunched, holding the pistol in both hands.  The room was dim, the digital clock on the dresser read 4:42.  He was shirtless and barefoot, wearing only a pair of jeans.  He fingered the cold steel of the gun.  It was much smoother than he'd anticipated.  Just do it.  Just do it. Just do it.  The phrase reminded him of those Nike commercials with their healthy, athletic participants jumping, running and striving.  Certainly this was not what the slogan urged.  However, this was what he had come to.  Just do it.

But how?  In the head?  In the mouth? Between the eyes?  Men who ‘swallowed a bullet’ surely died, but he couldn't bring himself to insert the muzzle between his lips.  Slowly, he lifted the revolver to his temple, just to see how it felt.  He couldn't do it this way — too much margin for error.  He didn't want to wind up a vegetable; that would be the worst fate of all.  He pictured himself in an institution somewhere out in the country, tied to a chair in a constant state of stupor, his little Jewish mother coming to visit him every week . . . crying.  He shuddered.  That was unacceptable.  If he was going to do this thing, he had to do it right.

The piece became heavy in his hand and he lowered it.  His mind began to drift over random events and people in his life.  He saw himself at his college graduation — happy, smiling — saw himself driving along the winding Pacific Coast Highway in California with mountains on one side of him, the beautiful blue ocean on the other.  He could almost feel the wind in his face.  People's faces began to float before him:  Mom, his brother Danny, Brecklyn.  No, not her.  What would she think about this?  Would she even care?  Of course she'd care, he thought, she was very fond of him.  Only very fond.

He lay back on the bed.  Although he knew it was childish and self-serving, he let himself think of her reaction.  He pictured her weeping at his funeral.  She would bemoan the fact that she was not there for him and be racked with guilt.  He thought of other people in his life hearing about it and being shocked.  People never expected this sort of thing.  He knew they wouldn't expect it from him.  He was successful, he had money - what right did he have to be unhappy?  He thought of a poem by Edward Arlington Robinson he'd learned back in high school. Richard Cory was fine, rich and noble — everyone wished to be him.  The last line read ‘one fine summer night Richard Cory went home and put a bullet through his head.’  Nate had never been a poetry buff but he always remembered that one.  Irony was his favorite literary device.

He closed his eyes and remained perfectly still allowing the familiar emotion of despair to cover him like a blanket.  Why fight it, he thought; just detach and maybe it would go away.  He was terribly sleepy.  All the feeling drained out of him into nothingness.

Several hours later, he was awakened by the warm, bright sun in his eyes.  He was still lying on his back.  He turned his head to see the shiny gun at his right.  The clock now read 7:30.  Rising, he picked up the gun and carried it to the closet where he deposited it into a shoebox, covered it, and pushed it to the rear of the top shelf.   A new day.   He walked into the bathroom to take a hot shower.

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