I think it's hard for people to hear someone talk about suicide and not draw closed a protective curtain immediately. I expect the reason we have a fascination with homicide, such that our tellies show us stories about them nearly non-stop during prime time, and an aversion to hearing about suicide, is that we are likely to have contemplated with seriousness taking our own life, while we have not thought so hard and long about taking someone else's.
I read in a Sunday paper article some years ago that there are more suicides than homicides every year. So you'd think we'd be more interested, since both are instances of death, and surely in either case it's death that interests us.
Or, maybe not. Maybe it's not death, but something quite different.
The thing about homicides is that there is this feeling that something can be done: the detectives will learn the truth, the killer will be imprisoned, and we will be safer.
I remember when Bobby killed himself. Or was killed. I'm not sure his name was Bobby, I forget. But I remember him. He had the most odd way of talking. There was a start and stop to it that had nothing to do with his sentences. It was as if he emphasized things by stopping after a word, rather than by increasing the word's volume.
I forget how I met him, except that I'm sure it was a result of letting Bonny live with me after her husband left her and her little son, and this coincided with me having had an abortion and feeling as if I was infinitely guilty.
Bobby drove a sort of heavy duty truck with a radio that was his pride and joy. It was a Blaupunkt and I had to take his word for it, that it was the best, even if I'd never heard of it. He would take me to work at Rancho Encantado and pick me up sometimes.
I had broken up with the man I had loved, the man who was the father of the baby I aborted. I remember feeling so threatened by the father, as if I would become pregnant again if he brushed by me and touched me. Although my poverty since the birth of my son, years later, has defined much of my life, I don't think anything ever changed me as much as the abortion.
In any case, I could no longer be with David, it was just not possible after I had killed the unborn baby. But I remained attached to him.
So I was seeing Bobby and being with him, while remaining separate. One night he had taken me to a beautiful place somewhere around Pecos and he had built a fire and he had said he was marrying me with the ceremony of it. I had felt that a closeness would come of it.
But back home, at my house where all the mountain people came to take baths and crash when they were in town, because they all knew Bonny, I didn't feel close, I didn't want him to make love to me, I wanted to give him head so there'd be a boundary. He asked me if I loved him, and I said I couldn't. Not right then. He said he had the Tombstone Blues.
A few days later when I was getting ready to go to work, a few of the people who I knew through Bonny came and told me that he was dead, that he'd killed himself, or been killed.
I couldn't see how they could think that was funny. I didn't see how they could want to make that kind of joke. I couldn't believe them.
I didn't know his last name, I thought. I had said yes, I would marry him in the firelight on the high outcropping of rock somewhere by Pecos, but I hadn't asked his name.
The father of his friend, who was famous or simply wealthy, I forget, hired a detective to find out what happened. We were all interviewed. But when it came time to do the test that would have shown for sure whether he had killed himself or not, because there either was or was not that much powder on his hands, his body was no longer available for the test because it had been cremated.
When we learned this, we were sure he could not have killed himself with the rifle found in his truck, by his body.
He had been driving down from the hills by Canyon Road and had crashed his truck into Cristo Rey Church. One theory was that he had found that so depressing that he had killed himself.
No one, none of the people who knew him, had heard him sound like he was thinking of killing himself. If I told the private detective what he had said to me, I had done it when we were alone. I didn't want to admit that I might have depressed him.
Fernando, one of my best friends, was the Santa Fe police detective who interviewed me. Or maybe he just took me fishing to take my mind off of it. He asked me questions as we fished in the Rio Grande. I remember being so tired, so exhausted. I remember that when Fernando made his customary fire so we could have coffee, that I felt so leaden, so overwhelmingly weighed down that I just wanted to go home. I did ask Fernando about the test, though, and he said that it would have showed if Bobby had fired the gun himself. Fernando seemed to say that it was unusual for a body to be cremated when it was identified for tests. But, once it was gone, that was it.
I was so sad, I felt as if I had lost my husband. But most of the community sympathy was going to a woman I didn't know well, who used to pull her eyelashes out. She had large, but not very perky, boobs, and liked to be in the nude, even at someone else's house. I forget her name.
I don't really remember talking to her. I know I must have. I know she invited me to lasagna she was making at the home of ... I forget his name, but his father or grandfather was the quite famous writer/psychologist... I'm sure the name will come to me because it is one that comes up rather frequently. Interestingly enough, he too had a somewhat odd way of talking. As if his ideas were strung together differently from those we'd learned to pattern our talking on when we were in school. James, that much of his name has come to me. Henry James? I must look it up. Ah yes, Henry James. Thank you, Google.
When I was pregnant with my son, some years later, I used to think about Bobby and I used to cry, telling him as if in a prayer, that he should have stayed, that he would have been better remembered if he had stayed. That once he was gone, the memory was so limited, just as the years of his life were.
I remember learning that he had done drugs, that he might have been killed because of a drug deal. It's hard for me to believe he did heroine. Rob Egan had done heroine, and had died. I forget when Rob died. I had known him from Claude's where I used to go all the time to dance. I liked him a lot because he used to say such unusual things. He seemed genuine. When I asked him what his sign was, Rob said, "Caution blasting, turn off radio."
It had never occurred to me that Rob did heroine, until one night when someone came to visit me unexpectedly, I forget who, but someone who smoked marijuana, and I didn't have any. I said I knew someone who I was pretty sure had some, so we went to see Rob on Arroyo Tenorio where he lived. But when I asked him for a joint, he was so odd, as if he didn't want to admit to doing joints. So I knew there must be something else. Joints weren't that serious. The way he was acting was like there was something serious that he was denying because it was that serious.
To this day, well over thirty years later, I have no idea if Bobby killed himself or was killed. People said he had been stopping with the heroine.
I do know that out of all the people who crashed at my house, something like ten percent of them died. There were all sorts of ways that they died, but I think that each of their deaths was related in some way to drugs. I think that because that's the only time I've ever known so many people who died in so short a period of time.
I can't help but wonder if Bobby's fingernails had ridges on them, like mine did when I tried to kill myself. I continue to wonder whether he had a premonition of his death that caused him to say he had the Tombstone Blues, or if he was depressed. Depression is often a symptom of low B12. When I think back about some of the other people from that time, and the changes in how they looked from before I went to England, till when I came home, I am sure that drugs deplete B12...