I got the phone call around 10 a.m., and it’s not the call of call you want to get at work.
The receptionist announced that a “Karen Davis” was on the line for me, and did I want to take it. I didn’t want to take it. Karen was my ex-fiancee, and we hadn’t spoken in five years—mainly because she’d developed a habit of screwing other people.
I’d put off (indefinitely) graduate school to get married, decided to stay in town rather than take jobs elsewhere…all the kinds of things you do when you’re planning a future together and thinking of “us” instead of “me.” She was evidently still struggling with the “us” part of that equation.
The last time I’d spoken with Karen was when she showed up at my place to reclaim a few items, some of which was really “joint” property, such as the VCR. (Like a dealer disposing of the stash when the cops come, I tossed the remote control in the cat litter box. She thought my cat was a little slow in the noggin and therefore didn’t have much to do with Lucy. My cat would keep secret my little passive-aggressive prize.)
I believe my last words to Karen involved liberal use of “bitch,” “goddammit” and “fucking whore.” It’s amazing how absolutely infantile you can become when someone injures you in a way you’re just not prepared to deal with and no application of reason explains things or fixes the problem.
So, I didn’t want to take Karen’s call. She left a message, which was something to the effect of, had I heard the news about Vic…and if I hadn’t, it wasn’t the kind of thing she wanted to leave on my voicemail.
Vic was my roommate for the last three years of college. He was a hard-driving, studious, clean-cut guy who went on medical school, became a doctor and worked at a university hospital. He was so clean cut, he didn’t drink and went to bed every night at 10:30, when the rest of us were drunk and planning on staying up until “The Young Ones” was off MTV.
I wondered what the news hinted at in the voicemail was…and why the messenger was someone I despised.
I called Karen back. She revealed that Vic had committed suicide in his apartment over the weekend. Did it with a gun, and the visitation was that very evening.
I took off from work and drove two hours to the funeral home. In attendance were my ex, and various other people I’d lived with in college—including my gay housemate who, before coming out of the closet, dated my ex-fiancee before she and I met. He introduced us. (Talk about your strange relationships.)
Surprisingly, there was an open casket at the visitation. Vic was there, looking just as I’d remembered. A little thinner, maybe. Depression will do that do that to you.
I found myself wondering, so what part of his body did he shoot, and how did they spackle over it? And of course WHY did he do it?
It’s not really appropriate to go trolling for this kind of information when the deceased’s mother is sitting next you. I offered the usual words of support, chatted with my gay former housemate and avoided my ex-fiancee.
To this day, five years later almost to the day, I still don’t know why he did it. He’s the second person I’ve known to take a gun to himself, and both were in the healthcare field—the very folks who should be able to identify suicidal tendencies, at least in others, and be able to recommend treatment.