If he who flies through the air with the greatest of ease is going to kill himself, it will not be by leaping off the bridge. He will spread peanut butter over a warm piece of cinnamon raisin bread and, taking a bite, chew many times slowly. He will block his windpipe with a wishbone. He will open his mouth to show not a soul his bolus. He will sip from a glass of milk without wiping away the milk mustache. He will swallow handfuls of barbiturates. He will dab the corners of his mouth with a cloth napkin. He will weigh himself down with stones and, how everyone got ahead by pushing in line and making a complete ass of them-selves, he will wait for the tide to come in. Without weighty stones or foreskin of knowledge, he will place his head in a bag and tie it tight at the neck. He will turn to the book he’s reading. Once he’s done deconstructing this passage from Great Western Lit, a Herman Melville thing where a mix of races cram together on the same boat to signify the ups and downs of pluralism, he will find it in no small part homoerotic. No one has ever heard this before. It’s sham theory, though. He read it in a book a year ago and claimed it as his own. Yet another thing that doesn’t lead to suicide, he stole his whole shameful analysis from a true scholar. If he were going to take his own life, he would jump off the bridge. He would jump from the western side, looking out across the ocean as a form of oblivion. Or he would close his eyes and jump to the east, where the city sprawls and someone stands a chance of seeing him.
[a note from the past]
The bedroom is taken up with a large square table. When one asks where he sits, he says impatiently that he works standing up. In the center of the table, an enormous ship, maybe six feet from the rudder to the figurehead, is pitched on a sea of scissors, twine, glue, tape, balsa, paint, cloth, razors—everything necessary for shipbuilding. Realistic rigging supports masts and yards; a profusion of square sails is set. Dozens of cannons protrude from hatches along each side of the ship. If you’ve never seen it, rest assured that he has every last detail right. Miniature men look out across the sea, while others swab the deck and climb rope ladders. “It’s beautiful,” one says.
“It’s from a kit,” he says. “A monkey could do it.”
“It’s really quite something.”
“I guess it isn’t half bad,” he says, “when you look closely. See how the stern is rounded. The hulls the Vikings used were V-shaped. The round stern is a distinction of the Eighteenth-century sailing ship. Note the open gallery there, and the balcony, and the richness of the carvings.”
One tells him he has a real talent and again he says it’s nothing. It’s not a big deal, but his question is, Who’s One? Where’s One? Is One coming over?