I can be felt, but I can't be seen.
I'm a ghost, and I am out of my mind.
I spend my time hugging the living in a particular way, squeezing life out of them.
I'm good at it, one of the best. I can do it without being noticed, ever.
Timing is essential. I sneak up on those who have lost hope and are particularly vulnerable.
I "get" them when they realize they won't meet a deadline for something. When they realize somebody important is gone forever. When they realize they will have to face up to something really big and that there's no way of getting around it.
They usually turn pale and some turn blue. They start breathing laboriously like they are on the top of a mountain.
That's when I "get" them.
I sneak up from behind and squeeze. This pretty much cuts off the supply of oxygen, making rational thought impossible.
That's when they pick up a razor, a knife or a gun.
Or they'll fashion a noose with a rope or necktie. Some jump from high places or into the path of a truck or a train. And then there are the kind who concoct some method of breathing in carbon monoxide or natural gas.
It's all quite simple, really. It happens all the time, everywhere.
I am told god lets us do what we do because she knows suicides can't be stopped. If a bunch of losers want to kill themselves, what's to stop them?
Besides, she never allows suicides through her gates.
I should know. I jumped from my apartment balcony after my wife left me. The last thing I felt as a human being was my head exploding against the pavement.
As I lay dying, I noticed a feint silhouette of somebody looking down at me from my balcony. The silhouette gradually gained opacity. After some time I realized she was . . . Cleopatra.
Standing behind her was a group. I recognized some of their faces. Kurt Cobain. Anne Sexton. Ernest Hemingway. And was the tall bald guy in the back Hunter S. Thompson?
I quickly realized that my childhood priest was right and that as a suicide I was never going to heaven, and neither would the people -- er, ghosts -- on my balcony.
It was Thompson who told me that suicides become these niche ghosts who spent their time and energy "assisting" a similarily niche segment of society -- those who want to kill themselves. ("It's one of god's myriad mechanisms, and a minor one at that.")
"Cleo -- the pretty one over there -- was the one who put the squeeze on you," Thompson said. "Ernie -- the fat one over there -- is going to train you so you can do the same thing on others."
"This is sick," I said. "Totally insane." Amazingly, the fact that my wife had left me for my brother no longer seemed relevant.
"Maybe," said Thompson. "And you'll become both when you find out that you have an infinite amount of time and nothing to lose."
Thompson was right.
In the year since Hemingway showed me the basics I've pushed over a thousand souls over the edge.
I'm making Ted Bundy look like an Eagle Scout and it doesn't bother me a bit.
A few weeks ago I told the lady poet that I wasn't bad at this, and she sternly said that "good" and "bad" mean nothing for beings like us.
I told her to fuck off. She might have been frustrated by the fact that she hasn't written a line since becoming a ghost. Thompson doesn't write much either, and neither does Hemingway. Everybody has this glazed look in their eyes. Apparently the guy from Nirvana taught Cleopatra how to shoot guns and now they spend much of their time shooting Glocks at each other. They can do this because our wounds heal instantly.