Arnold had attempted suicide 5 times in the last 5 minutes. For his first attempt he climbed to the roof of his parent’s mattress factory and threw himself off. His fall was broken by, you guessed it, the awning for the O’Malley Awning Company, family owned and operated since 1904. The O’Malley clan had been leasing the 1st floor of Arnold’s family’s mattress factory, currently in bankruptcy proceedings, since the turn of the 20th century.
Arnold rolled off the awning onto the plush surface of an overstuffed shopping cart pushed by a derelict known as ‘Division Street Dave.’ The force of his fall pushed his weight past the trash bags filled with soiled clothes and onto a stash of mouse traps Division Street Dave arranged around his sleeping body at night to discourage mischievous alley rats.
Arnold pulled himself from the cart, removed the traps from the back of his arms and stepped into traffic - attempt number two for those of you keeping score. The driver of the number 70 bus was able to stop in time to avoid pancaking the distraught pedestrian. Because of the sudden shift in inertia a woman sitting in the handicapped seats on the number 70 bus spilled coffee down the front of her cream colored silk blouse. Six months later she would settle for an undisclosed amount of money for the coffee not being warm enough to cause injury thereby depriving her the opportunity to experience the ignominy that accompanies a frivolous civil lawsuit.
Arnold pulled a Gary Fischer bicycle off the front rack of the number 70 bus and hopped on. He had never learned to ride a bike. Like a drunk monkey on a unicycle he careened towards an open man hole surrounded by construction cones and a sign warning ‘Persons at Work.’ Moments before tumbling down the non-gender specific hole and to a painful death or at least significant maiming Arnold got the pant leg of his Docker’s caught in the chain of the bike and tipped over. Attempt number three.
In his peripheral Arnold caught site of an oily puddle of rain water and urban detritus including a fortune that read ‘Serious trouble will bypass you.’ Scooting on his belly he slithered to the puddle and shoved his open mouth and nose into the water. He had read somewhere that a child could drown in an inch of water and this was probably an inch of water and legally he was still a minor but to his disappointment he was able to breathe out the corners of his mouth and bubbles foamed from his nostrils. A foiled and humiliating fourth suicide attempt.
Arnold stood up, his back aching from the fall, his arms stinging from the mouse traps, his knees oozing blood like moisture pushed through a cheese cloth from the fall on the bike, his shirt wet with filth. Not yet put off his plan to see his life snuffed out for good Arnold walked over to a running car and stretched his mouth around the tailpipe. Waiting for his cells to suffocate from Carbon Monoxide Arnold peered upwards to see the emblem of Tesla motors on the trunk of his makeshift Kevorkian death machine. The breakroom at the mattress factory was stocked with back issues of ‘Car and Driver’ magazine and so Arnold knew that Tesla, an electric vehicle, created no tailpipe emissions. The fifth and final attempt.
Arnold removed his lips from the tail pipe and stood up. He walked back to the mattress factory, which was 6 months later to settle its bankruptcy case across the hall from the women on the bus who won the undisclosed and unprecedented settlement. Arnold’s mother, her face drawn and skin the color of a silly putty, sat behind the desk where she kept financial books for the business. She looked up to see her son eerily calm despite being wet and bloody. “I’m going to take the rest of the afternoon off,” Arnold said to his Mother. She nodded and continued working. Arnold walked outside with his backpack, sat on a bench and removed a turkey sandwich on rye bread. Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow he thought as pigeons cooed at his feet.